5 simple interior design tips to light up your Airbnb on a tight budget in Malaysia 

5 simple interior design tips for Airbnb on a budget in Malaysia

 

There are more than a few reasons that travellers all over the world choose Airbnb over hotels. Low cost, convenient locations and household amenities are just to name a few. However, our experience tells us the biggest factor is the interior design of the apartment. Even if the apartment is in a poor location, beautiful interior design can help generate outstanding returns.

Here are some tips you can upgrade your house to an outstanding Airbnb listing on a tight budget in Malaysia.


A unique interior design style to be different is good

We have tested all sorts of style and our best units that move are those which play with cool colours and have a design flair. It can be achieved with a funky yellow chair, huge carpets or a quick repaint of the walls to create a feature presence. Also, some feature lights would light up your house, and make the guest staying in feel more bright and cosy.

One of the most clicked on posts in Airbnb Malaysia

Decorating your place with interesting art, furniture and bedding would make the unit a memorable homey feel to the guest. Built-ins can be sourced from Recommend, while larger furniture can be found at local furniture stores, or simply IKEA. Avoid picking common furniture that is easily recognisable as IKEA though – it gives the impression that little thought has been put into the interior design.

Interior design that works in Malaysia
Panorama – the marble looking wallpaper makes the living room appear expensive. Click here to book

One of the best ways to set the mood and atmosphere of your space is with ambient lighting. This light makes the space warm and welcoming even if you are not there. By ambient lighting, we mean not overhead or harsh lights that cause shadows. Lighting should be soft white, not bright blue or fluorescent.

 

A complete kitchen would help

Airbnb is consistently chosen over hotels because of the convenience. That includes having a kitchen and utensils. Guests staying would be grateful to have some pots, pans and cutleries to cook themselves. Therefore, make sure you prepare some of them and would be even more convenient with some oil, salt or sugar.

Being on a stricter budget than hotel travellers, the kitchen is an essential appeal which cannot be ignored. 

The Establishment - Airbnb vacation rental management
Pots and pans in our Airbnb at The Establishment
Binjai Residency - Interior Design done right
Binjai Residency (click here to book) – attractive photography and beautiful interiors help to generate around RM15,000 a month

Have extra of everything – also extra 1 or 2 beds


Because sometimes, one set of towels is not enough. As some guest may have long stays, therefore, a set of towels would not be enough for them. Even though our units have housekeepers who can also deliver to guest during their stays, but in the case, you just have yourself in the business, make sure to have extra in the storage of the unit. Some extra amounts of items like light bulbs, extra bath towels, pillows, toilet paper, boxes of tissue, so they don’t run out during their stay. This would be handy for everyone.


Why extra bed? One of the top performing Airbnb in Malaysia can always “squeeze” more than it could. As said before, some guests just want to have a one-night-cooking with their friends, and no one wants to be left out, so extra beds or foldable mattresses would be handy. As in Plush, we charge RM30 extra per head per night and most of our customers happy to pay a little extra.

 

Little touch goes a long way

Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel

Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are heavy to carry when you travel. And we, as a guest, all love accommodations that prepare free shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, so why not put these into your unit. Dishwasher or detergent are also appreciated, these are things that you would use little of as a short term guest. We have found that guests also ask beforehand and value having a washing machine so they can travel light carry-on.

 

Detergent and dishwasher for short-term stays


We have always checked if our unit has enough shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, detergent, dishwasher and handwash before any check-in, as some guest may use up after their stays. But you can also leave some in one of the drawers in the kitchen just in case you wouldn’t be free all the time to deliver to guest during their stay.

 

Iron, iron board and a hairdryer

We also put an iron, iron board and a hairdryer. This may sound a bit strange, but A hair dryer & iron are inexpensive and having them in your property illustrate that you have thought of the little things, that just may save the day for a guest.  Many guests are visiting the area for a wedding or other formal event and an iron will help de-wrinkle their clothes from their suitcase.


Some feature items may up level the unit


Who doesn’t like a coffee machine? As we love making our own coffee, we put one machine into the unit for our guests. The guest would be even more grateful if you put a little note beside the machine on how to operate it, or can also be sent in the Airbnb message like us do. 

 

A coffee machine set up in The Mews 

 

Some decorative pillows will upgrade the unit immediately. Pillows are cool and fun for both kids and adults, also great comfy and cosy feeling for everyone

Colourful pillows brighter the room 

“Mirrors are like art in that the style should coincide with other pieces in your home” designer Amy Bubier says. Aside from being an interesting addition to a blank space in a room, mirrors also have many benefits for the room and its occupants as well. The mirror can “double the place”. This is because mirrors reflect light and once it bounces, it gives the illusion of a much bigger space, without actually moving the walls further.

