Introduction: Becoming An Airbnb Host
If you are considering becoming an Airbnb host, there are some things you should know before you list your space. While hosting is absolutely one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had, it is also one of the most demanding.
If you are considering becoming an Airbnb host, there are some things you should know before. Click To Tweet
Fortunately, hosting is a fantastic on-the-job training opportunity for those without experience in the hospitality industry. From preparing your space and creating your listing description to dealing with guests, hosting teaches skills in business, marketing, communication, property management, and customer service.
You will also learn about your own values, boundaries, and priorities, and how to keep your cool under pressure.
As fulfilling as it has been to learn as I go, I definitely would have saved myself time, energy, and money if I had known a few key things before I blindly jumped in.
Not to mention, Airbnb is not suitable for everyone or every space, so you will want to proceed with caution, especially if you are uncertain about whether home-sharing is the best option for you.
To help you make an informed decision, I have created a list of things that would have helped me when I was just getting started.
Hope it helps!
1. Hosting is hard work!
Physically, mentally, and, sometimes emotionally draining, hosting is a job that demands tremendous focus, time, and energy.
Be prepared to respond to guest inquiries promptly (you must have a reliable smartphone and ample data; Smartbnb can help!) and to immediately address problems when they arise.
You—or a trustworthy property manager—must be available 24/7 and at a moment’s notice.
2. Goals and intended outcomes
Consider your goals for monthly income and occupancy.
- How much money do you want/need to make?
- How often will you have to rent out your space to meet this goal?
- Is your occupancy goal realistic in terms of the market and your own capacity to manage turnover? You can use AirDNA for market data.
Also, think about the kinds of experiences you want to have—and hope to avoid—with your guests.
- How much contact with guests do you want?
- Are you looking for a social connection or merely business relationships (ie income)?
- What experiences would drive you to stop being an Airbnb host?
Answering questions such as these will help you determine if home-sharing can meet your needs.
3. Hosting is running a small business
Home-sharing requires skills in marketing, customer relations, communication, property management, and being available around the clock. You’ll have to learn what you do not already know. Hiring professional support may be necessary. I wrote an article on the pros and cons of hiring an Airbnb property management company.
If you're an Airbnb host, you're a small-business owner. Start thinking like one for success. Click To Tweet
4. Understanding Airbnb policies, procedures, and guidelines is a must!
Peruse the website carefully, and make sure the platform and culture work for you. There is an entire section devoted to:
5. If Sartre’s famous words “hell is other people” ring true for you, proceed with great caution
Whether or not you plan to share space in your private residence, hosting requires excellent communication skills and the ability to deal with people under all kinds of circumstances. Introverts and those of us with a low threshold for social interaction need to set limits with guests and be realistic about what we can handle. A perfectly sane way to do this is simply finding and hiring a good Airbnb property management company.
6. Disasters, unforeseen circumstances, and do-overs are inevitable
Be prepared to handle hiccups gracefully and have an emergency backup plan. Most of all, you will have to develop tools to handle stress without losing it in front of your guests or beating yourself up for making mistakes. Even the most experienced hosts cannot anticipate clogged toilets, power outages, or fallen trees. Along with doing your best to have a disaster-preparedness plan, you will need to accept that there are certain things for which you simply cannot prepare. You should always seriosuly consider getting extra homeowners’ insurance for vacation rentals.
7. You must have on-call emergency support for plumbing, electrical, and other issues
Get trustworthy referrals, and establish a rapport with these folks before you list your space. Make sure this dream team is paid handsomely and well-appreciated. They are worth their weight in gold if they’re reliable and provide quality service!
I recommend you hire locally. That way they have a vested interest in your business and more likely to do a good job for the long-term business relationship. If you decide to hire a budget firm that employs contractors, their incentives aren’t aligned with yours. Also, they’re less likely to react quickly during high-stress times like weekend nights or holidays.
8. Cleanliness standards are very high
Be prepared to maintain your space as if it is cleaned by professionals. This includes keeping linens, mattresses, pillows, and hidden areas spotless. You will also need to consider the cleanliness and overall appearance of any space—indoors and outside— that guests can see or access.
I have put together a detailed vacation rental cleaning checklist which lists cleaning software, cleaning supplies, quarterly and yearly cleaning tasks, by room checklist, and more.
9. Developing a routine and learning the ropes takes time
You might not meet all your goals and expectations right away. Practicing patience and turning to Airbnb for support will keep you sane and supported as you create your own unique model for doing business.
10. You will encounter people who do not appear to value your time and effort
Do not take it personally. This might be especially challenging if guests share space where you live, or you tend to be sensitive. Fortunately, you do not have to offer your space to anyone who rubs you the wrong way. Learn how to spot problem guests based on their profile.
Learning how to spot problem Airbnb guests before they book is key to long-term success. Click To Tweet
11. Guests are your customers, not your friends
No matter how warm the rapport or how bonded you feel, you must treat them as paying customers. Learning to provide warm, personal AND professional service is a wonderful aspect of hosting that can enrich your life.
12. Planning for slow seasons is necessary if you rely on your Airbnb income
13. Setting boundaries is crucial to success, security, and sanity
Before listing your space, it is a great idea to get clear about your physical and emotional boundaries. If setting boundaries is difficult for you, you will need to learn how to do so effectively. Fortunately, hosting offers endless opportunities to practice!
Please share any additional items you’d add to this list for people who are thinking of becoming an Airbnb host.