So you have a spare room or holiday cottage and you’d like to make some money from AIRBNB? For many older adults this is a great way to make some money, meet new people and have fun creating an environment that people will enjoy.
My experience of running AIRBNB for my cottage in a tourist town here in Australia was overwhelmingly positive. It enabled me to make enough money to rent a small apartment in the city of Melbourne. This dual life-style had many benefits. I was able to continue working in my consulting business and delay retirement and a dependence on my savings. It also gave me the city/ country balance I craved. I found Airbnb to be a terrific company to deal with. (No I’m not being paid by them!) There has to be a fit with what you want to achieve by running a tourist rental experience and the way they operate. In my case it was a perfect fit and I was able to earn Superhost status with Airbnb.
So here are some tips for making your hosting experience a success.
- Be clear about your motive in offering a bed and breakfast experience….to make money primarily? To meet new people because you live alone? To utilise your space efficiently? My purpose was to make enough money to cover the rental and bills for a city apartment. Money was a main motivator.
- Do some fact finding- How much do others charge for accommodation in your area? What type of accommodation is available? What attractions are available in your area? Why would people visit your town? Work/ theatre/ garden visits/ food and wine/ Major Events/ shopping/ sports facilities? Who visits? What’s the demographic? Your local council or tourist organisation would be helpful here.
- Develop a simple business plan- yes you are running a business! Who are the clients you want to attract- Students? Groups? Couples? Older people? Young travellers? Corporate clients? What do they look for in a BnB? Prepare a financial plan. How much do you want to charge? Will you have a two night minimum? What will be your target occupancy rate?
- Once the planning is done you need to think through the logistics of how you will make this work. Who does the cleaning? Have you got enough bedding/sheets/keys? Who will do the greeting and saying goodbye? What if you get sick or called away? What about security and packing away valuables? Pets? There will be wear and tear of your home but what if there is serious damage? Check with Airbnb on this one. (I never had the problem thank goodness.) All the payments and your fees are managed through Airbnb and I didn’t have any problems with the 30 plus bookings I had. No money changes hands. Be clear it is hard work and you need to attend to the detail of keeping everything neat, clean and organised and being available for phone calls and meet and greets.
- Then it’s time to set up your listing with Airbnb and get started. Look at all the other listings in your area to get the best ideas of how to market your home to the clients you have identified. Listing on- line is not hard. Airbnb walk you through calendars, pricing and conditions easily.
A few examples may help you decide. A friend has a one bedroom apartment walking distance to major corporate offices in the city. The apartment attracts 30-40 year old professionals who come to the city from overseas to work for periods of 3 weeks – 6 months. This is easy rental work and advertised on Airbnb. Clean, comfortable modern furniture, a bottle of local wine, reliable internet, a stock of sheets and towels and a laundry and the guests look after their own needs.
Another person in a tourist town rented her cottage only at weekends with a premium price tag. Egyptian cotton sheets, spa bath, a platter of local produce and wine for a luxury experience. Minimum 2 nights. Mainly couples celebrating special events such as birthdays and anniversaries. Attention to detail, amenities and cleaning had to be 5 star.
There are horror stories of visitors turning your home into party central or trashing the place. I haven’t had this experience but I suggest
- Always trust your instinct and intuition when you interact with a potential guest via email or phone- if it feels wrong decline the booking at the start of the process
- Check your insurance and Airbnb policy on insurance
- Call and have a short chat with the guest if the booking is longer than just a weekend
- Don’t book your place out on New Year’s Eve!
- Ask the neighbours to keep an eye out for any strange events e.g. the booking is for 2 but five cars turn up!
Remember- to be successful you need to be consistent, deliver everything you promise- reviews are everything. Its hard work but worth the effort! Good luck!