Is your den or home office collecting dust? Are you looking to meet new and interesting people while making passive income? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then it’s about time you entered the world of Airbnb.
If you’ve been under a rock for the last few years and never heard of Airbnb it’s a platform where ordinary people like you and me can rent out an extra room (or even our whole apartment) to other ordinary people vacationing or visiting a new city. As the host, you get some extra cash and will meet new people from around the world. Your guest won’t have to pay sky-high rates for a weird-smelling hotel room, and they also get to stay in a city like a local. Sound strange or uncomfortable? Maybe, but over 4 million people on Airbnb can attest to the site’s trustworthiness and benefits.
However, jumping headfirst into running your own hotel can be overwhelming, so I’ve put together your definitive guide to Airbnb, showing you how to successfully rent out your extra space.
1. Treat your guests as humans, not numbers
This may seem like a no-brainer, but part of the reason Airbnb has become so prominent among travelers is because they no longer feel like just another reservation. Treating your guests to a coffee and walking them around the neighborhood is an excellent to kick off their stay.
2. Show off the goods
Even with stupidly simple digital cameras, not all of us are photo pros. You’re covered. Airbnb will send out a professional photographer to come and shoot your space. Not only should you take advantage of this, it should be one of the first things you do when setting up your profile. Guests will be more receptive to aesthetically pleasing photos and it will also add more authenticity as your pictures will be tagged as “Airbnb.com Verified Photos”.
3. Keep your place tidy and full of amenities
Nobody wants to stay in someone’s messy living room. Clean in between guests and always keep fresh sheets and towels on hand. Since this isn’t the Ritz, your towels and sheets don’t have to be made from the finest silk and cottons. I find even dorm bedding (found here) is perfect for your guest room; buy a few sets so you won’t have to rush to get your room ready.
While you don’t have to go above and beyond for each guest, you should try to make everyone feel at home. And pro Airbnb hosts keep common stuff on hand that many people forget to pack, like a hairdryer. Anticipating what your guests may need is the difference between being an awesome host and just some guy that lets people crash on his futon. Including a basket of snacks, travel-sized toiletries, and teas will not only make your guest more comfortable, but will earn you extra points when they’re reviewing their stay with you. And those positive reviews are critical.
4. Stay at the top of your local listings
If you’ve decided to go through with listing your space, you’ll need to make sure potential guests can actually find you. Much like most of databases, Airbnb uses an algorithm to show and rank listings. In order to be among the top results, here’s what you can do:
- Start off with lower than usual rates. The hardest reviews to get will be the first couple. In order to sway guests to stay your place instead of the apartment across town, charge at least 20% less than the other hosts. After you get on your feet and have accumulated positive feedback, then you can start charging more.
- Respond to all messages, good or bad. One way your profile is rated is through message response rate. Even if you are in no way interested in renting your room to someone, make an effort to reply to their inquiry.
- Review your guests. As soon as your guest checks out, you should be on your computer getting ready to review them. This will not only build the community, it will also encourage them to review you—thus building your profile’s credibility.
Now that you know how to be an awesome Airbnb host, there’s nothing left to do but get your house cleaned up and create a profile. After you start to use the platform, you’ll see that it’s a great way to help travelers, meet interesting people, and earn some cash on the side.