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The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
How To Be A Great AirBNB Host
If you have not already heard about it, AirBNB is this great new tool that lets you help people connect with you that are looking to stay in your are for a much cheaper and more affordable price than the surrounding motels and hotels. If you have never been an AirBNB host, you might want to consider it, as it can bring in a considerable amount of income. You can actually run a business by becoming an AirBNB host and many people do it everyday. Some people have even quit their day jobs and do this full time. We are talking anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 a year or more, depending on the home you own and how much you want to turn it into your business.
Click here to read about Proper Etiquette As An AirBNB Guest
This does not exclude you from state laws and of course, Uncle Sam wanting his share, and the IRS coming to take it, so if you do plan to turn your residence into your local business, you must check your state laws beforehand. Some states do not allow it, while others do require that you acquire a form at the end of the year. If you have an apartment and wish to become an AirBNB host, you should probably check with your landlord.
Once you get past all the legalities, make sure you check get the OK from your spouse and all the people living under your roof. Obviously, you want everyone to be comfortable with strangers coming into your home. Get a set price in your mind about how much you want to charge. Then forget about it. Actually, come back to reality: this AirBNB calculator tells you what you should actually be charging for your zip code. Depending on where you live is what you should charge. If you live near the coast, like near the beach, your costs will be higher. Head towards the middle of the country and your prices are lower. It is the same goes for rent and housing. The more rooms you have to rent, the more money you can make.
Now that we are past the legalities, telling your wife and kids that guest-strangers, also known as AirBNB guests, are coming into your home, and that the mortgage will likely be paid off a bit faster, lets talk about being a great host.
Add A Detailed Listing
When you put yourself on AirBNB, take a nice detailed photo of the room. Make sure the room looks nice and neat. Add as many details as possible so your listing is attractive. If you offer WiFi, which you should, make sure that you make it known. If you have a smoke alarm detector, a fire extinguisher, or any other safety measures that AirBNB asks you about, which you should probably have, make sure you list them. It is good to let your guests know these things area available!
You will want your guests to know about heating and air conditioning and everything they have access to. You do not have to give them access to anything you do not want them to have access to, though they are there for at least two things: a room and a bathroom. That is really all they need. As a courtesy, some places will open up their kitchen, so that guests can use the refrigerator, or they may even offer a continental breakfast which usually just consists of basic coffee or tea, sometimes even toast, bagels, or cereal. You will also want to state whether you offer shower use including use of shampoo. These things are certainly a courtesy and people will be more likely to consider staying with you over someone else if you do offer them.
You should include as many details as you possibly can including parking details, such as whether people, who are likely renting a car, can park on the street or in your driveway. You will also want to make your AirBNB guests away of whether you have any pets, as there are people who are allergic to cats, specifically. Likewise, letting people know that you have children, as some AirBNB guests prefer to stay at places without kids.
This listing takes time and consideration but you are taking the time of selling your room to the public. This room is becoming your business and a means to make money, so treat it as such, and become a used car salesman, and sell that room!
It is important, as an AirBNB host, to introduce yourself to your guest, who is not only a stranger in your home, but is a complete stranger in the area. This is likely their first time visiting your state, your neighborhood, your area, so make them feel as welcome as possible. In a way, you want them to know that “mi casa su casa” to an extent: the room they purchased from you is theirs for the time they need it. They can pretty much do whatever they want in it within reason.
Let them know who you are and who else is in the household with you. Get to know their name as well. If you care to let them what you do and make small conversation, feel free, and if you care to find out what they do, go on. Ask them about their stay, what they are doing in your town, feel free to pry within reason, but be courteous about it. In other words, in making casual conversation, you can say something like, “If you don’t mind me asking, what’s bring you to town? If you can’t talk about it, I understand, but always curious to know what is happening around town.” It is as simple as that. Just make casual conversation.
Do not talk or discuss politics or any controversial matters going on in the world. There is no reason for you or your guest to get bent and out of shape. The only concern you two have is that you are business partners: Your guest paid for a room and you are there to accommodate and deliver a service to your guest.
During this discussion, it would be a good time to talk about the WiFi password and access to any common areas, such as the refrigerator, whether you offer a continental breakfast – which usually would just consist of coffee or tea, and the bathroom. You can assume that your AirBNB guest is not going to enter your room or any other room in the house if you do not give permission to do so. The rooms they will likely access, of course, would be the ones to access their room.
Where’s The Room?
This is part of the introduction process and when you are done speaking with your guest, you will end up showing them to their room. Before you show them to their room, it would probably be best that you show them where the bathroom is located beforehand. You can mention anything that you laid out, such as towels or water bottles, extra pillows, etc.
Be polite and ask your guest if they need anything else. If you wish to grant them the courtesy of letting them know where you will be, such as going out, or in your room, or the living room, you can do so. Otherwise, your AirBNB guest will likely want to enjoy their privacy and the few hours or days before the event, so it is alright to leave them be.
