Beginner’s Guide to Airbnb Hosting

Becoming a first time Airbnb Host and listing your space on Airbnb requires little effort on your part.

Guide To Hosting on Airbnb

Becoming an Airbnb host allows you to earn extra income by converting your place into a guest room. Travelers and regular backpackers alike can stay in your place for days, while you charge them accordingly. It’s like running your own mini hotel – and it is a great way to not just earn extra cash, but to gain newfound friends and connections as well.

Being an Airbnb host is especially exciting if you are naturally an outgoing person. You might think that you can handle guests pretty well because of your inherent hospitable nature. However, being an Airbnb host is more than that.

So if you are thinking about how to be an Airbnb host to gain extra cash, make sure you do it the proper way – and below is a beginner’s guide to help you prepare for what’s coming.

First things first: Click here to head to Airbnb and select Sign Up 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.

Once you create your account or log in, you will be prompted through a series of basic questions such as:

Basic Questions

  • Kind of place you have
  • How many guests your place can accommodate
  • How many beds/bathrooms
  • Location of your place
  • Amenities offered

Set The Scene

  • Post Photos, short description, title

Get Ready For Guests

  • Booking settings, calendar, price

Things to Take Into Account When Setting Up Your First Airbnb Listing

Preparation

  1. Build a complete listing, fill in all the available information and be honest, you will probably hurt your future reviews if you lie. Most guests won’t bother to read all the stuff you included in the listing description. It doesn’t matter, it is certain that at some point you will have some dispute with a guest. A complete and truthful listing will help you out and remember, Airbnb takes care if its hosts, they will take your side if you are honest, polite and mean business.

  2. Fill in your profile, have a friendly picture and write a couple of nice and true things about yourself. A lot of people chose pictures where they are with their significant other, I guess it makes them look friendlier? – that could work too.

  3. Underpromise and overperform (warn guest about flaws/quirks of your space, then let them be happy with how awesome it is)

Giving your listing a name

  1. Have a competitive and descriptive title mention other selling facts, ie. “close to Subway station”.

  2. Mention upcoming events in title, OR NOT? The title of your listing will appear to your potential guests who are searching accommodation with criteria that fit your house. This will make your listing distinguish between the 3-4 other listings that fit the search results.

  3. Keep in mind that within Airbnb website you cannot search keywords, only location. On the other hand, Airbnb website is monitored by Google (and other similar search engines) and your listing’s title is now a new page in their search results. I believe that a static title, which would be search friendly, with keywords such as “Downtown Paris Apartment” will at some point make you appear in the search results in the main search engines and will give you more bookings than a seasonal title, which in most cases will not have enough time to be indexed and give you google hits for the upcoming concert in the area.

Pictures

  1. (Beginners) Take pictures with your cell phone. Don’t wait for the perfect ones to launch your listing. You will have plenty of time to redo the photographs but don’t lose that extra week of potential income waiting for the perfect shots.

  2. Upload many and nice pictures I have an average of 20 per listing, and they were all shot with a good camera and underwent some light editing. Current mobile phones also get great pictures but well, I went all the way.

  3. Always consider Airbnb’s Photography service (fee applies) which gets the job done and provides an extra verification for your profile.

  4. Photoshoot tips:

    • Light: make sure your photos are well lit; put lights on and open curtains; don’t aim the camera at the window.  Dark photos won’t do your rooms justice.

    • Probably the best time to shoot is before noon and early in the afternoon (depending on where you are on earth) but too much outside light will make your inside look dark. Keep the strongest light-source behind you when shooting and experiment away!

    • Beds and sofas: smooth and tidy.  If the bed doesn’t look tidy, they don’t book a property as they don’t have faith in hosts to take care of other aspects of their listing.

    • WC: put the seats and lids down!

    • Tidy: and remove personal possessions from guests’ spaces to make your rooms look welcoming.

    • Extras: only put flowers and fruit etc. in photos if they’re going to be there for every guest.

    • Outside: include a photo of the outside of your building, unless you feel it compromises your security.

    • General view: include a pic of your street or surroundings.  Chose a time of day when the sun is shining on the scene, and your house isn’t in the shade, and chose a time of year when the countryside looks green, if this applies. 

    • Local attractions: say in your listing how far away this is. If you show a beach photo, for example, is this the beach that your listing says is 2 minutes away?

