Imagine being able to fund your travels without ever dipping into your earnings? If you own your space, live alone or don’t have any furry pets, then becoming an Airbnb host might be for you.
If you are unaware (or just plain living under a rock), Airbnb is a new-ish lodging option for travelers and a new way to make extra income if you have adequate space in your home. The site acts as an online community that connects travelers and hosts.
As an Airbnb host, I can tell you that it remains one of the most lucrative decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve paid off personal bills and even financed entire trips abroad. I also have several friends across the country that are hosts. A few of them rent out a single room in their home, while the majority rent their entire spaces.
There is a ton of money in the lodging industry, and especially with Airbnb. Here are some great tips on how you too can get started as a host.
1. Research. Research. Research.
First, ensure that you are in compliance with your management company and local/state policies with regards to renting. You should not try to become a host if this is in any way illegal or a breach of your property rules.
Airbnb’s website lets you know who your neighboring hosts are, their rates and access to their complete profiles. Why is this crucial? It allows you to scope out the competition and create a more attractive listing of your own.
There are also new platforms emerging such as ‘Everbooked,’ a tool that tracks local area pricing. Through the use of an algorithm, Everbooked provides continuous feedback on what your nightly pricing should be, in order to stay competitive. (Airbnb itself has recently started doing the same however.) If you’re just starting out, it may also be a good idea to reduce your listing by approximately $20 less than the average, until you get a few good reviews under your belt.
In case you are also wondering how payment is handled, it is very simple. When you open an account with Airbnb, you are asked to provide your bank account information. All money is then direct deposited into your account 24 hours after your guest checks in. Steer clear, however, of new Airbnb users who do not yet have reviews you can read. You run the risk of not having a sense of who your potential guests are going to be.
2. Prep your space.
When preparing for a guest, a thorough cleaning is necessary. Sweep, mop, dust, polish and pack away clutter and valuables. You might also want to explore local home cleaning services. A new company called ‘Handy’ provides Airbnb hosts the first cleaning for free, upon sign up.
More attractive listings tend to be ones devoid of personal artifacts like pictures, toiletries, etc. If you have a closet or a room where you are able to put valuables and personal items away, do so. Lastly, you should purchase linens and towels that you’ll be able to set aside specifically for guests. I tend to keep these items stored separately away from my own personal linens.
3. Book an official Airbnb photographer.
Quality photos increase bookings considerably. So, unless you are a professional photographer, take advantage of the free photographer Airbnb provides to you. After you sign up for one, he/she will then reach out to you to schedule the appointment. The entire visit will last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, but this largely depends on the size of the space you are renting. In less than a month you will receive a notification and shortly after, all photos will be uploaded into your profile. Voila. Done.
4. Be specific about expectations.
On your listing, be very clear about your house rules and expectations. These rules should include specifications on: check-in and check-out times; what to do with dirty laundry, dirty dishes and garbage; your views on smoking; having outside visitors, etc. If you research other hosts, you will earn a good sense of what to provide on your listing. Also, having both a cleaning fee and security deposit is highly recommended.
5. Respond in a timely manner to all messages and requests.
One way you will become a competitive host is through your response rate. You can receive both text messages or email notifications when you have an inquiry. Airbnb actually keeps track of the time it takes for you to respond to these messages in your inbox. Your profile prominently displays the percentage that indicates your response rate. The longer you take to respond, the lower your response rate will be, and the more likely a potential guest may overlook you in fear of you not responding quickly enough. In some cases, you may want to block off certain times on your calendar if you know for sure you cannot host someone during those dates. This way, you will not have to keep responding to requests to rent during the same time period. Thus, ensure that you respond to inquiries as soon as possibly. A great earning opportunity may be lost due to slow responses.
Also, do not make deals with people outside of the website platform or allow guests to stay longer in exchange for cash-in-hand. You put yourself in danger of serious potential risks. In the event that something goes wrong, Airbnb will not be able to support you within the terms of their $1 million ‘Host Guarantee.’ Lastly, note that beyond 30 days, squatter rights kick in. Thus, for legal purposes, I would advise you to not host anyone more than 30 days.
Hopefully these tips answer some of your lingering questions and lead you on the path to free travel. Good luck!
**Please note that Airbnb provides information to the IRS about your earnings with them. So expect to receive a 1099K at the beginning of the fiscal year.