Airbnb For Dummies book cover

Airbnb For Dummies

Authors:
Symon He ,
James Svetec
Published: August 4, 2020

Overview

Make extra money—and your guests extra happy—with Airbnb! 

You’ve got that spare tower, mansion, apartment, couch, or perhaps even treehouse (really—there are more than 2,400 treehouses listed on Airbnb). You’re a polite, clean, and tolerant host. And you want to make some money. Congratulations, you’re fully qualified to become part of the Airbnb revolution! Whether you’re looking to break into the business, or have already started and are researching ways of making your guests feel even more pampered as you grow your reputation and income, Airbnb for Dummies is the perfect venue for you. And this applies whether you currently own property or not! 

Sit back in your lounge recliner and let the owners and founders of Learnairbnb.com show you the ins and outs of the short-term rental boom that connects hosts with travelers looking for more economical and personal travel experiences across the world. Sip a refreshing drink as you learn how to manage the day-to-day—from maintaining listings to keeping things clean for your guests—and how to maximize and increase your profits.

  • Make an attractive listing
  • Perfect your pricing
  • Profit without a property
  • Create amazing guest experiences

So, get hold of a copy, read it in your favorite spot, and watch as the money and excited guests beat a path to your door!

Make extra money—and your guests extra happy—with Airbnb! 

You’ve got that spare tower, mansion, apartment, couch, or perhaps even treehouse (really—there are more than 2,400 treehouses listed on Airbnb). You’re a polite, clean, and tolerant host. And you want to make some money. Congratulations, you’re fully qualified to become part of the Airbnb revolution! Whether you’re looking to break into the business, or have already started and are researching ways of making your guests feel even more pampered as you grow your reputation and income, Airbnb for Dummies is the perfect venue for you. And this applies whether you currently own property or not! 

Sit back in your lounge recliner and let the owners and founders of Learnairbnb.com show you the ins and outs of the short-term rental boom that connects hosts with travelers looking for more economical and personal travel experiences across the world. Sip a refreshing drink as you learn how to manage the day-to-day—from maintaining listings to keeping things clean for your guests—and how to maximize and increase your profits.

  • Make an attractive listing
  • Perfect your pricing
  • Profit without a property
  • Create amazing guest experiences

So, get hold of a copy, read it in your favorite spot, and watch as the money and excited guests beat a path to your door!

Airbnb For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Becoming an Airbnb host can sometimes feel overwhelming with too much to do and too little time to do everything. But you don’t need to do everything all at once or at all to succeed. Often, in the mist of the mad dash to launch their listings and take on guests, new Airbnb hosts forget to take care of the basics. Focus on getting the basics right and you’ll be well on your way to Airbnb hosting success. [caption id="attachment_270020" align="alignnone" width="556"] ©maroke/Shutterstock.com[/caption]

Articles From The Book

13 results

Travel Articles

Baseline Pricing for Your Airbnb

Determining a baseline pricing is finding the optimal amount you charge for your Airbnb listing under typical market conditions with average demand. Any adjustments you make to your pricing start from this baseline level. To establish the baseline pricing, you analyze comparable listings on Airbnb to create a pricing strategy that works for you. The following sections help you start pricing your listing so it’s competitive wherever you live.

Study your competition: Gather comparable market data

The best way to establish your baseline pricing is by looking at what your competition is charging in your market. You can think of your market as the tightest geographic radius that allows you to gather data for at least a dozen comparable and competitive listings. For example, in an ultrahigh-density urban market, this could be just a one block or even a minute walking radius. In the sparse country side, it could mean more than 10 miles or a 30-minute drive radius. In a typical suburban neighborhood, a safe starting point is three blocks or a 15-minute walking radius. You’ll need to adjust as needed for your specific area.

Your competition includes the most similar Airbnb listings in your market — those similar in size (beds, bedrooms, bathrooms), amenities, and overall positioning in terms of pricing and target audience. For example, if your Airbnb listing is a one-bedroom unit targeting the budget-friendly traveler who doesn’t mind being a bit farther out from the main attractions, then your competition is similar, economy-focused one-bedroom Airbnb listings. However, if your Airbnb listing is a two-bedroom luxury condominium in a downtown luxury high-rise residence, your competition includes other two-bedroom luxury Airbnb listings.

