How I became an Airbnb host
I had been an enthusiastic Airbnb guest for a several years, when a hefty increase in my house insurance bill last year prompted me to reverse the roles and become a host.
At first I was hesitant to rent my house out to total strangers. A friend suggested I rent out my spare room. Like a million other people around the world my friend welcomes people into her home to make a bit of extra cash. They share her kitchen, her living space and her bathroom. There was no way I was going to share my bathroom, the only bathroom in my house, with a total stranger. I had to rent out the whole house or nothing.
It took me less than an hour to create my listing on the Airbnb website. Two weeks later I had my first booking. So I packed my personal things away, gave the place a deep clean and took myself off to camp at a friend’s house and on the beach for a couple of weeks. Before I knew it, I had my house booked solid over the Christmas and New Year period. The only problem was, I couldn’t imagine going camping for six weeks during the monsoon season. That’s when I decided that renting out the house was my ticket to traveling AND paying the bills.
With the money earned, I got to go on a cruise down the Nile and spend Christmas with my family back home in Germany for the first time in many years.
This year I am on assignment as an Australian Volunteer, working at the National University of the Maldives. And while I draw a small local wage and pay astronomical rent in the capital of the Maldives, people from all over the world and many parts of Australia stay in my house.
HOW IT WORKS
I have a reliable friend look after the rental for me. He does the cleaning, washes the linen, makes up the beds and keeps the garden tidy. I manage the bookings and communicate with my guests from afar. It’s a share economy that works for all of us.
HERE ARE 10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED THAT WILL HELP YOU BE A BETTER AIRBNB HOST
Everything I know about Airbnb I’ve learned through trial and error. Every time I host, I learn something new. I’ve never had kids, so what do I know about their needs? But I now have a highchair and a portacot. It’s all about understanding what your guests need and how to anticipate problems. Make it easy for yourself and your guests.
1. Be the host you’d like to have. I am trying to be the best host I can be. Because when I book my next Airbnb accommodation, I want my host to make me feel special too. As soon as I started to make an income through hosting, I invested in new sets of the best linen and towels I can afford. I love crisp cotton sheets and fluffy towels and so do my guests. And I make sure they know I care about them. They’ll find the towels rolled up on their beds, preferably decorated with fresh frangipani petals.
2. Never make your guests feel uncomfortable. If you are renting out your place to make some much needed extra cash, don’t tell your guests that you camping out somewhere else whilst they are sleeping in your bed. In fact, if you are renting out the entire house, make sure you stay right out of their way. Give them the privacy they have paid for.
3. Put away the knick knacks. My guests love that personal touch and my decorations. They also love my book collection, especially on rainy days. But I am also mindful that my guests need space and clear surfaces for their own clutter. Especially families with kids. Make it easy on them. Clear the clutter. Provide hanging spaces for their clothes and somewhere to put their suitcases.
4. Provide the essentials. I’ve hated having to run down 5 flights stairs in Berlin on an icy cold morning to get a couple of teabags and some milk from a store two blocks away. I always provide my guests with a starter kit of essentials. I also provide shampoo and conditioner, soap, plenty, and I mean plenty, of toilet paper and all the cleaning products that a family with kids will need. Provide free wifi and somewhere for them to play music. If you live in the tropics like me, provide mozzie coils. Make an inventory of what you would like to find in a place like yours in the same price range. And then go that extra mile and make your guests feel special. Believe me, goodwill and thoughtfulness go a long way.
5. Make cleanliness a priority. No dirty floors, no dust hiding in corners. Make the place smell great. Make sure the fridge is clean. You’ll think, she can talk, she’s got a cleaner. But trust me, I did this myself when I first started. I ironed all the sheets, I got down on my hands and knees to make sure they would find the place as clean as I’d like it to be. My experience led me to draw up a very detailed check list for things that need to be done after every guest departure, what needs to be done before a new arrival and what needs to be done once a month when the place gets a deep clean. It also means the place is always spick and span and in the tropics that’s a life saver and essential if you want to rent out your place.
6. Have clear rules. I rent out my entire house and my guests are free to browse through my book collection. After all, in the tropics everything rots, including books, so why not share them before they fall apart? But you might be renting out your spare room and you might not like your guests poking through your personal stuff in your lounge room. Make it clear what they can and can not use. I’ve put all my personal stuff away, locked a couple of cupboards that contain the things I don’t want to share like my special crockery and my personal sheets and my clothes. That way my guests know straight up what’s off limits.
7. Don’t commit if you feel uneasy. I’ve found that people will usually self select and so far the majority of guests I’ve hosted had similar interests and priorities to me. On two occasions I’ve even hosted people who, it turned out, had mutual friends. It’s a small world!
8. Make check-in and check-out as easy as possible. I have a safety box where I keep the keys. A week before my guests are due to arrive I communicate the security code to them and let them know if there are any other bookings back to back. Whenever I can, I offer flexible check in and check out times. Guests appreciate being able to stay until Sunday evening if they’ve come for the long weekend.
9. Charge a reasonable price. That means at the beginning, when you are establishing your reputation as a good host, charge below market price. Then once you have hosted a few guests and gotten good reviews, charge what you would pay. Don’t get greedy. And if people stay longer, give them a discount. It’s only fair.
10. Share what you know with your guests. Provide a list with great things to do in your town. Guests want to know where to get a good coffee, where to go for a meal, what to see and do. Make it easy on them. Provide maps and suggestions. Have the phone number for a babysitter on hand. It’ll be much appreciated.
If you haven’t used Airbnb before, sign up through this link and I’ll give you $ 32 off your first booking!
Tempted? If you book, I also get AUD 32 in travel credit. That’s how Airbnb works. Sharing all the way. And that’s what I love about it!
Have you GOT ANY TIPS being AN AIRBNB HOST? Or maybe you are thinking of hosting but have some more questions? I’d love to hear from you!
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