What’s It Like To Be An AirBnB Host?

I was an AirBnB host for 6 months and I loved it. Many people, including some of my guests, thought it was a brave thing to do. Who would open up their home to perfect strangers? Well, I did. Mind you, it was after much consideration.

This is my experience as an AirBnB host.

A place to stay

A place to stay

What Is AirBnB?

AirBnB is an app and website on which people offer (a portion of) their homes to travelers for a place to stay. They can also offer travelers some sort of activity, like a workshop.

It’s like a marketplace platform. Offer meets demand.

On one side, it provides travelers accommodation, and on the other, it provides the opportunity for anyone to make some extra money as a host.

Why Become A Host?

Personally, I love the idea of it. I’ve always enjoyed staying with locals myself. Knowing people in other countries has allowed me to travel the world easily. Hosting is a great way to give back to other travelers.

Once I heard the experiences from acquaintances who were hosting, the idea to host became more definite. By chance, I met a local AirBnB host, who told me she had great experiences and there were a lot of guests booking with her. That’s when I signed up.

Home Away From Home

I offered a homestay. Guest booked a private room in my house with use of a shared bathroom. It included breakfast, which was either served in the living room (at my breakfast bar) or in the garden, if the weather allowed. Later, I added a tiny shared sitting room for guests to use as well.

But AirBnB is equipped for you to offer anything, from your outhouse, boat, caravan, private rooms, shared rooms and even a couch. And if having people over for several days is not your thing, you could host an event, like a workshop, yoga lessons, a tour of the area you live in, rides to certain landmarks or a performance. It’s a great way to earn something on the side.

What Are The Guests Like?

It’s really surprised me that all kinds of people, from all walks of life, use AirBnB. I’ve met people from all over the world. My guests came out to my area for all types of purposes. They were business and leisure travelers, who worked in the area, went to visit family, friends or events, or were just enjoying a weekend getaway or a holiday.

AirBnB Guests Consciously Choose This Way Of Travel

In comparison to another platform, where I offered the same homestay experience, I preferred getting bookings from AirBnB. The visits went a lot smoother.

Their process of sharing information directly to my guests after they booked, guaranteed they’d seen it before arriving. They all knew exactly what to expect and were also aware of my house rules. None of the AirBnB guests broke those rules.

Two-way review system

Hosts and guests review each other at the end of the stay, which stimulates good behavior on both sides. Bad reviews could get you kicked off the system. I felt it really worked. Every stay was a team effort. The guests and I worked together to make the situation work and their stay enjoyable. I’ve not had any bad encounters through AirBnB.

Does It Earn Well?

It depends. The AirBnB website allows you to calculate how much average earnings per month you could get. This is based on your location and the type of accommodation you offer. You can see this before signing up. In my case, the calculation was pretty accurate. AirBnB alone would provide me with a side income, but I could not be living off it.

AirBnB superhost

I quickly became an AirBnB superhost

Seasonal Peaks

Logically, bookings are irregular. At times, there are lots of bookings, other times bookings are slow.

I started with one room in the summer holiday and had my first booking within a week after listing! It was a great time to start. If I had two rooms available right then, I could’ve probably earned a full living on it in the high season, especially if I’d also offered the rooms on other platforms as well to fill in the gaps.

AirBnB Commission

Initially, AirBnB takes quite a cut from your bookings. Also, the best way to get started, is to offer discount on the first couple of bookings. I just considered those test runs, because I really didn’t earn much on those.

Superhost Status

However, things improve if you reach Superhost status. I reached Superhost status in less than three months time. This helps so much, as a lot of experienced travelers prefer to book with Superhosts only. AirBnB changes its commission at this point, increasing your earnings by 20%.

Room Rates

I know, in some places, AirBnB drives the regular rent rates up and normal citizens out. For big cities, this is most definitely the case. If you’re in a great location, you can match the room rates of others and you’ll be able to take advantage of this. You can choose to work with fixed rates or let the room rates surge, so when demand is high, the rates go up automatically.

For my location, AirBnB was known to offer cheap alternatives compared to commercial properties. The room rates on AirBnB for my area, in 2018, were between 30 and 55 euros a night for a private room. The local hotel’s room rates ranged from 60 to 120 euros, usually without serving breakfast. A commercial B&B also charged around 100 euros a night.

AirBnB was really pushing me to keep my rates low, like too low. I mostly ignored their advice, because of my central location. At the time of hosting, I only had one direct competitor on the platform. They also had a very central location. We were constantly priced from 50 to 65 euros. Priced at 50 euros, I would get the most bookings.

Besides setting a room rate, you can also add a service fee for cleaning. This is charged once per booking, not per night.

Is It Easy To Sign Up?

Signing up is easy, but it took me some time to get my listing right and get familiar with the platform as well.

If you want to sign up as a host, you can sign up here.

