Like all great inventions, Airbnb was born from necessity. The company formed in 2008 in the US when affordable travel became scarce due to the recession. In the summer of 2015, nearly 17 million guests stayed with Airbnb hosts.
When you list your place on Airbnb, you are reaching a demographic that is larger than the individual populations of Greece, Sweden, and Switzerland. This wide net is the supreme value of Airbnb. In just a few days you can set up your Airbnb account and use the interface to access an audience that is the envy of even the largest hotel chains. In this article, we’ll look at the simple steps to getting started with your listing.
An Additional Revenue Stream For Less of Your Time
The beauty of listing your place on Airbnb is summarized in two words: “passive income.” Many will argue that the income is not truly passive because there is some work required on your part. However, unlike so many other traditional jobs, renting an Airbnb space doesn’t require you to occupy a single company chair from 8:00 to 5:00. The rental income flows as you fulfill the other duties of your life or while you generate income at your day job. Welcome to the magic of dual income.
So, how much effort should you expect to put into managing your new income stream? Expect a turnover time of about 2 hours per visitor. ‘Turnover’ frequently consists of 90 minutes of cleaning and 30 minutes of logistics planning and communication. Consider yourself “on-call” while hosting your space to a guest. Lockouts aren’t uncommon, and there will be questions about climate control. While the job of host won’t require your full day, it will require a significant amount of time. Consider this burden somewhat front-loaded. In the beginning, you’ll need to devote more time as you work out the operational aspects. Efficiencies will take hold as you become experienced.
Getting Started With an Airbnb Account and Listings
With careful attention to photography and descriptions, you can ensure responses from the kinds of visitors you want to host. When you’re creating your listing, you’re making a promise to a potential guest. This commitment must include comfort, convenience, and accessibility. When you start, you’ll have no reviews. Therefore, your presentation skills will be the only marketing tool at your disposal. Make it count. Remember, the review process works both ways. Properly vet your potential visitors before granting access.
First, you’ll need to upload a profile picture of yourself. Convey a warm feeling with a smile and a professional look. Avoid the shortcut of a cropped party photo from three years ago. You are the face of your brand. Second, check all of your contact information. Without prompt communication, you’ll never build income. Verify your identity. This easy, but crucial step reassures potential visitors that you’re serious and that you are you claim to be.
Finally, build a realistic notion of your commitment. When listing, you’ll clarify if you’re offering a room or an entire apartment. Keep in mind that even when restricting the listing to a room other portions of your house or apartment will need to be shared (e.g. bathroom, kitchen, etc.).
The Right Way to Rent Your Place
Optimize your place to attract bookings with a few simple tips:
- Professional photography will yield results. Perfect photos pay for themselves over the long-term.
- Keep your availability calendar up to date. Some have reported that this simple practice can dramatically increase bookings. As Airbnb warns, “…if you decline an excess number of reservation requests, your listing may be temporarily deactivated.”
- Commit to a response time of 24 hours or less. Speed a factor in the calculation of your reply rate which determines your eligibility for the influential “superhost” status.
- Avoid cancellations unless entirely necessary. Canceling a booking can result in financial penalties in some cases. Stay organized.
- Provide a clear check-in procedure at the beginning of the process. Customers will rate this experience. Therefore, your visibility on Airbnb depends on satisfaction in this area.
- Promote a hosting environment that is beautiful, but accurate. Calibrate your visitor’s expectations with accurate descriptions. Check that all amenities are operational.
- Clean everything. Living in your space creates a blindness to everyday filth. Adopt a critical eye and understand that all personality types, including picky ones, will walk through your door.
- If you have a landlord, confirm an agreement on your plan before listing.
Deciding Where to Invest Home Upgrades
There is no need to invest heavily in home upgrades. However, some inexpensive, but impactful changes can yield significant returns. Consider outfitting the guest room with an excellent coffee maker and tea set. These goods won’t cost much, but the welcoming effect will be considerable. Create an inviting environment with some plants and simple, uncluttered décor. Tastes vary so keep the appeal universal and sparse.
If affordable, consider some basic entertainment options like a Netflix-equipped TV for streaming content or just a DVD player with a few handy titles anyone can enjoy. Small, but stylish and fancy toiletries will make your visitors feel luxuriated without a burdensome cost to you.
To reach an audience that rivals Airbnb, start with HomeAway.com. They boast over 1 million worldwide listings. Renters will be happy to learn that they can enjoy the peace of mind offered by their HomeAway’s insurance coverage feature. Companies under the HomeAway umbrella include VRBO, VacationRentals.com, and TravelMob.com.
Roomarama.com offers international options in stylish places. The site has a robust vetting feature to help minimize incidents of dishonesty. Confirmations are instant, and many of the locations are professionally managed.
Wimdu.com is an excellent international option with 140 countries represented. As the site claims “over 10 million nights booked.” Prices are reasonable. Top tourist destinations that are otherwise inaccessible to the budget traveler can be enjoyed for less.
The Bottom Line
If you’re willing to commit a portion of your time to maintenance and communication you’re likely to find that Airbnb can offer meaningful supplemental income. While it’s not truly “passive” it can, in time, resemble a passive stream as you master the game and build the online credentials that attract a regular and respectful visitor demographic.