The following excerpt is from the staff of Entrepreneur Media’s book Start Your Own Travel Hosting Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBoundAs with any business opportunity, there are a handful of prerequisites that will help lead to your success as an Airbnb host. The following are 10 important factors to consider before you register to become an Airbnb host and begin having guests stay in your home or property.
1. Determine if local laws and/or the bylaws of your apartment complex, co-op board or homeowner’s association prevent you from utilizing your home or apartment to host paid guests.
2. Determine if you have the personality, time, wherewithal and willingness to interact with and manage guests (strangers) who will be staying in your home or property.
3. You’re able to consistently provide a clean, comfortable, well-located and desirable place for people to stay.
4. Your lifestyle and schedule allow you to be available to your guests and have people staying in your home. If you have young children or unfriendly pets, for example, this could be problematic.
5. You’re willing to set competitive nightly pricing, based on what you’re offering, competition and demand in your geographic area.
6. You understand that as a host, customer service is one important key to your success. Successful Airbnb hosts consistently receive positive feedback and great reviews from their guests. Earning anything less than stellar reviews and ratings will have a lasting and negative impact on your future success as a host.
7. Prior to actually having guests pay to stay with you, it’s necessary to sign up to become a host with Airbnb (and/or a similar service). This requires you to create a detailed, accurate and well-written profile that conveys information about yourself and what you’re offering. You’ll also need to take and share professional-quality photos of your property.
8. Before each guest checks in, it’s necessary to prepare your property. This means both cleaning it and providing a selection of amenities that will make guests feel more comfortable and welcome.
9. Protect your own property and belongings. In addition to having adequate insurance (that covers you having paying guests stay in your home), make sure any expensive décor (antiques, art, etc.), home electronics and furnishings will remain safe, even with guests staying in your home.
10. Develop a comprehensive list of “house rules” that your guests will need to abide by. These rules needs to be spelled out and clearly communicated to guests, and then enforced, but also be fair.
After considering each of these factors, if you still believe you have what it takes to be a successful Airbnb host, then you may have stumbled upon an opportunity that will allow you to earn extra revenue. Being a travel host will also allow you to meet new people and better utilize your property in a way that offsets your property-related costs/expenses.
Here’s a quick reality check
As you’ll soon discover, the most successful Airbnb hosts offer:
- Affordable, clean, safe and comfortable accommodations that cost less than the competition (local hotels, for example), at a fair price.
- Accommodations in or near a highly desirable location, close to public transportation, nearby attractions or where guests will want to visit (plus onsite or nearby parking is available.)
- Extra amenities, beyond clean sheets and towels, are provided by the host to help set the accommodations apart from the competition.
- A truly unique or unusual accommodation experience that guests are willing to pay a premium for.
For each guest that you host, their experience will include a series of phases that begin once someone finds your listing on the Airbnb website or mobile app. When your listing catches someone’s attention, the potential guest will make contact with you via the website or app. It’s important that you, as the host, respond promptly and accurately to inquiries, always maintaining a friendly and professional attitude.
Once the reservation is made, as the host, it’s your responsibility to clean and prepare the accommodations for each guest’s arrival. Everything should be set up and waiting for them before they arrive. It’s essential that the description of the property you provided on the Airbnb service, and the amenities you said were included, are all accurate and ready for your guests upon their arrival.
After you’ve agreed to an arrival time with your guest, you, or an approved representative, will typically need to be on-hand to welcome the guest, present them with the keys, review the house rules, provide a tour and get them settled in.
During your guest’s stay, it’s up to you and them in terms of how much interaction you actually have. Some hosts opt to socialize with their guests, share meals, take on the role of tour guide and have a lot of day-to-day interaction with their guests. Others remain available in-person, by phone, email or text message, but give their guests more freedom and autonomy.
Depending on the type of accommodations you’re offering, your geographic location, competition, demand and seasonal trends, you may find you’re able to keep your accommodations booked night after night, with short-term, mid-term or even long-term guests. More realistically, especially for new Airbnb hosts in geographic areas that aren’t popular tourist destinations, you can expect guests to book your accommodations less often. This might mean you’ll have guests sporadically throughout each month.
One thing you can be sure about, however, is that if you start receiving negative feedback and ratings from your guests, it’ll become harder for you as a host to generate bookings, as guests who are savvy using the Airbnb service will know to seek out accommodations that have received better reviews and ratings from past guests.
Some Airbnb hosts generate enough money to cover some or all of their mortgage payment or monthly rent, as well as extras like utility bills and real estate taxes. There are also some people who have been able to earn enough money to support themselves exclusively as an Airbnb host.
But realistically, becoming an Airbnb host is not a continuous and reliable revenue stream that you should count on, at least initially, until based on what you’re offering, your personal experience as an Airbnb host proves otherwise. For the majority of Airbnb hosts, having guests stay at their property offers a secondary and sporadic revenue stream that gives them extra money to help cover their bills or improve their lifestyle.