When studying the competition, gather at least a six (preferable a dozen or more) similar Airbnb listings and record the following information:
  • Weekday rates: For each comparable Airbnb listing and hotel listing, collect the average weekday rates (Sundays to Thursdays) for four weeks, eight weeks, and 12 weeks into the future. Take the average of those five days for each of the three weeks for each comparable listing.
  • Weekend rates: For each comparable Airbnb listing and hotel listing, collect the average weekend rates (Fridays and Saturdays only) for four weeks, eight weeks, and 12 weeks into the future. Take the average of those two days for each of the three weeks for each comparable listing.

If you’re unable to find enough (at least six) comparable Airbnb listings in your market for your baseline pricing analysis, you can substitute with comparable hotel listings. For most Airbnb hosts, comparing to economy and midrange hotel offerings make the most sense. Identify the nearest two- and three-star hotels to your property and compare your studio or one-bedroom listing to their lowest priced offering. For larger properties of two- or three-bedrooms, compare to the lowest priced hotel suites. However, you may need to adjust your findings down by 15 to 30 percent because average hotel listings are often priced higher than their Airbnb counterparts in the same market.

When you’re done collecting this information, you’ll have six data points for each of the listings you’ve identified for your comparison — three weekday averages and three weekend averages — resulting from 21 daily prices for each of the comps. Taking the average again of the average weekday and weekend rates for these similar listings gives you a good baseline pricing for your Airbnb listing in your market. The following figure shows an example with 12 comparable Airbnb listings and their corresponding data points for their weekday and weekend pricing.

Tracking additional information for the comparable listings can help you understand the pricing dynamic in your market even better. Tracking additional information such as the listing URLs, property type, number of bedrooms, number of bedrooms, and number of bathrooms can assist you to fine-tune your baseline pricing analysis.

Choose a baseline pricing strategy

After you gather your data and have a baseline weekday and weekend pricing rate that you feel comfortable with, you need to figure out how to use that information. Here are three primary pricing strategies you can consider adopting to price your listing:
  • Match market offering and charge less. If you intend to match the amenities and overall offering of your competition, you can gain an edge by charging slightly less than your competition. By offering the same amenities at a discount, you’ll be able to secure more bookings.
  • Beat market offering and charge the same. If you intend to clearly beat the offering of your competition, you can gain an edge by charging the same overall pricing as your competition. By offering better amenities at the same price, you’ll also be able to secure more bookings.
  • Make unique offering and charge premium. If your Airbnb listing offers something unique that guests value and the competition in your market can’t match, then you may be able to charge a premium. By offering something unique and valuable, you’ll be able to charge more than your competition.
Depending on which strategy you find most fitting for your Airbnb listing, your baseline pricing will be lower than, about the same, or greater than the baseline pricing you found from the comparable listings. However, settling on your baseline pricing doesn’t mean you just set your pricing to these levels for the entire availability of your listing. At various times you want to purposely price lower or higher than your baseline pricing. We explore each of moments in the following discussions.

Ramping Up to Baseline Pricing

The first such scenario where you price differently from your baseline pricing is during your ramping-up period, typically the first two to four months after an Airbnb listing first goes live on the platform. During these first months on the platform, your objective is to build momentum for your listing as quickly as possible, not to maximize the profits of any individual bookings.

To do so, get as many bookings and as many 5-star guest reviews as fast as possible. When a listing is fresh on the platform, it has no bookings and no reviews. All things equal, potential guests almost always book with listings that have more reviews than similar listings with no reviews.

During your ramping-up period, follow this pricing schedule to build momentum for your listing:
  1. Start at 20 percent lower than your baseline pricing. Doing so underprices your listing relative to your competition right out of the gate.
  2. Wait for one week and check to see if your listing is mostly booked two weeks out.
    • If mostly booked for the next two weeks, then stay the course until your listing is mostly booked four weeks out — aim for 80 percent plus occupancy.
    • If not booked out, drop pricing by another 10 percent every week until you’re booked four weeks out.
    • If more than four weeks are booked within the first week, then raise prices by 10 percent every week until you’re fully booked for the next four weeks or until reaching baseline pricing.
  3. After you reach the baseline pricing, sign up for third-party dynamic pricing software to monitor and adjust pricing going forward automatically.

