Founded in 2008 in California, Airbnb is an online marketplace for accommodation, including rentals and homestays for various amounts of time. Some people just use it for a night or two, and others may find long-term accommodations with the platform.
One of the more defining economic developments of the 21st century is the “gig economy”. Depending upon the perspective, the gig economy is either the best invention on the entire planet or it is an indicator of greater global financial woes. Perhaps the reality exists somewhere between the two extremes.
For individuals who need extra income and have the means by which to make that income through their assets, the sharing economy is ideal. It is akin to being self-employed, but with some corporate backing, if needed. The company that best defines this practice, having become part and parcel of the popular culture vernacular, is Airbnb.
Rather than actually owning any of the properties offered on the site, Airbnb is the broker, providing the means by which the property owner and the potential customer arrange the lodging agreement. Airbnb receives a commission from the property owner for providing this service.
Airbnb is Well Known Internationally
- 1 Airbnb is Well Known Internationally
- 2 How to Make Money with Airbnb
- 2.1 Know Your Counterparty
- 2.2 Setup Your Profile or Property
- 2.3 Fine Tune Your Online Presence
- 2.4 1. Be Honest
- 2.5 2. Communication is Key
- 2.6 3. Set the rules
- 2.7 4. Allow Instant Booking
- 2.8 5. Cancellation Policy
- 2.9 6. Check-In and Check Out
- 2.10 7. Make Check In and Check Out Easy for your Guests
- 2.11 8. Leave a Manual and a Guidebook
- 2.12 9. Add some thoughtful touches
- 2.13 10. Decorating Ideas
- 2.14 11. If there are any problems, immediately contact Airbnb
- 2.15 12. Dealing With Bad Reviews
- 2.16 13. Super Host Badge
- 3 Airbnb is Great for Travel, and a Side Hustle Too!
Just four years after its founding, nine million people were using the online platform, and the acquisition of properties was increasing by an impressive percentage. By 2019, two million people around the globe were staying at an Airbnb rental every night. In 2018, the company posted a $200 million profit, although 2019 was a tumultuous financial year.
With these types of statistics and the simplicity of the platform, Airbnb is an absolute dream for many who want to pay their mortgage, improve their equity, and make easy money. There is no longer a need for a property to sit vacant, waiting for long term tenants or for someone to buckle under the financial burden of an expensive rent.
If you are new to Airbnb, you might ponder how exactly it works. In some ways, it is very similar to booking a hotel room online, but rather than staying in a corporate chain, as a “guest” you will be staying in someone’s property, complete with unique accents and idiosyncratic amenities.
How to Make Money with Airbnb
As mentioned earlier, Airbnb is a platform for “hosts” to display their properties to potential “guests” for short term lodging. Hosts provide both photos and essential information about their property, such as housing type, number of guests, and home rules.
Guests can search for accommodation using filters, including location, price, dates, and type. There are also search filters for unique or unusual homes, vacation rentals, and inns. If needed or wanted, guests and hosts can communicate via email prior to booking.
In order for a guest to book a property, they must create an Airbnb account that contains personal information. In addition to the personal data, guests will provide payment information prior to the booking.
In the legal realm of terms and conditions, there is quite a lengthy agreement for Airbnb members to sign. This is meant to protect all parties involved. By becoming an Airbnb member, whether as a host or a guest, you agree to these terms and conditions, so that you can offer and/or book that property with minimal hassle.
Know Your Counterparty
Like many companies and service providers, Airbnb has a rating system. In an attempt at fairness, guests and hosts rate each other after the stay, and cannot see the reviews until each party has submitted their own.
There has been some concern about truthfulness, impartiality, and retaliation in the reviews, and therefore, it remains a contested system. However, guests and hosts will naturally want to achieve a high ranking, so if you have a property and are intrigued about the possibilities of Airbnb, following below is a list of how to get started and how to be an awesome host.
Please note that you should research any laws and/or regulations in your city, state or country that might limit the opportunity to list your property on Airbnb.
In the United States, California, New York, Washington DC, and Charleston, SC, have imposed regulations on short-term rentals. Internationally, Japan, Ireland, Amsterdam, Venice, and Barcelona also have restrictions and enforcement of those restrictions. Therefore, it is obviously not advisable to break any housing laws.
Setup Your Profile or Property
Once you have checked your legal eligibility, you will complete your Airbnb profile and post pertinent information about your property. This information encompasses the type of housing, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, dimensions, amenities, location, number of guests and of course, the rates.
The true selling point of many properties is the photographs. By now, most of us have watched enough Netflix reality shows about interior design, homestays, and marketing to know that well-shot pictures can influence potential guests more than any well-written summary.
Airbnb will provide a professional photographer to shoot the property. As can be expected, the photographer will make the property look as good as possible, especially with lighting, wide angles, and Photoshop.
