Lesson 10: Creating Quick Reply Templates on Airbnb

For those new hosts, looking professional in text is a key for successful hosting. Plus, replying on time is an Airbnb metrics, so be sure you have your reply/messaging game on top.

However, it does become tedious after the 20th time I had to answer the same question of whether my unit has a Taal view or not.

FULL DISCLOSURE: No, sadly my unit doesn't have a Taal view. Not all Tagaytay listings can face Taal lake. And yes, I had it explicitly mentioned in my listing description that we don't have Taal view. I would put premium pricing, if I had one, because yes, Taal view units costs about 30% more.
Yes, I do have a day and night photo of the view from our balcony.

With that out of the way, let's start creating some saved replies. You can do this directly on the app in your phone or thru a browser with your PC.

Open your inbox. Choose any message you have. Old, new, booked or not; all can be used to access your saved messages.

Tap the 'Quick Reply' button.

Notice that there are some replies already. Those were created automatically by the system if you've filled them up when you've initially created your listing. You can actually edit your listing and add in those information if you haven't done so.

Now, those double curly brackets are codes that the system uses to access your listing dynamically.
You can either edit them to spruce up the message or leave as is. Just tap on each message to edit. Any message outside of the brackets are static, meaning, it would be sent as is together with the dynamic message. You can still follow? Good!

Let's start creating a quick message. For this example, we'll create a quick message that states the unit's WiFi name and password.
Don't worry, your guest will only see the information after they have booked your unit.

Tap the button on the right-hand corner to start.

Give it name. Mine is WiFi User/Pass.
Create your message. Use the 'Shortcode' drop down list to make parts of the message dynamic, say, the guest's name.

Airbnb also made a code to store your WiFi name and password. The actual name and password would be shown in the message, just make sure that you add those information in your list.
For a quick check, go to your Listing and scroll down to Guest resources.

Here's what the quick message I made. I made the guest name dynamic on the greeting line, then made use of the WiFi shortcodes. Easy!

Just hit 'Create' and you're done.

To send this message to your guest, tap the quick reply button and choose this message, and send.

If you're looking on having this message automatically sent to your guests during their check-in date, go to my tutorial for creating scheduled messages here.

Airbnb Lesson 9: Creating Scheduled Messages

Airbnb recently rolled out a new feature for seasoned hosts on its app. This is called the Scheduled Messages. It's an upgrade to the Message Template that you would create for common responses that you have for your guests. But instead of manually choosing and sending the message, you can have it scheduled to send automatically, making it very convenient.

Note: Not all have this feature yet. Mostly those that have been on the system for quite some time.

For this tutorial, we'll do a Booking reply. 

Normally, when I get a booking, the first thing I do is to thank the guest and in a way acknowledge it. My reasons, being:

1. Yey! Your booking is successful!
2. There's a real person behind this booking.
3. Review what you've booked, in terms of number of guests and the date.
4. Ask for the name of the guests.

The last 2 reasons are very important. It would save you a ton of headache in the future.

With that in mind, let's create the automatic message.

First, go to your inbox and open any guest message. Right beside the reply box, you'll see a new button, with a clock on its corner. Tap that button to create and access your scheduled messages.

The button beside it your saved template messages that can be sent manually.

For starters, this would show up. Just hit 'Create automated template' to start creating a message.

Name your message. Make it simple. For this, the name is 'Booking reply'.
On the message part, notice the drop down list named 'Shortcodes'. These are actually placement holders that the system would automatically change based on information inherent to the booking, like name of guest, date of check-in, etc.
Tap 'Shortcodes' to browse the list.

Since we want the message to be sent to all guests that booked, we need the name dynamic. In the drop down list, choose 'guest first name'; same with the check-in and out dates.
The rest of the message, you'll have to type out. Here's my sample message.

Check for any spelling or grammatical errors. Remember the message would be sent automatically, so we don't want any mistake.

Once you're satisfied with your message, scroll down to 'Listings' and select the appropriate list you'd want this message for. This is especially true for those with multiple listings.

Now, on to Scheduling...

Scheduling is the time when you'd like your message sent out.  To do it, tap Action. There's 3 options:
• Booking confirmed
• Check-in
• Checkout

Choosing any of the option would lead to another drop down list for the actual time, 'When to send'.

For our example, we want the 'Booking Reply' sent to the guest after they booked, but not immediately. I don't want them to know that it's a robot in there, so I'm choosing '5 minutes after'.

Lastly, hit the 'Create' button. That's it! You're done. The message would now be sent to all new bookings that you'll receive.

