Airbnb Host Tips

Over the past few years, there has been a surge in vacation rental platforms like Airbnb. These platforms connect vacationers with homeowners who have fixed their places up for short-term stays. Airbnb offers homes across the world, from Paris to New York City to small towns throughout the nation.

While hosting your home on Airbnb can be a great opportunity to generate some supplemental income and share the beauty of your neighborhood, many first-time (or veteran) hosts may have questions about the process. Here, we will go over some of the frequently asked questions we have heard from both first-time and veteran hosts and share some tips for making money on Airbnb by being an excellent host.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Based on Airbnb’s site and the feedback we have heard from past hosts, we have generated a list of FAQs for hosts, both seasoned and new.

Who can host a home?

One of the things that draws users to Airbnb is its flexibility, because almost anyone can rent out their home. The platform was born from the desire to rent out the founders’ air mattress in their apartment and while it has grown since then, there are still a variety of room types.

Some common room types available are shared rooms, which are rooms where the guest and host share a space, private rooms, which are rooms just for the guests, and entire homes or apartments. Depending on a guest’s needs, they have multiple options.

How can I verify a guest before they book?

Most guests understand the need for verification before booking a place to stay, so requiring this step is simple on the site. When a user makes an account for the first time, they must provide a driver’s license or other form of government issued photo ID, add a picture to their profile, and fill out some basic information. No one wants someone coming into their home that doesn’t look like who they were on the Internet!

Do I need to talk to my landlord or HOA organization before I host my home?

Yes. Every property will have different rules, so it’s important to consider your contracts and rules before hosting out your home. In addition, some city or state laws might affect your listing availability.

Talk to your landlord or HOA about how often you plan to rent out your home, how many guests you expect to have, and share with them that the site works hard to build a relationship of trust between its hosts and guests.

You also might want to speak with your neighbors about your hosting plans. They likely won’t want to wake up in the morning, grab the newspaper in their robe, and be surprised by a stranger next door. By communicating proactively, you will save yourself stress in the long run.

Can I rent my home out for longer stays, and if so what should I consider before doing so?

In most states, a stay of over 30 days constitutes as a residential occupancy, meaning that these guests can have the rights of a tenant. Airbnb suggests that if you plan to rent out your home to a guest for more than 30 days, have them sign a rental agreement. Here, you can lay out some house rules and use this in court if necessary.

Some states do not allow hosts to rent their homes out for extended periods of time. Consult your local laws and regulations before booking a long-term stay.

How and when should I communicate with my guests?

Guest and host communication is key with sites like Airbnb and one of the reasons why they have gotten so popular. Guests can experience a higher level of service than they would get at a hotel, and know that they are always speaking with a real person. You should make the effort to communicate regularly with your guests.

Make sure to talk to your guests before they book, after booking, right before arrival, and after departure if necessary. Some guests might message you before paying for their booking, but it’s important to encourage this dialogue. Before your guest arrives, make sure they know how to reach you, that they have the correct address, and that they know any entrance information like gate codes or parking situations. And remember to ask them if they need anything that would make their stay exceptional!

What is the Airbnb host guarantee?

According to Airbnb, their host guarantee “provides protection for up to $1,000,000 to a host for damages to covered property in the rare event of guest damages above the security deposit, or if no security deposit is in place. The Host Guarantee Program doesn’t cover cash and securities, collectibles, rare artwork, jewelry, pets or personal liability.”

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Tips for Airbnb Hosts

You may think that becoming a short-term rental host is as easy as downloading the app and making an account, but a lot more goes into being a successful Airbnb host. You must consider your time and resources, your guests’ comfort, and the legal implications of short-term rentals. Below are some tips for Airbnb hosts.

Accurately Describe the Location

When filling out your Airbnb profile, make sure to describe your property to the best of your ability. Airbnb offers a wide array of considerations when listing a place, such as room type, number of bedrooms and beds, location, and many others.

The more details you list about your investment property, the better. Include accurate pictures as well to help people imagine the space correctly. Make sure to include details that Airbnb might not have categories for, such as if the house has a gate code, if the neighbors have any specific considerations, and how far it is from points of interest. All these details will set your listing apart from others in your area.

Consider Guest Experience

Although you may only be renting to guests for a short period of time, consider their experience and things that might make it extraordinary. For example, some Airbnb hosts include a little snack basket upon arrival, provide newspapers or magazines for guests to read, or dress up the place with local art and other finds.

