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Airbnb

How to start an Airbnb business

Airbnb is an accommodation website enabling members of the public to rent out their spare room, or entire home, to guests as an alternative to staying at a hotel. Becoming an Airbnb host can provide a great source of additional income or become a full-time business in itself. This article will look at whether you’ve got what it takes to be a Superhost. 

Who can become an Airbnb host?

Airbnb is fast becoming the preference for many leisure and business travellers. It’s often cheaper and more convenient than a hotel, there’s a greater variety of choice and the experience is often more authentic, allowing you to meet new people and gain local knowledge. Airbnb currently offers 4 million listings across 191 countries and was most recently valued at £31 billion. 

Anyone can become an Airbnb host if you have a place where someone could stay for the night. This could be renting out your entire flat or house (while you go on holiday, for example), a spare room, or a unique space like a boat, yurt, treehouse or castle (providing you own it and/or have permission for people to stay there.)

 

 

If you don’t have anywhere suitable, it’s possible you could still host an Airbnb Experience. These are tours or events created and run by locals like cooking classes, cultural walks or surf lessons. 

If you have a suitable place, or the skills to create a desirable experience, then Airbnb could be an easier route to having your own business, either as a lucrative extra source of income or a full-time venture. There are minimal startup costs and a lot of the set up and marketing is done for you

What do I need to consider before setting up an Airbnb business?

Even though the Airbnb platform takes a lot of the hassle out of starting and running a business, there are still many commitments and practical steps that need considering before you can become a successful host. 

  • Safe and suitable

    Make sure your place or experience is suitable and safe for guests, including children and pets (if you choose to offer those options). Consider what type of guests your place is likely to attract (business people, families, young couples, etc.) and what amenities you will provide that will appeal to them (for example, WiFi, desk, fridge, hairdryer, iron, toiletries, tea and coffee).

  • Being around

    Although you’re not required to be around for your guests 24/7 you will need to check them in and out at the times they arrive and leave. There is the option of having a door code so you don’t have to greet guests in person, but often people will feel it’s nice to meet their hosts and you will need to be on hand if they need help with anything or have any problems.

  • Availability and communication

    You will need to manage the availability of your listing and also be able to quickly answer any questions people ask before or after booking. The more it’s available and the quicker you respond, the more earning potential you have. Airbnb is now also giving preference to listings that allow people to instantly book and you’re likely to get bad reviews if you cancel a booking or take a long time to get back to people.

  • Cleaning

    After every checkout your place will need to be thoroughly cleaned, with bedding and towels replaced and things like tea and coffee topped up. You will need to decide if you can do this yourself or you will manage and pay someone else to do it and you can include a fee on your listing for this.

  • Maintenance

    Having multiple people stay at your place will mean ongoing maintenance – unblocking plugholes, fixing breakages, changing light bulbs – with bigger jobs like renovating and the need to replace larger items like sofas, coming around more quickly.

  • Adapting your home

    If you’re renting out the space where you normally live then you need to make sure you have somewhere else to stay and that the space is easily adaptable for guests. You might want to put a lock on some wardrobes and cupboards that you don’t want people to go in and leave others empty so they can use them.

How much money could I make and what are the costs associated?

Before you start you need to work out if the money you could earn will be worth your while. Airbnb provides a calculator so that you can estimate your monthly earning potential. Currently, they say that an entire home in London for four guests could make around £2,235 a month and a private room for one person in Somerset could make £353 a month. Of course, you need to deduct from this your associated costs.

Potential associated costs
  • Startup costs – renovations and purchasing required furniture and amenities
  • Utility bills – gas, electric, water, phone, WiFi 
  • Cleaning, laundry, toiletries and topping up supplies 
  • Breakfast and meals (if you choose to offer) 
  • Maintenance and renovations 
  • 3% Airbnb host service fees (20% for Experiences) 
  • Applicable taxes including income and council tax 
  • Insurance 
  • Your time (be realistic about the time commitment)
     

How do I list and price my room or property?

Airbnb will walk you through the steps of listing and pricing but these are the main things that you should consider.

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Why is customer service so important for Airbnb?

Your success on Airbnb will rely on good reviews so it’s important to get it right from the beginning. Guests and hosts are encouraged to leave reviews about every stay and they’re only shown to one another once both parties have submitted. Airbnb gives added exposure to hosts with excellent reviews, quick responses and reliability with Superhost, and to outstanding properties with Airbnb Plus

 

 

The most successful hosts will go the extra mile. Thoughtful touches won’t cost much but could go a long way to ensure good reviews, recommendations and repeat bookings (particularly if you’re attracting business travellers). 

Stay in other Airbnbs for inspiration and think what you would like, while also not taking this as gospel – remember everyone’s different and if you can tailor your hosting to suit the individual, this will be noticed. 

It’s a good idea to stay in your place once a month as a guest would, to spot any potential irritations and improvements, or ask friends to test stay for different perspectives (ones that won’t just tell you what you want to hear). It’s really important that your listing is accurate and that your place lives up to (or preferably exceeds) expectations.

Decide what type of host you want to be and don’t ever let these things happen

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