Airbnb Hosting: How to Start and Set Your Business for Success

airbnb hosting how-to

By The Hospitable Team

If you’re thinking about hosting on Airbnb but aren’t sure how to start, manage your STR property, attract potential guests, or ensure a great guest experience, you’re not alone. Running an Airbnb is a rewarding way to connect with interesting people worldwide and earn extra money, and it’s OK to have many different questions at the start.

Keep reading to find the answers to begin hosting confidently and set your vacation rental business for success.

This article is a condensed version of our 101 ebook on short-term rental hosting. Download the full version here.

Table of Contents

How to Start Airbnb Hosting

Before you start your hosting journey, it’s important to plan and research, consider legal issues, estimate your initial expenses, and set realistic business goals and expectations.

Find the best location

Your goal is to find an investment property that is situated in the ideal location for hosting guests and can bring success to your Airbnb business. The best locations for vacation rental investment are those that are in popular tourist destinations and are well-connected to public transportation.

And when you look for properties in a popular place with tourists, you should also consider how close it is to local attractions. Ensure that your guests can easily access local attractions without needing any form of transport.

If you plan to buy a short-term rental property in the US, you may want to check out our article to find the best cities for Airbnb investment. If you don’t want to buy a vacation rental property, you may consider rental arbitrage. This business model allows you to become an Airbnb host and get passive income even if you don’t own a vacation rental home.

You should also research your competitors when you find a property with a good earning potential. If you discover that your property’s surrounding area is filled with similar STR properties, you’ll need to define some unique selling points to help you stand out and attract potential guests.

Research local short-term rental laws and regulations

Research STR laws and regulations in your area to ensure that it’s legal to rent your space short-term. Airbnb regulations vary from city to city and change frequently, so you should check out your government website and contact your local authorities if you have any questions to ensure you’re fully compliant.

Many localities have strict registration, zoning, and maintenance rules for STR hosts. In many areas, property owners are required to obtain permits and licenses if they want to rent out their homes to short-term rental guests. Local regulations are also related to building safety standards, health codes, and liability insurance.

You should also visit your local tax office to determine what taxes you must pay as a STR property owner. You may want to check out our article to learn about US vacation rental tax rules and deduction opportunities.

Estimate your expenses

Think about Airbnb hosting as a business. Research the local STR market to understand how much money you can earn and estimate the expenses of running an Airbnb. The upfront costs include the price of obtaining a business license and the costs of redecorating and furnishing your home.

You’ll also need money to buy essential Airbnb supplies and to equip your home with the amenities necessary for a comfortable stay. Other expenses include the costs of cleaning, utilities, repairs, and maintenance.

Counting all these costs will allow you to set the right pricing strategy and better understand how profitable your Airbnb property can be.

How to Turn Your Property into Airbnb Rental

The next step is to prepare your property for welcoming guests. Your job is to create an inviting atmosphere that encourages guests to relax and feel at home away from home.

Ensure your rental space is safe for your guests:

  • Equip it with such safety items as carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, and fire extinguishers.
  • Get a well-stocked first aid kit to ensure your Airbnb guests have the necessary tools if they have an accident while staying at your property.
  • Take measures to minimize hazards—fix any exposed wires or loose steps and leave detailed instructions on using home appliances.

Furnish and decorate your home, keeping the comfort and convenience of your guests in mind. Invest in durable and comfortable STR furniture and choose practical and durable flooring materials and home décor. Try to find a good balance between a beautiful interior design and practicality and comfort. This way, you’ll be able to create a cozy space for your guests without spending too much money.

We have gathered pro tips on modeling and furnishing a property for short-term rental. Download our free ebook to save yourself from headaches and unreasonable maintenance costs.

Pick a style for your rental property that most guests will find appealing. Stick to neutral colors and add colorful accents with statement pieces and accessories. If you want to make your property stand out from other Airbnb listings and give your guests a unique experience, a good idea is to create a themed Airbnb.

How to Streamline Operations

Effective property management is key to business success, but running Airbnb involves many important tasks and can be time-consuming and overwhelming. A smart solution is to optimize your processes and automate as much as possible using vacation rental software like Hospitable. Our tool has many useful features and can help you put your business on autopilot by automating most of your repetitive tasks, saving you hours every week.

All your STR business in one convenient window

Automate communication, manage channels, sync calendars, push pricing updates, notify your team, and much more!
Start now with a 14-day free trial.

Outsource tasks

Cleanliness is an important aspect of guest reviews, so you must ensure your rental is spotless. But cleaning for Airbnb guests isn’t the same as cleaning your home.

