Thinking Of Becoming An AirBnb Host?
Firstly, I’m a big Fan of Airbnb, it’s always such a fun and affordable way to travel. It often feels like I’m exploring a city in an alternative universe, as if I live there, rather than as a tourist. Going home at night to sit on the sofa, the option of cooking in the kitchen and generally feel like I’m in a home, rather than a hotel. It’s normally much better value than a hotel and it’s an opportunity to stay in your dream condo, beach cabin or hipster apartment. In fact, I love Airbnb so much that when I saw the opportunity to become a host… I took it! Want to see our apartment? Here it is!!!
As an Airbnb guest, you have a choice to stay in a room in a house (you often get your own bathroom, but the house might have a family or a flatmate sharing the house / flat with you) or you can rent out an entire flat or house, depending on how many people you are travelling with. The prices obviously vary massively, I’ve seen bedrooms in a shared house for £28 a night, to the most incredible 10 bedroomed dream homes for £2,000 a night. With Airbnb you can travel on a budget or you can stay in your dream home, it’s all there waiting for you! On my personal wishlist is this Cave home in Santorini, this amazing Airstream in Malibu and how much do I love this Williamsburg Apartment?!
Finding A Space
When we bought our house it was a bit of a project; Walls were ripped out, ceilings came down, wires were re-wired… it took a LONG time to get here, but after 2 years of hard graft and a LOT of spending, we managed it! To describe our house, we have a main house which dates back to 1860, and at the side of the house there is a 1960’s extension which has lower ceilings and was once used as a social club (?) oh and it has it’s own front door. I knew immediately it would make an amazing guest apartment for friends and family, and could double up as an Airbnb apartment. I know not every house has a space like this, but if you do have a basement flat, retro caravan, converted outbuildings or just an adorable flat but you travel often with work… Airbnb could be an option for you too!
What do you need to provide
Airbnb totally varies, some hosts will leave food, alcohol, toiletries and more in the apartments for their guests to use, others will ask that guests bring their own towels and maybe even bedding. The Airbnb website allows hosts to specify exactly what will be provided, but we wanted people to have a good holiday experience, so we bought a whole heap of towels, bedding, toiletries (hand wash, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel), cereal bars and porridge pots for breakfast, coffee pods, tea bags, glasses, teaspoons, bottle opener, wine glasses, mugs etc. We did a pretty epic Ikea and Matalan haul for most of it, we wanted to provide everything that we would like to find in there. I’ll do a check list soon, I promise!
How To Shoot It
I hired a photographer friend to shoot our Airbnb space, I wanted beautiful wide-angle shots which would show the space off and make it really pop on the Airbnb website. I honestly believe it was money well spent and I’m really proud of the images. Yes, we could have saved a few pennies shooting it on our iPhones, but if a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing well and it’s the images which sell the space, so I see it as an investment.
How To Manage It
We have a weekly cleaner, so we asked her if she would be able to fit in some extra hours every week when needed. She’s super flexible and she’s able to clean it after every guest, change the bedding and just manage that side of it. Whilst I communicate with all our guests on the Airbnb website. So far, it’s worked pretty well for it and not been too time consuming. Also, if you are worried about messy guests, remember hosts can rate guests so if they have left previous homes in a state when they have left, it’s likely that there will be a mention of it on their Airbnb profile. However, as all Airbnb travellers will know, it’s a really lovely and respectful community so that shouldn’t be an issue! Oh and if you have no time, you can actually find an Airbnb Co-host via the Airbnb website, they will have access to your bookings and they can fully manage your property and guests for a cut of the profits. So if you are working away for the next few months and you have a killer apartment, but won’t be around to welcome your guests nor have the time to manage the bookings this could be the perfect option for you! Also, the Airbnb website is super easy to use as a host, it’s honestly just as easy as uploading your images, writing some text and ticking boxes. I think it took me half an hour to list our apartment and then I spent another 40 minutes editing the text and adding in more information a week or two later once we started getting bookings and I wanted to give our visitors more information.