Decorative mirror in Mercu Summer Suites – SS#6

Mirrors can also increase the brightness of a room, because of its property to let the light bounce in all corners of the room. Use large mirrors or mirrors with decorative frames to attract the eye by placing them on the most visually prominent walls or tables, or on huge blank spaces.

Binjai#4 kitchen brighten up by setting up a mirror

 

As in Plush, these recommendations are applied to all the units we are managed. In addition, come along with many different services, such as professional photography, well-trained housekeeping service, clear communication with guests before and during guest staying in. To get to know more about Plush and our service, contact us here!

Tel: +60 3 2181 9399
Email: [email protected]

 

9 things you most likely didn’t know about Airbnb Management companies

Transform your Airbnb with an Airbnb Management Service Operator

By Yap Vin Li, Co-Founder of Plush Services (contact us here for more information)

With the overall property market in Malaysia expected to remain soft in the foreseeable future, Malaysian property owners are left with few choices: waiting for a long-term tenant, trying to sell the property or turning to short-term rentals. Short-term or Airbnb rentals are becoming an increasingly popular option as owners struggle to meet loan repayments.

Airbnb, probably the largest platform, has seen a 99% growth over the past year, with over 44,000 listings – with good reason. The flexibility of staying in the apartment at certain times combined with customised insurance makes hosting an easy choice. However, as most people who have tried it can attest, it isn’t the easiest path – cleaning and key exchanges can be a large issue if you’re holding a full-time job, or if you’re just not feeling any joy in hosting.  This is where an Airbnb management service provider comes in!

How we started

This short-term or Airbnb management service idea started back in 2016 when Ken and I decided to rent out our own apartment on Airbnb. Eager to earn extra cash, we took the first booking we got, and accepted cash upon arrival, which led to the very costly result – our guest smoked in our apartment and left us with major cleaning work to be done. Back then, guidelines, tips and tricks, blogs and how-to’s were very vague, thus forcing us to learn on our own. We realized that perhaps an Airbnb management service company would have helped us avoid costly mistakes.

With no idea if there was even a demand for a service we provided, we struck out on our own. We were going to be the Airbnb management service that we needed. We proceeded to convince a friend to let us run a unit at Binjai Residency. We decorated the place, hired our first part-time cleaner and threw 150% of our effort into learning everything we could about Airbnb and short-term rentals.

Airbnb Property Management Services Malaysia - Binjai - Plush Services
Binjai Residency – one of our first few apartments that we transformed into a top 10 Airbnb apartment in 2018 in Kuala Lumpur (information from 3rd party source: AirDNA)

Realizing that we could help other homeowners and investors, we started Plush Services. We were one of the first few service operators in Malaysia, but we wanted to be different. There wasn’t a player that was providing quality services and leveraging the multitude of procedures that we must get the best returns for each unit. With no guidelines or comparisons, we outlined our core principles that we wanted the foundation of our company to be built upon:

  • To provide high quality short-term homestays
  • To always be honest and transparent with our clients
  • To strive to provide the best service we could for our clients and our guests

Although we have grown to a much larger company, we still stick to these core principles to date.

What makes us different from any other Airbnb management service provider

1. Dynamic Pricing

We have experimented with so many strategies – pricing makes or breaks the listing. We invest heavily in our technology to ensure our clients achieve significantly higher returns compared to a DIY solution. We are extremely proud of our proprietary dynamic pricing system which updates our pricing daily.

We send ‘heartbeats’ to our Airbnb listings, letting it know that each listing is an active, which helps us secure more bookings and avoid empty and inactive properties. We are also able to set minimum night stays (which helps us weed out ‘parties’) and adjust our price based on demand to maximize returns to our homeowners. Various strategies are also implemented – we don’t open bookings for 1 night unless it makes economical sense (only 4 nights before the date + if we have 2 bookings with 1 night in between).

Our in-house pricing strategists will also tweak all our prices daily to ensure maximum yield. This helps us with delivering exceptionally higher returns than most other property managers out there. New Year’s Eve, for example, is a night where demand far outstrips demand. Holding on to some supply allowed us to achieve some exceptional returns for our clients last year. Our record: RM7,630 for a 5 night booking for a 3 bedroom apartment in The Mews.