Just like when you put a property on the market to sell, when you host guests on Airbnb make sure your home is staged in a fashionable manner. Most guests, especially those looking to spend a little more on their stay, will enjoy places that look like home and are staged professionally. Invest in nice towels, linens, robes, and decor.

Price Your Property for Success

There is nothing worse than putting in the effort to buy and list a place and having no takers. If this is something you’ve experienced, it might be because your place is priced too high (or too low) for renters. Before listing your space, do extensive research to see what comparable places are listed at. If you go too high, renters won’t see the value and might choose a competitor. If you go too low, you might dilute your value and make renters weary of its quality or you might end up losing money on the deal.

Be Communicative

Like mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of choosing Airbnb over a chain hotel for renters is that they can experience a higher level of communication and personalized service. Make sure you are available before, during, and after your guests’ stay. They will likely have questions about the logistics of their stay, so make sure you have a plan in place to answer these. Airbnb makes it easy to communicate with your guests through the app or using your personal number.

Be Yourself

We’ve always heard this lesson growing up, and it still applies when hosting on Airbnb. Sure, anyone can stay at a Hilton or Marriott and know what they are getting, but being yourself is part of the fun with Airbnb. With the flexibility of renting out your space, you can decorate it to your liking and offer a unique experience for your guests. For example, if you are renting a home in Napa Valley, you could decorate it with art and wine memorabilia from the local wineries in the area. This unique touch likely can’t be found at the big, corporate hotels.

In fact, one of the requirements for Airbnb corporate hosting (when a host has multiple rooms, like a small bed and breakfast) is that each room needs to be decorated in its own way. The company avoids places that are too cookie cutter-like.

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Using the Airbnb App

These are just a few of the ways you can plan for success when hosting your home. Now, let’s look at some tips for using the app itself so you can be prepared to rent out your investment property.

Understanding Superhosts

According to Airbnb, Superhosts are “experienced hosts who provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests.” Adding the Superhost designation is one way for Airbnb to reward hosts that go the extra mile for guests and to provide renters the security they are looking for during their trip.

To become a Superhost, your account must be in good standing, you must have hosted at least 10 trips in the past year, have at least a 90% response rate, receive 5-star reviews at least 80% of the time, and complete all of your reservations with no cancellations. Airbnb automatically qualifies hosts for this designation if they meet these criteria and reevaluates hosts a few times a year to make sure they are still up to Superhost standards.

Your Profile Matters

Another suggestion for using the Airbnb app, for both renters and hosts, is to fill out your profile completely. For hosts, this provides a higher level of security for your guests because they know who they are working with and get to know you as a person. Access to this information will put their mind at ease before staying at your place.

For guests, having a completed profile allows hosts to know who to expect at their home and provides them with a higher level of certainty and care. Completing your profile includes adding an updated picture, sharing your location, adding a little description about who you are, and adding contact information.

On your profile, you will also see reviews that hosts and guests leave each other. You must leave a review before you can see the other person’s review of you. Both guest and host reviews matter for the integrity of both parties.

Look for Verified Guests

When used correctly, the app can lead you to guests that are right for you. Just as guests look for verified hosts and Superhosts, hosts can look for verified guests, too. Verified guests will have all the information listed above, such as contact information and a real photo.

In addition to verification, Airbnb offers a social connection feature, which allows you to see if you have any mutual friends with a guest on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. This allows guests to develop a deeper relationship of trust with any mutual friends and search for further information.

Set Yourself Up for Hosting Success

Hosting on Airbnb, whether for the first time or the hundredth time, can be an uncertain process. The app offers a lot of safety and security measures, but we answered some questions that hosts might have.

A summary of our answers:

  • Almost anyone can host their home on Airbnb.
  • The app allows a host to verify their guest before booking.
  • You should talk to your landlord or Homeowners Association before hosting.
  • You can host a guest for a longer period of time, but check with local laws before doing so.
  • You should actively communicate with your guests before, during, and after their stay.

We also covered some tips on how to be a good host. You should:

  • Accurately describe your property
  • Consider the guest experience
  • Price your property for success by not being too high or too low
  • Communicate with your guests
  • Be yourself

Lastly, we provided some useful tips about the app itself, including Superhosts and how to become one, filling out your profile, and looking for verified guests. Airbnb is a great way to generate income and involve yourself in the online community of hosts. After reading this article, you are well on your way to becoming an excellent Airbnb host!