Be sure to note in your listing profile title and description that your listing is “NEW.” Doing so can help potential guests get comfortable with your lack of reviews and help them understand why your listing is priced so favorably versus competition — that it’s due to your newness and not some defect.

Adjusting for seasonality

When setting your pricing, sometimes you need to adjust for seasonality. Seasonality means the overall Airbnb demand — the occupancy and average nightly rates for Airbnb listings in the market — may be much higher or lower than their typical rates when travel is correspondingly much higher or lower than average. For example, Airbnb cabins by a popular ski resort may be booked almost every evening, even at much higher than average nightly rates during the high demand skiing season. However, these same cabins may have a hard time booking nights even at significantly discounted rates during low season when the snow has melted and far fewer guests want to spend their hot summer on these dry barren ski slopes. For some Airbnb markets with well-defined seasonal attractions, you can easily know whether there is seasonality in the market. But for many markets without obvious seasonal factors for travel demand, you can verify seasonality by obtaining the relevant market data for the prior 12 months (a full calendar year). The seasonality of your Airbnb market falls into one of these four categories:
  • Flat seasonality: If the demand is the same all year around, then there is flat seasonality. In these rare markets, you can expect the occupancy and average nightly rates to stay about the same throughout the year. Often, flat seasonality is associated with low overall Airbnb travel demand for the market.
  • High season only: If the demand spikes high for a part of the year but stays flat the rest of the year, then the seasonality is said to have a high season. In these markets, you can expect the occupancy and average nightly rates to spike higher only during the high season but stay relatively flat the rest of the time.
  • Low season only: If the demand drops lower for a part of the year but stays flat the rest of the year, then the seasonality is said to have a low season. In these markets, you can expect the occupancy and average nightly rates to fall noticeably lower only during the low season but stay relatively flat the rest of the time.
  • High low seasons: If the demand drops lower for a part of the year and spikes higher for a different part of the year compared to a middle level the rest of the year, then the seasonality has both a high and low season. In these markets, you can expect occupancy and average night rates both to drop during low season and spike during high season.
The following figure shows what each of these four seasonality scenarios may look like if you plotted the average occupancy rates in these markets by month where 100 represents the annualized average occupancy rate. When you obtain the market data for a full calendar year for your market, you can notice that the average occupancy or nightly rates in your market will look like one of these scenarios. Fig. A shows a flat seasonality market, Fig. B a high season only seasonality market, Fig. C a low season only seasonality market, and Fig. D a high and low seasonality market. For all examples, the average occupancy rate during normal season is at 70 percent.

Travel Articles

10 Ways to Increase Your Airbnb Revenue

If you’re already putting in the time and energy to hosting on Airbnb, why not get the most from your hosting efforts? This list has ten strategies that have helped hosts to earn more while hosting.

Put your best listing forward

Most new hosts who complain about not earning as much as they want have low hanging fruits with their property listing, which can include having photos taken from their phones from the wrong angles with poor lighting at the wrong time of day. Or they have poorly written descriptions and boring titles. Unless you have the best listing profile you can have for your property, you won’t come close to earning your full potential as a host.

Ask guests to leave reviews

Although Airbnb will send an email to guests, reminding them to leave a review after their check-outs, hosts who reach out to guests with a friendly reminder will get more guest reviews. Having more reviews, especially from happy guests raving about their wonderful stays, will lead to more bookings and profits by making your Airbnb listing more appealing to future guests. However, asking for more reviews when you’re not meeting guest expectations consistently is just asking for trouble.

Tailor amenities to your audience

Understanding who your guests are can help you better cater to their specific needs. For instance, business travelers have very different needs than families with young children. Pay attention to the type of guests who stay at your listing and look for ways to add relevant amenities. For example, having family-friendly games can help attract family travelers while having a dedicated work station can appeal to the business travelers. The more you can make your listing an easy decision for your target traveler audience, the more bookings you’ll get.