Easy, right?

Now, try and create a "Welcome" message to your guest. The 'Shortcodes' has options to store your unit's WiFi name and password, so you won't have to type it everytime a guest asked. Cause we know, a guest would ask for it even if you've already had it printed and placed on the table for them to see. Just make sure that you've actually added those information on your listing.

To manage your Scheduled Messages, just hit 'Manage' on the right-hand corner of the screen.

Choosing 'Check-in' or 'Checkout' on the 'Action' list would give you a chance to schedule the message days before each action, so you can actually create a message alert for your guest's stay days before their actual stay. Neat, right?

I had fun and created a tone of automatic templates. See my list below!

Airbnb Lesson 8: Setting Your Airbnb Price, Part 2

After collecting and listing all possible monthly expense, add them all up.  Here’s an example:

Monthly amortization
Php      20,000
Association Due
Real Property Tax





Netflix Subscription Fee
Toiletries (Tissue, Soap, Shampoo, etc)
Pantry (Bottled Water, Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Oil, etc)
Grand Total
Php     28,890

Then, set a realistic occupancy rate based on your research, about 60% to 70% or about 18 nights booked.  You can use AirDNA to have a better clue on the occupancy rate of your place.  Here’s a sample AirDNA report for Tagaytay.

Divide your total expense with the number of nights booked.  This will give you your base pricing per night.  Using our example, base price per night is P1,605.

After knowing your base price per night, tweak the price to be higher, for weekends and holidays, and lower on weekdays.  Also, don’t forget to look at the pricing of your neighbor.  Compare your unit to theirs and see if you’re pricing yourself too low or too high.

Know the seasonality of your location.  Price your unit higher on peak seasons, and during long weekends.  These are the times when you can really profit from your venture.

Lowering your price will get you more bookings, but never to a point where you sell yourself too short.  The aim is to profit not to just break-even.

Read Part 1, here.

How To: Activate Payments by Booking.com

Having your unit listed in other platforms aside from Airbnb is a good practice.  Let’s face it.  Not everyone knows Airbnb exists.  Most travelers would just turn to google to find a place to stay.  And if they do, one of the sites that sit atop that search page is Booking.com

Previously, guests from Booking.com are littered with “No Show Guests.”  These are folks whose travel plans are not yet final but since Booking.com does not require upfront payment to reserve a unit, nor do they have that ubiquitous “Chat with the Host” option, guest would just book.

Booking.com also allows guests to pay upon check-in which drives reservation from their site much higher than with Airbnb.  It is all up to the host to contact the guest, negotiate for a deposit and pray that the guest would at least reply.

Good news though.

Recently, Booking.com revamps their site and made it a little friendlier for home-sharing hosts.  They now require guests to put in credit card details to make reservations and provided an option for them to collect the payment from the guest and transfer it to the host.

Every 15th of the month, Booking.com would transfer all payments collected from guests that had successfully stayed in your unit the month prior.  All commissions owed to Booking.com would be deducted and the difference transferred to the host’s nominated bank account.  Convenient!  It’s still not at par with Airbnb, where you can get your payments promptly, but it’s a start.

To enjoy this benefit, a host would need to activate the Payment by Booking.com option from their Extranet account.  To do so, follow these steps.
1.       Log in to your Extranet account.

2.       From your Home tab, look for the Payments by Booking.com promotion button, which usually sits on the right side panel and click the link.

3.       Fill in the details of your bank details where you wish to receive your payout.

That’s it! You’re done.  Just wait for a confirmation email from Booking.com saying that you’ve activated the payment facility.

Zoom in on the photo for answers to your questions.

How To: BPI EMV ATM Card Errors & Solutions

There were several readers here who encountered errors after activating their new BPI EMV ATM Card, hence this post.

I will try and update this for new errors encountered with the much needed solution for them.  Some solutions were crowd sourced while others where from BPI Customer Service via their twitter handler @Talkto BPI.

·       Problem 1:  Error right after activating your EMV ATM
·       Solution:  The new EMV ATM needs 24 hour before it becomes active.  So, better do all your withdrawals and other transactions using the old ATM card before doing the activation.

·       Problem 2:  NPIN Error after the 24hour time limit.
·       Solution:  Do the activation again, starting with inserting your old ATM card.  The activation and change PIN must be done right after the other for it to work successfully.