It’s worth taking the time out for this. In the beginning, the system drove me crazy, especially because there’s a difference between the app and the website. But once you know how it works, it’s fine.

I think it worked in my favor that I regularly updated my listing with new information, for instance with events in the area. I think it helped with the ranking of my listing. Everything took off really quickly.

Pros of AirBnB

  • As a host, you enter a fully operating and successful platform. This makes life so easy. You can focus on the guests and AirBnB can worry about marketing etc.
  • It delivers. Travelers are there and you’ll really get bookings.
  • Set your own rates. You can always adjust them.
  • Custom listing texts. No usage of default texts in your listings based on settings. On AirBnB you are fully in charge over your listing.
  • Quick payouts. All guests have already paid AirBnB for the booking, so you don’t have to chase the money. Once guests check-in, the money is on its way to you.
  • Payment platform. You could use AirBnB also as a payment platform for additional payments, for instance if you offer room service or charge people for extras.
  • AirBnB vouches for their guests. They have insurance in case someone leaves your place in a total mass. Be sure to read all the details and terms and conditions before starting.
  • Protection of privacy. Unlike other platforms, details such as house rules and your exact location are not shared openly. Only guests receive this after booking.
  • Two-way review system. You can read reviews on guests from other hosts.

Pros of Hosting

  • Additional income. Always nice!
  • You set the bar. It’s fully up to you how you organize this, when you want to be available, where you allow people to go etc.
  • You meet a lot of people from everywhere.

Cons of AirBnB

  • Everything on AirBnB is an automated process. It’s very difficult to break them when you need to, like when it was holding dates for a potential guest, but they didn’t respond on time to do the final booking. When they responded last minute (less than 24 hours before they would arrive), they couldn’t book anymore. We bypassed their process altogether, in this case.
  • Cancellations will cost you. A booking is definite. Period. If you cancel a reservation as a host, you’ll lose the credibility you’ve build up, like your superhost status. There are no exceptions.

Cons of Hosting

  • You’re always on call.

Hosting Is Fun

Sign up to host

I have to admit, I really got into the hosting. Because bookings went so well and they came in so fast, I ended up improving the rooms at quick speed. My breakfast buffet got all kinds of specials, so I learned to get comfortable cooking for others and I enjoyed having people around from all over. I was so excited, I also joined another platform. That was a totally different experience, which is why I’m only recommending AirBnB here, in case you’re thinking about hosting.

What To Prepare Before Hosting?

Obviously, you have to figure out what you can and want to offer first. What are you willing to share if people would come into your living space?

In my case, people really came into the house, while I was also there and I still had to continue my regular life. This took some organization on my part and a lot of moving around of personal things. Other than that I can give you some practical advice:

You need extra pillows and bedding, including things like mattress protectors. AirBnB allows you to automatically block a day before and after a booking. This gives you all the time to get a room or property cleaned and ready for the next guest. But you’ll also lose two nights you could be booked. So, if you’re always available, you’ll want to have extra sets of everything for sleeping clean and ready to go, at all times. It makes life easy.

Think about security issues. For you, your property and belongings, as well as your guests and their belongings. Even though I’ve not had a bad experience with AirBnB guests, I also never ruled any possibility of it out. Friends and I often wondered during drinks, if my experience hosting may have been very different if I wasn’t in the property myself during guests staying over. People may have been on their very best behavior because I was right there.

Tips For Adding Your Listing

Ask for a time of arrival. On AirBnB, I made this a requirement when people booked. Everyone kept me in the loop of their travel plans. They let me know when they were thinking about coming, when they were delayed etc. It made it easy to plan my own life around my guests.

Block last minute bookings. If you always have to welcome your guests, like I did, then require bookings to be made at least 24 hours before arrival. Otherwise, you are always on call or need to drop everything to go back home to welcome someone.

Set a check-in and check-out time. As tempting as it is to be flexible, it really does pose a problem when people want to check in at 11 am, when the room is still in use by another guest. Unless you have several rooms available of course.

Why I Stopped Hosting

There were a few things combined that led to me stopping. I was running into issues combining it with other work. One thing I couldn’t predict ahead of starting, was how much time it all would take. In my mind, it wouldn’t take too long to clean a room, change a bed and make someone breakfast, but in reality it was more work than I anticipated.

Secondly, I got so excited about hosting, I joined another platform that allowed me to raise my room rates while competing with commercial properties. This opened up the slight possibility that I could make a living on it. However, my ambitions were bigger than my circumstances allowed. In reality, offering more rooms with one shared bathroom in a normal house, meant that all guests were in each others way. For instance, everyone would hear it if someone would use the toilet at night or if someone would arrive back at the house late. So, if I had a different property, sound proofed rooms, and my own personal area away from guests, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. But I had a blast while doing it.

If you have any questions about it that I haven’t yet answered, drop a comment below.

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