Airbnb is growing quickly. It seems everyone wants to put their place on it to generate extra cash. But one thing is left out of the public hype -- Airbnb'ing your place is not as easy as it seems! Like any income-generating business, it requires doing your homework and a lot of planning. That being said, doing it right can be very lucrative, sometimes generating more income than your full-time job.
I joined the Airbnb family awhile ago and loved it. It is fun to meet new people from all over the world and show them around your city. Since I like company, I didn't mind having strangers in my place. Not to mention the extra income that helped pay my high rent on a student budget. It seemed too good to be true!
Soon, I realized that being a successful Airbnb host required a never-ending list of work: keeping your listing optimized to attract more people; responding to inquiries quickly if you don't want them to book somewhere else (or even worse, let Airbnb downgrade your response rate); scheduling cleaning; giving your guests information about the area and directions from the airport; handling key exchanges; deciding how to price your listing each week; and finally, being available to answer your guests questions and problems. Every guest required intensive planning, and with time it became easier, but still far from an easy income.
The best hosts I know check their account obsessively and respond to inquiries even in the gym, while out with friends or on romantic dates while less successful hosts take days to respond and rarely update their calendar. This is the reason so many of the listings on Airbnb fluctuate in the experience for guests. You are staying in someone's private apartment and most likely, the owner has never been trained in hospitality. Airbnb knows this and they already announced they are working on making standards for their hosts.
Here are some of my tips on how to make Airbnb work better for you:
- Be prepared to investing time in it every day. If you can't, hire a personal assistant service or rethink if it's the right thing for you.
- Think about the right people for your place. Would you be comfortable with having a family there? What about a baby? College students?
- Install Airbnb app on your smartphone and have prepared responses so you don't waste too much time on it for each inquiry.
- Find a cleaning service that has good availability and that you can schedule via text message or email. Most affordable cleaners don't fit this criteria, but what you save on the actual cleaning, you pay with your time to get hold of them on the phone. Try to find a service that can bring it's own cleaning supplies too.
- Consider installing a smart lock or a lockbox. This small tip alone will save you a lot of time waiting for your guests (who can often be late due to travel delays). If you're not comfortable with that, consider paying a neighbor to handle keys for you.
- Make a welcome email for your guest with all the instruction of your place. Don't forget to include your WiFi password and how to turn on basic appliances like the A/C or heater.
- Try to get all the dates for conferences and big events in your city and check hotels and other Airbnb listings for price changes.
- Make your profile as pretty as possible. This can be a little hard to be objective about, so ask friends to take a look at it and ask them if they would have responded to that listing. Complete all verifications and fields in your profile so Airbnb rewards you with a better place in their search results.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope these tips can help you better understand what separates successful Airbnb users from the rest of the pack.
For more tips, check out Superhost (www.booksuperhost.com).
Follow Amiad Soto on Twitter: www.twitter.com/amiadsoto