Are you thinking about renting out your apartment on the #1 platform for private home rentals? Then you need to read this Ultimate Airbnb Host Guide. You will find all information from A-Z that you need to make the most money out of your Airbnb rental – so you can go explore the world and make money while you’re traveling 😉
The Ultimate Airbnb Host Guide – Overview:
- Your Airbnb profile & listing
- Listing description
- Bonus tips for a better ranking
- Before Your Guests Book
- Before Your Guests Arrive
- During Your Guest’s Stay
- After Your Guests Leave
- Helpful Airbnb Services & Tools
- Airbnb Bonus for A Little Nomad Readers
Your Airbnb profile & listing
Your Airbnb profile
Before you sign up: Click here and get a $50 Airbnb bonus after hosting your first guests (or the equivalent in your currency, e.g. 48€).
Setting up your account on Airbnb, you will first be asked to complete your profile. This is a crucial part as people want to know who their hosts are and if they seem trustworthy. Another reason is that the more active and detailed you are; the better Airbnb will rank your listing in the search results.
First of all, add a nice picture of yourself. Doesn’t have to be a professional photo in a blazer/suit, better is one that reflects your personality (the good sides of it). You get bonus points for adding a video – not only from Airbnb (higher ranking) but also your guests will love to see you in action.
Next, complete in detail every section of your profile. Tell people something personal about you – your travels, your favorite music, your pets etc. It will help potential guests to trust you.
Adding your phone number and getting your ID verified are the least you should do to prove you are a trustworthy host. I recommend connecting your social media networks as well.
You have the option to ask your Facebook friends to recommend you as a Host. Just send them a message from your Airbnb dashboard (references) and ask them to write a few lines about your hospitality, character etc.
Your listing description
The number one rule is to be honest! Describe your place in as much detail as possible so people know what they’re getting into and don’t have expectations you can’t fulfill. Explain what makes your home unique, including all the amenities and rules you have. There’s a washing machine in the house but not your apartment? Let them know. Don’t have a dishwasher? Avoid disappointments by letting your guests know upfront.
On the other hand, highlight the benefits of your place in detail as well. Only 5 minutes to the subway? Free parking? Amazing coffee machine? Mention all advantages and disadvantages. You might think not being too straight out with the disadvantages will get you more bookings, and you could be right with that – but it’s not worth risking a bad review.
Your description and title should be attractive, detailed and informative. Try to include keywords people might look for when they search an apartment in your city. For example, point out when your place is just a few minutes to a popular tourist attraction, local event, landmark or trade fair. Your listing will automatically rank higher the more targeted the search terms are that match your description. Check out your competition’s titles and descriptions, especially the ones that show up first on the search results, and copy them/tweak them so they match your place.
If you have a relatively spacious apartment but not enough beds/mattresses, invest in 1 or 2 extra air mattresses. Many guests come in groups of 4-6 people which makes it hard to find a place for them so your home will stand out from the crowd if you are able to host many people. Be sure to mention that you are providing air mattresses instead of beds though, or it could result in a bad review. It’s also not fair.
Appealing photos are probably the first thing potential guests look for – along with the price. Airbnb has a free photography service in many cities and for listings that match certain criteria. If you’re one of the lucky chosen ones, you shouldn’t miss this great offer. Amazing photos with Airbnb watermarks will not only impress potential guests but also your listing’s SEO.
If you can’t get this free service, consider hiring a professional photographer yourself. It will be worth every penny. You don’t have the cash right now? Try to find a photographer who is building his portfolio and would be happy to use your home’s photos as a reference (check Craigslist, local Facebook groups etc.). The least you can do is borrow a wide angle lens (or get a cheap one for your phone) and clean the place, put your dirty laundry in the closet and take some nice, bright photos. Arrange some flowers on the dining table and an open book on the couch table… Details like this will make a big difference!
After setting up your listing, Airbnb recommends a price span for your place. It is based on several factors like location, maximum number of guests, amenities etc. This is a good starting point, but don’t miss to compare your offer to others in a similar area and condition. When first starting out, you should offer a lower price until you get your first good reviews.
Airbnb has its own algorithm that takes demand into account. If there is a popular trade fair or festival e.g., Airbnb will let you know that you can charge more or recommend to unblock these dates. There are also more sophisticated software tools out there that will help you find the perfect price. Beyondpricing e.g. claims to help you make 10-40% additional booking revenue in many cities worldwide while charging only 1% of your Airbnb profit. Everbooked has a similar service for the US only.
If you’re on a long trip, offer long-term discounts (weekly and monthly). It doesn’t get any better than people staying at your place for a couple weeks, paying your rent and your cocktails – no cleaning, no handing over keys, no stress for anyone. Airbnb recommends a percentage when you type in the discounts if you don’t know how much you should set it to. If you use a full Airbnb management service though it might be more lucrative to keep the bookings short.
