How To Get Started On Airbnb, Part I of II

how to get started on airbnb

This blog is the second of a six-post series. I am assuming that you already know you want to be an Airbnb host.

 

Being an Airbnb host is not easy. It’s hard work if you want to do it right and be in the top 20% of earners for your market. Luckily, you found my blog which means you want to do it right 😀

 

This guide will accomplish a few things:

  1. Help you decide what type of Airbnb host you want to be.
  2. Help you ready your space for your first guest arrival
  3. How to get set up as a host on Airbnb.com

 

First, you need to find out if you truly want to be an Airbnb host. Yes, you can make a lot of money, and I’m here to help, but there are also a lot of things to consider:

  • Do you want to clean after each guest?
  • Do you want to re-supply consumables (toilet paper, etc.)?
  • Do you want to deal with guest issues at all time of the day/night?
  • Do you want to have upset neighbors when your guest makes late-night noise or put their trash in the wrong bin?

 

I’m making it sound worse than it is, but these are questions to ask yourself. Things will go wrong, and you’ll have to react. When you become an Airbnb host, you become a small business owner with an online reputation to uphold. You can always hire an Airbnb property management company to take the hassle out of hosting for 15-20% of revenues.

 

When you become an Airbnb host, you become a small business owner. Click To Tweet

 

So, you’ve decided you want to be an Airbnb host, now what…

 

Declutter And Organize

 

You need to get your space Airbnb ready. This, too, is harder than it sounds. Some people seem to have a knack for this while others don’t. To do this right, start off with an empty home and add only the essentials back.

 

Having too much ‘stuff’ inside your home only makes it feel smaller than it is. There are other tangible benefits to have a decluttered house, including fewer guests leaving things behind.

 

You are going to have amazing photos (we’ll get to this) so you don’t want the guest entering your home and having the feeling that the photos are much better than reality.

 

If you plan to use the home on a regular basis, the only thing that changes is a special area or closet with your extra things that you remove when guests are staying there. This can also double as an extra linens/cleaning supplies closet. You can turn any closet into a private space with this door knob lock or one similar.

 

Anything in your home that holds monetary or sentimental value needs to be removed, even from the private closet area.

 

Bonus material: Airbnb Interior Design Tips (Easy-to-implement)

 

Create A Flawless Check-In Process

 

You’ll need to figure out a way for your guests to enter your home, easily and consistently upon every reservation. Preferably this can be done 24-hours a day with an electronic keypad. Alternatively, you can use a lockbox.

 

Otherwise, you can decide to personally greet each guest upon arrival. Be careful. Even though this seems service oriented, often times a guest has just been through a day of traveling and they don’t want to talk with you. There are other services out there which you can use to deliver or store keys. To find these services, search ‘[your city] Airbnb key delivery service’.

 

Remember, to always have a backup option. I like having a backup lockbox somewhere nearby for emergencies. This could also be used by the cleaners, maintenance workers, or emergency personnel.

 

 

Purchase A Full Set Of Amenities And Consumables

 

You’ll want to purchase items that your guest will need plus some.

 

A frequent question and one that you may encounter is how much consumables you should provide. Some hosts provide more than enough, others provide a starter pack. Personally, I provide more than enough, but I don’t promise to restock during a month-long reservation.

 

None of the below items are mandatory, but I recommend getting everything from the list. There is a specific reason for everything. I’ve left off obvious items like a towel. Though a towel is super important…

 

– – – –

 

Quiz: You’re getting your space ready for your first Airbnb guest. What type of towels do you provide?

 

Did you take a minute to think about your answer?

 

…think just a little bit longer about ‘why’ you are going to do what you are going to do…

 

Answer: If you haven’t given much thought to this and went to the $0.99 store, then you are almost guaranteed to be an unsuccessful host.

 

Why?

 

Because this decision, though it’s small one will be a great leading indicator of how you do things in the future.

 

If you think a towel doesn’t matter and get a cheap one, you will probably not think about many things that successful hosts think about in order to make their guests vacation as seamless and pleasant as possible.

 

On the other hand, if you consciously thought about how this decision will affect your guests experience at your Airbnb (and how that will affect your review now which will affect your success later), then you’re on the right track!

 

Indeed, a towel is something the guest has a lot of interaction with. It’s not uncommon for the guest to take a shower upon check-in, every day, and upon check-out. I suggest you get the nicest, fluffiest, most pleasant feeling towels you can afford. Additionally, a cheap towel will need to be replaced sooner and will start to feel scratchy sooner.

 

– – – –

 

The below list is incomplete because I’ve already published an article related to things you want to have in your Airbnb. Instead, I choose things that you may not think about as a beginning host, but will give you a big bang for your buck and have your FPG in awe at your hosting abilities. Click here for a complete and updated list of both amenities and consumables.

  • Mattress + pillow protector
    • To protect you from the guest who partied too hard the night before and throws up all over your unprotected mattress or the couple renting your space for a love filled weekend with blinds permanently drawn.
  • Hangers
    • Surprisingly, this common amenity is a rarity. Buy at least six per bedroom.
  • Full-sized iron + ironing board
    • Again, full size.
  • Hair dryer
    • Men use these, too.
  • International power adapter
    • This is one of the items that put you above the rest. If you’re worried about theft, put it in a closet and tell only the guests who ask for it. At the end of the day, everything will get lost, stolen, or broken by your guest, cleaners, maintenance and your nightly rate should be high enough to include these costs. Don’t nickel and dime your guest and lose a 5-star review.
  • A full set of kitchen amenities
    • Most places skimp on this part of the hosting process. Especially if you want longer-term bookings (fewer turnovers), be sure to get a full set to include a strainer, cutting board, pan, and pot covers, can opener, etc.
  • Laundry detergent
    • Do not provide a washer without detergent.
  • Coffee maker
  • Wine opener
  • Space heater
  • Netflix subscription
  • Wi-fi extender
  • Ice trays
    • And make sure your cleaners fill them up before each reservation.
  • One soft and one firm pillow per guest

 

Hire A Cleaning Team Or Purchase Cleaning Supplies

 

If you clean yourself, and I recommend you do so for the first couple of months, you’ll want to purchase cleaning supplies.

