Airbnb began in the states around ten years ago now, and it has become a popular form of accommodation the world over. Not only does it often give a cheaper option to travellers, but it provides a different kind of experience – from rooms in family homes to impressive townhouses and beautiful villas.
As a guest, it’s a great way to meet new people on your travels, and as a host, it’s also an easy way to make an extra income. Some people even use Airbnb to pay for their mortgage! So if you’ve got a spare room that nobody is using, then why not rent it out?
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How do I get started on Airbnb?
While essentially letting strangers into your home might sound a little scary, Airbnb is super easy to set up and the best part is, you have total control over how and when you host. This is the perfect option for those who have a property or room to spare but don’t want the commitments or costs of becoming a landlord.
Airbnb allows you to list your property or room for free, with a step by step process, including guidance on what pictures are best to use, what you should include in your property description and they’ll even give you a suggested price for your listing. You can use their easy calculator to find out how much you could earn as a host.
While they simply offer a guide, it is ultimately down to you as the host to decide what’s best for you. You’ll get access to a calendar in which you can set your own schedule for availability and adjust prices accordingly. There is also the option to add additional costs such as a deposit and a cleaning fee per night. Airbnb then take 3% of the total booking cost. Once a guest has checked in, you’ll get the payment sent directly to you via your chosen payment method (Direct transfer or PayPal are the most common).
How to be an Airbnb host: Is Airbnb safe?
Airbnb has policies in place to ensure the protection of all it’s hosts, along with strict requirements for all guests. All Airbnb hosts get FREE cover of up to $1 million for property damage and $1 million for liability insurance, along with 24/7 customer support should you have any queries or concerns.
You as the host will be able to draw up a set of house rules that are displayed along with your listing. These could include things such as no parties, no pets, no smoking etc, so that potential guests can assess whether your property is suitable for their stay.
How to be an Airbnb host: Can anyone book?
In order for a guest to book your property, they must have their own Airbnb profile and upload a form of valid ID. You also have the option to select whether guests can book directly or whether they must first request a booking, which gives you the option to view their profile before you accept.
This gives you the opportunity to check out their reviews and ask them any questions you might have i.e. the reason for their stay or what their plans are during their stay. If the potential guest has negative feedback or you feel the nature of their stay does not adhere to your house rules, then you have the right to refuse their booking, but you must provide a reason.
Be sure to keep your calendar up to date with your availability and be careful not to accept bookings before checking you are available to host. Cancelling a booking once you’ve accepted it can have a negative impact on your own Airbnb rating.
Airbnb is very quick to remove anyone from the site who is not respectful or does not follow the rules, and this works both ways for both guests and hosts.
How to be an Airbnb host: Maximise your earning potential
So you’re all set up on Airbnb, now it’s time to maximise your earning potential by becoming a Super Host! Your rating on Airbnb is all based on reviews and your efficiency when responding to bookings and requests, so you need to be on the ball and make your guest’s experience seamless from start to finish.
After their stay, guests will be able to review you based on a number of criteria, including:
- Overall experience
Here’s a few top tips to think smart and make the most of your Airbnb listing, not to mention land you those 5-star reviews.
How to be an Airbnb host: Be honest in your listing
There’s nothing worse than showing up to a hotel that looks nothing like the pictures you saw online, and the same goes for Airbnb. While you want to sell your listing as much as possible, be careful of ‘fluff’ when describing your property.
Make sure you state exactly what you expect of guests when they stay, and if you’re a live-in host, it is beneficial to add details of your living situation and routine so that guests can assess if it is right for them. For example, it would be important to state if you have pets or children, if you plan to get up early in the mornings or expect guests to be quiet after a certain time.
Take clear pictures too. Try to do so in daylight and take pictures of the guest room and any common areas to clearly show where the guest will be staying. Make sure they are accompanied by a detailed description of the amenities and state any parts of the property that are off-limits to guests.
Remember, guests will get to rate you based on the accuracy of your listing, so if you state you’ve got a hot tub but they get there and all of a sudden it’s off-limits to guests, that could cost you some points!
How to be an Airbnb host: Set realistic prices
While maximising your income may seem as simple as putting a higher price tag on your home, you’ve got to be realistic. When you’re just starting out, we recommend going by Airbnb’s price recommendations, and then taking it from there.
If you want to set your own prices, then have a look at other accommodation prices in the area first. You may also choose to change your prices depending on the time of the week/year. For example, weekends are when people are more likely to travel so you might wish to put your prices up slightly and lower them during the week when it’s a little quieter. Big events are also a good time to review your prices if you know accommodation will be highly sought during that time.
You may also want to consider the minimum and maximum number of nights guests can book. If you are listing a whole property it may not be time or cost-efficient for you to have one-night bookings, based on the cleaning and turnover required. Most Airbnb listings for whole properties have a 2-night minimum booking requirement.
How to be an Airbnb host: Invest in the essentials
Just like any business, you need to invest a little to get something back, so making sure you have everything you need for hosting is important. Having at least two sets of linen and towels will make you life a lot easier when it comes to turnover, especially if you’ve got back to back bookings.
While it is not required of the host to provide anything other than the room, you may also want to supply a selection of teas and coffees, and have some spare essentials such as toothpaste, shampoo and shower gel should your guest forget to pack theirs.
It is also important to remember that you must declare any earnings and pay tax on these earnings. Make sure you’re clued up on the laws in your area and what you need to do regarding declaring your Airbnb earnings. Keep all your receipts for any Airbnb related purchases as you should be able to claim back this money on expenses which will maximise your take home pay. Keeping track of your earnings will also make it much easier when it comes to paying any necessary tax.
How to be an Airbnb host: Communicate with your guests
And we don’t just mean to interrogate them before accepting a booking request. Ask them if they have any questions about your home and the local area before they arrive. Be clear about check-in times and ensure you aren’t late when a guest arrives.
While you’re not expected to be at their beck and call for the duration of their stay (in fact, guests generally prefer to be left to their own devices), it is still polite to offer any help with directions or suggestions for places to eat and things to do in the surrounding area.
While these are just little things, they really do make the difference and are sure to earn you some extra brownie points when it comes to making it as a Super Host.
How to be an Airbnb host: Leave reviews for your guests
As we’ve said, the guest-host relationship is a two-way street, so if your guests have been pleasant, then make sure you leave them a good review too. By giving your guest a good review, this will help them when it comes to future trips and it may also encourage repeat booking should they ever return to your area.
By taking the time to do this, your guest will also be more than happy to take the time to give you a good review in return.
How to be an Airbnb host: Keep your calendar up to date
Regularly updating your calendar and cross-checking it with your schedule will make your life a whole lot easier. Remember, cancelling bookings at the last minute is a no-no if you want to continue to host, so if your calendar of availability is always up to date, this shouldn’t be a problem.
In the beginning, if you’re not sure how often you’d like to host, start off small. Advertise for weekends only and see how you get on and then gradually increase your availability if you think you can manage it with your schedule.
Bookings will require turnover and tidying, so you need to have the time free to do this, as well as be available for check-ins and manage your online communications too. It’s also a good idea to have a back-up should your schedule change and you’re not able to be there when you have a booking. If you have family and friends who can step in should you not be around, this is much better than having to cancel a booking at the last minute.
Whether you’re completely new to Airbnb or you want to step it up a notch, these helpful tips should help you get more bookings and become savvier with your earnings! To get started on Airbnb today, click here.