Offer add-on goods and services

After your guests book with you, you’ll have a captured audience during the length of their stay. Why do hotels offer minibars? Some guests want to drink. You can do the same by offering a menu of extras like alcohol or breakfast to earn extra income. Hosts can also provide services like pickup and drop-off, guided tours, home-cooked meals, or equipment rental to increase earning potential.

Use appropriate pricing

Charge too much and you risk having more unoccupied nights. Charge too little and you miss out on profits you could have earned from guests who already chose your listing. Figuring out the right price to charge for your listing for any given night requires that you account for many factors that affect pricing, including your competitors’ pricing and availability, seasonality, and special events. Successful hosts understand they can’t do that manually and instead use a third-party pricing tool to set the ideal pricing for your listing automatically.

Host more listings

You can earn only so much from a single listing. After you’ve reached maximum occupancy charging the highest rates your market can support, there is little you can do to increase your earnings from that listing. But add another listing or two, and you can quickly grow your earnings on Airbnb. One of the best ways to do that is to offer your hosting services to a property owner who doesn’t want to host themselves. Doing so creates a win-win — hands-off profits for the owners and more earnings for you as a host without having the risk of buying or leasing another property.

List an Airbnb experience

Renting a property is not the only way to earn money on Airbnb. A recent but fast-growing opportunity on the platform is for hosts to list an activity rather than a property. Hosting an Experience over a property has many benefits and can help you grow your earnings substantially on the platform.

Think long term

Would you take $10 more now to lose $100 later? Probably not. Yet many new hosts make a similar trade-off by taking small short-term gains for bigger long-term losses. Yes, providing an extra supply of incidentals will mean higher costs per stay as guests use more of those items, but this small investment now prevents negative guest reviews that later lead to long-term losses from lost bookings. Similarly, hosts in hot or cold areas where energy costs can be very high for extended air conditioning or heater usage, can earn more in the long term by investing in solar panels that cut energy costs to zero while potentially adding value to their property. Although Airbnb is by far the most prominent example of the growth of sharing economy, it isn’t the only model. If you find that your listing isn’t getting enough bookings on Airbnb, you can look at alternatives like VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey, and Bookings.com to just name a few.

Putting your listing on multiple platforms requires the use of vacation rental management tools to help you manage the multiple listings and calendars to avoid double bookings and scheduling confusion. These tools can be costly so the option isn’t ideal for properties in low demand markets.

Rent something else

If you search online, you’ll quickly find Airbnb-like platforms targeting some other underutilized asset. Have a rarely used car you can rent? There’s an Airbnb for cars. A boat, backyard, garage, tools, gear, office, you name it. There’s an Airbnb for whatever that is. Some platforms could complement your hosting operation while others are an entirely separate operation.

Avoid catastrophic losses

Getting a huge fine from the city or having to make a costly replacement due to damage can wipe out an entire year’s worth of earnings. To avoid potential big losses, be sure to check and comply with local laws, keep all receipts and documentation if you need to make an insurance claim, and make timely repairs of all safety-related issues to limit liability risk. If you have assets greater than one million dollars, you should purchase additional insurance coverage on top of Airbnb’s insurance policy.

Travel Articles

10 Tips for Being a Better Airbnb Host

Even though both launching and maintaining a successful Airbnb listing takes planning and effort, as a host, doing some simple things can help you earn more, stress less, or both. Here are ten helpful tips for happy hosting.

Research your market before hosting

Smart hosts research their market before hosting to know exactly what to expect in their market. Some would-be hosts choose not to become Airbnb hosts after finding out that a traditional rental of their unit would perform better.

Become a guest first

The best hosts know what it’s like to be guests first. So, before you jump into hosting with both feet, book your stays on Airbnb for your next trips. Experience the entire process from start to finish as a guest — from searching on the platform and booking to checking in and checking out. Note all the moments you felt confused, irritated, relaxed, or elated. These moments can point to both things to replicate or avoid in your practice as a host. Even better, enjoy a few “staycations” by booking reservations at existing local listings in your city.

