What would compel more than 650,000 people to invite 2 million strangers into their homes each night through Airbnb? Mostly the opportunity to turn unused spaces into additional sources of income. Hosts who list their properties on Airbnb earn an average of $924 a month .
For many people, hosting just makes sense. For example, someone who owns a vacation home that sits idle for most of the year can list it on Airbnb when it’s not in use.
Some people even rent out their primary residences when they go on trips to slash the costs of their vacations.
Anyone with a space to rent has a reason to rent, but that doesn’t mean you should jump right in. Before you take the plunge, make sure you and your property are prepared for what comes next.
The Reality of Hosting: While hosting has many benefits, it’s a full-time job – not unlike working in the hospitality industry. Hosting involves cleaning properties, accommodating guests, and dealing with issues like late check-ins and broken faucets.
For many, the biggest aversion to hosting isn’t the time or work involved – it’s the thought of opening your property to strangers.
Luckily, technologies like noise sensors, smart locks, and connected thermostats allow hosts to monitor for misbehavior while still giving guests privacy. Doorbell cameras, for example, can show you everyone who enters your property.
Even hosts who feel like their situation is perfect for Airbnb need to consider the risk and reward first. Hosting can take a lot of time, work, and expenses, and the income could be less than anticipated. Turning this into a profitable and sustainable opportunity requires an ongoing commitment.
A Checklist for New Hosts: The work you put in before you list your property should pay off in more bookings, better reviews, and higher nightly rates. Before you can reap the rewards, make sure you consider these priorities:
Create a perfect listing: Use clear, updated photos to give guests a tour of the property. Pay extra attention to your description, too. Instead of just listing off amenities, write something that gets people excited to book. Avoid generic language, use a distinctive voice, define what makes your property unique, and make it readable. If you’re not sure what to write, put yourself in the guests’ shoes. What would you want to know before you booked?
Clean everything: Guests want to see your living space rather than your clutter. Before every new guest arrives, clean thoroughly – as if you were selling your home. In the same vein, consider putting out some fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit. It will make the place feel more inviting and add a homey touch that guests appreciate.
Start and finish renovations: Simple upgrades make an average space look attractive to guests. Freshen everything with a new coat of paint, brighten up areas with interesting light fixtures, and add some attention-grabbing decor. If you’re really ambitious, you could even add extra bedrooms, amenities, or updated tech to increase your nightly rate.
Put your best face forward: Guests certainly judge the property, but they also judge the host. A reputation for fast, friendly service works to your advantage, but great customer service isn’t easy. Plan how you will interact with guests throughout the process, and strive to be as available as possible.
Map the neighborhood: Guests want to experience your neighborhood as much as they want to stay in your home. Create a guide highlighting everything important and interesting in the surrounding areas: restaurants, shops, public transportation, parks, museums, etc.
With the above tips in mind, here is a step-by-step guide on how to list on Airbnb
- Getting Started
First things first: head to airbnb.com and select the ‘add listing’ option in the top right corner of the homepage. You’ll be directed to a form prompting you to fill in the most general criteria of your place. Take note that you can only complete this first form after creating an account, so it may be more efficient to sign up (or log in) before you begin. If you have not yet signed up or logged in, you’ll be prompted to input your information at this point.
Select what kind of Airbnb space you have
Home Type: These options are pretty straightforward and include entire place, private room or shared room. Select the option that best describes the property you are managing. This distinction is one of the most important, as both you and your guests may be particular about maintaining a certain level of privacy. So, make sure that you’re accurately building your listing as to attract the most appropriate guests for your property.
Before choosing “Entire place,” consider the fact that granting guests full access to your listing might necessitate access to other amenities on the property, such as a pool house or garage. Similarly, the “Private room” option includes more home sharing than you might typically expect, such as that of any connecting rooms, bathrooms, or kitchens.
Number of guests: This menu allows you to select the maximum number of people that can comfortably fit in your listing. For now, calculate how many people you can accommodate if each has his or her own bed, sofa bed, or inflatable mattress, provided that the sleeping arrangement is as comfortable as you would expect if you were the guest yourself. Finally, select the appropriate number from the drop-down list given.
City: Once you begin typing the name of your city, Airbnb will automatically suggest all relevant matches. Make the appropriate selection.
At this point, Airbnb will give you an estimate of how much you can earn per month based on your listing type, guest capacity and location.
Press ‘Continue’ and move on to the next part of Step 1.
Here, you will be prompted to provide more specific details about your listing. First, you must select the most accurate description of your property type from a list that includes Apartment, House, Secondary unit, Unique space, Bed and breakfast and Boutique hotel. Once you’ve chosen your listing type, you’ll need to select a more specific description from a second drop down menu. For example, if you’ve identified your listing as a ‘Unique space,’ you’ll need to further specify whether it is a barn, an igloo, a tent or one of several other options. Based on your selection, another menu will appear for you to fill out.
