One of the things that I’ve been doing to supplement my income and help me to travel has been to host guests through Air BnB while I travel . I’ve been an Air BnB Superhost for a few months now, and I’ve been using the platform for almost a year. I’m here today to share with you my AirBnB host tips for first time hosts!
For me, becoming an AirBnB host really came about by circumstance – it wasn’t intentional! I have a house in Manchester that I invested in a long time ago when I was at university. It’s used as a Manchester base for when I’m not travelling or working elsewhere. It’s a spacious 3 bedroomed terrace on the Manchester Metrolink route. I figured that if managed well, it could be a good investment, and that it wasn’t worth selling to travel, but could actually fund my travel!
Why I prefer AirBnB hosting to long term Tennants
It’s really been a learning curve for me in the first year of being an AirBnB host – I will tell you all about that shortly…
You can make more money than letting the property out long term on an Assured Shorthold Tennacy agreement, but it takes more management. I’d like to add that I have had bad experience letting my property out in the past while I was working in London. Once a tenant just stopped paying rent and it took me 6 months and several court cases to get her out ! Once I had a rogue Property Letting Agent try to cream off my profits without passing rent on to me – again I took him to court and won.
So in a nutshell, AirBnB eliminates these problems, especially if you are a live in landlord, because if you tenants don’t pay, the booking is cancelled. You can cancel a reservation at any time and change the locks at any time – it’s your home.
However, with AirBnB there are a whole host of other challenges including fake profiles, parties, even the possibility of prostitutes booking your room ‘just for a night!’ ?
I’m going to share my experience of working my way up to becoming a Superhost and share a few AirBnB host tips that will help you to do the same.
AirBnB Tips – Get things Decorated, Furnished and Well Equipped!
Think about what you would like to see as a guest in a property in a new city. As I am a blogger and many of my guests are students or digital nomads, getting good WIFI was essential and the first priority. Many people these days won’t book a room without WIFI.
Preparing the Guest Rooms
We then decorated every room and had laminate floors put down in the guest bedrooms (these are easier to clean than carpets if there are any spillages). We put up brand new curtains and stocked up on neutral bed linen.
We invested in new mattresses (Memory foam matresses are a great option), because we didn’t want our guests to be uncomfortable. For furniture, we had a big IKEA delivery so that every room had a desk and decent wardrobe.
Bedding, towels and toilet paper and essentials for AirBnB, and so stock up on those – we ended up buying loo roll in bulk on Amazon and storing it under the stairs, so we can stock up as needed (usually a roll a day). I usually go for grey towels rather than white as they are still neutral, but don’t stain so easily.
Regarding bedrooms, two things that my guests frequently asked for that weren’t in the rooms were desk lamps and mirrors so that they could study and do their hair! All of our guest rooms now have these.
Preparing the Kitchen
We got a brilliant bright red fridge – freezer from the British Heart foundation for just £100 (Buy a similar one on Amazon here). It looked hardly used when we got it – could have been someone selling up to move abroad at short notice. Anyway, this decision was good for the environment as well as good for our pockets! So we did the same thing and got a second hand sofa from there too!
Also think about cooking equipment! Now, everyone has different needs, and some people cook more than others. For me, it’s often a quick trip to the curry house, a take away or a bit of pasta. Not that I can’t cook (ok – my husband might disagree!) but that I have such a busy life that I don’t really have time to cook properly.
But when my first few guests started to arrive, there was always something that they needed – a sieve, lasagne dish, knife sets…I basically listened to what they needed and stocked up the kitchen well for them of a period of about 3-6 months. By the time I reached the 6 month mark, people stopped asking for kitchen utensils, which meant that I’d cracked it! We check and clean the oven regularly, that also was new for the AirBnB.
How much does it Cost?
How much did we spend? In all honesty, the decorating, furniture, floors and stocking up has easily exceeded about £2000-3000, but we made that back within 6 months and so it’s a worthwhile investment.
How much it costs for you will depend on the size and location of your property. But if you want to keep costs low and make life easy for yourself, without a ‘cheap’ overall look, I do recommend IKEA.
AirBnB Host Tips – What to Sort out for your First Guests
- WIFI – Non negotiable!
- Decorating and furniture – comfortable bed and mattress, wardrobe and desk for each room.
- Table lamp, mirror and bin for each room .
- Kitchen Utensils – cutlery, plates, dishes, saucepans, frying pans, sieve, cullendar, knives, chopping board and any other Kitchen Utensils. Stock up with a cheap microwave and kettle too.
AirBnB Tips – Set Up a Good AirBnB Profile!
When your house is ready to have guests, you need to set up your AirBnB profile. The main things to consider here are the photography and the booking settings. These will influence what time of guests you host.
Taking Pictures of your AirBnB Property
You will need to take good light pictures, and these are best done with a neutral minimalist room with a few accessories on the bed (such as towels and soaps). Take pictures of the communal spaces to also upload. If you need to, you can lighten up the photos on Photoshop, or something like Snapseed if you are using a good camera phone. I didn’t use a camera at all – My iPhone XS was sufficient to get good enough pictures.
