If you have a dream to work from home and obtain a more flexible lifestyle without having to be locked up in an office from 9 to 5, and happens to have extra space in your home (even if it is only an extra room) I would recommend to become a host with Airbnb.
For you that do not know what Airbnb is, let me present a short introduction to this online travel marketplace.
What Is Airbnb?
Airbnb is an online marketplace where private landlords can host people in their own homes for short-term lodging.
This includes hospitality in holiday cottages; apartments, and home-stays (private rooms). Airbnb also offers hostel beds, regular hotel rooms, and different experiences and events if you are up for adventure travel.
As a traveler, you can use Airbnb’s marketplace to search for a place to stay anywhere in the whole world, and as a host you have the option to offer hosting for people all over the world as well. Pretty neat if you ask me!
Airbnb was founded, August 2008, in San Francisco. The company started from an idea to make some extra cash. The 3 young men, who are the founders of Airbnb, could not afford to pay the rent and came up with the idea to purchase 3 air mattresses, and offer people to stay over in one of their rooms for $80/per night, including breakfast.
It literally started with this email, Joe Gebbia, sent his roommate, Brian Chesky:
“What if they made a designer’s bed and breakfast, complete with a sleeping mat and breakfast? It was a way to “make a few bucks.”
Now, almost 11 years later this idea is worth $25 billion. Not bad!
However, it was not all roses and blue skies from start and they got rejected by 8 investors, but shame on the person who gives up, and luckily they did not.
What Does Airbnb Stand For And Who Can Host On Their Marketplace?
The acronym Air-b-n-b stands for Air-bed-and-breakfast. Air- from the mattresses they originally started with.
Anybody with a clean record, who is service minded and like to meet new people, can become a host with Airbnb. You just have to be able to verify your identity and send in your tax documentation to get started.
Understandable, it can feel a bit scary to bring people you do not know into your home, so you have to ask yourself the question if you are ready to do so. Airbnb does perform some brief check ups of their guests and hosts. They are stating following on their website:
“While no screening system is perfect, globally we run hosts and guests against regulatory, terrorist, and sanctions watchlists. For hosts and guests in the United States, we also conduct background checks”.
This offers some kind of reassurance at least.
It may also feel intimidating running a rental business by yourself, but luckily this is not really the case. Airbnb stands behind you with their Host Protection Insurances and Host Guarantee, which offers a coverage up to 1 million dollar in the rare event of accidental damage on your property. This provides a peace of mind at no extra charge.
Airbnb also offers 24/7 support if you need to ask for advice or help solving an issue.
How To Become A Successful Airbnb Host
#1. Be Up Front And Honest
Always be honest about the condition the space you are renting is in. It is tempting to add some extra “flava” to the description, or give a touch up of the images in Photoshop.
Yes, you can play with the lightning and resolution of your images, but do not fool people thinking they are going to stay in a space they are not. If you do this type of glamorization, it is definitely going to be exposed in your reviews.
#2. Think Business!
Adopt a business mindset and think of ways to make your listing more attractive. Can you offer something no one else in your area is offering? Maybe you include breakfast in the morning, or pickup from and to the airport?
Airbnb’s online marketplace also makes it very easy to offer special discounts. You can for example offer one discount for a week stay and a slightly higher discount for a month stay. They also have an option to offer your first 6 guests 21% off during a special time frame of about 2 months. This is a great way to get started attracting new guests and collect your first reviews.
Like anything nowadays, reviews are very important to become a successful host. You will climb the listing rankings and get more exposure. Airbnb is all about relationships and trust. If you have lots of good reviews, other guests can feel safe booking with you.
#3. Do Not Accept Payments Outside Airbnb’s Marketplace
This goes hand in hand with the safety parameters Airbnb offers – their Host Protection Insurance and Host Guarantee. If you get tempted to do business outside Airbnb, you do not have any security to fall back on if something goes wrong.
It is well worth it to keep all your business within their marketplace, even the messaging with your guests, so you have a track record if you end up with a “bad” guest.
Airbnb only charges hosts 3% of the total cost for hosting their home with them, which is a very small number if you compare to the safety net they provide.
The payment process is very easy and you can choose to get your earnings transferred directly to your bank account, or PayPal. They also have a 3rd option that I unfortunately do not know so much about.
Airbnb releases the money 24 hours after your guest has checked in, and then it may take some days for the money transfer depending on what payment option you chose.
#4. Use The Smart Pricing Feature Carefully
This is an automatic feature that changes your pricing according to the pricing of the competition in your area. Yes, you will most probably get more bookings, but they can be a lot under-priced.
When I started hosting with Airbnb, I looked into this feature and noticed that the price recommendations resulting from it were very low. You have the option to set a minimum and a maximum price, but I prefer to go with the base pricing and use the discount options for different length of bookings instead.
#5. Check The Auto Booking Feature
It seems like Auto Booking is a default setting when you become a host and create your listing. I did not know about this option until I started getting final bookings from guests without a pre-approval request.
This can be less reassuring since you do not have the chance to first read about your guest and check their reviews, verification, and profile description. You have no idea who is coming to your home. Most people are awesome and respectful guests, but you never know…
However, the pros with having the Auto Booking/Instant Booking on is that you will get more bookings. You will also get higher rankings on Airbnb’s website, which in turn increases your exposure.
#6. Be Tough And Fair!
Do not be afraid to tell people to leave if you feel uncomfortable. Remember that it is YOUR home they are renting and they have to respect YOUR rules. Make sure to fill in the option, House Rules, on your listing so guests know what is tolerated and not from start.