    • Accuracy: obviously make sure your photos give an accurate picture of your listing, and update them as and when you make changes. Remove duplicates.

    • Access: only include photos of spaces that guests have access to. It just leads to misunderstandings if you show a kitchen or sitting room to which they don’t have access.

    • Grouping: the interior shots first, then outside, then neighbourhood and attractions.

    • The choice of the number one photo is personal and depends on what you think the wow factor of your listing is.

  5. After lightly editing your pictures, you can go ahead and edit them heavily – or not? Everyone does it, you could too.

  6. A wide-angle lens and HDR effects will help.

  7. Fill in the pictures titles – have the potential guests spend more time on your listing. Check your main (first) picture, how it appears on multiple devices. It might be a great picture by its self but when cropped by the Airbnb layout it may appear worse. Manually crop it or change it. Also, think 3:4 landscape ratio is the best for Airbnb, it appears well in most devices (except android app that allows portrait view 4:3) 

  8. Label your photos: this is a chance to tell your guests a little more about your listing. Does the balcony belong to the Private Room? – Enough photos:   Guests will want to see fewer photos if they are just staying the night, but more photos if they are planning to stay longer, or if they are coming out of their way to visit you, or if they are paying a lot of money for an up-market property. 

  9. Add a picture of a map of the area and one with subway/train/public transportation instructions – it’s very helpful for the guests.

Pricing

  1. When starting, have a competitive price, easy and simple, check what is offered in your neighborhood and, if possible, beat the price of the similar listings that are your competition.

  2. Use the extra charge per person option, have a lower price for 1 person then gradually increase for added guests. Will make your pricing fairer.

  3. Opposite to the previous point, at some point, you will figure out the perfect price for your listing. Try to keep high, to attract better guests and at the same time be competitive. There’s an old Greek saying that roughly translates as: “Low prices attract the towel thieves”

  4. Start low. The lower (but fair) the price, the more bookings, the faster you register more trips, the faster you get reviews, the faster you look like a cool host on search results.

  5. Find a way to afford 1-night stays. Probably are not worth it as much as long stays but having your place available for one night will increase your impressions on search results, your reviews and your income.

  6. Hosts can pay you via credit card or debit card, but not cash.

Amenities

  1. Make sure you offer the basic amenities (spending 30$ on a steam iron and a hair blower was worth it)

  2. Get as many “tickable amenities” as possible, available (ie. a CO detector might cost $6, its probably worth ticking). Get fire extinguishers and always tell the guests where they are during check ins – better safe than sorry. 

  3. Probably worth getting the business ready title if you are in a city center or business busy area

  4. Sleep in the room that you will be offering. You’ll notice things when you try to experience the house like a guest would

Hosting

  1. Be aware that you are running a business. Educate yourself on all necessary permits and implement them.

  2. Study in depth all the Airbnb rules and regulations, particularly about cancellations. Have their phone number handy in case you need help beyond what’s available in the help section. They are extremely helpful every time we needed something.

  3. (Beginners) Ask for references. Connect your Facebook account, see which ones of your friends have Airbnb accounts and ask them to write a couple of nice things about you. They will fill in the spot until you get some solid reviews, a nice way to show that you have a good and reliable personality and at the same time shows that you mean business.

  4. Be a good host! Airbnb works with ratings, the more 5star ratings you get the more Airbnb algorithm will like you. Good and many reviews will also attract a potential guest.

  5. Don’t cancel confirmed reservations. It does hurt your host rating heavily.

Check In and Misc.

  1. Try to be present during check ins, a friendly face and warm welcome works great towards getting those stars.

  2. Don’t let guests in early if your home is not yet clean–no matter how much they beg or say they don’t care, they DO care. You only get that first chance to make a good impression.

  3. Find a way to offer 24h self-check-in (if possible). Combination key-safes go for $15-30 online. This will increase your income as many people might be arriving after midnight. This also relieves the guests from the anxiety to be on time to meet you. Some people prefer it anyway, they don’t want close contact with the host. Give them the option but don’t overdo it and be lazy about welcoming them. 

  4. It’s recommended to send a quick message to the guests during their first days of their stay and ask them if everything is ok and up to their standards. It makes them know you are thinking of them and might give you the heads-up to repair something that isn’t working during their stay and that they wouldn’t bother you about it unless you asked (i.e. the sink is leaking). Repairing something during their stay might be the extra star in your review. You will fix it anyway later.

