Are you thinking of renting your place out on AirBnB? If so, we want to congratulate you because AirBnB is fantastic way to make additional income. Before you get started, we want to share some amazing AirBnB hosting tips from one of our superhost friends in Seattle.
Back in the late 2000’s, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were struggling to make rent on their apartment. They had to resort to renting out air mattresses in their loft to out-of-town guests. They set up a simple website, and rented out their space while a big design conference was happening in San Francisco – AirBnB was born!
Today, countless hosts rent out their spaces through AirBnB. It can be a little intimidating to get started so here are the top seven AirBnB hosting tips you’ll want to keep in mind.
1: Get Professional Photos
Most of your potential guests will make a decision on whether they want to book your property based on the photos they see. It is well worth it to go on Facebook or Kijiji to find some up-and-coming photographers who are willing to do the work for cheap. Also, if you live in a condo building, I would suggest using realtor photos of the common areas in your listing.
2: Make a Guest Guide
AirBnB allows you to send e-mails to a guest once the reservation is confirmed. I would strongly suggest sending a detailed guest guide that includes Google streetview images on what the property looks like outside. Also, use photos as much as possible since it is the clearest way to communicate where things are and how to use them.
I have found that I rarely get questions from guests because the guest guide covers everything they need to know.
You should also include your suggestions for places to visit around your neighborhood in this guide. After all, no one knows your neighborhood as well as you!
3: Your first three months aren’t about making money – it’s about getting good reviews
Nearly every guests will care about good reviews, and it’s hard to get a good price for your property if you don’t have at least a 4.5 star rating. Ideally, you want to maintain a 4.8 out of 5 stars so you can quality for superhost status.
In order to get reviews you will need bookings. When I got started, I tried to make it as easy as possible to get new bookings. This means turning on the “instant book” option for your listing, and opening up as many days as possible. I would still recommend setting the minimum days for a booking at two days so you’re not overwhelmed with trying to clean your space before the next guest checks in. Also, I would try to avoid having guests checkout and check-in on the same day.
When it comes to getting good reviews, I would suggest attracting easy-going guests to start off. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a bit of a correlation between guests who pay a higher dollar amount and how picky they are.
When you’re just starting off a single mediocre review can affect you in a big way. I would recommend pricing your place at 20% below the market rates to attract easy-going guests for the first three months. What is the “market rate”? You’ll have to find out by doing some searches on AirBnB to see how much similar properties are going for.
4: Make Sure Your Place is Sparkling Clean
This sounds like a no-brainer, but many new hosts do not take the time to truly clean their place inside and out. You’ll find very few guests who are willing to give a good review after staying at a messy place.
5: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Always make sure you’re in tune with how your guests are doing. This means reaching out the same day of the check-in to see how things are going, and also reaching out at least a day before checkout to see if they have any questions about the checkout process.
Often, guests will let you know if something is not meeting their expectations if you reach out to them. This will give you an opportunity to make things right – whether that means refunding a bit of money or dropping off some missing items for your guests.
If your guests are from another city, you should also offer to provide recommendations on things to do in the area.
6: Purchase Good Short-Term Rental Insurance
Insurance is one of those things that you should not cheap out on, and I strongly recommend getting an insurance policy that will adequately cover your asset.
AirBnB does cover its hosts through their policy, but the resolution process can be long and painful. Often, hosts will find that the result of this resolution process is not what they are looking for.
By spending about $500 a year, you can get really good AirBnB rental insurance that will cover you for a wide range of issues such as:
- Vandalism (eg. the guest smashes your countertops and puts holes through your drywall).
- Lost Rent (eg. a guest damages your property to the point where you cannot rent out your space).
- Third Party Liability (eg. a guest breaks a toilet, and the water floods all of the apartments below yours).
A quick google search will give you a list of companies who can offer this type of insurance in your area, and the cost of it is fully tax deductible.
If you’re having a third-party manage your listing for you, then run this by the insurance company to make sure it’s covered. In many situations the policy will be voided if you have a company running your listing since it is now considered a “commercial” operation.
7: Make Sure You Keep Detailed Records of All Revenues and Expenses
You will thank yourself come tax season, and thank yourself even more if the government decides to audit you. The money you make through AirBnB needs to be reported on your tax return, and any costs you incur must be documented if you are to claim them.
AirBnB does a great job of keeping track of your income so you can just download your income data to a spreadsheet. When it comes to keeping track of the expenses it is fully up to you. I would suggest taking photos of all your receipts, and keep a log of your expenses (amount, date, and description) on Google Drive so that you don’t lose it.
Make sure you check the latest tax rules on what things you are allowed to deduct as an expense!
Now You Can Get Started!
Now that you know how to build a great AirBnB listing, go ahead and sign up! You’ll make some mistakes in your first few weeks, but don’t fret about them too much. As long as you truly care about your guests you will do just fine.