Fine Tune Your Online Presence
Once you have done the basics, it is time to delve deeper into becoming the most amazing and helpful Airbnb host on the planet.
1. Be Honest
Even though you are attempting to “sell” your property to a potential guest, and want to paint (literally and metaphorically) it in the best light, exaggerating and/or lying will not help in the long run. Guests will feel disappointed at best, cheated and angry at worst. These sentiments will lead to bad reviews and low bookings for the property.
At some point in our travels, we all have walked into a rented room or property, whether a hotel or Airbnb and discovered that it doesn’t even closely resemble the image on the website. Guests often will be frustrated with a place that didn’t meet their expectations, and they will be quite unhappy with the deception.
As much as you want to rent that property, it simply isn’t worth it to lie. Being honest about all aspects of the property, from the size of the rooms to the balcony views, allows potential guests to make informed decisions. The listing should be faithful to reality, which is one of the best compliments a host can receive.
If something is broken or cannot be used, mention it in the listing, and if so desired, offer a discount. If the property can accommodate only four people, don’t advertise for parties of five or more. If there is no space for children, make sure that it is clear as well.
Even if the photos make the property virtually stunning, being honest about any potential flaws will have the guests appreciating the candor.
Being upfront and honest also extends to location and noise level. If you are not close to the city center, don’t advertise that you are a mere ten-minute walk away.
If you have noisy neighbors or your property is surrounded by bars, discos, and late-night restaurants, please include that information in the listing. Noise is a serious consideration for some guests and in order to avoid any misunderstanding, be clear about the immediate environment.
2. Communication is Key
Even with all of the great technology designed to make communication easier, people do tend to fall behind in their correspondence.
However, as a host, you should answer every inquiry from a possible guest, even if the property is unavailable and the booking request is denied. You never know if that guest will seek you out in the future, so building a rapport via email can have future ramifications.
Answering every message may seem like an overwhelming task, but people definitely appreciate the acknowledgment of a reply and the time invested in composing it. People will view you as an attentive, helpful host, which will help with immediate and future ratings and bookings.
However, if you receive any inquiries from any source outside of Airbnb, do not respond, even if it is from an Airbnb member seeking to circumvent the fees. For some, the Airbnb percentage might be a bit costly, so people might want to make a deal “off of the books”.
One of the perks of using a platform with member profiles is that it confers security and equity for both guests and hosts, so dealing with rogue requests and unscreened individuals is neither necessary nor safe.
3. Set the rules
It is expected that each property listed on Airbnb is accompanied by a set of rules. The rules must be accepted by the guests as part of the check in process, so it is a chance for you to be crystal clear about what is allowed and what is not.
For some, this may include building rules about:
- Parking (is it included? Are there designated parking spaces?)
- Pets (is it a pet-friendly facility?)
- Children, noise (no loud noise after 11:00 pm)
- Hours (is there a front desk curfew? What time does the pool close? Is the laundromat open 24 hours?)
- Smoking (is it an entirely smoke-free facility? Or is there a designated smoking area?)
- Use of amenities (no tennis at midnight?)
- Neighborhood rules regarding noise and parking
In addition to these concerns, the rules stipulate the check-in and check out times, and whether or not these times are negotiable, depending upon certain extenuating circumstances.
4. Allow Instant Booking
Although this may seem like a common sense tip, hosts do not have to choose this option. You could conduct the reservation through email prior to them sending a booking request, but instant booking is quick and efficient for both parties. In fact, not offering this easy option could deter some potential guests from booking the property.
If you are anxious about the instant booking, know that there is a grace period for cancellations. Should there be any subsequent concerns or second thoughts about the booking, you may cancel the reservation. Please know that guests must agree to the property rules prior to making the reservation, so this should give you peace of mind about instant booking.
5. Cancellation Policy
Airbnb offers three different cancellation policies: Flexible, Moderate, and Strict. Strict is subdivided into even more options including Strict (with grace period), Super Strict 30 days and Super Strict 60 days.
Obviously, you will want to decide the best one for you, but Moderate and Strict are the best choices because you are guaranteed some or all of the money in case of a cancellation or travel change. Because it can be difficult to fill a vacancy at the last minute, the strict cancellation policy protects you as the host.
6. Check-In and Check Out
Related to the above rule, checking guests in and out of the property is a fundamental aspect of being an Airbnb host. When establishing the preferred times for these transactions, be kind to yourself and give yourself enough time between rentals. You will need this time to determine the state of the vacated property.
If you are renting a room in a larger property, assessing the condition of the room and preparing it for the next guest will demand a lesser time commitment and less energy. However, if you are renting an entire property, you will need the time to clean and prep it.
