Whether you’re opening your home to guests or staying in someone’s home-share, use these 10 Airbnb tips for a comprehensive understanding of how to use the service best.
As a former shared-home Airbnb host for more than a year as well as an avid Airbnb guest, I’ve gathered a lot of valuable perspective on the Airbnb experience from both sides of the transaction. Learn from my experience and consider these Airbnb tips for hosts and guests for insights into the minds of both parties.
AIRBNB TIPS FOR HOSTS
1. Communication is key
From creatively filling out your home’s listing description to providing proper directions and answering your guests’ questions, you’ll end up doing a lot of written communication. Err on the side of over-communicating for extra clarity and keeping your guest up to date every step of the way, because you never know which tiny detail could be the difference between an amazing guest experience and an awkward dance with misunderstanding.
2. The little things matter
There are a million ways to give your Airbnb guests a good experience, but small, unique details can push their stay into the realms of greatness.
For example: buy a few extra phone chargers (one each of iPhone 4, 5, and micro USB chargers if you have the means) to keep in your Airbnb room, leave a simple, handwritten welcome note on paper or a small whiteboard, or welcome your guests with an inexpensive gift such as a locally-made chocolate bar.
3. Buy extra everything
Sheets, towels, toilet paper, you name it: if you’re going to be hosting with any frequency, you won’t want to be washing the same set of sheets over and over again, nor making emergency store runs 10 minutes before a guest arrives. It may hit the wallet a bit up front, but think of it as an investment in your space’s capital. Plus, if you keep the receipts, you can write most relevant expenses off when you file taxes (more on that in point five below).
4. Respect your own time
I won’t lie: the money you can make as an Airbnb host is pretty impressive, and it can become a fairly addicting part of your revenue stream over time. That being said, constantly turning over rooms and finding pockets of time to re-clean your home between bookings can really burn you out.
Balance out your bookings and the enjoyment of your own home by setting personal policies for the minimum number of days notice you require for a booking inquiry, as well as your flexibility for back-to-back bookings.
5. There’s a legal side to things, too
As a former Airbnb host, I may or may not have been hosting guests in the spare bedroom of a duplex I was renting (i.e. absolutely did not own). A cursory Google search will bring up horror stories of Airbnb hosts who have befallen serious consequences — eviction, lawsuits, and more — once their landlords found out about their side hustle. Read up on your local laws, assess your risk and comfort level, and play it smart with how you juggle landlord interactions and your bookings.
Oh, and taxes. The Airbnb gravy train certainly comes with tax implications as this rental income is subject to some flavor of occupancy or lodging tax in certain cities and states. Airbnb offers pricing options to include these taxes into the cost of each guest’s booking, but this can put a damper on the pricing strategy for your space. If you forgo that option, set aside a percentage of your Airbnb earnings for taxes just as you would with other income.
AIRBNB TIPS FOR GUESTS
1. Communication is key
Just as important as it is for hosts to be communicative, guests should communicate their needs as effectively as possible. Have special arrival or departure needs? Food allergies that could affect cooking in the kitchen? Let your host know to avoid any misunderstood expectations.
2. Stay in a shared home for the best guide to the city
Staying in a shared home listing on Airbnb probably sounds uncomfortable to most people, but I encourage everyone to try it at least once. Instead of relying solely on TripAdvisor or Yelp to guide you through a new city while shacked up in a sterile hotel room, get the scoop from your hosts on the spots to enjoy or avoid around town.
3. Be human
In my experience as a host, Airbnb guests staying in shared homes often operate as if they’re constantly inconveniencing or bothering their host. Just remember that your hosts totally signed up to have you stay, and that you’re also totally paying them for the stay. The more okay you are with being “human” — making a reasonable amount of regular “living” noise, conversing with your host, coming and going from the house as you need — the more comfortable the experience will be for everyone involved.
4. That being said, it’s not a hotel
While you should certainly feel comfortable being yourself during your Airbnb stay, remain conscious of the differences between your host’s home and a hotel room. The ethos of Airbnb is based largely on the understanding and connection between two or humans, so leaving your host’s Airbnb space as messy as you might a hotel room means you’re likely violating personal space, property, and making that much more work for your host — not necessarily a team of cleaners.
5. Host gifts?
If you have a positive Airbnb stay and a special host-guest connection and culture exchange, don’t be afraid to leave your host a display of gratitude — whether it’s a personal note or a small gift you picked up in town. While this practice is totally not obligatory or expected, it is certainly appreciated by your hosts as it caps your stay with on a warm, connected note.
Follow Garth on Twitter @garthinkingcap
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