Are you thinking of becoming an Airbnb host? Are you looking for expert Airbnb Hosting tips? Do you want to earn an extra $10,000 this year?
We’ve been Airbnb Hosts for 7 years. We are on track to earn $30,000 this year by renting out three extra bedrooms in our house.
Even though the travel industry struggled through Covid in 2020, we’ve had some of our best years ever as a host family. So if you’ve ever considered home-sharing, this is a great time to get started.
In this article, we’re sharing our top Airbnb hosting tips. Our hope is that you can turn your vacant space into a lucrative side hustle. And at the same time become a peaceful haven for weary travelers.
While there are many people who buy rental properties and rent the entire home out on Airbnb, we’ve chosen to be an owner-occupied host. We rent out rooms to travelers in the home where we live.
Why We Became Airbnb Hosts
We are empty nesters and a young senior couple. Our adult kids have all left home, leaving us with 3 vacant rooms. We gave home hosting a try with just one guest room – we called it the Cheerful Blue Rm in N. Scottsdale By Westin Resort. We’ll talk about why we chose that name later in the article.
We quickly found out that Airbnb hosting could be a great side hustle! It makes our house pay for itself and provides a nice budget for renovations also.
Is Airbnb a Profitable Side Hustle?
Airbnb hosting is not for everyone. You have to be willing to share your home with strangers. But what we’ve found is that most of the strangers who come to stay with us, leave as friends.
Our vacant guest room started earning us money within a few days of putting up our listing. And our first guest stayed with us for a month … earning us a little more than $1000.
Not bad for a first-time attempt at a side hustle.
Over the past 7 years, we have increased the number of rooms we rent from one to three (but sometimes if life is really busy we take one off-line to reduce our stress).
As the number of Airbnb homes in our area increases, we’ve had to occasionally adjust our rates downward. But our Super Host status coupled with more than 300 good reviews (5 stars) has now allowed us to charge a little more than the newbie competition and still remain almost fully occupied.
11 Airbnb Hosting Tips
Following are some of the top things we’ve learned over the past years of hosting in our home.
1. What Can I Earn as an Airbnb Host?
Your earnings will vary depending on the area of the country, what attractions you are near, the size of the space that you rent, and several other factors.
Renting out our extra bedrooms has earned us about $10,000 a year for each room. We are on target in 2020 to earn close to $30,000.
Hosting Earnings for 2019 and 2021
What Do You Do with the Airbnb Income?
You can do whatever you want with the income from Airbnb, but you should know that it is taxable.
You’ll need to pay self-employment tax or pay tax as a rental property. You should work with a knowledgeable accountant to make sure you set this up properly.
We are using the income we earn from home-sharing to remodel our home, room by room. We’ve been in our home for more than 25 years. Twenty years ago we remodeled the kitchen, but other rooms in the home have just been painted. We are doing a lot of the work ourselves, but having the extra income is making the projects much easier to complete.
If you subscribe to our Free Email Newsletter we share about the projects we’re doing along with lots of other money-making and money-saving ideas.
A portion of the income we earn is used to pay for new mattresses, linens, bedding, TVs, and other guest amenities that we provide.
The improvements we’ve made to our property make it a place where guests love to come. Additionally, we’re making our home more valuable when it comes time to sell it and downsize.
RELATED ARTICLE: Home Hacks and Repair Tips
2. Seven Things to Consider Before Becoming a Host
We have chosen to be an “Owner-Occupied” property. We love meeting our guests from all over the world. And we like being here to help them navigate the house, property and the nearby sites and restaurants.
We also love the fact that because we are on-site when something gets broken when an appliance stops working, or a lightbulb burns out, we’re able to deal with the situation quickly.
Living on the property also deters irresponsible guests. We’ve heard horror stories from off-site Airbnb hosts on various Facebook groups we participate in. They’ve told stories of flooding, parties, and breakage to their property and possessions. We’ve experienced none of this.
Considerations about You and Your Home
- Are You Willing to Share Your Home? This isn’t for everyone. But if you love meeting new friends and don’t mind someone using your kitchen or one of your bathrooms, this could be for you.
- Is Your Home Cluttered? Your guestrooms should be decorated in a streamlined fashion. Simple and tasteful. It makes cleaning easier and gives guests room for their things.
