Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
With the summer just around the corner and a bigger influx of foreign tourists expected in Dubrovnik than ever before private renters throughout the region are busily preparing for a hectic season. There are around 14,500 private beds in Dubrovnik, which when you compare that to a population of only around 40,000 shows just how many people use Airbnb, booking.com and Expedia to fill their household coffers.
So with so much competition how can you stand out from the crowd and make your Airbnb listing the most attractive.
Ten top tips to make your Airbnb listing number one
1 – Be a Superhost - although this list is in no particular order becoming a Superhost would probably be in number one position anyway. Superhost status means that when potential guests filter down their choice of holiday accommodation they quite regularly only choose Superhosts. The become a Superhost you need to do some basic things correctly – respond to guests quickly, get good grades on price, location and cleanliness and host a certain number of guests.
2 – Use Airbnb verified photos – you can spend time and money getting the perfect collection of photos from your sun washed apartment but there is a cheaper, and much more effective, way of highlighting your letting. Airbnb has its own photo service and its free! Simply apply online for a free photo session. And the added bonus is that you’ll have Airbnb verified photos which will raise your ranking.
3 – It’s all in the details – avoid any religious icons or pictures on the walls, you don’t want to upset your guests. Be artful yet discrete with your wall furnishings, don’t hang tacky “stock” photos but get creative. Guests are more likely to want relaxing and simple decorations than heavy “over the top” paintings.
4 – Be honest – Airbnb is set up very much as a social media style booking agency, if you lie you’ll get found out very quickly. Bad news spreads faster than good news. If you are miles from the beach then don’t say “front line to the sea.” Be as honest as possible even if you think it will put off some guests. Basically highlight the good points but don’t avoid the traps.
5 – Get catchy with your title – with such a huge offer of accommodation units in Dubrovnik you are going to have to stand out from the crowd. All things equal, an Airbnb listing with the better, more attention grabbing title will a higher click through rate from the search results. Don’t be boring with something like, “Studio Apartment Dubrovnik.”
6 – Reviews are the key – without any reviews, if you have just started your Airbnb journey, it is hard to get noticed. However, once you start hosting and getting those guests through your doors hopefully the positive reviews will flood in. Begging for a review is never a good idea, you’ll just appear desperate and needy, so it’s all about offering a top service and keeping your fingers crossed. A little tip is too leave a review for each guest immediately after they have checked out. They will then get an alert that you have left them a review and are more likely to write one back. You’ll also need reviews to get that Superhost status.
7 – Be price sensitive – be realistic with your pricing. Do research by looking at properties in your area and what they have to offer and fix your prices around those. Airbnb has its own pricing system, smart pricing, which will take all the parameters into account and suggest a price that is right for you. However, this price is often lower than it needs to be so although it pays to check out their recommendation it is also a good idea to do your own research. And a tip is to keep prices lower at the beginning until the reviews come in and then adjust according. Of course your prices need to reflect the time of year.
8 – Don’t be lazy with your description – the description is the key, don’t be lazy and write three sentence and on the other hand don’t write a novel. Accuracy is extremely important. The best method for writing a good description is to put yourself in the place of potential guests, what information would be important to you if you were travelling.
9 – Answer those questions – you have to be responsive with all inquiries not matter how weird and wonderful the questions might be. And Airbnb will even rank you in accordance to your response rate, so don’t put it off till tomorrow. Don’t forget that Airbnb makes money when you make money so they want you to be quick with your replies and they want you to reply to all of your booking inquiries as fast as possible.
10 – Check out your calendar – Airbnb will see how active you are on your own site, so be active! Make sure that your calendar is up-to-date and of course accurate. By just opening your Airbnb site every day you will slightly improve your overall rankings, for if you can’t be bothered to check your own site how can you expect guests to take a look. Click your app or site every day and watch your ranking improve. A busy host is a good sign for Airbnb.