Airbnb Tips – Listing Booking Options
There a few things that you can do with your settings to make life easier in the beginning, One of my top AirBnB Host Tips is to immediately block out your calendar on any dates that you are not available to do check in or check outs (I did them all myself in the beginning until our systems were well set up).
Guest Requirements and Airbnb Instant Book
For the first few months of being an AirBnB Host I switched off instant book, so that I could vet my guests and pre-approve everyone. After these 3 months I switched on Airbnb instant book and then bookings started to go up. I would recommend specifying the following, for guest quality…
- Profile Photo
- Government ID
- Recommendation from other Hosts
- Pre-booking message
This keeps a high quality of guest and you have ID verified incase of any criminal or destructive activity (very rare but can happen!) If you want to do Airbnb instant book then unless the guest meets these requirements, they will NOT be able to book without your prior approval. If they don’t have verified ID, I message them and ask them to upload it before I accept their booking.
Airbnb House Rules and House Manual
Setting clear house rules is very important from the start. Create a long list of things that will not be tolerated. For example, if you state ‘no smoking’ then they might just take this to mean that they can’t smoke on the property, but they can smoke outside. I have asthma and don’t want smokers at all, so my listing specifies – ‘No smoking inside, no smoking outside, no smokers allowed’. If you are interested, here’s how my house rules are set to minimise problem guests and/or confusion.
- Not suitable for children (2-12 years)
- Not suitable for infants (under 2 years)
- Not suitable for pets
- No smoking
- No parties or events
- Additional rules – Check in available 5pm-10pm, please do not arrive outside of these hours – Quiet after 11pm please – No Smoking Inside or Outside of the property and no smokers allowed on the property – No visitors or guests other than those named on the reservation allowed on the property – No group bookings, single person occupancy only – No illegal Drugs or drug users – Please keep food in your allocated cupboard or drawer – Please no eating in bedrooms.
- Details guests must know about your home – Must climb stairs, Pet(s) live on property, No parking on property
I would also recommend adding a house manual, which can include things like use of the oven, laundry facilities, cleaning, and extractor fans. You can then send the house rules and house manual to your guests before they check in.
Make sure that you set a cleaning charge to cover the cleaning costs for when your guest moves out. Even if they are a clean and tidy person, the floors will still need cleaning, bins emptying and beds changing at least. You will need to either pay someone to do this or charge for your time involved, as time is business!
I had a few bookings that cancelled on me last minute, leaving me no income and no other person to fill the room at such short notice either. For this reason, one of my top Airbnb host tips is to set the cancellation policy to ‘Strict’. This means that if they cancel at too short notice there will be no refunds unless Air BnB decide that there were exceptional circumstances.
Communicating with Guests
Communicate promptly, because if you are slow to answer or don’t accept or decline booking requests quickly enough, this can affect your rating. It’s important to keep communication on the Air BnB platform itself, rather than on something else such as What’s App. This is because you can end up with guests who try to scam you or change things without going through AirBnB itself which is against the rules. Never offer to accept payment outside of AirBnB.
One thing that helped me to reach Superhost status so quickly was the extra little touches such as vase of fresh flowers in the dining room on guest arrival and a little extra something on the bedside table or desk such as a tea selection, mini-wine or biscuits.
I often message the guest in advance to avoid causing offence, such as checking if they are a non-drinking to avoid offending Muslim guests with a gift of alcohol.
I leave plenty of tea and coffee in the kitchen that guests are welcome to use. I would often leave a thank you card near the end (or start) of a stay and in that encourage them to keep in touch, give feed back and leave a positive review.
Once you have your first few reviews, then you will immediately get more bookings because you have credibility. And so I can’t emphasise this enough – your first few guests are vitally important – treat them like Kings and Queens!
Some people will have an amazing stay, but still give 4* because ‘they never give 5*!’ It’s important not to be discouraged by negative reviews that aren’t your fault. If you have received feedback from a guest (such as no table lamp or X not working) then fix it as quickly as possible – before your next check in!
Is AirBnB hosting Sustainable for travellers?
I’m finding that it is going to be a sustainable income for me, but I quickly saw the need to outsource and hire help. For example, a few months in I hired a cleaner to do the communal areas for me once a fortnight, because I found myself doing a lot of cleaning as well as checkins. The next step is for me to find a co-host or sort out a secure key lockbox, so that checkins can happen while I am abroad.
Top AirBnB Tips – Summary
So here’s a summary of my top Airbnb tips….
- WIFI is a must
- Get your place looking well decorated, well resourced, clean and tidy!
- Add a cleaning charge to your listing
- Specify check in window (specific times when you are available)
- Ask for a deposit in case of breakages
- Meet guests in person (or have a co-host meet them or check on them)
- Specify house rules clearly
- Always check the law on short term rental and taxes in the city and country that your property is in