- Are You Willing to Clean, or Pay for it? Keeping your home clean is important. We clean and disinfect the bathrooms after each guest leaves. We also spot the carpets, wash the sheets and pillowcases, and vacuum and dust each guest room. There are times when we also wash comforters and blankets, but not as often as the sheets.
- Are You An Extrovert? If you love greeting people and learning about their lives and hometowns, this could be a great fit. We give our guests total freedom to simply come and stay without interacting with us. But we’ve found that most love to sit and chat at some point during their stay.
- Do You Like Extending Hospitality? Hosting travelers could be right up your alley. Guests love to be greeted warmly on their comings and goings. If it fits with everyone’s schedule, we often invite guests to share a meal with us—without charge. Sometimes it’s as simple as a scrambled egg breakfast, or soup and muffins for dinner. Most travelers enjoy taking a break from restaurant meals.
Considerations about Community and Neighbors
- Dealing with HOA’s, Neighbors, and Airbnb Hosting: Vacation rentals have been given a black eye from guests who party and also destroy properties and neighborhoods with their rowdiness. Many municipalities and HOAs have put restrictions on short-term rentals of entire properties. Some have even forbidden the short-term renting of rooms in your own home. You’ll need to check your HOA rules, or local town rules before deciding to become an Airbnb host.
- Hosting When Your Renting: If you are a renter and are thinking about making money hosting, check your lease to find out if subletting or short-term rentals are allowed.
- Consider Your Neighbors: Lastly, build a good relationship with your neighbors. If they’re not bothered by guests coming and going, your Airbnb experience will be much better. All of our neighbors know that we host travelers. We make sure that our guests don’t block driveways and that they always come and go quietly.
Now that you know what to consider – let’s talk about what should be in each of your guest rooms.
3. Things to Put in Your Guest Room
We’ve not only been Airbnb hosts, but we’ve also been guests in a number of other Airbnbs. So this section of our top Hosting Tips is really important.
Here are the basics that most guests expect to find in your home.
- Bed with a decent mattress, on a frame (not on the floor)
- Desk (with workspace)
- Closet Space, Wardrobe or Hanging Rack
- Light Near the Bed
- Power strip for charging phones and other devices
- Clean Sheets
- Blanket and/or comforter
Do You Need a TV in Every Room?
When we first started hosting we didn’t have a TV in the room we listed. Now, each guest room does have one – a Roku TV (not cable). And honestly, about 80 percent of our guests don’t ever turn it on.
They are staying with us because of work, events, visiting family, medical reasons or to sight-see. Some just use their laptops or tablets in the bedroom.
Other Household Amenities for Guests
There are a few other things you should provide just like a hotel does to take your Airbnb to another level.
We include the following items in the bathroom:
- Shower Gel
- Liquid Hand Soap
- Toilet Paper (with extra rolls)
- 2 Towels per guest (1 large and 1 medium)
We also have the following items available in the house:
- Ironing Board and Iron
- Use of the Washer & Dryer
- DVD library with 100’s of titles
- High-speed internet
- Heating & Cooling
- Filtered water in the kitchen
RELATED ARTICLE: Rental Advice and Home Mortgage Savings
Special Touches for your Airbnb Rooms
How important are extra amenities to successful hosting? The warmth of some personal touches will keep your guests happy, earn you great reviews and return visitors. Your personal touches are what makes Airbnb different from the hotel industry.
Some special touches we add and have seen include:
- Bottled Water in the guest room
- An extra blanket and pillow
- Bookshelf with books in each room
- Deck of cards
- Puzzles (in the common area of the house)
- Special Decorations for each holiday
- Home-baked goods on the kitchen counter
- Veggies from your garden available in the kitchen
- Fruit or Nuts from your trees
- An invitation to share a meal
- Chocolates on a pillow
- Mints in a jar in the bedroom
- A First-Aid kit in the bathroom
- An Umbrella
- A Flashlight
- A chalkboard sign on the door with the guest’s name
- Key locking bedroom doors
If your guest room is ready, then it’s time to create your listing.
4. Creating Your Airbnb Listing
Writing about your space and having great pictures will help “sell” your property and make you stand out from the competition.
How to Title Your Listing
Airbnb is a huge platform, and as a result, it gets picked up by Google searches. Because of this, we titled each of our rooms with the name of the city and attractions nearby.
We also gave our rooms a color designation so we could keep them straight.