Our 3BR Mews unit achieved a record-breaking RM2,500 on New Years Eve last year (price for 1 night)

2. Our fabulous interior design team

Its vital for all guests walking into our homes to feel the warm Malaysian hospitality. Each property must feel homey, comfortable and clean. It must have all the basic amenities like bath soap and shampoos, towels, blankets, tables and chairs, and on and on the list goes. However, its the extra touches that make a huge difference. We would highly recommend:

  1. 2 pillows per person
  2. Shampoo and soap
  3. Free mineral water for guests when they arrive
  4. Hand soap, dish towels, coffee, tea etc
  5. Many other items which we ensure are in the unit for our clients – do contact us here for further details

All these basics are necessary, but what makes your unit successful vs any other listing? The interior design. Subtle touches of an interior designer converts an ordinary Airbnb listing to an extremely profitable one. At Plush Services, we have a team of interior designers that would work hand-in-hand with homeowners to maximise each home’s potential. This includes a guidebook for guests, small welcome notes and labels for every appliance in the apartment. We keep personal items to a minimum but decorate with easy-to-clean, inexpensive decor to minimize risk and maximise profitability.

We encourage all our clients to take advantage of our team as the benefits they generate far outstrips the costs. We’ve included some sample work of what we have accomplished below – we’ll also separately post more details on each property in other posts. No matter what your budget is, subtle design improvements and changes can radically improve booking rates. We provide valuable (some times free!) advice to our clients as homestay operators to ensure that their units achieve maximum returns.

1 bedroom at the Mews, Jalan Yap Kwan Seng

Our owner opted for higher end furnishing to achieve maximum yields. We spent approximately RM30,000 – this even included a coffee machine, a high end foldable queen sized couch, high end lighting works and custom bedding.

A bare unit (the ‘before shot’)
Before and After Interior Design for Airbnb
The bare unit prior to our ID going in
The final outcome – click here for more pictures
Best Airbnb KLCC, Bukit Bintang
A 1 bedroom Mews unit along Jalan Yap Kwan Seng – fully fitted out with a foldable couch

Studio at Mercu Summer Suites

This client opted for the most economical path forward – the cost of the renovation works was about RM13k for the entire studio, including linen.

A bare unit (the ‘before shot’)
Before: A studio unit at Mercu Summer Suites
Before: A studio unit at Mercu Summer Suites
The final outcome – click here for more pictures
Before and after interior design in Malaysia
Studio at Mercu Summer Suites – interior design on a budget!

3. Insurance and peace of mind

We subscribe to a group policy covering third party liability, fire and theft which our owners can opt into.  Using a large, reputable Airbnb management service provider gives property owners access to specific short-term insurance without having to buy a standalone policy which would cost much more. Peace of mind is critical for short-term rentals: although we spend a great deal of time weeding out bad guests, it helps to have a safety net in case of any damage.

4. Administrative tasks / Accounting / Financials

Being a relatively new concept, there aren’t any clear guidelines on tax for short-term rentals. We can’t do your actual tax filing for you, but we keep clean records of every bill paid on your property for tax filing purposes, making your life a lot easier come April. We also pay all electricity, water and gas bills on time to ensure utilities aren’t cut off – the last thing you want is a 12 am call in the middle of the night from a guest due to a power outage. Not only do you have to compensate your guest, it is highly likely that you’ll be up all night trying to get TNB to get the power back on.

Aside from that, we also produce a statement each month detailing revenues received, all expenses related to the property and any other miscellaneous costs associated with your property. If you need extra help, we are happy to pay extra bills such as building’s maintenance fees if you’re not from Malaysia. Each month, after receiving the statement, you should also receive a bank transfer of rent each month without fail, taking the burden of collecting rent off your shoulders. The advantage of hiring an Airbnb management service provider, is after all, to manage your property without lifting a finger.

5. 24/7 reservations staff, awesome cleaning and a 24/7 maintenance crew for emergencies 

St. Mary Residences - Airbnb vacation rental management
Keeping your home well maintained and clean always is a must, with or without guests.

Hosting a short-term rental is no easy feat. Opting for a DIY solution means answering late night calls and replying to messages during dinner – and reviews depend on your speed. One of the reasons we exist is that a good Airbnb service provider would have a 24/7 call center dealing with issues round-the-clock. We handle all sorts of problems – water outage when Syabas has a pipe leak, emergency power outages, a leaky faucet that causes flooding. You name it, we’ve handled it. Although some of these issues can wait till morning due to security at apartments, having a 24/7 team means that we are able to respond to any emergencies immediately, usually stopping a bad review. As reviews matter enormously in our line of business, it could mean the difference between a profitable unit and a loss-making one.

It is definitely possible to outsource cleaning and maintenance to different individuals – hire a part-time cleaner or go on service platforms to get maintenance help, but the coordination work is where an Airbnb management service team comes in handy. The hands-off approach is what keeps a roof over our heads, and what makes us better than any other normal host. We ourselves have tried outsourcing cleaning and maintenance to others, but nothing beats doing it ourselves in terms of quality. After a few unhappy guests, we built our own team of dedicated maintenance professionals that are available on call for immediate action, keeping guests happy and ratings as high as it possibly can be.

