In an attempt to recoup some of my overhead during an extended trip to southeast asia, I decided to list my Santa Monica apartment on Airbnb. Six months later I’ve grossed $35,000 and have moved into a second house. Is Airbnb a micro-prenuer business that will be squashed by regulations? Will the market be flooded with units until there is no margins left for the average host? Or will Airbnb be the biggest disrupter in the history of travel?
I’m betting on the longterm success of Airbnb and will share a few tips on how you too can pay the bills by renting out your apartment.
Pictures – Airbnb offers a free professional photographer for your listing.. Use it! They will want to use as much light as show as much color as possible. So grab those throw pillows and replace those burnt out bulbs. Make sure the place shines and is free of nic naks and as many personal belongings as possible. People want to imagine your home as their own.
Pricing – Research all of the places in your neighborhood for different dates a couple months in the future to make sure you have the largest number of units in your search results. Do the standard location and size comparisons and price your place 25% under market value to get started. Once you’re up and running, price your available days over 30 days in the future at a higher price than what you have available this month. Many vacation planners and are willing to pay a premium to secure the perfect place far in advance. Lower you rates for the gaps in the reservations and for the upcoming week to ensure that you have as close to 100% occupancy as possible.
Greeting Guests – Don’t waste your time meeting every guest that comes to your place. It will drive you crazy waiting around for people stuck in traffic and take to much time out of your day. Have hideaway keys or remote entry available. Most guests will appreciate skipping the awkward walk through after their red-eye. Create a detailed House Guide that answers every imaginable question. You can also include maps of the area and local recommendations to create some personal flare.
Cancel your Cable – Get all of your cost on your place as low as possible. Like running any business, make sure you have all of your cost contained. Get a Roku and share passwords with your home account for all you streaming content. Almost no one is going to book your place because of the basic cable. Your losing $5 a day by having it. Maybe even try to cozy up to your neighbor for a WIFI password to cut out as many utilities as possible.
Cleaning – Do it Yourself! Get your hands dirty when turning the apartment around between guest and have a cleaner come in only once per month. 95% of cleaning between guest can be done in an hour. Cleaners in my area will charge $70 to do the same thing. Get your hands dirty and have a professional get the bathroom scum once a month. I average 6 turnovers per month. It saves my bottom line $400.
Positive Reviews – People want to see that other have had a great experience and the guest on AirBnB are more than happy to enthusiatically endorse you. Make sure you leave every guest with a nice note and follow up with them after thier stay to make sure they review your place
Buying in Bulk – It seems ridiculous when your walking out of Costco with 500 rolls of toilet paper but it will get used and people expect there to be plenty of these household goods. Save yourself the weekly trip to CVS.
I think you’ll find becoming your own real estate tycoon is much easier than you’d expect. Try it on your next vacation and see where it may take you.