Giving your property a deep clean during each turnover is time-consuming, so it’s better to outsource it to professional vacation rental cleaners. This way, you can ensure that your Airbnb house is cleaned and prepared quickly and efficiently between bookings.

If you have little time, it’s also best to outsource most of your small repairs and ongoing maintenance tasks. You may need to hire a plumber and an electrician and connect with a laundry service.

Install a smart lock

Guests prefer flexibility when it comes to check-in and check-out time. That’s why a good idea is to install a smart lock. You can generate a new code for each guest, and then check-ins and check-outs can happen even without you. It can save you and your guests time, especially in early or late arrivals. Besides, there’s a bonus: installing a smart lock helps ensure the security of your Airbnb.

Sync your calendars with a channel manager

Listing your property on Airbnb and other OTAs will help you reach a wider audience and attract more guests. However, updating your calendars on many listing sites manually is very challenging, and if you fail to do it in time, it may result in double bookings.

A channel manager like Hospitable allows you to sync your calendars, bookings, and nightly rates onto one centralized dashboard from the different listing sites. That means you’ll be able to manage all of your listings in one place and protect yourself from double bookings.

How to Minimize Airbnb Hosting Risks

Hosting on Airbnb offers financial benefits, but certain risks come along with renting your vacation home to strangers. Here are some tips on protecting your property and minimizing the risks of being an Airbnb host.

Get additional insurance

Your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover property damage or liabilities related to your Airbnb. Although Airbnb offers some protection with AirCover for Hosts that covers liability and property damage, getting compensated is not easy. That’s why you may consider investing in a specific STR insurance that can provide you with the protection you need and give you peace of mind.

Have a short-term rental agreement in place

Airbnb allows hosts to ask their guests to sign an additional contract before staying in their place, but you must disclose its terms before they make a reservation. A short-term rental agreement can help minimize the risks of dealing with problem guests who don’t respect your Airbnb house rules. This legally-binding document adds transparency and minimizes risks of potential disputes, leaving no room for misunderstanding.

Install security cameras

Airbnb allows hosts to install security cameras that monitor only public and common spaces. For example, you can install a security camera at a front door, but you must clearly disclose such devices in your listing description.

You must also remind your guests about any recording devices in the Airbnb welcome message. Remember that Airbnb doesn’t permit hidden security cameras and prohibits them in private spaces, such as bathrooms or bedrooms.

Invest in noise monitors

Install a noise measurement system will help you monitor the noise level and prevent issues before they even happen. This way, you can avoid neighbor complaints and hefty fines. Noise monitoring devices allow guests to keep their privacy because they only measure decibel levels and duration of the noise, but they can’t identify specific sounds or record them.

You’ll be able to monitor the noise level in your Airbnb rental online via a mobile app or website and contact your guests if they make excessive noise before neighbors complain. These smart gadgets will help ensure a peaceful environment for your guests and your neighbors.

How to Increase Revenue

Listing your property on Airbnb is a great way to reach travelers and earn additional income. But if you want to maximize your profit, you’ve got to do more than wait for the booking requests from guests.

Optimize your listing

If you want to get more bookings, it’s important to optimize your listing so it appears higher in Airbnb’s search results and can be seen by more potential guests. Here is what you should do:

  • Upload high-resolution photos of each room in your property and the surrounding area—the more photos, the better—and arrange them logically.
  • Write a detailed listing description and mention your home’s unique selling points. Describe what kind of experience your guests will have if they book your property.
  • Use relevant words and phrases in your description to increase the chances that your listing appears in proper Airbnb categories.
  • Complete your Airbnb host profile and add your recent photo to show guests that you are a real person, build trust, and encourage travelers to book.
  • Be a great Airbnb host to earn excellent guest reviews. The more positive reviews, the better for your listing.
  • Maintain a quick response time.

Regularly update your calendar to show Airbnb that you’re an active host.

Price your listing competitively

You can’t rely on guesswork when setting your prices, so you need to research to better understand your market, your competition, seasonality trends, and economic factors.

Every host wants to set the best nightly rate for their rental every time, so it’s always better to use a good dynamic pricing tool. It can help you get recommendations on prices based on historical and current booking data, market supply and demand, and seasonal and day-of-week trends, eliminating the guesswork in the process.

Be cautious with using Airbnb smart pricing because their system might recommend the best price for guests but not for you as a host since the company is interested in ensuring your listing is booked.

Create a direct booking website

Listing your vacation rental property on multiple OTAs is a good idea, but a professional direct booking website can be one of your most valuable marketing assets. It will allow you to avoid paying hefty OTA service fees and have more power regarding how you brand and market your vacation rental home.

