Review of Smartbnb

Smartbnb gives hosts full control and customization on their guest messaging - to respond to guests FAST, at all times of the day, beliably and naturally.

Take Me To SmartBnb

Introduction

Short-term rentals, as a business model, has been around for ages. What has become different in the recent years is the advent of technology and tools that can make the operation more efficient. Some of these tools are so good and so helpful that I think they can charge 10x what they current do and they would still be well worth it.

This review will cover a tool called Smartbnb -- which in our view is a true gamechanger for running a short-term rental operation. In fact, when we started operating our own short-term rentals, Smartbnb was the first service we added to our “virtual toolbox” and we’ve been using it ever since.

In a nutshell, Smartbnb automates 90% of guest communication - ranging from sending regular check and check out instructions to even detecting specific keywords in guests’ questions (e.g. is there parking) and sending a pre-set response to those. The reality is that for a small operator, Smartbnb is the difference between working all the time or just spending 2-3 hours a week on their operation. And for a larger operator, it significantly reduces HR costs and makes it a more streamlined business as a whole.

In this review, we’ll cover some of Smartbnb features as well as discuss how we use it ourselves in our own operation.

What Can You Do With Smartbnb?

First, let’s break down the things that you can accomplish with this tool that will make it easier for you to run your short-term rental operation and scale.

  • Provide a unified inbox for multiple Airbnb and VRBO/HomeAway accounts
  • Set automated messages to guests before or after check-in or check out
  • Utilize their AI functionality to scan incoming messages for commonly asked questions and send an automated response when appropriate
  • Automatically leave reviews to the guests and ask them to leave you one
  • Sync calendars between Airbnb and VRBO/HomeAway listings
  • Send an email or SMS alert to your housekeepers to notify them about turnovers

Let’s dive in deeper into each of these!

Unified Inbox

The first thing that most users will begin to interact with is a unified inbox screen when you login. 
In our particular case, we manage properties in multiple cities between several accounts. Moreover, we’ve started to put our listings on VRBO/HomeAway. So if we have to manually toggle between accounts to see which guest sent what, it would be a hassle and not an efficient use of our time.


Fortunately, Smartbnb brings the communication from all of the accounts into the same place. You can easily see the status of each inquiry -- whether the guest is being pre-approved or already staying at your property.

Moreover, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of filtering. You can filter by property, by city, by platform or anything in between:


With this in mind, Smartbnb becomes the central hub for us to manage all of our interactions with guests.

Automating Guest Communication

Automation is really the meat and potatoes portion of Smartbnb where it begins to do the lions’ share of the work for you.

The automated messaging can typically be triggered around one of the following events:

  1. New inquiry (option to auto-approve all inquiries if you want)
  2. New Pre-approval
  3. New request to book
  4. New reservation
  5. New cancellation
  6. Expired pre-approval
  7. Inquiry/booking denied
  8. New special offer
  9. New payment issue

Since there is so much that you can do and customize there, we’ll focus on how we’ve set it up ourselves as an example. 

  • We’ll send an automated response when a potential guest sends an inquiry with a question. This way we can acknowledge the receipt of their question and let them know we’ll respond soon.
  • When a guest guest makes a reservation, an automated confirmation will confirm the details of their booking, including the dates and number of people. This helps to pre-emptively correct any mistakes that occasionally occur.
  • Two days prior to arrival, we’ll send them all of the check-in information, including the access code to the property as well as some basic rules.
  • 8 hours prior to arrival, we’ll send another email outlining parking situation, Wi-Fi and a few last minute tips that preemptively address many of the commonly asked questions.
  • The day of check out, we’ll send an automated email with the check out instructions and requests.

Essentially, we’ve set it up so that for every reservation, we have 5 points of contact that are entirely automated. 

Moreover, these messages are all highly customized to the exact listing that is being booked, so they address most of the questions and issues new guests may encounter.

It’s slightly mind boggling to consider what it would look like if the same level of communication would have to be done manually if you have more than 10-20 listings and guests coming and going on a daily basis.

Respond to Guests’ Questions

As the infamous infomercials would typically state in the middle of their presentation - “but wait, there’s more!”

Except that in this case, there really is more.

Part of handling the communication with the guests revolves around answering similar questions over and over. Typically, it’ll be oriented around parking, early check in, late check out, amenities, and so on.

Smartbnb addresses this with their “AI”-based Questions feature.


With this, the tool monitors all of the incoming question from guests, analyzes them, and - if it detects that this inquiry is about one of the pre-set issues, it will fire off a response that you’d have pre-written prior.

For example, if you look at the Parking question, you’ll see that the system would look for patterns that reflect something like this:


From your perspective, you can then customize a response and even have a different one for different listing or groups of listings.


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