Keeping your calendar up-to-date is extremely important because of three reasons. First, you don’t want to miss any potential bookings and second you don’t want to decline requests because your calendar is not updated. The other very important reason is Airbnb’s algorithm: Regular calendar updates are rewarded with better search rankings and therefore attract more inquiries.
“Hosts who don’t let their calendar get a month or more out of date are 70% more likely to get booked.” -Airbnb
Imagine how much daily updates could help your ranking? If nothing changed, just block out some dates in the future and unblock them again after a minute.
Instant Booking – Yes or No?
The Instant Booking function is not the favorite among hosts but definitely has its advantages. There are many travelers out there who want to get an instant booking confirmation because they have strict travel plans, want to arrive the next or even same day etc. Some even limit their search results to listings that offer Instant Booking. When potential guests look for accommodation, they usually ask more than one host and book with the host who confirms first. Instant Booking will make sure you’re the first! Remember though to really keep your calendar updated every day so you don’t have to cancel any reservations.
Minimum stay duration – Yes or No?
Certainly your listing will see many more views if your minimum stay is one night only. Many business or transit travelers simply don’t need a 2-night-stay. Since not many hosts offer this, you will have a much bigger base of potential guests. On the downside, it may not be worth the extra effort. You have to spend the same amount of time than for a longer stay – Communication upfront, meeting the guest, cleaning and washing sheets, towels etc. If you take care of your guests yourself, I recommend a minimum of 2 nights. If you have an automatic lock so guests can let themselves in and plenty of extra sheets and towels, you can consider renting out for one night only.
Another tip to get more bookings is to be flexible with check-in and check-out times. Many travelers arrive in the morning or late evening. If you’re not around, you could use Smart Locks or services so guests have access 24/7.
Bonus tips for a better ranking
- Log in regularly. Airbnb’s algorithm tracks how available you are. Not only your response time is important, it also matters how much time you spend on Airbnb.com and how often you log in. If you use a service like guesty.com, they will do it for you.
- Get Added to Wish Lists. There is a feature on Airbnb that allows guests to like listings and add them to their Wish List. Try asking your guests to add your listing to their wish list and it will help boost your ranking because Airbnb sees that your home has the potential to be booked. You can also be active yourself and create and share wish lists, though this is not as helpful as being added.
- Promote your profile on Social Media. As with all the other search engines, links that are seen more often are trusted more. Therefore, link to your Airbnb profile on Social Media. Tweet, like and +1 your page and ask your friends to do the same.
Before Your Guests Book
So you got your first guest inquiry or booking request? Great! The most important thing now is to answer fast and friendly. Always, always (!) reply within 24 hours. The sooner, the better. Airbnb rewards quick replies with better rankings and punishes hosts who have a slow response time. You have a much better chance to be displayed at the top of the search results if you reply within an hour. Download the Airbnb app on your smartphone and never miss a message. Even if you don’t have a final answer to your guest’s question yet, let them know that you received the message and will take care of it asap.
Maybe even more important is to avoid canceling bookings. People need to able to trust you and not be afraid you cancel a few days before their trip. For every cancellation, a review will automatically be left on your profile by Airbnb that says that you canceled the reservation. Airbnb and guests both hate not being able to rely on you.
Give new guests a shot! It can be scary to confirm a strangers booking request if they don’t have any reviews yet. But remember, we all started at some point. If you are unsure, ask them a few questions about themselves, the purpose of their trip and their fellow travelers. After a short conversation you will usually have either a good or a bad feeling about the person. Trust your gut instinct.
Before Your Guests Arrive
Send guests an email a week prior to their arrival. Make sure to personalize it by using their names and some information you already have about them. Ask them how they will be arriving to your place and send information about public transport, taxi prices, parking areas, navigation details or whatever your guests need to find your place fast and easy. International guests often don’t have access to data on their smartphones, so this will be a big help for them.
You can also prepare some information about your house and the neighborhood. Let guests know how to use the dishwasher, coffee machine and TV. Let them know how to find everything they might need in your neighborhood – gyms, best coffee, places to eat and activities. If you are renting out a room while you are staying in the same house, ask them about dietary restrictions and how they prefer their coffee.
Make sure your place is meticulously clean! Clean the room and wash the sheets and towels after every guest. Be extra accurate in the bathroom – scrub the shower, toilet, sink and floors. What’s worse than finding someone else’s hair in the sink or on your pillow? Don’t forget to clean the windows and shelves regularly as well.
