September 27, 2018 12:00 PM PT

Airbnb Host: Tips to Become a Successful Host

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Becoming an Airbnb host can be a fun and profitable venture, if you're prepared. Find out how to get started, some major mistakes to avoid, and the best ways to impress your guests.

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Listing your home through Airbnb requires more work than meets the eye. The first step is deciding what type of host you want to be.

  • Do you want to be a hands-on host or outsource the work?
  • Is outsourcing worth the money or is doing the work yourself worth your time?
  • Are you just going to provide one listing option or multiple?

In this guide, we'll provide you with helpful tips and tricks of this process. But first, it's important to understand that becoming an Airbnb host requires a lot of consistent work.

It can be incredibly lucrative when done correctly, but a financial hardship if not. Keep reading for the best ways to protect yourself.

Before You List

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  • Know Your Market
    Understanding your market can be a deal maker or a deal breaker on Airbnb. You don't need to be an expert in real estate, but it's good to know where to find information.

    AirDNA is our #1 suggestion for Airbnb data. Here is an example of what AirDNA provides:

    The average Daily Rate for San Francisco, CA, is $249 and the Occupancy Rate is 90%. You would need these numbers to accurately assess your potential income. Compare these numbers with your current Daily Rate and subtract your expenses.

    Do the research before you invest money into Airbnb. You wouldn't quit your current job without knowing how much your new job would pay, would you?

    Know how much money you could potentially make and how much you could potentially lose before investing.

    Search your city here: AirDNA

  • Familiarize Yourself with Local Laws
    If you're a tenant rather than an owner, you'll need to ensure you're legally allowed to list on Airbnb.

    Rental arbitrage is the act of re-listing your apartment on a short-term basis (also known as subletting). Sounds simple, right?

    It isn't. Check your agreement to ensure it doesn't prohibit you from subletting your apartment. Remember, listing on Airbnb still counts as subletting.

  • Insurance
    Airbnb provides Host Protecting Insurance to all hosts and landlords. This insurance protects against liability claims of up to $1 million that occur during an Airbnb stay.

    Review the policy here to make sure that it's enough for you. If not, you may want to consider additional home or renter's insurance.

  • Part-time vs Full-time
    Consider if Airbnb is a worthy part-time or full-time job for you. The answer may vary depending on your market.

    You also need to decide who will be doing the work. If you're only managing one listing, it is more profitable to do everything on your own. However, if you have multiple listings, you may need to outsource some of the work.

    Consider ALL the tasks required as an Airbnb host, including:

    • Scheduling cleanings after EVERY stay
    • Having a handyman on standby for emergencies
    • Being available for check-ins and check-outs
    • Answering questions/assisting guests during their stay

Next, we'll share tips to create a killer listing for your property.

Creating Your Listing

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  • Drawing Attention
    All Airbnb listings offer a place to sleep and shower, so how can you stand out?

    Think of "extras" like offering breakfast, guided tours of the area, snacks, and water, or thoughtful amenities. (More on those shortly.)

  • Photos
    The photos you use to advertise your place can create success or deter guests from your listing. In today's Airbnb market, this is the first thing potential guests browse.

    If your photos don't look good, why would anyone keep reading your listing? Note: we do not encourage editing any of the pictures to deceive guests.

    But it's essential to take some time to make them stand out. Use only post-clean and bright photos that enhance the space and the features you offer.

    Note: Use a camera with a wide-angle lens to show more of the room in one photo.

  • Smart Pricing
    Consider turning on Airbnb's Smart Pricing feature. Smart Pricing automatically goes up or down based on changes in demand. You have 100% control over this settings, including locking in your lowest acceptable rate.

    Smart Pricing has many options, so make sure you keep your preferences updated to switch off suggestions you don't agree with. And research your market before activating Smart Pricing. That way, you'll be able to set reasonable parameters for this feature.

    Stay away from Airbnb's lowest price suggestion. It's more concerned with getting places booked than earning you money.

  • Always Use Airbnb for Payments and Conversation
    Airbnb charges a fee for booking your space. You may be tempted to skirt the system by having guests book outside of Airbnb.

    Don't. This may put a little more money in your pocket, but you will be making yourself vulnerable. Without Airbnb as the middleman, you are losing the $1 million USD Host Protection Insurance.

    You also forgo the added security of Airbnb vetting the people who will enter your home.

