- It was a lot cheaper than a hotel…by 50%.
- I got a chance to stay with real people in a real neighborhood as opposed to feeling like a tourist.
- My host treated me like family, offered to take me out, and told me where to go for great food and entertainment rather than relying solely on technology.
I was sold on the experience. And I was sold that we could make money on AirBnB. Once I got back home, my wife and I moved forward with converting our extra room into an AirBnB room.
Over the past few years, AirBnB has:
- Helped us pay our mortgage.
- Allowed us to take more time off when our daughter was born.
- Expanded our friendships internationally. We particularly love Germans and German chocolate.
Here are the exact steps we took to become AirBnB hosts.
Step 1: Check the Legality of AirBnB in your city
In some cities, the laws around AirBnB and bed-and-breakfasts are grey. It’s important that you do research first before hosting. You’ll likely find that people in your city are already hosting regardless of the laws, but that doesn’t mean it’s legal.
In most cases, if you’re a homeowner, you’re okay.
If you are a renter seeking to rent your spot out when you are on work trips or vacations, there may be a clause in your rental agreement that says that you can’t sublease your apartment or have guests for certain amount of consecutive days.
All I’m saying is double-check before you become an AirBnB host.
Step 2: Creating An AirBnB Room
AirBnB allows hosts list 3 types of spaces:
- Entire place: This can range from a studio apartment with a bathroom and kitchen to a hotel style room with just a bed and bathroom.
- Private room: This can be any room in your space with a bed. The bathroom may be shared.
- Shared room: This is more like a hostel where there are multiple beds, perhaps bunk beds, in a room.
If you’re a homeowner, there are several ideal spaces to use for an AirBnB room:
- An extra room on the first floor that you really haven’t found a good use for yet.
- A room that was meant to be an office and now you’re just storing stuff in.
- Your college-aged kids’ bedroom that just sits there empty with Barbie or Superman sheets.
Here are some spaces that you can convert to a private bedroom:
- A converted garage that has been carpeted and insulated.
- A converted basement that has it’s own private entrance.
- A converted den that is in a secluded part of the house.
Step 3: Designing Your AirBnB Room
- A comfortable queen bed. (brand new)
- A queen plain white queen comforter. (Ikea)
- Two 1500 thread count black queen sheet sets. (Amazon)
- A desk and chair. (Ikea)
- Four black towel sets. (Ikea)
From there, after watching lots of HGTV, we decided on a color scheme for the room. In our case, we went for black and white with a hint of dark yellow.
To bring that vision to life we got:
- Two identical duvet sets that had a branches design on them.(Amazon) This matched the trees in our backyard. The set also came with matching sheets and pillow cases. We use duvets because they are easier to wash than washing a heavy comforter every time a guest leaves.
- A yellow cube ottoman that we found at a thrift store that we used as the night stand. (used furniture store)
- A matching yellow tray to add to the desk. (Ikea)
- A matching yellow jar to put toiletries in in the bathroom. (Ikea)
- A sticker set of tree branches to add to the wall (rather than painting) that matched the branches on the duvet.
In addition, we included:
- A 30-inch flatscreen TV, TV stand, and basic antenna
- A space heater for the Winter
- An air conditioner and fan for the Summer
- An iron and mini-ironing board
- A mini-refrigerator
- A broom and dustpan
After getting several request from our first few guests, we added:
- An umbrella
- A European power converter
- A hair dryer
- A scale to weigh luggage
- A roller for lent and hair
Step 4: Listing Your AirBnB Room
A sunny, clean and quiet private bedroom and bathroom suite in a convenient location in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. It includes a queen size bed, desk, plenty of closet space, and your own keyed entrance. It’s only a 2 minute walk from the A & C trains. You’ll be on the top floor with lots of natural sunlight & a clean bathroom.
Step 5: Marketing Your AirBnB Room
After you get your first few bookings, the #1 thing that matters is reviews, reviews, reviews.
Getting reviews from guests will boost your bookings. The best way to do this is to ask them to review you when they check-out. 24 hours after they check-out, AirBnB will ask you to review them and them to review you. If you review them and they don’t review you back after a few days, you can send them a reminder message.
The stars they give you and the words they write about you matter to future guests. Guests aren’t required to write reviews, but AirBnB does a good job to encourage them to because it helps future guests make better decisions.
One strategy to get lots of review quickly is to reduce their minimum stay to one night and have a low price. Once 5 guests experience you over the course of a few weeks and you get great reviews from them, then you start to inch up your price to the market rate.
- Add a great and fun profile picture along with a nice description of who you are, what you’re passionate about, and how much you love people.
- I already mentioned this before, but schedule a free AirBnB professionally photographer to photograph your space. It takes a few days to schedule and a few days for them to upload the new photos to your account.
- In the “Trust and Verification” portion of your profile, link your Facebook account to your AirBnB account. This offers social proof because it shows how many Facebook friends you have and it shows if you have a Facebook friend in common with a potential guest.
- When you’re just starting our, get references from friends who have used AirBnB as hosts or guests to vouch for you and your hospitality. If you’ve linked your Facebook account, AirBnB will show you which of your Facebook friends are already using AirBnB and you can send them a reference request.
- Verify your email address and phone number. These won’t show publicly, but the fact that they have been verified lets people know that you’re real.
- You can also link your Google+ and LinkedIn accounts.
- Once your personal profile and room profile are ready, AirBnB has buttons on the listing that make it easy for you to share via Facebook, Twitter, email, or Google+. Use that to get the word out among friends that you have a room available. When people’s family’s come into town, they will trust them staying with someone they know versus a stranger.
When someone inquires:
- Before you accept, ask them “What’s the purpose of your trip?” and “Who are your guests?”
- If they don’t have a profile picture, ask them to add one so that you know who they are when they arrive.
- Once you’re comfortable with who they are, go ahead and accept the reservation.
Step 6: Hosting Your AirBnB Guests
- Thank them for booking with you. They could have chose to stay anywhere and they chose to stay with you. Be grateful and express that gratitude.
- Setup your AirBnB confirmation email to include directions from the airport via car or public transportation, taxi cab phone numbers, and instructions to get into your home.
- Ask them what time their flight lands so that you can get an estimate of the time they will get your house and you can make arrangements to make sure someone is there to greet them.
- If you’re not going to be home, give them instructions for a MasterLock Lock Box.
- Ask them if they have any questions as their arrival date approaches.
- Provide them with water, snacks, and fruit in case they happen to come in late and end up hungry.
- Make arrangements for early checkin if their flight lands before 4pm.
- Greet them with a smile.
- Carry their luggage to their room.
- Give them a tour of the room and the home.
- Show them how to use the keys to the front door and their room door.
- Show them a map of the neighborhood so they know how to get to important places.
- Give them the internet code and your phone number.
- Give them a heads up about the check-out time the day/night before.
- Let them know where to leave the keys when they checkout.
- Make arrangements for late checkout if their flight leaves after noon.
- Write a review.
- Follow up to thank them and remind them to write a review.
- Read their public and private feedback and make adjustments accordingly.
Step 7: Cleaning Your AirBnB Room
Other Things To Consider As An AirBnB Host
- Use AirBnB’s calendar system to decrease prices by 25-40% during Winter months when less people travel.
- Create a general email template for initial inquiries and reviews and customize them accordingly.
- Ask why people chose not to stay with you. This will give you vital information about what you’re missing.
- Respond to inquiries and messages quickly. Seekers are in decision-making mode and AirBnB tracks this.
- Grab your unused soap bars, shampoos, and conditioners when you travel to provide to your guests.