Some guests will leave the property as pristine as possible, and others may leave it looking like the Tasmanian Devil had a party there. If you have the latter, rather than the former, you will need a large portion of time to clean up the mess. This also should be reflected in the accompanying cleaning fee.
If you would like for the guests to clean as they go or at the very least clean up after themselves, provide cleaning products of your choice. Gently remind the guests of where these items may be found, and hopefully, they will get the hint.
As tempting as it may be to book consecutive rentals, because of the wild cards of guest behavior and cleanliness, you should take time to address any issues with the property. Having a guest waiting to check in while you clean the last vestiges of food out of the sink will increase your stress level and irritate the guest. Give yourself time to tend to the flat and make every guest experience wonderful.
7. Make Check In and Check Out Easy for your Guests
From a practical perspective, meeting and greeting guests takes precision timing. If your guests are new to the city, they may underestimate the travel time to the property.
Therefore, you should give them detailed directions, whether they are coming from the airport or the metro, or they are taking the bus or a cab. Even if they are not driving, they can at least be aware of their surroundings.
If they are arriving at the airport, ask for their flight details, so that you can track the flight to ascertain if it is delayed, or by some miracle, it landed early. By using the airport website for this information, you can avoid long waits for guests, and formulate a more realistic estimated time of arrival at the flat.
The day before the scheduled arrival, reach out to the guest to make sure that you have the correct mobile number. People may change their numbers when traveling, and it is possible that the number used to make the reservation may not be the number used on the ground.
If you have the relevant number, you can send them a brief text upon their arrival. You will be seen as an attentive and organized host, but most importantly, both you and the guest will have a means of communicating with each other should the need arise.
Many hosts use automatic remote locks that are activated by different codes given to each guest. This is also termed a keypad doorknob. With this amazing piece of technology, hosts do not even need to be present when their guests check-in, which can be particularly helpful if it is early morning or late at night.
8. Leave a Manual and a Guidebook
Although there is a list of rules to which guests agree prior to booking, it is helpful to have a printed copy of those rules in the property. It will refresh the guests’ memory and possibly defuse any potential disputes. Include your name and contact information in case you were unable to touch base prior to their arrival.
Manuals should be provided for any type of appliance, from the washing machine and oven to the air conditioner and the water heater. For example, glass top stoves need to be cleaned in a particular manner, so it is best to leave instructions and the relevant cleaner.
In case of any questions or concerns, or even malfunction, the guests will have all pertinent information at their disposal. The manual also can detail where to find extra towels, sheets, the breaker panel, and those important cleaning supplies.
The guidebook is a bit more fun. Not only should it give practical information, but it should also list things to do locally. Such information entails nearby grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals (not overly exciting but definitely important), banks, restaurants, and cafes.
If applicable, bus schedules and metro maps should be included. If there is a culinary delight or critically acclaimed eatery in the neighborhood, definitely direct your guests’ attention to it.
As far as tourist activities, tell your guests about museums and galleries, beaches and parks, shopping and seasonal festivals.
List all activities from parasailing to dolphin watching and architectural tours to art-house movie theaters. Your guests may have done their pre-travel research about what to do and to see, but inside knowledge from a local is even more valuable.
9. Add some thoughtful touches
A handwritten note welcoming your guests to the property is a nice touch. Adding local treats, such as cookies, candies or fruit, and postcards will make them feel even more welcomed, particularly in conjunction with the guidebook.
Other small details can make all of the difference in the word to weary travelers, newly arrived in a possibly new place. Cold water in the refrigerator is definitely a great idea. It saves guests from having to worry about water from the tap or buying water for themselves.
Providing shampoo, conditioner, and soap is thoughtful since guests won’t need to carry heavy liquids with them as they travel. Having dish soap and washing powder means the guests don’t have to purchase their own supplies and helps with keeping the property clean.
Depending upon your splurging level, keeping basic foodstuffs, like cooking oil, salt, pepper, and sugar, can ease food preparation worries and costs.
Other amenities should be based on location. If your property is located at the beach, stocking beach chairs and an umbrella is clever and convenient. If you are near a lake, having fishing poles and boat rental coupons is awesome.
Families with children under the age of three may need a crib and/or toddler bed, and these perks will increase your booking appeal. If people are booking your property for a special occasion, such as a wedding or anniversary, putting flowers in the property or writing a note of congratulations are the small detailed touches that make a guest feel happy and welcome.
Again, depending upon your budget and energy levels, going that extra mile in customer service, acting akin to a concierge, has great results.
Facilitating someone with dietary needs or medical concerns, or assisting with business items like printing or scanning, are minor acts that create satisfied guests who will return to your property, leave excellent reviews, and may even leave a handwritten note or souvenir for you.
To facilitate communication and appreciation between hosts and guests, Airbnb allows hosts to send former guests holiday cards via their messenger system. Not only is this a smart business move, but also an additional effective personal touch.