Airbnb Marketing: How to Market Your Property

Finding an investment property, as complicated and time-consuming as it is, is just the first step in actually listing, fixing up, and renting out your place. If you are looking to get involved with a site like Airbnb, there is a lot to know about how to get started. First, you need to know how to make a profile. Next, you need to understand what a good listing includes. And finally, you must understand how to market your profile to the world in order to start making money on Airbnb.

Making an Airbnb Host Profile

The first thing you need to do to market your investment property is to create a profile on the Airbnb site or application.

  1. Go to airbnb.com/host. Click on “Start Hosting.”
  2. If you already have a guest profile on Airbnb, the site will ask you if you want to continue as this profile. If you would like to make an account for someone else, click “More Login Options.”
  3. Once you confirm your profile, the first question will prompt you to list what kind of place you have. You can choose between private rooms (the guest has their own space), shared rooms (the guest and host share a common space), or entire houses. You will also list what city you are renting in and how many guests you can accommodate.
  4. Next, you will choose the type of property. One of the draws of Airbnb is that you can put a lot of different types of homes on the site. You can choose things like boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, boats, or even castles!
  5. Finally, the site will prompt you for more details, such as the type of beds available, how many guests can stay, how many bathrooms there are, the exact address of the property, and more.

Once you complete these basic steps to make a hosting profile, you can get begin ramping up your profile and adding more information.

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Bulking Up Your Profile

We all know that you only get one chance to make a good first impression, so make sure that your first impression as a host is a favorable one.

Profile Picture

First, consider your profile picture. It is crucial that you have a good profile picture that shows your real personality and also showcases other individuals who may be at the property (significant others, family members, etc.). Make sure you smile, the picture is good quality, and it shows some aspects of your personality.

Update Your Contact Info

After carefully choosing your profile picture, it’s time to add contact details. Make sure to add an email address and phone number that are accurate and that you have access to. Don’t worry, none of these details will float around the web without your permission. One of the benefits of Airbnb is that guests can expect a concierge service. Make sure you are reachable at all times to ensure that you’re not missing out on future bookings.

Get Social

At its core, Airbnb is a social media platform that connects peers with other peers and develops connections between them. Show your social side with at least 50 words. This could include likes, dislikes, interior design styles, or even favorite foods!

Also, make sure to share your profile on other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you are serious about getting exposure on your property, social media is a great way to do it.

Verify Your Profile

As vast and informative as the Internet is, it is also full of secrets. We all know that secrets are the last thing you want when renting out your home to strangers or renting from strangers, which is why Airbnb enlisted its verification software.

After putting in all your contact details, make sure you verify your profile by scanning in a state ID, driver’s license, passport, or other form of ID.

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Optimize Your Listing

Once you have your profile dressed up to the nines, it’s time to optimize your listing with great descriptions and photos. Too often, hosts get intimidated when listing their property because they don’t think they are good writers or don’t know what to say. Luckily, there are some helpful tips from Airbnb pros to help you overcome this hurdle.

Write Conversationally

As nice as it might seem to have a professional writer at your disposal, writing conversationally is actually more effective when it comes to Airbnb. By writing like you would talk to a friend, guests will know you are a real person and get a feel for your personality.

One way to get started is to sit down with someone and explain your property out loud (this is also a writing exercise that can be used in other ways, too!). The way you describe the place in this scenario is likely the most accurate way to describe it to others. Bonus points if you can get the person you are talking to to write down what you’re saying!

In addition to writing conversationally, make sure you keep it short and sweet. In the age of the Internet, readers have very short attention spans. Writing a description that highlights the key points, while cutting the fat, will be the most effective.

The Devil is in the Details

What do you look for when you rent a space or stay at a hotel? Comfy beds? New sheets? A view? Including small details like these might be the difference between someone booking with you and someone booking with your competitor. Some things you might want to include:

  • The sleeping arrangements, including the types of sheets, pillows, bedding, etc.
  • Entertainment areas, such as a patio or large common area
  • Some ideas for how to use the space, such as suggesting a dinner party, taking in Chinese food, or enjoying a glass of wine on the veranda

Here is an example of a good description, courtesy of Holly on Airbnb:

“Your space is a separate and private 240sq ft open beamed studio with a concrete countertop kitchenette including a stainless steel microwave, 2 burner stove top, sink, and fridge.