We could have called our smallest guest room Cozy Sunshine Room. Instead, we named it, “Cozy Sunshine Yellow Rm in N. Scottsdale by Westin”
How to Write Your Descriptive Copy
Make sure you include the approximate size of your room, the size of the bed in the room (twin or single, double or full, queen or king).
Photos: It’s also important to have photos of each room and other areas of your space including the bathroom, kitchen area, common areas and exterior (front and back).
Be as accurate as you can about your property, guest bedroom and the shared areas of your home. Creating realistic expectations will result in more happy guests.
Also, describe your neighborhood and the area surrounding it.
Important Topics to Include in your Airbnb Listing:
- Check-in Times
- Checkout Times
- List of House Rules. Do You Allow:
- Smoking inside or outside?
- Maximum Occupancy
- Quiet Hours
- Damaged or Stolen Property compensation
Important: We put a lot of effort and care into our Airbnb descriptive copy. Early on, we discovered that fewer than half of our guests had read it all. As a result, there were some uncomfortable moments, like guests expecting us to do their laundry (really), or being surprised that we had large dogs outside that might bark as they walked by a window.
As part of our approval process, we now ask guests to answer 4 questions about our house before we will approve their reservation. We’ll share these in the next section about the reservation process
5. Managing the Reservation Process
Over the years we’ve had a few guests be less than forthright about their reasons for staying at our home or who was going to be staying with us.
We’ve been left feeling vulnerable and used. As a result, we’ve developed a system for “interviewing” or “screening” guests in the reservation process.
Why We Don’t Do “Instant Book”
Airbnb has the option to allow guests who meet certain criteria to select a listing and make a reservation without any other communication. Airbnb claims that your property will receive 30 percent more bookings with instant-book.
Instant-book does allow you as a host to cancel a guest without penalty if you’re feeling uncomfortable.
- We know of an “Instant Book” host who would call each guest upon a confirmed reservation. If the guest said anything during the phone call that raised a “red flag” this host would cancel their reservation.
- Another “instant Book” host set his criteria to only accept guests who had four positive reviews—no newbies. They experienced no problems or damages as a result.
We choose not to do “instant book” because we like to screen our guests a little more thoroughly. Keep reading.
5. How We Screen Reservations & Guests
Learning to screen guests efficiently and effectively is another Airbnb hosting tip we share with lots of people.
We choose to “chat” with potential guests through the Airbnb communication portal. This gives us an opportunity to get to know more about them and their needs.
When a reservation request comes in, we review the profile and reviews of the potential guest. If there is anything questionable, we ask them about it.
We have written a “canned” message that we send out in response to a reservation request. In some cases, we modify it slightly.
The message reviews some details and asks the potential guest to answer 4 questions about our home – the answers are found in our listing details. It’s sort of a treasure hunt through our listing description.
This helps to ensure that they have read the particulars of our home.
Many Guests are new to the Airbnb platform.
We don’t mind being a guest’s first Airbnb experience. As long as that guest “chats” with us during the reservation process. If they confirm the details of our listing description we usually accept them.
But if a potential guest will not answer our questions during the reservation process, then we usually decline their reservation request.
There are certain settings on the platform that allow us to require the following from all guests:
- All guests must send a reservation request
- All guests must have a profile photo
6. Can Airbnb Hosting Be Personal and Business-like?
Our Airbnb side-hustle is run very much like a business. It’s easy to make money with Airbnb. We track income and expenses. At the end of the year, we declare our income and our expenses when we prepare our taxes.
Airbnb is a very simple business to manage financially. The expenses are minimal and the income can be substantial.
We Have Service Boundaries
We are not a hotel. But there have been a few guests who have had those expectations.
No Maid Service
Some have asked us to do their laundry, cook meals for them or give them maid service.
We do offer coffee, tea, instant oatmeal, eggs and bread for guests to prepare. We had one guest request that we have all organic breakfast options available.
Annette responded that we simply don’t have many organic foods in our home, but that there were two grocery stores less than a mile away.
She also mentioned that there is a Trader Joe’s about two miles from our home.
Payments are Always Through Airbnb
Others have offered us money under the table to circumvent the Airbnb service charge and state taxes. Receiving payment this way is always declined.
If we provide services in conjunction with our Airbnb, it would change our earnings from passive income to non-passive or earned income. This would be subject to self-employment tax.
We live a very busy lifestyle with other side hustles, volunteer work and staying connected with our kids and grandkids.
