Here’s what I’ve learned after 10 months of hosting a private room on Airbnb.
1. Start hosting without the room being perfect.
Don’t wait for the perfect day, the perfect decorations, the amenities, or the perfect pictures to start hosting. You will add features, learn to adjust your boundaries along the way.
One of my closest friends listed a private room on Airbnb in Dublin Ireland while we were both hiking in the mountains in Patagonia and she received booking requests within a day.
2. Don’t accept guests you don’t feel comfortable with.
If there is some nagging feeling that makes you not want to accept that person, simply reject the Airbnb inquiry. This will NOT affect your host rating, which is different than cancelling on a confirmed booking reservation.
Here are some of my boundaries. These are all personal preferences and the assumptions I have made were based on experiences hosting for my local area (Northwest Arkansas).
- Guests from the local area – There could be perfect reason why local guests need Airbnb. Everyone who is local that reached out to me was either looking for either did not understand Airbnb or wants one of those motels you pay by the hour. It also could jeopardize your own home privacy having locals knowing how to get into your house. I have searched Airbnb forums after having a bad experience with local guests and found it was a hard pass for most Airbnb hosts.
- Guests with children – I do not charge enough cleaning fees for children and I rent a private room. It would be too crowded to have a child in the room, and usually normal people who have children prefer the whole place to themselves instead of private rooms. This put it into question why the guest would want to stay in a private room as well.
- long term rentals – Usually, I would like to keep the option of being able to only endure guests for a week, especially first time guests. I have made one exception to a guy booked my airbnb for a week at a time for 4 months. When he first proposed booking 2 months straight. I told him no, I would rather do a week at a time and see how it goes. It turned out that we got along well. He was a great repeat guest.
3. Set clear boundaries.
I don’t want to clean the kitchen after others. So cooking is off limits on my Airbnb. I contemplated this rule a lot when I listed the house. But as it turns out, people don’t care that much about cooking. Instead, I make recommendations to local delicious and affordable restaurants or groceries. Don’t half-hearted rent out something you don’t want to, because you will resent it later. Don’t be afraid of saying no, because this way you will attract the right people to your Airbnb.
4. Title of the Airbnb listing counts.
When I first started doing Airbnb, I didn’t have a lot of furniture, so I named it “The minimalist room.” To my own surprise, people love it! I received one review raving about the idea of minimalism.
Gradually throughout this year, I found that I love outdoorsy guests. Not just because they will be out all day, but also they are almost always VERY laid back, respectful, and quiet. Most of the time, they are so tired of their daily adventures, they will come right to bed! So I changed my title to “Rock Climbing and Mountain Biking Haven” which yielded good results so far. I am learning to be more outdoorsy myself so I have made numerous friends with similar hobbies (rock climbing and mountain biking, of course!).
One other thing I make sure to add in my title is how many bedrooms (if it is a private room) or if it is an entire place. Since I have a long title now, I can only add “1 br + bath” at the end. I find this helpful when I search Airbnbs to stay so I add them to my title now.
5. Have a dog!
When I first started Airbnb, I was worried people will be very annoyed with me having a dog. They may be allergic to dog hair. They may find dogs barking annoying. They may accidentally let my dog escape (I still fear this). As it turns out, a big portion of the people who stay at my Airbnb booked my place BECAUSE of my dog (I mean, can’t blame them because the Ice Queen is so cute). And research has shown, people are nicer to each other when there is a dog present. So if you have a dog and is contemplating on hosting Airbnb, wait no more!
6. Schedule the stays with breaks in between.
When I first started my Airbnb, there was a period of time where someone would check out in the morning, and someone else would be coming at 3pm. I have a full time job and I struggled to clean the sheets and towels for the next guests. Now I try to plan ahead the stays and block out days so I can have time to clean the rooms.
7. Airbnb prices are not always accurate.
In my area, Northwest Arkansas, Airbnb’s suggested price is too low. When that happens, it attracts people who are not my targeted audiences (aka people who wants a motel and doesn’t want to pay a lot of money). I found out by getting a lot of inquiries of guests who barely had a profile set, and just want to show up at my house for a night.
I looked into the Airbnbs around me, and found comparable listings (similar bedrooms, similar area, similar style) and raised my price up to theirs, and the problem is solved.
8. Great photos = great guests.
- Using the right camera – Taking photos with a real camera helps (as opposed to using a cell phone) because the cell phone lens is smaller and it will distort the architecture of the room.
- Let there be light – Choose a sunny day to take the photos. Open ALL curtains and turn on ALL lights. Having lights (natural or artificial) can make editing your photos SO MUCH easier.
- Perfecting Photos – I spent a good chunk of my time taking photographs of my place and editing them. It took me a couple of tries to get the photos come out crisp and clean. There are many photos that I’ve realized later on that needed a makeover, such as, clutter on the desk, the toilet lid was open, the kitchen counter was not clean, the pillows on the bed looked saggy and sad, etc. I went back and adjusted them.