 

If you hire a cleaning team or an Airbnb property manager, you won’t have to worry about this. You’ll only want to create a space in your home to store the supplies.

 

The difficult part is finding and hiring a good cleaning company or property management company. A later post will address these topics. But, as it relates to cleaners, ensure they have a vacation rental or hotel cleaning experience as it’s a very different job description than a traditional home cleaning. Your cleaner needs to be prompt, check for damage/theft, left behind guest items, refill consumables, deal with stains, and more.

 

Your Airbnb cleaners need to be prompt, efficient, check for damage/theft, refill consumables, etc. Don't go budget! Click To Tweet

 

Don’t go budget on your cleaning team. Instead, opt for the premium team.

 

When you do, you must give them 100% responsibility over the cleaning process. That means, if the guest ruins a comforter, the cleaning team must replace it. The only communication you should have with your cleaner is sending them reservation information so they know when they need to clean (which can be automated quite easily).

 

Restocking Consumables

 

You, your cleaner, emergency contact, or property management company will take care of this.

 

If you live on-site, it makes sense for you to do this, at least in the beginning.

 

If not, then I recommend you either have the cleaners do this (you’ll have to pay extra) or stock 3+ months worth of consumables in the house for the cleaners to replenish as part of their job. The cleaners will tell you when the supply closet gets to 20% for any item at which point you will add more to the supply closet.

 

Find A Residential Professional Photographer

how to get started on airbnb

 

This is the last step after you ready your house and before you put it online. You have a few options.

 

First, you can take photos with your smartphone. Most smartphones take pretty good photos so this is an option for most of us. I found this neat course that teaches you how to effectively use your camera phone to take professional looking photos. I took the course from Overlooked2Overbooked and recommend it. The benefit of this is that you are teaching yourself how to fish. If you do a partial redecoration in the future, you can snap a new photo at your convenience based on the skills you acquired rather than having to pay for a professional and be bound by their schedule.

 

Second, you can hire a professional interior residential photographer. You can find one through the following ways:

 

I recommend you go by reviews. Don’t take a chance on a new photographer.

 

Third, you can purchase professional photography through Airbnb. This is usually more expensive, but as it’s done through the website, it’s frictionless. However, these photographs are no better than getting photos from a non-Airbnb affiliated photographer.

 

If there is one area that will define your online success, photos are it. Take this seriously and don’t screw it up.

 

Bonus material: 5 Airbnb Photo Tips For More Reservations

 

 

Create Your Host Profile And Optimized Airbnb Listing

 

First, you’ll want to create your Airbnb host profile including verifying your identity.

 

If you haven’t already, sign up for Airbnb now.

 

As my website is specifically about optimizing your online Airbnb listing, this subject has been discussed at length on my blog and YouTube channel. However, the process of actually creating a listing is not. There’s a good reason for that. Airbnb is in the business of making it very easy for you to become a host (ie earn Airbnb money). I think they’ve done a fine job here.

 

You need to take responsibility in understanding how Airbnb works and create your listing from scratch. This base knowledge is necessary and it’s not difficult. If it is, then think twice about being an Airbnb host.

 

After you create your listing, do NOT activate it until you are ready to accept guests or no more than 1 month away from this time. Ideally, you make your listing live 1-3 weeks before you are ready to accept your first guest. This is because, on average, most reservations are coming right around 30 days out. As you start out follow my new Airbnb listing calendar strategy (either read this now or save it for later). Essentially, you will have a deep discount for the first few reservations with a limited calendar. FPGs will snap up your aesthetically pleasing and optimized listing like you wouldn’t believe.

 

Supplemental reading as it relates to creating an optimized host profile and listing:

 

Emergency Contact

 

This is like insurance. Hopefully, you will never use it, but it’s a must. An emergency contact is one person the guest can get in touch with for any urgent issue that needs to be dealt with ASAP.

 

This person needs to be available 24/7. It can be you, your cleaner, your trusted friend, your neighbor, anyone who meets the above criteria: available and reachable 24/7.

 

If you have everything figured out, which you will within the first couple months, this person will never be called except in the case of a true emergency where you’d want to know ASAP anyways, like a fire or theft.

 

You want to let the guest know who this person is. You also want to be clear that this person is ONLY for emergencies and that all else should be communicated through Airbnb or whatever your system becomes.

 

But, who’s your emergency contact, host? Here are a few ways I gathered to get in touch with Airbnb customer service.

 

 

Summary

 

Although the above and the last article seem difficult, almost unmanageable, the point is that you are doing everything from the start instead of figuring it out on the way. You don’t have to do any of the above right away. You can start with low-quality photos. You can first hire a bad cleaning team, then realize you need to pay top dollar to rid yourself of the myriad of cleaning issues. I’ve done it. I’ve been a host of many properties, I’m a property manager, I’ve worked for a property management company with 70+ Airbnbs. I’ve seen it all.

 

But, as always, I’m here to help. Comment below with any of your pre-hosting Airbnb questions.

I'm Danny, the Airbnb expert

About Danny Rusteen:

Starting in 2012, Danny has been an Airbnb employee, Superhost, and Airbnb property manager. Danny lives in Airbnbs (600 nights). As a guest, Danny has traveled to 29 countries and sifted through thousands of Airbnb listings, so he knows what makes a listing stand out and how to offer a world-class experience to your guest. Follow his journey.