Our side hustle is a self-service accommodation, not a full-service hotel.
We also try to give our guests the best Airbnb experience they’ve ever had. We don’t get a five-star review every time, but about 95 percent of the time we do.
Hosting in our home is a perfect match for Annette’s extroverted personality and a chance to enfold guests with warmth and friendliness. Hospitality is one of Annette’s gifts.
We can still be friendly and run our guest rooms like a business.
7. Our Guest Guide Book
To enhance our guests’ visits we have prepared an Airbnb Guest Guide Book for each of our guest rooms. It’s a three-ring binder that includes:
- Our Contact Info (several phone numbers, email, etc.)
- Restaurants in the area (categorized by food type/ethnicity)
- Medical Emergency Info
- Walking map (1 mile) to the resort where many of our guests attend conferences.
8. Accepting Money Outside of the Airbnb Platform
As we said previously there have been a few instances where a guest has offered us cash to extend their stay, rather than going through Airbnb. It’s usually an effort by the guest to save the cost of local taxes and the fee Airbnb charges. This is a violation of Airbnb hosting terms.
It’s simply not worth the risk. Airbnb provides the Host Guarantee with up to $1 million of coverage for guest damages. If you take money under the table you will not be covered by this policy.
If there are problems with a guest you also get the assistance of the Airbnb conflict resolution team.
Agreeing to accept money outside of Airbnb and then having a guest who doesn’t want to pay you or doesn’t want to vacate your property, means you’ll have to deal with this on your own.
Working within the Airbnb platform does offer hosts lots of support and protection.
Story of a Difficult Guest
We had one long-term guest (3 months) who wanted to extend his stay, but the room he was in was booked for the next month. He needed to move to one of our other rooms, but he hadn’t made the reservation because he told us he hadn’t been paid yet. We were skeptical because he was working a well-paying job with a large company and he had already been with us for a month.
He messaged Annette and told her that he wanted to move his belongings into the other room before paying.
Annette countered with, “We’re glad you want to extend your stay. However, if we do not have a confirmed reservation through Airbnb before you leave for work, you’ll need to take your belongings with you.”
He ended up paying Airbnb for his reservation that morning before he left for work.
When dealing with potential issues like this, it’s always a good idea to keep the communication in writing through the Airbnb messaging portal. That way if there are issues, the travel resolution team can see what has transpired and help much easier.
10. How and When Do you Get Paid?
For experienced hosts, typically Airbnb pays us the day after a guest checks in. If a guest stays for more than one month, we receive only one month of pay at a time.
New Hosts: If you are a new host Airbnb may take up to 30 days to send your first payment.
You can receive payment from Airbnb in a number of ways:
- Direct Deposit
- Western Union
- International Wire
- AIS Debit Card
We choose to receive our payments through Paypal. Much to our surprise, Paypal takes no fees from what we receive.
We researched this issue and found an answer on the Airbnb Community
Personal Paypal Account: Paypal will NOT deduct fees for payouts from Airbnb to your PERSONAL Paypal account.
Business Paypal Account: Your BUSINESS Paypal account will incur a fee.
Currency Conversion: There may be fees charged if your payment needs to be converted into a different currency.
11. What is Airbnb’s Cut When You Get Paid
Airbnb takes a 3 percent fee from our payout to cover the cost of processing payments. When our first Airbnb guest stayed with us for 30 days our gross payout was as follows.
|Total Stay Price||$1,117.00|
|Cleaning fee||$15.00 (we now charge $25)|
|Airbnb Service fee||-$34.00|
Tips for Airbnb Hosting Wrap-up
After reading all of this, do you think becoming a home-share host is for you? Are you ready to take the next step and sign up to become an Airbnb Host? If you are, click on this Airbnb link to get started.
Airbnb has been an awesome side hustle, a great money-maker, an amazing way to meet people from all over the world … and an incredible learning curve.
Now that we’ve been hosting for more than 7 years, the problems are fewer and the rewards (and earnings) are much greater. It has been totally worth it.
What could you do with an extra $10,000 this year? The average host earns about $900 per month. You could too!
Being an awesome Airbnb Host will be so much easier if you utilize this list and add your own personal touch to your home.
In June 2023, We participated in an article about Launching a Short-Term Rental Business / AirBnB Hosting on Porch.com. There are dozens of hosts who shared their ideas on the short-term rental business.