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The new book, Start Your Own Airbnb Business outlines everything you need to know about making money with short-term rentals. In this excerpt, author Jason R. Rich outlines the important steps you should take before jumping in.

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Just as with any business opportunity, there are a handful of prerequisites that will help lead to your success as an Airbnb host. As you first begin contemplating whether to become an Airbnb host, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you’re signing up for. The following are 10 important factors to consider before you register to become an Airbnb host and begin having guests stay in your home or property.

  1. Determine if local laws and/or the bylaws of your apartment complex, co-op board, or homeowner’s association prevent you from utilizing your home or apartment to host paid guests via short-term rentals.
  2. Determine if you have the personality, time, wherewithal, and willingness to interact with and manage guests (strangers) who will be staying at your home or property.
  3. You’re able to consistently provide a clean, comfortable, well-located, and desirable place for people to stay.
  4. Your lifestyle and schedule allow you to be available to your guests and have people staying in your home. If you have young children or unfriendly pets, for example, this could be problematic. If you’re not going to be readily available, are you willing to pay a property manager to oversee your Airbnb rental(s)? This will be deducted from your potential profits.
  5. You’re willing to set competitive nightly pricing, based on what you’re offering, competition, and demand in your geographic area.
  6. You understand that as a host, customer service is an important key to your success. This will require an ongoing time commitment and effort on your part. Successful Airbnb hosts consistently receive positive feedback and great reviews from their guests. Earning anything less than stellar reviews and ratings will have a lasting and negative impact on your future success as a host.
  7. Prior to having guests pay to stay with you, it’s necessary to sign up to become a host with Airbnb. This requires you to create a detailed, accurate, and well-written profile that conveys information about yourself and what you’re offering. You’ll also need to take and share professional-quality photos of your property. For the best results, seriously consider hiring a professional real estate photographer to take and edit your property images.
  8. Before each guest checks in, it is necessary to prepare your property. This means both cleaning it and providing a selection of amenities that will make guests feel more comfortable and welcome. As a result of COVID-19, guests now expect a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the property in between stays. Adherence to Airbnb’s five-step enhanced cleaning process is an absolute must. In 2023, and moving forward indefinitely, hosts must also follow Airbnb’s COVID-19 safety practices, which change as new guidance is provided by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the United States.
  9. Protect your own property and belongings. In addition to having adequate insurance (that covers you having paying guests stay in your home), make sure that any expensive décor (antiques, art, etc.), home electronics, and furnishings will remain safe, even with guests staying in your home. Through AirCover from Airbnb, hosts receive $3 million in damage protection (caused by guests to your home) but make sure your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers you serving as an Airbnb host and that you have ample liability insurance (beyond what’s provided by Airbnb) if someone gets injured on your property, for example. This is something you should discuss, in advance, with your insurance broker.
  10. Develop a comprehensive list of “House Rules” that your guests will need to abide by. These rules need to be spelled out and clearly communicated to guests, and then enforced, but also be fair. The rules you set will help determine the types of guests who stay with you. For example, your House Rules can include: no smoking, no pets, no kids, no parties, no noise after 11 p.m., and/or no utilizing or accessing certain areas of your home or property.

The Factors for Success as an Airbnb Host

Ultimately, how successful you can be as an Airbnb host depends on several key factors, including the location of your property, the type of accommodations you’re able to offer, timing, and the overall experience you can offer to your guests. For example, offering a single bedroom within your home with a shared bathroom, which is in a rural area and not close to any major tourist attractions or local events and only offered on weekdays (as opposed to weekends and holidays), will generate a much lower income than an entire home or apartment that’s within a major city or that’s close to popular tourist attractions, and that’s available during holiday or popular vacation periods. How much you can charge for your accommodations will also depend heavily on local competition. Before investing too much time and effort in becoming a host and listing your property, do research to ensure you’ll be able to earn enough income to make your efforts financially worthwhile.

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Meanwhile, if you plan to offer experiences as an “Experience Host,” want to earn the title “Superhost,” or hope to offer an Airbnb Luxe property or one that caters to business travelers, there are additional guidelines from Airbnb you’ll need to abide by. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these requirements in advance.

After considering each of the factors discussed thus far — if you still believe you have what it takes to be a successful Airbnb host, and you have a guestroom, apartment, home, or an unusual place for guests to stay, then you may have stumbled upon an opportunity that will allow you to earn extra revenue. Being a travel host will also allow you to meet new people and better utilize your property in a way that offsets your property-related costs/expenses—and maybe even generate a profit.

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