Airbnb For Dummies
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Whether you’re curious about types of guests and how to properly screen, or you have a fear of letting a stranger into your home, this section provides answers to your most pressing questions. Many now-passionate hosts at one point would have never considered renting out their personal apartments or vacation homes. Oftentimes, once they realized how the Airbnb systems create a safe, enjoyable, and successful experience, they were eager to commit to and later enjoy hosting. As an aspiring host, you may be wondering about a lot of the answers to these questions. Keep reading to see.

Airbnb air mattress ©Mike Focus/

Why would I allow strangers into my house?

The best reasons to let strangers into your house is that they’re willing to pay to stay in your unused space and you can meet cool people:
  • Generate additional income: Making more money is the main reason most people start hosting. By taking a spare space in your home and offering it to your guests, you can bring in more money. Even better, the additional income you can make is disproportionate to the time you’ll spend on hosting responsibilities. You’re leveraging a little of your time for tasks like cleaning or guest communication, but mainly you’re leveraging an asset that otherwise is unutilized.
  • Meet interesting people from around the world: By hosting strangers you can meet interesting people, many who are from a different background or walk of life. They’re coming from a different part of the world and have their own set of experiences. You can share part of your neighborhood and world, offering them tips of what to see and do. You can even build long-lasting relationships.

Is it safe to host on Airbnb?

There are some common misconceptions about Airbnb, most prominently of which is the nightmare guest. Stories of nightmare guest experiences can be a huge deterrent to hosting guests in your space. However, these stories serve as the exception rather than the rule.

Many people have the idea that if they host on Airbnb their property will get absolutely trashed. They believe the guests will be awful and there’s a huge risk of parties where people will burn your house to the ground.

However, that’s the exception and an anomaly. Recently, Airbnb welcomed its 500 millionth guest. It’s understandable that among half of 1 billion guests there would be some stays that didn’t go as planned. Yet, when you look at the percentage of terrible stays, they make up the tiniest of amounts. Barely a fraction of 1 percent of all stays result in any kind of major issue or damage — far from the norm. And, you can prevent these rare incidents from happening.

Airbnb has developed several safety features to ensure that hosting is safe and secure. Here are some of these features:

  • Hosts and guests never exchange money. All money is exchanged directly through the platform. Because Airbnb acts as an intermediary, there’s no way to get scammed as either a guest or a host.
  • Hosts can see prospective guests’ profiles and require that guests show a government-issued photo ID. A government-issued photo ID can include a passport or a driver’s license. Guests also can offer other verifications, such as a personal email address, a work email address, a phone number, a Facebook account, and a photo. You can reach out to guests who make reservations and ask questions, such as who they are and why they’re staying in your area. If guests haven’t provided these verifications, you can ask them to do so, making it safer, depending on your level of comfort.
  • Hosts can set their own booking preferences. As a host, you can set your own pricing and minimum stay requirements so that you attract the right types of guests into your space.
  • Hosts can make their own rules. As a host, you can create "house rules" that make it clear to guests what is and isn’t allowed. In addition, you can set your own security deposit so that guests have a financial stake in following the rules.

Is my property suited for Airbnb?

In general, the answer is overwhelmingly yes. You can list almost any property on Airbnb. Here are two considerations for listing your property on Airbnb:
  • An accurate Airbnb listing: You need to make sure you’re listing your space accurately on Airbnb. You don’t want guests showing up to your air mattress when they were expecting a castle. You must start by setting up the expectation with an accurate description for your property.
  • The bed and the space: You must have something considered to be a bed and it must be in a private or common space. A private space can range from a private bedroom to an entire house or apartment. On the other hand, a common space can be any room in a space that is shared with other people. For example, the minimum listing is an air mattress in a common space, such as a living room.However, consider that how well the listing performs is up to you and up for question. Success varies wildly from place to place and depends on the guest you’re trying to attract. You may want to add amenities to your property to make it better suited for success on Airbnb.

Is it legal to host?

Legally hosting on Airbnb depends entirely on where you’re hosting. Each municipality has its own set of regulations, so check with your jurisdiction to ensure you’re compliant with the law. If it’s legal to host, then an area typically has no regulations so you can do whatever you want. However, certain areas may make hosting on Airbnb outright illegal. Other jurisdictions have different criteria that make hosting legal as long as you follow certain requirements, such as the number of days per year you can host.

Do your research for your specific municipality. The best place to start is to search online for “regulations on short-term rentals and Airbnb hosting” in your area.

Am I suited to host on Airbnb?

If you’re ready to take on the commitment and responsibility of hosting and you have the space for it, you’re suited to host on Airbnb.

Go into this experience with your eyes wide open to the reality of hosting and welcoming guests into your home. Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Your property cleaning and upkeep: When your guests make a reservation to stay in your listing, they expect a clean and well-maintained property.
  • Your personal bandwidth: Decide how much you’re willing to communicate with guests and answer their questions. Guests expect you to answer their questions and be relatively quick to respond, so you need to be ready for that. Depending on your property, expectations may also be quite different. For instance, guests booking an air mattress for $10 per night more than likely have much lower expectations than guests booking a private villa for $800 per night.
  • Your lifestyle, including noise levels: If you’re hosting guests in the space where you live, consider how often you’ll be around and available for guests. Also consider how much noise you typically make in your home. Guests expect at a minimum that you won’t disturb their sleep, so if you plan on having friends over every weekend, you may need to reconsider.

What if a guest gets hurt?

If you provide a well-maintained property, the likelihood of your guests getting hurt is low. Nevertheless, you want to make sure you have the proper insurance to protect you whether a guest suffers an injury or your property is damaged. Airbnb’s $1 million liability insurance policy protects you as the host in the event of any damages or any issues.

Don’t depend solely on Airbnb’s policy. Research Airbnb’s liability insurance policy and find out what it does and doesn’t cover. Speak with your local insurance agent and make sure you have all the protection you need for your specific situation.

What is the difference between Couchsurfing and Airbnb?

The main difference between Airbnb and Couchsurfing is money. On Airbnb you’re charging money for your space while on the Couchsurfing platform, you aren’t charging money. The adage “you get what you pay for” accurately explains the difference between the two.

Because the guest isn’t paying for anything when using Couchsurfing, the guest can’t have any real expectations for the space the host has provided. The guest can’t expect the space will be clean. The guest can’t expect washed sheets or soap. Oftentimes, the host has those things, but nothing is guaranteed.

There’s also no guarantee that the host will message the guest back on Couchsurfing because the platform runs that way. Airbnb is completely the opposite. A guest on Airbnb is looking for more stability, more guarantees, and an overall more organized experience. This guest is open to paying money to get those additional benefits.

Couchsurfing is for a specific type of host and guest. If you’re a host who doesn’t care about making money and wants the least amount of commitment while still meeting cool people, then Couchsurfing may work for you. If you’re a host who wants additional income and desires more organization with your planning, then Airbnb is a better option.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Symon He, MBA, and James Svetec are the experts behind Symon is also a real estate investing instructor with Linkedin Learning, and Udemy, and James is the founder of BNB Mastery Program, the No. 1 expert in rapidly scaling an Airbnb business.

Symon He, MBA, and James Svetec are the experts behind Symon is also a real estate investing instructor with Linkedin Learning, and Udemy, and James is the founder of BNB Mastery Program, the No. 1 expert in rapidly scaling an Airbnb business.

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