During Your Guest’s Stay
Whenever possible, greet your guests at the door. It will make the experience for them more personal, friendly and relaxed. You can offer them a welcome drink and use the time to give them a quick tour of your place. Be sensitive to their needs though – some people had a long trip and would rather like to rest or take a shower than chatting with you.
If the check-in time is too late or you’re not in town and you don’t use a service that welcomes guests for you, install a smart lock. Send the code to your guests a while before they arrive so they won’t miss getting it if they don’t have Wi-Fi on a long trip.
Attach a keychain to your keys with your phone number on it. Your address would be risky, but a phone number or email address can help them get in touch with you in case they don’t find their way back to your place.
Always do a bit more than you promise in your listing description. You could have a public transport card for them, a bottle of wine or some lollipops if you host a family. Go the extra mile, it will reflect positively in your review, promise!
Leave your guests plenty of information on what to do in the area. Invest in a guidebook about your city (don’t forget to deduct it from your taxes!), collect brochures of local attractions and menus of surrounding restaurants. Recommend some places off the beaten path that could be interesting for your guests, depending on their interests.
If there’s a good connection between you and your guests and it feels right – invite them for dinner! Even if you don’t live on site, you could invite them to join you when you go out for dinner or have a barbeque. You might even make some good friends for live – definitely you will get great reviews.
If you share the kitchen with your guests, give them their own storage space in the cupboard and the fridge. Label them, so there is no confusion. You could have one shelf with basics for everyone to use – oil, spices, tea etc. Your guests will appreciate not having to buy essentials they won’t finish anyway.
After Your Guests Leave
The most important ranking factor for your listing are the reviews. After guests check out, they and you have 14 days to write a review for each other. Remember to write a friendly and honest review about your guests promptly. Sometimes they forget to write one for you. They might be traveling or just busy with everyday life. It’s ok to send them a quick and friendly reminder after a week. Ask them to let you know if there was anything they were unhappy with and try to solve issues before they leave a review.
The more and the better your feedback is, the more Airbnb will highlight you as a Host. Airbnb wants their customers to be happy so they try to send them to hosts that have a great reputation. With this Ultimate Airbnb Host Guide it is almost impossible for you to get bad reviews.
In case you do get a negative review though, don’t be too disappointed. Use the feedback to learn and improve your offer. If you feel something your guests said is not justified, you may leave a reply to their review on your profile.
Become an Airbnb Superhost and increase your bookings significantly
If you meet the following criteria, you will get a badge for being a Superhost! This will automatically get you tons of more bookings because Airbnb and potential guests see how responsible and trustworthy you are. The requirements are checked every three months.
By the way: If you keep your Superhost status for an entire year, Airbnb will reward you with a $100 Travel Coupon.
Helpful Airbnb Services & Tools
Don’t worry if you’re not around and don’t have someone to help you. There are companies now that will take care of everything – from depositing the key in a safe box (or greeting your guests in person) to answering your guests’ questions and cleaning the apartment.
Hosttonight: A service for USA & Latin America (I would be forever grateful if you used my affiliate code “alittlenomad” when you sign up!)
Hostmaker: A service for London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome
Airgreets: A service for Germany that I personally use and highly recommend. They send their staff in person to greet your guests, which is super awesome! Let them know I sent you and you’ll get special treatment 🙂
These tools will help you organize/automate/outsource parts of your Airbnb Host duties and save you time and stress.
Beyondpricing: Dynamic automatic pricing tool that takes more factors into consideration than the Airbnb pricing tool and claims to increase booking revenue by 10-40% while charging only 1% of your profit. Try it for free for one month! Available in many cities worldwide.
Everbooked: Another dynamic automatic pricing tool for the US only.
Guesty: A property management software that combines your Airbnb, Homeaway and Booking.com accounts and handles guest communication. They charge 2% – 5%, depending on your needs.
Hoard: Leave keys for your guests at trusted places in your neighborhood so they can check in when you’re not around.
Properly: Create visual checklists for cleaning services, synchronize your bookings and organize schedules in one app – free for up to 3 jobs per month.
Smart Locks: If you don’t want to or can’t greet your guests at the door 24/7, install a smart lock and never worry about check-in times again.
Airbnb Bonus for A Little Nomad Readers
If you click this link, you will receive a $50 Airbnb bonus after hosting your first guests (or the equivalent in your currency, e.g. 48€).
Are you overwhelmed by everything and don’t feel like hosting but interested in staying at other people’s places while you’re traveling? Sign up here and get a $40 Airbnb credit for your first trip!
For your convenience, here’s a short printable PDF-Checklist you can download for free. Make sure you don’t forget any of the steps to become an Airbnb Superhost!
Do you have anything to add to my Airbnb Host Guide? I would love to know about your best tips in the comments!