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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!