  • Know the Competition
    Airbnb has over 1 million listings, and 3,000 listings are added each day! Competing with such numbers can be overwhelming.

    While there are manual ways to out-list your competitors, we suggest using Everbooked to do the work for you.

    Everbooked analyzes and compares your historical Airbnb performance within your market. Use this information to edit the price, inspire your photos, change descriptions, and market your listing.

    Keep reading for tips to earn you great reviews from guests.

  • Consider a Minimum-Night Stay
    A minimum-night stay requirement has its upsides. You will be doing less laundry and cleaning AND fewer check-ins and check-outs.

    Also, you might miss out on a more lucrative booking if a one-night stay that's already scheduled overlaps.

How to Be a Great Host

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  • House Rules
    Once you book your first guest, the challenge becomes providing a great stay. This is how you'll earn great review and more guests.

    Start by setting expectations with clear house rules. If you don't want parties or events in your home, that's fine. But it needs to be communicated upfront to avoid miscommunication with the guest.

    Some examples of common house rules are:

    • Not suitable for infants (under 2 years)
    • Check-in is any time after 2PM
    • Check-out by 11AM
    • No pets
    • No large events or parties

    Your house rules should be included in your Airbnb listing. This makes it convenient for potential guests to decide if your place will fit their needs.

  • Essentials
    Hosting a short-term lease is about more than just the space. There's also:

    • furniture (including beds)
    • sheets
    • coffee maker
    • laundry room

    …and a lot more.

    You need to provide everything to create an enjoyable stay for your tenant. When purchasing furniture for your Airbnb, be mindful of heavy use.

    While expensive furniture is probably a bad idea, you don't want items that could easily break.

    Tenants will use the coffee maker or laundry room. Having supplies for those items increases the value of their stay. Little things go a long way.

  • Cleaners
    Tenants will leave behind messes and sometimes break things. You'll need to find a reliable cleaner and maintenance person. Research to find the right price and fit for your (hopefully busy) Airbnb schedule.

  • Anticipate Trouble
    Traveling means headaches. Delays, layovers, and missed transportation happen.

    As an Airbnb, it is important to set check-in and out times. But you also need to prepare for tardiness. Again, the little things go a long way when hosting a short-term lease.

    Provide a bottle of wine or snacks when the guest arrives. This can easily turn a traveler's headache into a much-appreciated (and relaxing) check-in.

    To make it easier on both you and your guest, install a lock with a keypad. Being able to provide access via a text is much easier than meeting in person to give the guest a key.

  • Referral Links
    Referral links are the easiest way to earn money with Airbnb. Here is how they work:

    Every Airbnb user - guests and hosts - gets a unique referral link that can earn them Airbnb credit. To earn credit, you just have to have someone else sign up for Airbnb using your referral link.

    This can be done by sharing it on Facebook or any other social media or sending the link in a text or email. The new user will instantly receive a credit just for signing up with your referral code (an incentive to get your friends to use your code).

    You will receive credit when they book their first stay of $75 or more. Your credit will appear as a coupon at the checkout page.

    The same goes if you refer someone to become a host. Once they book their first guest of $75 or more, then you will receive your travel credit. The travel credit can range from $20 - $40 each time.

  • Concierge Station
    Consider creating a binder or document that answers all the questions you've been asked a thousand times by previous guests.

    • Where is the best place to eat?
    • Are there any local parks nearby?
    • If you don't offer laundry, then where is the nearest laundromat?
    • How do I connect to the Wi-Fi?
    • Where is the closest grocery store?
    • How do I contact the host if I need to?
    • How do I work the AC/heat?
    • Where are the extra blankets?

    This list will grow as you host more guests and new questions arise. Remember: The guests will be happy to find everything in place. And you won't get texts and calls with questions you've probably already answered multiple times.

    Think of your Concierge Binder as a guidebook to help your guest live like a local. Tell them about your favorite places, meals, drinks, and events that make your area special.

Bottom Line

Do your research and be prepared before becoming an Airbnb host. Protect yourself with insurance and set expectations for your guest.

Once you start hosting, learn from every stay to make the next one better. This includes:

  • Anticipating the needs of your guests.
  • Offering something special that your competition doesn't.
  • Keep an ever-growing guidebook for the guest to have fun in your city.

Remember: Hard work can go a long way in the short-term rental business.

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