Invite but never impose

Guests traveling from different places come stay at your listing for different reasons. Some come to relax. Some want to meet and hang out with strangers. Some want quiet time. Never assume you know the preference of any guests unless they tell you explicitly. For example, if you’re hosting a dinner party with friends and family and want to extend an invitation to your guests, make sure they know it’s an open invitation with zero expectations. Come if they want. If not, no biggie. The more you host, the more you’ll develop intuition for how and whether to extend invitations with each specific guest.

Offer more than promised

Promise the stars and deliver the moon? Disappointment. Successful hosts who wow their guests consistently know to properly manage expectations with their listing profile and their communications with potential guests. This means having great but honest photos and descriptions and then offering little but unexpected extras for the guests. Offering killer home-baked cookies? A bottle of wine from a local vineyard? Fresh roasted coffee beans from a local roastery? Let your guests discover them as surprises when they arrive.

Touch base with your guests regularly

For every guest who reached out to you directly with a question or complaint, there probably were a few more with the same question or complaint who didn’t reach out to you. Some people are shy. Some don’t want to feel bothersome. Send a short and inviting message to your guests like, “Good morning! Just wanted to see if you had any questions or requests. Call/text me anytime. Here for you,” the day after check-in and at least once every three days. Doing so lets the guests know it’s more than okay to reach out to you if they need something.

Use tiny helpful labels

Checking into a stranger’s home after a long day of travel, many guests will want to settle in and relax before the next day’s adventures. But that can be tough if they don’t even know which switch works for which light or if they have to open all the cabinets just to find the extra trash bags.

One simple way to show your guests you’re thinking of them is to place small but conspicuous labels next to switches, cabinets, drawers, or doors in the house. Keep these small and visible only up close so they don’t show up on normal photos. Use a color scheme and a font that fits your overall decor, and they will look as intentional as they are useful.

Always have extra supply

Not having an extra supply of essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, soap, and all linens will ruin an otherwise great Airbnb experience for your guests. No one will enjoy having to make a trip out to the local store to get toilet paper because the host provided only a starter roll.

Being penny-wise and pound foolish may save you a few bucks in the short run, but unhappy guests will leave you scathing reviews that cost you bookings in the long run. Keep the extra supply out of sight to encourage more frugal use of supplies and provide it to guests happily when asked.

Use action shots in your photos

Showing guests what they could be doing in your listing is much better than telling. Yes, well-composed photos help, but putting people in some of the photos enjoying the space or showing the action will make for a more compelling pitch and result in more bookings. Have a hot tub in the backyard overlooking a picturesque sunset? Put a couple of friends in there and silhouette them against that sunset. Have a firepit in the back ideal for making marshmallow s’more sandwiches? Show the marshmallows roasting on the open fire. Have a billiards table for guests to enjoy? Don’t show an empty table but take a photo with the blurry moving cue ball just about to collide with another ball.

Disclose and highlight potential negatives up front

Getting long-term success for your listing is as much about avoiding the wrong kind of guests as it is attracting as many guests as possible. Have an extra friendly cat that likes to greet guests? Talk about Waffles and his nosy manners in the descriptions and add a photo. Yes, doing so will turn off many guests who don’t want to share their stay with a cat, however friendly. But it also will make your listing more appealing to guests who love cats. Honest disclosure enables you to both attract the right guests who would appreciate the listing as it is and discourage those who wouldn’t enjoy it from booking in the first place.

Measure return on time

Could earning more from your listing ever hurt? Yes, if it means having to put in a disproportionate amount of extra work. Would you rather earn $1,000 a month from two guest stays or $1,200 from 15 guest stays? Many will choose the more relaxed two guest stay with far less turnover work. As you host, instead of only seeking ways to squeeze every dollar out of your listing, look instead on how you can free up your time by using automation tools to simplify pricing and communications or using smart locks to eliminate time-consuming in-person check-ins. Sometimes, profit per hour of input is more important than total profits.