Hey everyone! I was curious to see what some of your biggest concerns about starting an Airbnb was and now that you are hosts - in Hind Site - what are some things you wish you would’ve had the answers too.
My concern back then and still now is preventing guests from using house to throw parties. Installing cameras don’t help much because they cover or disable them then the confrontation begins between host and guests.
It depends whether you’re on on-site host (eg a real old-school B&B like us) or a host of a remote site. If the former - make sure you have enough bedding (three sets per bed) and towels!
We are in-home hosts, too (and we do have three sets of everything for beds, more like six sets for baths). As resident hosts, it’s far, far easier to oversee what goes on at your property. We have had no parties, no unauthorized guests, no children, no guest pets, no damage, and no theft in our 300+ guests.
What’s the biggest concern? I think for most people it would be the prospect of losing money. Best advice: Spend as little as possible to set up the Airbnb (use thrift store finds, flea market finds, etc.). The things we buy new (and fairly expensively) are bedding and towels. I would never advise going into debt for running an Airbnb.
Why? Because the income simply isn’t predictable for the lion’s share of Airbnb hosts. You might be as busy as can be one month and empty the next.
My next-best advice for hosting Airbnb is to plan on NOT depending on the income. Consider it extra income, bonus income.
Airbnb is probably a bit of a flash in the pan. It may be great income for many of us now, but cities, communities, and neighborhood associations can easily regulate Airbnb hosts out of existence. I can’t predict how likely Airbnb is to continue as it is now for years to come.
Bottom line, I guess, is that my husband and I, as Airbnb hosts, expect the unexpected as much as we can.
I wish I had found this forum when I first started instead of several months later. I’ve avoided having any real problems and I give credit to the combined advice here. In hindsight I have zero regrets. Due to the kind of rental I have (an ensuite room attached to my home) I expect to be able to do this successfully for many years to come. The only thing that will interfere is if an ill friend or family member needs to move in.
You’ve already gotten some great advice here.
My first year I was worried about horror-story things: overstaying/squatter guests and party groups that would destroy my house. Also concerned about going through all the steps to get a permit in my town. The horror story things never happened. (I’d still highly recommend an outdoor camera to any host, which has helped with a few unauthorized guests)
Not so much a thing I didn’t have an answer to, but something I feel I did right, which contributed to success:
I really approached it as a marketing exercise.
Who is my competition? (both hotels and other air hosts)
What niche can I fit?
What sets me apart?
Other Airbnb’s downtown were stuffy doily-covered B&B’s or family houses that discourage the kinds of wine-sodden guests who are a perfect fit for me.
That let me come up with a concept. I wanted to offer a modern but cozy suite that attracted the kinds of “girlfriend” groups that come to my area for wine tours. Every detail of the space fell in place around this theme.
If you build it, they will come. Like others, I didn’t break the bank the first year and upgraded once it proved itself with income. Don’t skimp on things like mattresses & bedding, though. Those are key to good reviews.
Another thing that worked well: approach your property with fresh eyes. What things might surprise a guest? (Layout, parking, hosts, house quirks, etc) Mention those in the listing. Ask friends for feedback before going live.
And DON’T use Airbnb’s pricing suggestions. In my area they’re at least 30% less than I can actually charge.
That was 5 years ago. There’s a lot more competition in my area. Do your homework to make sure it’s worth the investment for the rates you’d get.
Oh! And one more thing. When you start, Air gives you a temporary bump in search rankings. Don’t waste this! The goal is to get as many bookings with good reviews as you can while you have the bump. Once it’s gone, your placement will largely depend on prior reviews.
Short stays are also good because you can learn and change things up between guests as you find what works for you as a host. (Set max stay to 4-5 days. Do longer once you have reviews.)
I see new hosts make the mistake of taking one long booking right off the bat. They’ve squandered the search bump and that person might not even leave a review. The other is opening your calendar too far in advance. Open a month or so at an initial price and learn. You don’t want to book stays 3-4 months out and find you could’ve charged way more.
Some great advice there. Here is something you should NOT do.
A friend of mine opened up a AirBnB at a tourist hotspot. She followed all the suggested steps provided by AirBnB during the set up and ticked the ‘Smart Pricing’ box without really knowing what it meant. She opened up the calendar for six weeks in advance which also coincided with high season. Completed the set up. Turned off the phone. Went to bed. Woke up the next morning with tons and tons of messages, bookings, enquiries etc. The entire 6 week period was booked in one night. I had a brief look at the pricing which was shockingly low. Even the first guests said that they should charge more. I reckon they charged about 30% of what they could have charged.
The above is a fairly easy mistake to make because Airbnb kind of encourages hosts to do this. I have heard similar stories from new hosts in other cities. I would be very catiuous with pricing too low as it also tends to attract guests that you don’t necessarily want.
- Set your nightly price realistically. Allow for breakages etc. Allow for everything
- Be sure to have STR insurance
- Meet and do the house tour with all guests whenever possible
- Have a great marketing plan before you list
- Ignore what other local hosts charge. Be sure that you make a good profit by increasing value
Hi, and welcome. This forum was, for my first year - and continues to be - my most valuable resource.
I am a bookish Luddite, by nature and by computer skills. Setting up the sight seemed a Herculean task ( and was, once I started)
I have just a nice guest room, with a half-bath so, obviously, sharing a shower was a big deal. That put me off for at least a year.
I have 2 studios & a small in-law unit on the proprrty and have been really, really with my tenants for the 7 years I’ve been an on-site landlord.
I assumed that the booking, getting paid, check-in and general operations - in addition to maintenance, utilities and constant cleaning wouldn’t be worth the 50-60 per night
I have pets and had chickens & backyard rats (all gone now!)
My flat is small, so privacy for myself and partner was a BIG concern. Guests have to walk thru the living room & kitchen to shower, so the “dance” to keep out of their way is complex!
The shower is uncomfortably adjacent to our bedroom, necessitating an awkward “no showering after 10:00 pm” rule
Our house is 116 years old in a “transitional”, diverse area
Sorry this post is so long-winded!
I decided to jump in because:
I rented the room long term to a stranded young teacher who stayed 5 months and was a total delight! He helped me set up the site.
Immediately - w-in first 12 hours - got 3 bookings
Hooked! Really love it! I could go on (”nooooooooo!!!”)
*loved my tenants
**only chickens & rats are “all gone” - still have dog, cat
You need to tell them that covering or disabling cameras is cause for instant removal with NO refund. If you don’t live within sight distance, you need a co-host who does.
For me (4.97 stars)
No smart pricing. I get 60 when AIRBB suggests 42; 50 when 36
No instant book for me (I’m quite sure it affects my biz as I get plenty of biz travelers)
Strict cancellation. Had 1 in a year
I “sell” lower - photos are basic, I am able to deliver more amenities, etc than I list - rather than setting high expectations.
I’d rather operate relatively stress-free than increase profitability, as many other hosts have reported.
I agree and am planning to update my house rules to reflect this for cameras and WiFi intentionally shut off that powers the cameras…my concern is whether or not Airbnb will actually support the NO refund part, based on my experiences with them in 3.5 years.
We are new hosts, and I definitely wish I had done a trial run with some very picky friends before going live. Small things that I missed because it was my home that were very obvious to our first guests left us with 3/4 star reviews off the bat. Since then we have gotten a dozen 5 star ratings… but we are only at a 4.5 still due to those first dingers
What were this things you hadn’t caught because it was your home?
Things like - having notes about how to work the shower (you have the pull the handle forward), replacing our cast iron pans because a guest thought they were “greasy” (aka seasoned) and general clutter that I thought was easy access but the guests prefer as minimal as possible