·       Problem 3:  Wasn't able to migrate from old blue ATM to the new EMV card.
·       Solution:  Fairly simple.  First is to identify your branch of account and to visit that account.  Don't forget to bring the following with you.  Your EMV card would be available within 5-7 days for branches within Metro Manila and 7-10 days for Provincial branches.
  1. Your old ATM card
  2. Government issued ID, plus it's photocopy
  3. Your SSS/GSIS or TIN number, if you have them

Got more errors? Send them in thru comments and we’ll try to bug Customer Service for the right solution.

Photo courtesy of:  BPI
Updated on April 03, 2019 


The New BPI Mobile App

After multiple prompts from BPI, I’ve finally decided to go ahead and download their new BPI Expressonline companion app, or simply the New BPI Mobile App.  

After installation, the app will walk you thru its 3 main features, namely:  Fund Transfer

Bills Payment

and Smart and Secure Log-in

On the log-in page, use your BPI Expressonline username and password.

It will require you to register your device by sending a 6-digit one-time pin (OTP).

The façade and feel looks very similar to their new BPI Online Beta website, which I’ve talked about before in here.

Just tap the Menu icon to show the different transactions available to you.

Opening each account would give you access to the account’s transaction history, plus an option to do transfer and pay bills right under the account.  Similar to the original mobile app, transaction logs are updated real-time, making it very useful for those with online business.

Plus, it allows you to send funds to any BPI account without the need to enroll them at absolutely no additional cost.  Great for your day-to-day business or remittance activity.

The new app made it very easy to navigate thru your account with less tap or click to accomplish them.

If you’re phone is equipped with finger print scan technology, you can activate the same log-in feature by going to the Fingerprint Login menu.  Easy-Peasy.

After successfully logging-out, the app will redirect you to a survey page; which, by this point is already tedious since it's exactly the same set of questions from the BPI Beta website.

The New BPI Mobile App is available and free to download from the Google Playstore and Apple Appstore. 

Airbnb Lesson 8: Setting Your Airbnb Price, Part 1

What are the factors that would affect my Airbnb price?

Pricing is tricky since there are plenty of factors to consider.  By listing all the factors related to owning and operating an Airbnb unit, we can arrive to a base price.  This base price is very important since it will set the bar on how we recuperate our investments, make that investment pay for itself and possibly have a little something left for profit.

It is also good practice to list down all expenses and revenue generated by your Airbnb.  Not only would it help in pricing your Airbnb accurately, it would also help you know if your investment is profitable or not. 

Based on my experience it boils down to the following factors.  Take note that a host must learn to adjust their base price depending on history and seasonality.

·       Monthly amortization – most Airbnb rooms in the Philippines are condo units bought thru mortgage, and as such the goal is to collect as much room fee as possible enough to cover the monthly due.

·       Association due – on top of your monthly due, there’s the condo association due.  This should be added on your computation.

·       Insurance – yes, if your mortgage is thru bank or you’ve decided to get a separate insurance coverage for the furnishing on your Airbnb, this must be included in your base price.  As most insurance are paid annually, get the monthly price by dividing this to 12.

·       Real Property Tax – don’t forget the tax

·       Parking lot fee – if you have a dedicated parking lot, you can either add this to the base price or set a separate fee on your Airbnb list for parking.

·       Utilities – this includes electricity, water, internet, cable, Netflix subscription if you’re offering Netflix or other streaming service.  Electricity and water might be a bit tricky to price.  A 1 bedroom unit with a 1HP aircon, water heater and induction cooker can consume between 300kWh to 400kWh a month, or P3,500 to P5,000.  While water consumption is in the 30 to 40 cu.m range, or P300 to P500.

·       Laundry – whether you do your own laundry or have it down professionally, it should be part of your nightly price.  If you’re doing your laundry, base the price on how much you would pay had you sent it to the laundry shop.

·       Toiletries – this would include shampoo, soap, dish washing liquid, toilet paper, etc.

·       Pantry – coffee, tea, bottled water, cookies or fruits.  For those who allow cooking and stock their pantries, a weekly pantry fee for the cooking oil, salt, sugar, pepper etc, should be included.

Another factor to consider is the difference between the room cleaning fees you’ll be charging versus the actually cleaning fee you’ll pay to your care taker.  The price varies between 0 since you’re doing your own cleaning and P500 when hiring a professional to do the job.

Collect the entire price or at least set a budget for the items you can’t accurately predict.  On my next post, we’ll do the math and compute the minimum base price for your Airbnb and the maximum for weekends and holidays.

Got questions on how to set-up your own Airbnb unit? Shoot me a comment and I'll answer it or direct you to the appropriate post.