It would seem that the saying “your home is your castle” is true in Croatia. When it comes to home ownership Croatia is one of the leading countries in the 28 members of the European Union. Long-term renting, or even short-term, is not the norm when people are looking to solve their housing question, an amazing 90 percent of Croatians own their own home, which puts the country joint second in the EU after Romania at 97 percent.
Croatia is joint second on the new EU list with Lithuania. Whilst at the other end of the scale Germany has the lowest number of home owners, at only 50 percent, followed by Denmark, Austria and France.
And it isn’t only with nationals that home ownership in Croatia is popular. The survey by Eurostat shows that 82 percent of foreign national in Croatia are also home owners. This percentage is much higher than the EU average, at 30 percent, and again puts Croatia high on the EU list, third after Estonia and Lithuania.
A South Korean woman has died from a fatal fall at a tourist hotspot in Croatia, the government said Sunday. The woman in her 50s, whose name was kept private, fell off a cliff and into a lake at Plitvice Lakes National Park in central Croatia on Saturday (local time), according to the foreign ministry.
The victim, who was in Croatia for sightseeing, was moved to a hospital but later passed away. "It's presumed that the she fell after losing her footing due to the rain," a foreign ministry official said. "The local police are looking into the exact circumstances."
The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, visited Peljesac this Saturday and expressed his conviction that the complaints regarding the tender for the construction of the Peljesac Bridge will be solved quickly and that the project will continue according to the plans.
Plenkovic commented that he believes that the State Commission for Public Procurement will resolve the complaints related to the tender for the construction of the Peljesac Bridge. The future Pelješac Bridge project received a 357 million Euro grant from the European Union, however when the Chinese Company, China Road and Bridge Corporation won the public tender the other companies in the tender all launched appeals.
Croatian Roads had decided that the offer from the Chinese consortium was the most favourable for the first phase of the construction of the Peljesac Bridge with access roads, and that the European Commission will finance 85 percent of the project. However, the process was then placed on hold as the Italian, Turkish and Austrian construction companies that had placed bids for the Peljesac Bridge all lodged official complaints.
Speaking at an opening of a school on the Peljesac peninsular on Saturday the Prime Minster stated that “We are continuing with the project and I believe that we will implement it in accordance with the plan if not until the end of the mandate of this government, certainly at the beginning of the next mandate of the Croatian Parliament and Government and finally finalize the strategic issue for both Peljesac and Dubrovnik-Neretva County.” He added that with the new bridge the region would have a faster connection to the rest of the country and avoid the lengthy traffic jams that form when passing through Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This incredible video by Domenika Loncar was shot today from the ancient walls of the city of Dubrovnik and show the force of the sea crashing into the Bay of Pile. Gale force south winds have been blowing for a few days, and are forecast to continue until the middle of next week, and have brought with them high seas, rain and overcast skies.
Ferries were stopped from running today as the rough seas brought nautical transport to a standstill. Just a few weeks ago this normally calm bay was the scene of the last season of Game of Thrones, now it looks more like a scene from Titanic.
Quite clearly the name of Dubrovnik travels far and wide. This cutting from a Swedish newspaper was sent to us by a reader from Sweden who clearly has Dubrovnik roots as he commented “I am happy when I see Hallandsposten advertising my home city of Dubrovnik, good job Halmstad.”
This advert for Dubrovnik was featured in the daily Swedish newspaper Hallandsposten from Halmstad. And yes we translated the text for you, well Google did literally, “start the summer with a semester in May.”
It was all smiles in Ston today as the wine flowed and the oysters disappeared. On St. Joseph’s Day Ston traditionally celebrates with The Day of Oysters Festivals and as always this picturesque seaside town was packed. Even the recent bad weather didn’t stop the festivities as this seafood delicacy was devoured by hundreds of festival-goers. The oyster is the trademark cuisine of Ston and with good music, a few drops of Peljesac wine and laughter the day was perfect.
“This is magnificent. Ston oysters are a delicacy that are popular all over the world,” commented a local. The clear and clean sea of the Bay of Mali Ston with the correct ratio of minerals and salt, mixed with karst from fresh water springs means that this is the ideal spot for growing oysters.