You may not wish for smokers to smoke inside and make your whole home smell like a tobacco shop, or having to lay awake listening to loud parties all night. Be tough and remind your guests about the house rules. If they are still not listening, you can call Airbnb’s customer service – Tel:+1-855-424-7262 for advice, or ask them to leave.
Airbnb is stating the following on their website:
“Peace of Mind: Your home. Your rules. You can cancel penalty-free if guests break your rules, before or during a trip”.
#7. Be Prepared For Life Interruptions
Ask yourself the question if you are okay with letting go of everything you are doing – in this second – when a sudden booking gets confirmed and start preparing for your new guest? Are you ready to start cleaning, restocking your hosting supplies, and fix potential maintenance issues in order for your quests to have a pleasant experience staying with you?
If you answered YES to these questions, you are ready to go. Of course, you can make this a little less problematic and stressful if you always prepare your space in time. You can also change the settings in Airbnb to 1-2 days “preparation time” before each new booking.
#8. Think About The Furnishing Of Your Space And Be A Good Concierge
Give some thought to how you are furnishing and styling your space. Imagine that you are arriving to a new place and think of what you would wish to find there.
Fresh towels, bed linen, and toilet paper are definitely a must, but would it not be nice with a few small chocolate bars on the pillow to welcome you? Or maybe even fresh flowers in a vase on the dresser.
These little gestures can make such a difference in a guest’s experience and may also reflect in the reviews. Always go way and beyond to make your guests feel welcome and you will become a Super Host in no time.
Remove unnecessary stuff and clutter that are in the way and are taking up extra free space. As a guest you would not want to move furniture just to be able to move around in the room/apartment.
Be accommodating and helpful. You do not have to be a four-star tour guide, but it helps to point guests in the right direction when they have questions. Tell your guest what activities and good places that are nearby to visit.
Take time greeting every guest when they first arrive to make a good impression. Try to not hold up any time for the guests, since they probably want to make most of their time.
#9. Pictures And Pricing
Just a little advice regarding the pictures of your listing/s. First of all (we touched basis on this earlier), your pictures should tell the truth! Do not Photoshop them too much, so they do not showcase your space anymore, but something totally flawless. The guests will end up very disappointed and irritated, which can “nip you in the butt later”.
Take photos with your cell phone rather than waiting on a better camera, or photographer. Get them up on your listing as soon as possible, since people need to view what they are booking. You can always update them later. Airbnb partners with professional photographers if you wish to spend some of your budget to make the photos look awesome.
Test you pricing now and then and analyze how it impacts your number of bookings. You will soon find the magic number for your home. Look at the competition in your area, try to stay up to date, and competitive. Your pricing will never be set in stone, since the market prices are fluctuating.
Like mentioned earlier, you can use the Smart Pricing feature, but I would not recommend it if you do not wish to sell yourself short.
My Own Experience Hosting On Airbnb
From having traveled quite a lot, I am an experienced Airbnb guest by now, but a new host. I recently started hosting a space in my house and it has been a great experience so far. I got booking requests already the following day after publishing my listing, and had a wonderful guest staying with us last weekend.
It was a lot more to prepare than I thought. I think I cleaned the space 4 times before my guest arrived. I have a little cleaning disorder and I love when things are shiny and just perfect. I ran back and forth lighting an aroma candle in the room because my guest got caught up with things on the way over here several times. I had to blow it out in between communications, so it would not burn down before my guest arrived.
What took most effort was to empty the space, so that the guests can store their belongings somewhere. You have more things than you think, even that I personally hate clutter. I love to keep things as minimalist as possible, so it is easy to clean, and more important – looks cleaner.
As of today I am waiting on 3 ladies from NYC to come and stay for a week. It is exciting to meet so many new people, and I hope that the Universe will keep sending me good ones.
You are more than welcome to come and stay in my relaxing home with lake view and Jacuzzi!
A Piece Of Advice
From my research I have come to understand that you should NEVER cancel a confirmed booking. Airbnb will penalize your account and you will drop down in search results. You can cancel a pre-request, but never a CONFIRMED booking.
Also, consider if you want a strict or flexible cancellation policy. You may get a few more bookings if you use the flexible cancellation policy, but you will probably have more “fly by people” who will drop off in the last minute. All those preparations for nothing!
The strict cancellation policy has already saved me from a same day cancellation. This guest could not help she got sick, but she was holding up my space that day, and my time to clean and prepare. I did not have heart to charge her the full stay, even that I was entitled to with the short cancellation time frame, but at least I got half of the payment.
This is why I vote for a strict cancellation policy.
Summary – Become A Host With Airbnb
Well, I hope this article was helpful and got someone interested in becoming a host with Airbnb. I say, so far so good!
It is a good extra income and I now understand why people invest in more homes to rent out to Airbnb guest. If you have extra space in your home, or an extra apartment somewhere, and it happens to be in a perfect location – you should definitely give it a go.
If you have any questions on this article, or on how to start hosting with Airbnb, feel free to leave me a comment below (it would really help me get more exposure online), or send me a private message to [email protected]
About The Author
My name is Stina Pettersson. I am the founder of Make A Living From Home and Get Happy e-Deals. I am the author of the articles on this site. Originally from Sweden, but love the warm weather in Florida where I now reside.
I help people to start their own online business and make a living from home. I am especially fond of helping people interested in eCommerce – Amazon FBA, Dropshipping and Online Retail to get started and make a good living from home.
I hope I will get the honor to help YOU achieving your online success.
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