Your private bathroom is roomy with a shower (wash rack) toilet and marble topped vessel sink valise.

The main open room has a comfy queen bed with 6 pillows, quilts and a comforter as well as a comfy futon couch that can be used as an additional bed. Linens,towels, washcloths and bathrobes are all provided.

The concrete floors are great when it’s warm weather but even with the throw rugs you might want to bring slippers in the cooler months. The heater/air conditioning unit is quiet and works great.

There is a small covered front porch to hang out on with beautiful views of the Figueroa Mts.”

Look at those details! Holly’s guests know exactly what they are getting.

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Marketing Beyond Airbnb’s Site

After drafting a listing that you are proud of, it’s time to get as much mileage out of your property as you can. Here are some ways you can market your listing beyond Airbnb’s site.

Sharing is Caring

Sharing on social media is a great way to promote your rental property in front of your friends and their connections without much work on your part. Every time you post a new listing, share it on your social channels and encourage your connections to share it as well. Airbnb has integrations with multiple social media channels, so this process is seamless and easy. If you know of friends visiting your area, send them your listing. They could potentially be your next booking!

In addition to sharing on social media, Airbnb also allows users to embed their listings on other websites. Here are instructions on how to embed your listing, according to Airbnb.

References

One of the ways Airbnb helps hosts and guests build their profiles is by offering references. According to the site, “References help people throughout the Airbnb community get to know you, and feel more comfortable booking a reservation with you.”

References are different than reviews because they don’t have to come from someone who has stayed at your property. While reviews are only allowed by guests that have stayed at your place, references are just a way for the Airbnb community to connect and promote each other.

You may be hesitant to request references from people you know, but these references build a stronger relationship of trust and help you get your profile going, especially if you are just starting. You can request a reference through the Airbnb site, through email, or through social media. Thanks to Airbnb’s integration with Facebook, for example, you can request a reference from your Facebook friends (granted that they have an Airbnb profile with a picture).

Airbnb SEO

SEO is one of those marketing terms that has been buzzing around for the last few years, and many people are still scratching their head wondering what this term means. Simply put, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a factor that determines how highly a person or business is rated on search engines like Google or Bing.

Search engines are always changing their algorithms, so SEO “tricks” that worked a few years (or even a few months) ago may not work today. That being said, you can use SEO to your advantage to get more exposure for your listing. Below are some tips you can use to optimize your listing for SEO purposes:

  • Make sure your calendar is up to date and all your booking availability is accurate. Both Airbnb and search engines will ding your listing if it shows incorrect data. After all, if someone is looking for a getaway and your availability is still stuck in 2015, they will pass up your listing.
  • Price your property appropriately by researching your competitors and leveraging the market. You don’t want to be the cheapest listing on the market because you won’t attract much of a paying clientele. You also don’t want to be the most expensive listing because people will go elsewhere and find a better deal. By setting a realistic price point, Google and other search engines will promote your listing, as well as Airbnb themselves.
  • Responding to all inquiries in a timely manner will put a great “response rate” on your profile and encourage others to reach out. While this won’t necessarily help for outside SEO, it looks good on Airbnb and shows guests that you care about their booking.

A Quick Recap on Airbnb Marketing Strategy

While finding an investment property or vacation rental was difficult pre-Revestor, much more work goes into making sure your listing is searchable and optimized.

First, make a profile on Airbnb and sign up your property. Include a clear profile picture that shows your personality, accurately describes your listing, and includes details that really sell. Think about what your guests would want to know, and exceed it. After all, a happy guest is an informed guest.

After making a profile, bulk it up with all the details mentioned. This will really set your listing apart.

Once you have a listing you are happy with, share it on social media and with your friends and family. Who knows which one of your connections might have a friend or family visiting the area soon and would love to recommend you as a host!

Speaking of recommendations, ask your connections for references – Airbnb’s way of letting people leave reviews without having stayed with you. These references will build up your profile in the beginning before you have any bookings.

Lastly, consider the factors that go into your Airbnb SEO, as well as the factors that influence your SEO with search engines like Google. By keeping your availability up to date, pricing your property appropriately, and responding to inquiries, you will stay top of mind when users are searching for places.

If you are ready to put your Airbnb skills to the test, check out Revestor today and find the perfect investment property for you! For more helpful tips, check out our blog post Airbnb Host Tips!