It’s a space where potential guests can learn more about your property and your top amenities, check availability and prices, see photos highlighting your unique features, and even take a virtual tour of your property or surrounding area. It’s a booking engine where your guests can make a reservation. Your vacation rental website will also allow you to generate new leads and build relationships with guests to encourage repeat direct bookings.

The easiest way to build a direct booking website for your STR property is to take advantage of a website builder like Hospitable Direct. You can use our easy-to-customize website templates or embed our booking widget into your existing website.

Thanks to our new integration, you can list your Hospitable direct booking website with Google Vacation Rentals and increase your visibility. Then, travelers can discover your vacation rental by browsing relevant keywords in Google Search or exploring destinations in Google Maps.

Get a direct booking website within minutes!

Our system will ensure your calendars stay synced with OTAs, and your guests get the best experience.

Promote your listing on social media

Using social media to promote your listing is an effective way to reach your target guests outside of the Airbnb platform. Sites like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest can boast of millions of visitors every day. That’s why they offer great opportunities for your Airbnb rental to capture someone’s attention.

When travelers plan their future trips, they often look for online recommendations on social media, so you should use at least such sites as Facebook and Instagram. Create business pages and regularly post engaging content to give your potential guests important information about your vacation rental.

Include beautiful photos of your property that can inspire travelers to book a stay with you. You can even combine stunning photos of your interior with photos from other places nearby. This way, you can create a guide to your neighborhood. A good idea is to share useful tips for travelers and recommendations on the top local attractions and things to do in your area. You can also share your promotions and special deals.

How to Ensure a Perfect Guest Experience

Airbnb hosting is a hospitality business that depends on being a good host and putting your guests first. It’s a highly competitive landscape where positive reviews and references are crucial to a successful Airbnb business. That means you need to provide your guests with a 5-star experience. Here are some tips on being a great Airbnb host and creating an exceptional experience for your guests.

Automate guest communication

An important part of offering personal customer service is simply being available whenever your guests might need something from the moment they make a booking inquiry until it’s time for them to check out. But that’s not enough to make them feel cared for and welcome. You must proactively communicate with guests via messages to provide them with the necessary information at the right time.

The easiest way to ensure perfect communication with Airbnb guests during all customer journey stages is to automate guest messaging using vacation rental software like Hospitable. You just need to create a list of message templates that cover every stage of the message flow and use shortcodes to personalize the templates for each guest. Then, you can set up message rules and schedule messages in advance.

Have conversations with your guests even when you sleep.

We will detect questions and answer on your behalf; send fully custom messages triggered by events, and much more!

Greet your guests with a welcome basket

A well-thought-out welcome basket with gifts is a simple way to impress your guests and make them feel special as they walk through the door of your home. You can include healthy, delicious snacks, extra toiletries, a selection of tea or coffee, souvenirs representing your local area, a bottle of wine, or warm fluffy slippers.

You don’t have to spend much money because it’s about making an emotional connection with your guests. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a basket—it can be a nicely decorated tray, a wooden box, or a souvenir bag. Just make sure you put your welcome pack somewhere where your guests can notice it at once, for example, on a kitchen counter or a table in the living area.

Create a welcome book

The welcome book is a great way to provide your guests with important information about your property and neighborhood for an enjoyable Airbnb stay. It should provide your guests with clear answers to all their potential questions and be engaging and exciting to read.

Make sure you include such details as 

  • WiFi password
  • Parking information
  • Phone numbers of emergency services
  • Check-out instructions
  • How-to-instructions for your appliances
  • Information about local transportation
  • Recommendations on things to do in the local area.

Go beyond basics

Guests choose Airbnb because they want to stay in a place that feels like home. That’s why you need to anticipate the needs of your guests and provide everything they need for a comfortable stay. But if you want to impress your guests, it’s not enough to provide them only with Airbnb essentials. You should go beyond basic needs. That’s what distinguishes a great host.

For example, you may offer thick, fluffy towels and high-end toiletries in the bathroom to add a sense of luxury. You may consider buying high-quality bedding for your Airbnb to ensure a fantastic sleeping experience and make your guests feel pampered.

If your ideal guests are families with kids, consider providing a fully stocked kitchen so they can cook their own meals on vacation. You may want to check out our article to find tips on how to stock your Airbnb kitchen with all the essentials.

Guests are sure to appreciate your efforts to provide them with an exceptional experience, and they’ll want to share that experience with others, leaving you excellent reviews that can win you more bookings.

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