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If you haven’t heard of Airbnb by now, you’re probably living under a big fat rock. Allow me to help you lift that rock.
Airbnb is a shared marketplace for people who would like to rent or lease a place for short term travel that includes pretty much any and every kind of inventory that exists. An airbnb host can list out a private room, a living room, a shared room, a guest room, a hotel, a holiday cottage, a guest house, a hostel bed, a camping van, a villa et al.
What does this have anything to do with you, you may ask?
Good Question. It has everything to do with you. Particularly if you’re a travel enthusiast. Which is also probably why you stumbled on this gem of a blog, eh?
In this detailed post, I will take you through the reason why you should become an Airbnb host and strategies from my personal experience that allow me to pay for my travel costs using Airbnb.
Why should you become an Airbnb Host?
If you’re reading this post, I am assuming that you are not a hospitality professional.
But there’s no reason you can’t be one. Especially when it comes to becoming a host for your own room, extra space or holiday home, whatever it is you may have in mind to host on Airbnb.
I have to admit, as a single Indian girl living in Bangalore, it terrified the crap out of me to host strangers into my new house.
I’m glad that I got over my fear, used some safety measures and quickly had the following results in about 3 months of hosting:
- I made about 60% of my total rent in Bangalore, making me pay effectively only 40% of my actual rent. You can imagine how happy that made my savings account.
- I made one great friend out of this experience and we continue to laugh on our ‘Airbnb success story’ till date.
- I became confident that I could host alone and I replicated my success for my current apartment, which for safety reasons I will not link here. (But I promise I’m a kickass host, if you do end up finding me :P)
If saving on rent or making extra money, meeting new people and even making good friends, and boosting your self-confidence in travel and community in general are not good enough reasons, then I can’t think of any more that can be.
I used airbnb to fund my travel savings fund and there’s no reason why you can’t do.
At the very minimum, you need is a place which is available to rent out, permission from your landlord (or country in case it is banned), a functioning bank account, some furniture, and you’re good to go!
How can you become an Airbnb Host?
All the money talk aside, it takes some serious dedication to become a consistent and well ranked Airbnb host.
Let me break down the steps along with images for you so you can follow:
- Identify a room, a house or a property that you own the rights to and can legally host.
- Go here to start listing your property.
- Add pictures of your property, surroundings and the common areas (kitchen, bathroom).
- Add details of your space, amenities and what makes it special.
- Add a personal touch by including a short bio, what makes you tick and how available you are at this property.
- Set a base price per night for your listing, weekly/monthly discounts and switch on or off the dates in your calendar when you are free to host guests.
- Wait for your first request to come in and host away! (I would not recommend a new host to use “Instant Book” feature as that will be too overwhelming).
Some of the things you need to do BEFORE you go and make a listing are:
- Make sure you have enough space and required furniture for a guest or two. If you only have a 6m2 room, that’s probably a storage closet and not a place for a human to sleep. Host a space that you yourself will be willing to stay in if you were the guest instead.
- Take high quality and non-deceiving pictures of your property. Everyone knows photo editing exists, but do not make the room look like it’s a Shangri-la only for the guest to come to a rat infested place. I’m talking extremes here, but you get the idea.
- Do ensure that you have the bare minimum for your guests to survive such as fresh towels, linens, tea/coffee, utensils or anything else you may consider a nice touch for a guest. An airbnb is designed for home stays, so your guest will not expect a hotel, unless you run one and specify that. Basics should be enough.
How much money can you make as an Airbnb Host?
I wish there was one good generic answer to this but like all pricing questions, there is none. To get an idea of what the average earnings may be for your location, use this handy calculator.
How much you make depends on:
- How many guests your property can host and how often.
- How many amenities are there in your property.
- How much is the average nightly cost in your city. (aka Demand)
- How amazing you are at figuring out your custom pricing strategy.
I made an average of INR 500-800 per night on a 2 people room in Bangalore in a very popular location. In Germany, on the other hand a private room for 2 guests can fetch you 40-50 euros per night in most locations, except you know Munich .