We have trained our staff extensively and are quite proud of our level of service:

  • Reservations team: Our aim is to reduce the amount of calls to a minimum and to ensure our guests are always happy. This means giving guests the necessary information upfront. We also aim to respond to a message within 15 minutes, even though our current response rate on Airbnb is ‘within an hour’
  • Cleaning crew: Our cleaning crew is trained to spot missing items from theft. Hairdryers, hangers, plates, forks and spoons tend to go missing with guests knicking these items. It also isn’t unusual to find towels missing. By operating a strict checklist, our cleaners are our first line of defence against theft. They are also in charge of reporting any maintenance issues to our team so that we can get to it before the guest finds it! And of course, the cleaning needs to be in tip-top shape
  • Maintenance crew: We have round the clock maintenance in case of emergencies where our guys are always on call. We do routine servicing of aircons, paint jobs and routine health checks on all our properties to ensure it is always in its best shape

Plush Services also has dedicated operation managers for each property, ensuring that our clients’ homes are professionally serviced. They also inspect their assigned properties after guests check out and before new guests check in, ensuring each home is in tip top condition. Both our reservations and maintenance teams are on-call 24/7, ensuring that any issue that may arise will be handled quickly and efficiently to keep our guests comfortable and happy.

6. Ratings

In this modern era of free information, all potential guests or customers will most likely do as much research as possible before committing to a product or service. Expect your home to be judged by potential guests based on the star ratings based on reviews from your previous guests. All your hard work, financial investments and patience can and will be wasted if you receive an unsatisfactory rating. As an Airbnb host, you must do everything in your power to make your guests feel as welcome as possible. Going the extra mile to ensure that guests are personally welcomed to the home, oriented to its amenities and rooms along with answering questions about where to go during their stay will offer you the best chances of getting great reviews.

At Plush Services, we aim to offer the best guest experience on all properties we manage. This is where all the work listed above shine their brightest. Your home will be spotlessly clean and comfortable thanks to our housekeeping and maintenance team. Your guests will be met personally by our concierge team for a property tour and briefing during the key handover. Our interior design team will ensure that your property is beautiful, cozy and Instagram worthy, resulting in happier guests.

7. Flexibility for Owners

We believe that our owners are not just clients, but our partners in business. We strive to achieve the best result for our clients, even if it is financially less rewarding to us. All our clients have our personal numbers so that we are always contactable – many of our clients can attest to having late night whatsapp chats with us on how we can increase returns or how we can potentially deal with various issues. With this level of communication, home owners can easily block off dates to use for personal use with no cost to them, giving flexibility in case they want to sell their unit or if family members come to stay.

8. Ability to service any building within our coverage area

Airbnb Property Management Services Malaysia - MEWS - Plush Services
The Mews: Strategically located in the hub of Kuala Lumpur, Plush Services can get staff onto your property fast.

Unlike other Airbnb management service providers, we have perfected our cleaning and management services to be able to cater smaller units usually not covered by our competitors. We are present in over 30 apartment blocks across Kuala Lumpur and are expanding rapidly to increase our coverage area. Our list of apartments include:

  1. Suasana Bukit Ceylon
  2. The Robertson Residences
  3. The Establishment
  4. Nadi Bangsar
  5. Soho Suites KLCC
  6. Binjai Residency
  7. Troika
  8. Binjai 8 Premium Soho
  9. Menara Bukit Ceylon
  10. Crest Residences
  11. Mercu Summer Suites
  12. Berjaya Times Square
  13. Wisma Goldhill
  14. 231TR
  15. UBN Apartments
  16. Sunway Velocity
  17. Swiss Garden Residences
  18. And more!

9. Full Transparency

Here at Plush Services, we hope to build a strong sense of trust with our property owners. We have an internal system for clients to login and view live bookings from our internal system. Each month, our clients also obtain a detailed report on who has stayed at their unit as well as any minor maintenance that has been done. Further details such as actual invoices can also be requested to ensure our clients feel as comfortable as they can with us. Larger changes, such as a makeover or major maintenance works will never be done without our client’s approval – the property is ultimately theirs, and good communication and responsiveness is crucial to the listing’s success. For more information, do check out our Facebook page or drop us a note here. Our reservations team can also be contacted at +603 2181 9399 for bookings.

About the author

Vin is the co-founder of Plush Services. Prior to that, she worked for 8 years as an investment banker in some of the largest banks globally including Barclays, Rothschild and Macquarie in Singapore and Malaysia. She previously advised on mergers and acquisitions focusing on consumer services, plantations, education, utilities and various other sectors. At Plush Services, she heads the reservation and administrative teams. She has extensive experience in maximizing yields of properties to ensure Plush Services’ clients are happy.