Bad experiences

  1. You will at some point rent out to a guest that won’t be perfect. Keep in mind that it is YOUR house and YOUR rules.

  2. Always be polite and try to resolve any issue with the guest first but if you can’t handle it you can always call Airbnb. 

  3. Keep in mind that there are some refund-hunters out there. They will use the slightest opportunity to whine about something that was not as described and ask for a discount or a refund. Depending on the situation, see what is your best way out, either refund them, or stand on your initial position. If you think you are in the right side of the argument, try to keep your communication within the Airbnb chat and as a last resort call them.

  4. Listen to feedback, but don’t try to be all things to all people. Keep the experience fun.

Guidelines and Advice for First-Time Airbnb Hosts

1. Read and learn your local leasing laws/regulations

If you are currently leasing an apartment, studio, or condo, you might want to check your local laws first before listing out your extra room via Airbnb. In some places, landlords and real estate developers disallow “subletting” – the term used when you book out a part of your place while you are also leasing the whole unit at the same time. The best thing to do first is to approach your landlord and inform them of your plan to share out part of your space.

2. Prepare your home/apartment and set a reasonable rental rate

What do you usually do when guests are coming over? You tidy up the place – especially if they are paying patrons! Aside from that, you may also need to check for dysfunctional showers, drains, faulty wirings, wall cracks and crevices and any other part of your house that needs a few touch-ups. Some Airbnb guests are not as hard-to-please as actual hotel guests, but making sure they are comfortable during their stay could go a long way.

3. Be honest on your listing

If your place is quite old and some aspects are indeed torn and worn-out (broken hot showers, slow-draining tubs, etc), you don’t have to try hard to cover everything up. Just be honest about it on your listing, and if your rental rates are reasonable, guests who choose to book your place won’t be coming over with high expectations because they were already informed beforehand. Covering up your home’s defects and possible inconveniences might disappoint guests, and would even reflect badly on your reviews.

4. Establish your own house rules and stick to them

The house rules you establish could also determine the kind of guests that would be attracted to your listing. It is important to be clear about this so you would not end up with more house problems after their stay. Don’t assume that your would-be guests already know what these rules should be – you have to write them down and impose penalties to rule breakers. You can start by prohibiting smoking (cigarettes and drugs), loud parties, bringing over third-persons not included in the booking, etc.

Writing rules are one thing though – implementing it is the hardest challenge. At this point, if a guest did break a rule, you have to be firm and ask them to leave if necessary.

5. Don’t forget security measures

Although you can practically trace the identity of your guests through Airbnb’s system, it does not mean that you should be lax about your privacy and safety. If you are about to leave the premises with some guests still staying, lock your own space and keep your valuables hidden. Although Airbnb gives you an insurance that is worth over $1 million, don’t also hesitate to avail yourself of additional insurance policies that can cover movable valuables such as laptops, cellphones, cameras and other gadgets.

As an added measure, consider installing a CCTV system in the common areas of your house and have it connected to your phone, so you can still check your house from time to time even when you are far away.

6. It’s okay to be slightly picky when it comes to potential guests

Even if you placed a very thorough listing, you might be surprised that some people will not read it all the way to the bottom. Chances are, they might be asking obvious questions – and you have to be patient.

Interested guests might be annoying when they ask too much questions, but this is a chance for you to vet them. If they come across as the type of people who love to party loud (which is against your house rules), just decline them politely and move on to another potential guest.

7. Establish a minimum and maximum-stay requirement

Most Airbnb guests are not really the long-staying type, but you never know how some people could take advantage of your place if you don’t establish minimum or maximum-stay requirements. The period is more like a personal choice really, and it would largely depend on the amount of time you need to clean up and prepare your place for another set of guests. The longer they stay, the more time you may need to prep up your place for yourself and new guests (this includes throwing away trash, changing and washing the mattresses/beddings, etc).

Maximum stay might also be dictated by your local law. Some states don’t allow more than 30-day renters, so you might need to be careful about such regulations.

8. Do mind your neighbors

Even though you may opt to be a “cooler” than most others that are reading this Airbnb hosting guide by allowing parties and chill sessions in your place, your neighbors might not be too happy about that. Your rules should be created with them in mind too – most especially if you are living in a building or apartment-style area.

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