How to run an Airbnb business
When Forbes revealed that the top 1% of Airbnb hosts were grossing over $1 million a year, Airbnbers everywhere sat up and took notice. While it might seem difficult to compete with the private management companies who own hundreds of properties across the UK, there are still plenty of strategies that you can employ to run a very successful Airbnb business with just a single property.
Whether you simply want to make some spare cash from your spare room or you dream of becoming one of the 400,000 Airbnb Superhosts, here are our top ten tips for creating your own rentrepreneur business.
1. Know how the business works
Travellers love Airbnb rentals because they offer the kind of flexibility you don’t find in a hotel. Before you sign up as a host, take the time to research the Airbnb website, focusing on rentals that are similar to your own. Take note of pricing, amenities and facilities and read the feedback. Learning from other hosts' experience and being realistic about your own and your guests' expectations is a smart strategy before you take the plunge and sign up.
2. Check your insurance
Don’t fall foul of your home insurance company like the unfortunate flatmates who had their Banksy stolen. Check whether your home insurance covers you for Airbnb rentals and, if not, contact a specialist broker to arrange liability insurance. Airbnb offers a Hosts Guarantee but there are exemptions and the company clearly states that it should not replace insurance.
3. Stay legal
Before you rent you’ll need to check with your mortgage provider, landlord, freeholder and the local council about the legality of becoming an Airbnb host. Many leases ban occupants from renting or sub-letting rooms and your mortgage company may require you to change your mortgage type or be liable for additional fees. If you own your home outright then you may need to register for a change of use if you plan to become a full-time Airbnb host.
4. DIY or professional services?
You may opt to tackle tasks like accounting, laundry and cleaning yourself, in order to maximise your rental income. Under the UK Government’s Rent a Room scheme you can earn up to £7,500 before paying tax but income about that level must be declared to HMRC and you may prefer an accountant to deal with any headaches.
When it comes to cleaning, you may quickly find that this task becomes incredibly time-consuming, especially for short term lets. What’s more, you can offset expenses related to this, which includes outsourcing cleaning costs, so using a professional cleaning company is actually pretty tax efficient as well.
5. What’s your USP?
Is your rental a quirky bolthole in the city or a retro caravan out in the wilderness? Airbnb’s unique USP depends on giving travellers a different experience to a soulless hotel room so you need to be clear on what differentiates your property from other lets in your area. There may be several Airbnbs in your area that are close to the airport so make sure yours offers dedicated parking, or make a feature of your superfast WiFi. Not every guest will appreciate your listing but by doing your research and knowing your market, you can position yourself for success.
6. An individualised experience
Another way to stand out is to offer guests a comprehensive experience from individualised toiletries to a full guide to what’s on in your area with personal recommendations for the best restaurants, pubs and cafes. By highlighting the kinds of experiences your guests can enjoy, from cultural events to breathtaking walks, your listing is likely to garner more attention than one that simply lists property details. So, instead of highlighting a fully equipped kitchen, talk about the nearby farmers market where you can buy beautiful fresh ingredients to cook at home.
7. First impressions count
You’re selling yourself as much as your listing, so while great photographs that highlight what your guests can expect from your property are the bait, your initial contact is the real hook that lands the booking. Make sure to be polite and respond quickly to enquiries, keeping the tone friendly yet professional and efficient. Make use of Airbnb’s smart pricing tool to get your pricing levels right from the start and be enthusiastic about hosting your guests and helpful when it comes to any special requests.
8. Reviews are vital
Running a successful Airbnb business is all about building trust with your guests. Airbnb Head of Hospitality Brian Chesky says over 70% of guests leave feedback and its vital for your business to get those good reviews that set you apart from the competition. Make sure that the experience lives up to the expectations you’ve set with your photographs and email exchanges and take your cues from your guests as to the level of interaction they expect. Flowers, speciality teas and coffees, local produce and personalised toiletries can all help you garner positive feedback.
9. Pay attention to detail
From providing several sets of keys so larger groups of guests can explore the local surroundings individually, to keeping your Airbnb profile and calendar updated, its the attention to detail that helps to boost your host rankings and improve the credibility of your business. Whether you leave a bottle of wine for your guests so they feel at home or negotiate a discount at a nearby theme park or attraction, getting these details right every time is key to successful hosting.
10. Get smart
Not every guest wants their host hovering in the background and so you may prefer to be more hands-off with your rentals, especially if you have more than one property. Think about investing in a smart lock with a keypad that allows your guests the freedom to arrive at the property for the first time without having to contact you to meet up beforehand. This also goes for when they leave. Apart from the enhanced security, a smart lock is ideal for guests who are running late or get delayed, letting them check themselves in. This is also pretty handy for hosts too as planes often get delayed and your guests could show up hours after they’re due to.
If you want to be a successful rentrepreneur you need to know your business. Airbnb prides itself on being a community that offers a personalised service which hotels can’t match. Take an intelligent and personalised approach to your Airbnb business and you’ll quickly build trust with your guests and start landing 5-star review after 5-star review, propelling you towards that coveted Superhost status.
Thinking about letting your property on Airbnb?
AirBristol has many years of experience with short-term lettings across a number of different platforms, including Airbnb and Booking.com as well as direct through our own website.
For free impartial advice get in touch to see how we can help you maximise your rental income or read more about our Airbnb and short-term lettings management services.