How To Market It
Outside of the Airbnb website, we haven’t marketed it much and I don’t think there is a huge need to. It might be worth mentioning to friends in case they know anyone who might be interested in a weekend away, or putting a link on your Facebook, instagram or twitter bio, if you want, but to be honest, the Airbnb website is heavily searched so if your prices are fair and your photos are good, that should be enough to get you bookings!
How Much It’s Worth?
This is one of those ‘how long is a piece of string?’ Questions, it really depends on your location, size of property and general desirability. If we were in London (we are in Margate) we could be able to command double or triple the price per night, however, there are people in our area charging a third of what we charge and it doesn’t seem to be affecting our bookings. We have our apartment on ‘smart pricing’ so we have set a minimum and maximum price for the apartment and Airbnb set the rate according to supply and demand. Right now it’s cold, windy and off-season in Margate, so the price is £65 with a minimum night stay of 2 nights. So for every visitor we will see at least £130 (minus Airbnb fees which is about £5, supplies and cleaning). Hopefully in the summer the nightly price will go up, but even at this rate, the revenue a stacking up nicely, so far we have £945 of bookings confirmed. Not too shabby for our little extension!
There’s a whole heap of information on the Airbnb website about staying safe as both a host and a guest. So please do have a read. It’s still early days for us; but personally, I feel safe as a host and I’ve always felt safe as a guest when I’ve used Airbnb on holiday. In fact, I’ve felt a lot less safe at hotels, but it is something to think about, especially if you are inviting people to stay in a room in your house when you / family / flatmates are also staying there. Also, Airbnb members have a rating score based on their previous stays or hosting experiences. It’s good to have a read through your guests (or hosts) previous reviews for piece of mind. But again, have a read of the safety section of the Airbnb website as I’m no expert and I’m just talking about my experiences.
How To Make it AWESOME!
OK! The fun part! We spent a long time thinking about the guest space and how to decorate it. We wanted to make sure it was a space we wanted to use, but also make it appealing to guests, whilst still feeling comfortable and cosy. We added in some really fun design features, for instance, the bathroom is a partial wet room with dark grey walls and three showers… yep, three showers! The living room has two pink walls and two yellow rooms (like a cake!) and there’s a big neon sign on the wall with a vintage record player near by. I’m terms of home comforts, the sofa is insanely comfortable (it cost us a fortune, so I hope noone put their muddy trainers on it!) and we’ve filled the cupboard with tea, coffee, cereal bars and porridge. Our designs aren’t everyones tastes, but it’s bright, clean and the images really ‘pop’ on the Airbnb website. To add some extra fun into the room, I have left some of my favourite coffee table books out so that our guests can sit back on the sofa, flick through art & fashion books and have a lazy sunday morning. I also put a beautiful pink VQ radio in the bedroom which can be used to play the radio, or hooked up to an iPhone to play podcasts or playlists out of. We filled the sideboard with vintage games and jigsaw puzzles so that if it’s raining they can have a fun afternoon indoors and I couldn’t resist putting a coffee maker and pods in the living room too, after all, who wants instant coffee powder when you can have pods?! There’s luxury products in the bathroom which our guests are welcome to use, a ghd hairdryer at hand and before our guests arrive we send them a guide to loads of awesome things to do and tips on the area. It’s the little things that count!
To always make your guests feel welcome! Communication is key and the message function of the website is brilliant for welcoming your guests, giving them information on the area as well as things they might want to bring. For instance, by the seaside the seagulls can be noisy blighters, so I remind our guests that if they are particularly light sleepers, they might want ear buds. Also in the summer the best local restaurants can get booked up, so it’s worth making dinner reservations for Friday / Saturday night dining. We also tell them where to get the best ice, the best fish ‘n’ chips and let them know that if they have any questions, either about the apartment or the area, we are always just a text away!
…And there we have it, I hope this if of help and if you decide you want to become an Airbnb host, let me know, I’m happy to answer any questions you need and I’d love to hear about your experiences! And if you want to come and stay with us, here is the link!