10. Decorating Ideas
The first and foremost of these suggestions is to put a cover on all mattresses. Multiple people will be sleeping on the same bed, and therefore, like a hotel, you need to protect the mattress. It is one of the best investments you can make, so buy a high-quality one that will cover the entire mattress.
White sheets may appear elegant and minimalistic, giving the room a light and airy feel, like a five-star hotel room, but white sheets are hard to keep clean.
Over a period of time, they will appear dingy and gray. Not to mention that white sheets show every stain, so unless the stain is addressed immediately, you might be stuck with sheets inadvertently decorated with red wine, or worse.
Therefore, it is worthwhile to choose colored sheets. Patterned sheets may be a bit too much unless they have a simple design like stripes. Like the mattress cover, think about how many guests will use the cleaned sheets and how much wear and tear they can sustain.
The same may be stated for light-colored furniture. Obviously, you cannot afford to completely refurbish the property, so if you do have a white or tan-colored sofa or chairs, it is best to buy covers for them.
Covers that can be easily removed and laundered keep the property clean and make that cleaning process much easier. If possible, invest in multiple slipcovers which can change the feel of the property and minimalize turn around time.
11. If there are any problems, immediately contact Airbnb
This may seem like an obvious tip, but then again, you might be tempted to remedy a problem by yourself. Considering that Airbnb has a window of 48 hours before returning the security deposit to the guest, you have limited time to rely on corporate support. It is best to contact Airbnb immediately if there are issues.
Such a situation usually entails damage to the property, so should that occur, in an unlikely event, contact Airbnb with a request to recoup any associated costs from the deposit. Airbnb will ask you to resolve the situation with the guest yourself, but if needed, they will intervene.
In a situation where damage was incurred, take pictures and gather any additional evidence to support your case.
Even if ultimately you do end up negotiating with the guest, knowing that Airbnb is aware of the situation can be a source of relief. However, you still must honor the 48-hour window, since, upon expiration of that time, the security deposit is returned to the guest.
Please note that you cannot recoup expenses for a property left extraordinarily dirty. This is why there is an accompanying cleaning fee. Destruction of property and illegal activities definitely should be reported to Airbnb and you certainly should be entitled to the associated expenses.
12. Dealing With Bad Reviews
Try not to let bad reviews get you down, especially when you are just starting in your new endeavor. Easier said than done, but there is always a learning curve, plus dealing with the public can be stressful.
Airbnb does allow for the host to reply to a guest’s bad review, so should you feel the clarify the situation or to address a real or perceived grievance, that is an available option.
The current platform does encourage positive reviews, from both guests and hosts (remember that you can rate your guests). Leaving bad reviews tends to cast the complainers in an unfavorable light, so even though the system is transparent, it does not foster brutal honesty.
Nonetheless, if a guest does have multiple bad reviews, it would behoove you to use caution when agreeing to a booking.
13. Super Host Badge
Although you might be just beginning your Airbnb journey, and your goal might be a bit more practical, having a long term goal of achieving Super Host status can be a powerful motivator.
Gaining this badge entails hosting many guests who leave positive reviews. As noted above, while there are some flaws with the current review platform, positive reviews are more common than negative ones, so ask your guests to leave a review.
Airbnb has a window of two weeks for guests to post a review, so after one week, you might want to gently remind them to do so.
As a Super Host, bookings will increase, which of course, is the entire point of joining the Airbnb community. The Super Host badge makes you and your property appealing to guests, so by following the above tips, you should be well on your way to claiming that badge.
Airbnb is Great for Travel, and a Side Hustle Too!
Becoming an Airbnb host is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. After all, you are opening your property, which is a prized possession in this global economy, to a (hopefully) never-ending line of strangers. It is natural to have some reservations (pun intended) about this since your home is your proverbial castle.
Believing in the kindness of strangers can be difficult for many, but it is the cornerstone of working with the public.
If you take the leap and assume that your guests are good people, and treat them as such with all of the little personal touches and solid outstanding concierge services, you will definitely reap what you sow.
What effort you put into the endeavor will return to you in the form of great reviews, increased bookings, and that coveted Super Host Badge. There is no doubt that there will be much work to do to get the property ready for renting and to maintain that high standard throughout your entire Airbnb career.
With the above tips, from the cleaning supplies and the slipcovers to the guidebook and the cold water, you can create a relaxing environment and a vacation sanctuary for your guests, while earning money.
If you want to learn more about how other people have listed their properties or want to get started with the platform, just click right here to visit Airbnb’s website. It is easy to use, and there are loads of places to choose from.
There may be a few bumps along the way, but overall, you can succeed in being a great host by transforming your property into a hotspot, so start shopping for those slipcovers!