Remember, this is just an AVERAGE. You may lie significantly below or above this number depending on all the factors I listed above.
What you certainly should do, is list your room each time you plan a long trip abroad. Just lock your personal belongings away, and you’re good to go!
P.S. Airbnb provides a $1 Million host guarantee. If things really do go bad and resulting in a robbery or a fire behind your back, you can file for a claim along with your regular insurance. You also can have a co-host to keep an eye on the place when you’re out if you’re particularly paranoid.
What are some tips and tricks to maximise your earnings and credibility?
I have been and Airbnb host on and off for a year now. I usually average about $500 a month if I take out sufficient time to host. And that’s in Germany. In India, I made about $300 a month. In both cases, I never hosted 100% of the month. I would say about 80% of the time I was booked, was enough to generate these numbers for me.
Some of the things I’ve learnt after talking to multiple guests and hosting people from all over the world are:
- Do not underestimate the power of good reviews. BOTH leaving and receiving them. Airbnb only publishes a review once both parties have completed it, making it hard to cheat the system and transparent for first time travelers to a region.
- Basic essentials like Good WIFI or breakfast makes a LOT of difference. Depending on the type of travelers you get and where you’re located, I find it hard to believe that your guests will not appreciate well functioning free internet and good food. This constitutes basic needs in today’s world and the better you’re able to fulfill them the better your reviews will be.
- Cleanliness is universally appreciated. If you do not have time to clean yourself and change the linens, get a professional to do it for you after each guest checks out and before a new one comes. You can also add a cleaning fee to your listing price to include the cost for the same. Even if you do not charge a cleaning fee, the guest will expect a clean and tidy place, so make sure that is always the case. This also includes common areas such as the bathroom or the kitchen, balcony, etc.
- Responsive and clear communication. I have been on the other end of airbnb and I almost never book hotels anymore, unless I don’t get a good airbnb option. I can tell you it is really frustrating when a host takes 6 hours to reply and you cannot reach her when you really need to. As a host, you need to be somewhat glued to your phone so in case of last minute plan changes and cancellations you can easily help out your guests.
- Experiment with pricing. If I have learnt one thing, it is to never put my price as what airbnb suggests. It’s almost always too low and when you cap in the 3% commission that airbnb charges you for each booking, you pocket even less. When you start out as an airbnb host, you should aim to have your first 10 bookings at a lower than average price so you can get a good base of reviews and also test the waters. Once you’re comfortable with hosting, you can easily price higher than average nightly prices based on reviews and if you decide to let your guests book instantly. I once had a person pay 55 euros for a single night for a room that I normally let out at 20 euros. I simply thought no one would be desperate enough to pay that much, turns out I was wrong!
- If you’re looking for some more tips, I recommend to check out this Buzzfeed Article.
Done legally and right, being an Airbnb host can really help you not only fund your travels when you are away from home, but even help you add up for your rental payments or mortgage even when you do stay at home.
In the last 2 years, I’ve only resorted to airbnb when I didn’t have the time and patience to look for a roomate, but in every case I have never been disappointed.
Yes, it is frustrating to arrange for fresh linen, dishes and cleaning after each guest leaves, especially when you’re stuck doing all of it yourself. But you also get rewarded for your service. Not just with money, but with valuable conversations, surprising friendships and knowledge about distant cultures you would not otherwise have.
Now, if you’d like to go ahead and hop on to the hosting brigade click here.
Looking to book your next trip? Check out the following services I use and love:
- Skyscanner to find cheap flight deals.
- Rental Cars to hop on your next road trip.
- Booking.com to find a hotel deal.
- Hostel World to find a backpacker hostel.
- World Nomads to insure your travel.
- Viator to find a cool day tour.
- Or my Global Packing List.
You should also check out:
- 5(legal) ways that I recommend for making money online.
- Cheap International Flights- Here’s Where You Can Find Them
- Transfer Money Abroad – 5 Reasons Why I Only Use Transferwise
- Life in Germany Compared to India – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly