Need Extra Travel Cash? Airbnb Can Help

Airbnb partnered with a travel enthusiast is a match made in heaven. Airbnb allows you to share your home and meet travelers from all corners of the globe, all while supplying a robust stream of income on assets you already own; when managed correctly. I currently manage two Airbnb properties, one full-time and one part-time. Airbnb currently funds all my mortgages, and has provided a major bump to my savings. Below are my tips on creating a lucrative business as a new Airbnb host.

Step 1: Create a Descriptive Listing

Create a unique, detailed description of your space. Outline what makes it special, along with what you have to offer. Is it a secluded cabin with vaulted ceilings? Or a modern city apartment, with bold industrial design? Think about what separates your space from the competition and why people would want to choose it.

Creating a listing is free, so don’t be nervous if you’re not getting bookings – you won’t be out any cash. Speaking of cash make sure you set a competitive rate, Airbnb will recommend a rate based on your market, however, I would encourage you to do your own research. Search your location as a guest, and compare similar homes. Make sure you adjust rates based on peak times, holidays, and local events as well.

Entire Space vs. Shared Space

An entire space is much more attractive to potential guests. People really do appreciate privacy. Many people are hesitant to share their home with total strangers, and this is understandable. I honestly was the same way. I started off posting my cabin as a shared space. This lasted for the first booking. When my guests arrived I instantly felt intrusive. These people were here for a romantic getaway and here I was hulled up in my room not sure if I should come out or not. It just felt weird.

That being said, I still didn’t want guests in my personal space; my bedroom or bathroom. Depending on your floor plan this may not be an option, however if it is and you do not want guests in a particular area, put that in your listing. I purchased a smartlock for my bedroom (which is connected to my bathroom) to restrict that area to guests. This still allows the guests to use all the common areas, and the guest bedroom and bath. I also prefer this because it speeds up the cleaning process, and provides a safe area for storage.

Step 2: Get Your Space Ready

Establish functionality in your home – what do you look for when you travel or stay in a hotel? Do you have a luggage rack, towels, sheets, hairdryer, soap, shampoo? Airbnb requires some of these essentials (including safety items) so make sure you hit all the necessities.

De-clutter your space, I use the KonMari Method of tidying to ensure my locations are organized and streamlined. Ditch all the personal belongings. I highly recommend removing the family photos and personal knick knacks. Guests don’t want to see photos of Grandma’s 90th birthday party.

Ensure your space is clean. Dust blinds, clean baseboards, organize cabinets, dust, mop, and deep clean the shower (I literally shine an LED flashlight around the shower to ensure there are no hairs). I use a Roomba in both homes, and it’s a lifesaver if you hate vacuuming. You can check out my must have Airbnb start-up essentials here.

Step 3: Photos & Guidebook

You now have a description, and a clean space. It’s time for pictures, this includes capturing those special offerings (ie: coffee bar, amenities, unique architecture/art). Quality of your photos is vital, sometimes a picture is all a potential guest will look at. The iPhone camera is the most used camera for Airbnb photos, so you definitively don’t need a professional. Make sure you have plenty of natural light and take horizontal shots.

Now its time to incorporate some of those great shots into a guidebook along with your favorite restaurants, and attractions in your area. This is also a good area (along with in your listing) to provide your house rules, cleaning expectations, restricted areas, and safety items. A nice touch is to also include the nearest gas station, grocery store and movie theater.

Step 4: Welcome Your Guests

This can be done a few different ways. Some hosts like to greet their guests in person to provide an overview of the home and exchange the keys. I prefer to use a lock-box and communicate via the Airbnb app. I always contact my guests two days before the arrival date to go over the key pad code, directions, communication expectations and answer any questions. Make sure you reply quickly to guest messages and requests.

Step 5: Collect & Reset

Airbnb handles all the money for you. They can send your hard earned money through Paypal or direct deposit – after they take out the 3% service fee. Hosts are usually paid 24 hours after check-in

Now that you’ve been paid and your guests have checked out, it’s time to clean and reset your space for the next guest. Make sure you set a reasonable cleaning fee. My personal rule of thumb is $20.00 per 500 square feet of used space.

Consistency Is Key

In any business, maintaining and constant improvement is key. Don’t get defensive if you receive feedback from guests. If they see a need for improvement it’s likely someone else would spot it as well. Feedback is a gift, and is very valuable in the Airbnb world.

Continue to build relationships with guests and establish credibility by tactfully soliciting reviews. Once you complete 10 reservations and maintain a 4.8/5 rating, you may be eligible for superhost status which has an array of benefits including better search results. Check out the full list the eligibility requirements here.

Airbnb can be a lucrative business if you continue to learn, establish relationships, and maintain your space. These steps really helped guide my business strategy and have contributed to my overall success.

What do you think, are you ready to give Airbnb a shot?