Tips from an Airbnb Host – for hosts

So you want to use Airbnb? Maybe you’re looking for an affordable place to stay, or interested in making a little money as a host.  Here’s a few things we’ve learned over the past 18 months and 100 + guests since we signed up to be hosts.  Today: Tips for the host.  See yesterday’s post for tips for guests.

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8 ways to be a great host

  1. Consider your space.  If you have a guest room that isn’t used very often, Airbnb might be right for you – especially if said guest room has a bathroom.  You can list rooms that have a shared bathroom, but as an occasional-guest myself, I much prefer a private bathroom. Also, some guests are awesome and you’ll totally wish they moved in to your neighborhood, but some you’d maybe rather not share a bathroom with.  Also, bonus points if your guest room/bathroom is in a lower-traffic area of your house. (I’m not even going to get into the futon/airmatress world here.)  Guest room + extra bathroom = best.
  2. Be mindful of the details.  It’s the little things that make a big impact.  Abundant, easy-to-find electrical outlets.  A full length mirror.  Hair dryer in the bathroom.  A book of interesting short stories on the night stand.  Empty hangers in the closet.  A comfortable place to sleep, a very clean bathroom and reliable wifi are expected and should be your bare minimum efforts.  It’s those extras that make guests say “wow!”
  3. Be ready for the laundry.  We don’t have a minimum stay requirement (more on that later) so we get a lot of one-night stays.  The business is nice, but that’s a lot of laundry.  Most guests are remarkably clean and respectful, but it’s still a lot of bathrooms to clean and loads of laundry to do.  And be ready to buy new sheets.  Hotels buy industrial sheets that are made to be washed almost every night.  The sheets I buy at Target? Soft and affordable, but need to be replaced more than you’d expect with that frequency of washing.
  4. Flexibility is key.  Guests show up early. Guests show up late. Guests stay late.  It happens. You have to be ready to roll with it.  Having a keypad lock on the entry helps, but it can still be frustrating.  However, guests appreciate it SO much when they can check out late or store luggage or whatnot, so for me, in the long run, being flexible is worth it.
  5. Manage your calendar.  As a guest, nothing is more frustrating than messaging a host about dates that look available, only to find out that j/k, they’re not.  Block dates that your aunt is coming to town.  Block dates when you’re having surgery.  Block dates when you are hosting your friend’s going away party and not accepting guests.  Set your calendar, set your terms and minimum stay, manage your business.  Please and thank you.  A quick note on that: being able to accept one-night stays helps boost bookings (and therefore your revenue) tremendously.  It is more work, but for us it’s worth it.  Plus, the more you book, the more reviews you’ll get, and the higher you’ll rank in Airbnb’s mystery algorithm, and the more bookings you’ll get.  It’s the circle of life, friends.
  6. Get the right insurance agent.  I know, insurance is boring.  But, it’s important.  Airbnb does NOT provide insurance for hosts, and it’s important that your insurance agent and the underwriter understands that you’re hosting Airbnb guests.  Many agents aren’t familiar with Airbnb, and are hesitant to even approach the subject with their underwriters, much less ensure coverage.  I’m confident the insurance market will change and relevant products will be created soon, but until then, find someone who is comfortable with your set up.  (If you’re in Omaha, we’re happy to pass along contact info for our new agent.)
  7. Minimize personal items.  Sure, you want your house to feel like a home.  But your guests probably don’t want to sleep under a giant photo of you on your wedding day.  And if your guests have kids, chances are they’ll move all your knick knacks juuuuuust a bit – just enough to make you crazy.  Your Nana’s quilt may be beautiful and special, but if it can’t be tossed in the washing machine on a regular basis, find a different comforter. Be prepared for a broken glass here or there, or a washcloth to be bleached out by someone’s face wash.  Remember – things are just things, even if it was a wedding present.  (This is one of the main benefits of hosting for me – keeping things in perspective.)
  8. Be realistic.  Airbnb is great if you want a little extra cash for date night, or to fund a room redecoration.  Airbnb (in Omaha at least) is not so great if you need reliable income to cover a mortgage or major remodel.  We’re some of the busiest hosts in Omaha (based on ongoing number of reviews) and here’s what I’ll say about our monthly Airbnb revenue – throw pillows from Pier 1 and a new restaurant or two, yes.  Mortgage payment, no.
  9. BONUS:  Earn Superhost Status.  Get 10 bookings in a year.  Have 80% 5-Star reviews.  Respond to guests in a timely manner.  Don’t cancel.  It’s that easy! You can do it.

Note: These tips aren’t endorsed by Aibnb – they’re just what we’ve learned.  You be you.
Also:  Airbnb is not legal in all cities/buildings. Follow your local laws and tax policies.  Do the right thing!

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