There may be times where your AirBNB guest will leave their room, either to go get food, or just to come out, to use the bathroom, wander the hallways or store something in the refrigerator, if they are allowed, and they might cross your path. They may be a stranger in your house, but it is certainly okay to make some small conversation with them. As I said earlier, always avoid talking about politics, but talking about work is usually a safe thing to talk about. Let them know what they can do in the area, places they can visit, and restaurants they can eat at.
They are likely a stranger in your town. They have no idea and they pretty much hop on Google and use their Google Maps to find their way around to do anything, other than the event they originally planned to attend. So if you have any advice for them, feel free to share it if they are curious to know more. If they aren’t interested, than understand that they are just there to rent the room, not to have a chat. Respect their privacy just as much as they are trying to respect yours.
If you know they are leaving the next day, leave them with some instructions about what to do about the keys. You will probably want them to leave them on the counter and lock the door on their way out so just let them know about it. Your AirBNB guest does not want to take your keys home, but accidents do happen and letting them know in advance, if they are not forthcoming will remind them to return your keys to you.
There is some hope that your AirBNB guest will clean up after themselves. You cannot really tell your guest to keep tidy and neat, but you certainly hope they leave it the way they found it. Some AirBNB hosts charge a cleaning fee, while others do not. If it is a small room, you likely can clean it up in 10-15 minutes and can keep your costs down by not charging a cleaning fee. A cleaning fee ups the costs and will likely causes AirBNB guests to look elsewhere. It is up to you on what you want to do, but you should certainly consider that people are looking for cheaper more affordable places to rent. Skip the cleaning fee, take the hit of spending a few extra minutes cleaning, and keep the price down.
Once your guest has left, make sure the room is clean, and get it ready for the next guest. Make sure it is vacuumed, neat, tidy, the bed is made, and if you offer your guest use of the shower, there are fresh towels for use, and it is also a nice courtesy to offer some water to guests. You can go to any grocery store and get bottles of water for cheap. It certainly is not required that you do that, but it is very nice gesture and your guests will likely appreciate it.
Many guests may not read your rules, but when listing your place, you MUST clearly state your rules for your house. If you do not, many guests assume they can do this or that. A google search of AirBNB and common problems will reveal to you everything you need to know, including guests showing up a day early, guests showing up before check-in time, guests leaving after check-out time, guests trying to stay beyond their welcome, guests bringing in unconfirmed additional guests, guests inviting unconfirmed friends from the area, guests being in areas or using things that they are clearly not supposed to be using. It is highly advised that you inform your guests via the house rules on the AirBNB listing that they cannot show up a day early and that they can stay for the duration that they paid for and whatever else you feel they may do. Many guests feel that because they paid, they are entitled to do as they please. However, this is your house and it should be treated as a hotel stay.
You should remind your guests that any additional guests must be confirmed BEFORE their arrival, as sometimes your guest will feel they do not need to inform you of additional persons, especially if it is included in the original pricing, in which you may allow up to two guests. There are a number of problems that could arise that could be easily taken care of by writing it in the house rules. It also helps to bring up in conversations, should your guests violate any of your house rules, than you can always refer back to the listing in which you state your rules clearly.
Remember: You are running a business. No matter how friendly your guests are, no matter how much they want to talk to you or hang out, they are not your friends. They are your customers and you are running a business. You may get guests that will attempt to be overly friendly, even offering to cook for you, do house chores, etc., in a possible exchange that you will allow them to stay an extra day or two for free beyond their slated time. Remind them that you are running a business and if they wish to stay longer, they can always login to AirBNB and pay for the additional days.
With each guest, you will learn to modify your own behavior as well as what you will accept in your home. You are doing your guest a favor by offering a likely more affordable and personable place than a motel or hotel. You are opening up your home. Just because they are guests do not mean they have free reign of your house, so it certainly important to establish house rules upfront. While you should be as accommodating as you can, it does not mean your guests have the right to take advantage of you or your services. If you hate or avoid confrontation, this may not be the business for you, but you can certainly overcome these fears by simply being forward and upfront with your guests. In most cases, they will understand and respect your house rules. You may fear a bad rating, but just know you can always comment back as to what their behavior was like.
Treat being a host on AirBNB like it is your job because that is exactly what it is. This is a money maker and you need to make money. Your AirBNB guests know how much time you invest in your newfound business by how you set up the room and what you do for them. You do not have to do much, but the little bit you do for them does go a long way, not only in recommendations for them leaving you a good review, but they are likely to return to you, and also refer their friends and family to you. Good luck and take pride in being a great AirBNB host.
Leaving A Review
Leaving a review, positive or negative, can affect the future of your guest. If your guest left the room in a good or a decent condition, other than a few minor things that might require you to do some general upkeep of the room, it is recommended that you leave your guests a positive review and let them know that you would not mind having them as guests again. If they were just okay but did not really meet your expectations as a guest, than you can leave a neutral review. While there are things that you can let slide, if they completely did not take care of the room, trashed it, or whatever the case, than it is okay to leave a negative review with details about why you left a negative review to let any future hosts know that you do not recommend this person or people to stay at other homes because of the way they treated your home.