The Croatian Prime Minster, Andrej Plenkovic, also attended the Day of Oysters and commented that “More than 60 percent of Croatian oysters come from Ston and the Croatian government will encourage various stimulation measures,” concluded Plenkovic.
There is a film starring Hugh Grant that I have always enjoyed, in fact it is based on a true story, and is called “The Man Who Went up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain.” I did just the opposite of this at the weekend. I went up a mountain and came down a hill.
The very next day after several hundred women climbed to the top of the 1,234 metre peak of Sniježnica I did the same thing. Instead of a hundred women on Sniježnica this was a married couple and two dogs on Sniježnica. Now right at the start I have to be honest and say that I have never really been a great fan of walking up hills and mountains and anything that has snow. Far from it, if it’s flat it’s fine, if its uphill I avoid. However, “carpe diem” as I have never been to the top of the highest peak in the region before I agreed to my wife’s proposal.
Yes, my wife is the hiker in our family, well my wife and our two dogs to be more precise. I have always thought it strange that the mountain was 1,234 metres high, seems like perfect symmetry. But to make matters even more strange did you know that there is a drop in the Adriatic, almost directly opposite of Sniježnica which is 1,234 metre deep. Now that is the Twilight Zone!
Se we set off, with me still thinking that I would be able to conquer the 34 metres and leave the 1,200 to another day. Firstly, what an absolutely glorious piece of countryside, world class! We parked at the bottom and the evidence of the hundreds of women who had trod this route just the day before was everywhere, hanging in the air, almost mocking me.
The start, well the start almost finished me early on. My calves started to burn, my lungs exploded and my knees locked up. If it was going to be like this the whole way to the top, I would need the Mountain Rescue to fly in with a helicopter soon. But just like sex the more I tried the easier it became. “Are you sure you are OK,” asked my wife as sweat ran down my forehead. I nodded. I would have answered her with a “yes, I’m fine, what a lovely view,” but my lungs could either breath or speak, not the two at the same time. Marathon runners say that when running at some point you hit an imaginary wall that stops you in your tracks and you just have to push on through it. It had hit the Berlin Wall, the Great Wall of China and if Trump had built a wall, then his as well.
Thankfully my saviour was Mother Nature. I have seen some beautiful nature in my time on this earth but the views from the Sniježnica mountain must be up there in the top three. “Shall we stop for a rest,” asked my wife. I wanted to say “I thought you’d never ask,” but yes you guessed it I just nodded in agreement. I collapsed to the grassy floor like one of Mike Tyson’s opponents.
My dog and I had something in common – both out tongues were hanging out gasping for water.
And then as I lay crumpled on the grass I suddenly realised why hiking up mountains is so popular. It is completely silent. The whistle of the wind, the occasional bird and that is about it. Way above the hustle and bustle of the Dubrovnik café bars I soaked up the peace like a sponge. We pushed further upwards. Would I need an oxygen bottle? To be honest I could have done with a bottle about 300 metres from my car. And then Mother Nature decided to change the situation. I was in good form now, my muscles had warmed up and I was leaping like a mountain goat. But the weather had closed in.
Low clouds, or fog, I don’t really know the difference, had covered the top and was coming down towards us. Just my luck. I’ll get to the top of this bloody thing and won’t be able to see my hand in front of my face! So we reached the 1,000 metre mark, so near and yet so far, and decided to take an alternative route back down. Like I said, I went up a mountain and came down a hill. We climbed over a small ridge and before us an incredible panorama, the snow topped mountains in the distance peeking through the clouds.
I think it was George Bernard Shaw who described Montenegro as a “sea of mountains,” he wasn’t wrong. Unspoilt nature as far as the eye could see and apart from the path we were walking on, not a manmade object in sight. Mankind can build the highest buildings, paint the most exquisite paintings, design the most beautiful objects but we will never ever get anywhere close to the magnificence of nature, not even close. I will be back Sniježnica, and next time I am coming to sit on your head!