As you move along, you’ll provide more information about your listing, including the number of beds and bathrooms, the exact address and the amenities you offer.
Selecting the right amenities for your Airbnb is crucial. This section has a lengthy list of features that ranges from common or extra rooms, to home safety measures. At this stage of the listing, you are only given the option to select from the available list of amenities, but once the listing is created you will be able to edit this section and add additional or further descriptions and details. Make sure to include every appropriate feature as some guests can be swayed by certain extras or become totally uninterested due to a lack thereof. If you’re totally lost here, refer to this resource for the essentials that every host should include in order to maximize an Airbnb experience. Or to this Blog where we prepared the Airbnb host Checklist to Maximize Airbnb Experiences
If an inaccurate listing secures a booking, you will not be able to change the faulty criteria of that listing without first sending an alteration request to the guest in question. This could cost you a booking and waste your time. So, be diligent with your listing details, because even a small error can have a big impact.
Keep in mind that at any point you can go back to edit the previous descriptions provided.
- Setting the Scene
In this step, you’ll upload photos of your property, write a brief description of the place and inform potential guests how available you’ll be throughout their stay, what they can expect of the neighborhood and how they can get around the city.
Photos: Regardless of how many you decide to upload, the first 3 are the most important as they frame the window into your listing before users make the decision to click into the post or not. This is all the more reason to offer standout and high-quality pictures. Try to take this opportunity to show off amenities, quirky rooms, or other features unique to your property. Airbnb recommends using bigger photos for better resolution (1024 x 683px) and even offers free professional photography sessions to help you best capture your place.
Description: A great summary covers the major features of your listing in 250 characters or less. People like a bit of personality, so let yours shine through while explaining exactly what it is that makes your place unique. Too much writing looks daunting, so try to break it up; Bullet points and short sentences can go a long way.
Add quality photos to your Airbnb listing
You’ll also come up with a name for your listing. Think of the title as your first impression. You want to make those 35 characters engaging enough to capture attention and unique enough to accurately depict your place. Try using descriptive and pleasant adjectives to cushion your title.
Then you’ll add a photo of yourself to give guests an idea of who will be hosting them.
- Getting Ready for Guests
This final section is broken into three parts: Booking Settings, Calendar and Price.
In this section, you’ll review Airbnb’s basic guest requirements and can opt to make additional requirements such as the provision of a government-issued ID and/or recommendations from other hosts and zero negative reviews. You’ll then set your house rules and provide important details about your home, like whether guests will have to climb stairs or find their own parking.
To get started, you’ll select how often you’d like to have guests on your property, how much notice you’ll require before your guests arrive, how far in advance they can book your place and how long they can stay.
Next, you’ll be able to manually flip through your calendar and block or unblock specific dates or even entire months. The specific dates available for rental should be inputted as soon as you publish your listing and should be updated regularly.
Enter your availability for your Airbnb
Airbnb will give you the option of utilizing their Smart Pricing tool, which will automatically update your prices according to the fluctuations of demand in your area.
You will then be required to set a base price, for which Airbnb will suggest a price based on the information that you’ve provided thus far as well as on trends currently shaping the local rental market, such as holidays, increased tourism, and more.
It’s important to remain relevant and competitive, so be sure to compare prices of similar Airbnb listings in your area.
Next, you’ll set a minimum price, a maximum price and the currency in which you’d like to charge your guests.
Set up a base price for your Airbnb
On top of general listing qualities and market activity, there are a few other factors you should consider when calculating a price. For one, you may want to exercise your option to tailor your listing’s going rates by creating weekly or monthly packages to encourage longer rentals. You should also factor in the cost of utilities, taxes, or cleaning ahead of time – Airbnb even gives you the option to add an additional cleaning fee to the price.
It’s important to note that while you cannot include these in a base rate, penalties for late check-ins or other situational variables that you plan on charging guests should be communicated before a booking is secured.
The last step in the pricing section will be to opt for or against certain promotions, like a 20% discount for your first 3 guests to help you attract travelers and get some initial reviews for your listing or weekly or monthly discounts for guests booking longer stays.
- Publish Your Airbnb Listing
When you’ve finished all this and are happy with your listing, you’re ready to be published on Airbnb. One thing to keep in mind is to always be honest in your description. It won’t take long for the truth to come out once your guests arrive. However, it will be helpful for you to try and spin all of the features of your place in as positive a light as possible.
Additional reporting by Travel Daily News