How to make money with Airbnb? The true story of a host
By Rowan Clifford
Author of Airbn’b’Smart and Hospitable user
So, is being an Airbnb host really worth it? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Can you make good money renting on Airbnb?
I asked myself this question nearly six years ago as I considered the options for my rental property.
Admittedly I was kind of backed into a corner as my property had performed so poorly as a residential rental, and it certainly wasn’t suitable as a holiday let. In truth, Airbnb was the last throw of the dice.
If Airbnb didn’t work, then that’d mean selling up at a heavy loss as the overhead was just eating me up.
But, as luck would have it—it worked!
It not only worked, but it worked damn well.
It’s not for everyone, however (as you’ll soon find out), but hopefully, this article will help you to decide if becoming an Airbnb host is worth it for you.
Before we get into details, you might also want to check our guide for hosting at Booking.com.
Here’s everything you need to know.
How much does a host get paid?
The amount that you get paid as a host varies depending on the following:
- The price per night for your listing.
- The number of nights your listing gets booked.
And as you’d expect, the higher the number of bookings you get, the more you’ll get paid (more on that in a minute).
But how does Airbnb make money in all this?
Airbnb takes a small commission (currently 3%) from the host, and they also charge a service fee to guests. This service fee fluctuates a little but will always be under 14.2% of the booking subtotal.
But wait, there’s more!
As a host, you also have the option of an additional cleaning fee. This fee gets added to the booking total.
So, all up as a host here’s a breakdown of how much you’ll get paid for each booking:
Nightly rate x Number of nights booked + Cleaning fee—3%
Can you make good money on Airbnb?
The short answer to this is yes. DEFINITELY!
But the long answer is it depends.
Here’s what I mean.
Making good money on Airbnb is not as straightforward as creating a quick listing and hitting publish and expecting the bookings to fly in.
In fact, there is a whole heap of factors that impact the amount of money you can make.
Here are just a few:
- The location of your property.
- The degree of competition in your area.
- The market rate per night in your area.
- Seasonal variations in demand.
- The amounts of overheads you’re carrying.
Your expenses will obviously impact your bottom line. Some expenses are a necessity; others are a result of poor planning and making mistakes. Learn from the mistakes of others! Download our guide on how to prepare your place for short term rental to avoid unnecessary expenses.
So the amount of money you could make from a property in one area may be drastically different from the same property in a slightly different area.
At the end of the day, the amount of income you can generate hosting on Airbnb will largely come down to supply and demand.
Airbnb payment policy.
This is a pretty dry subject, so I’ll keep it short. But here’s Airbnb’s payment policy in a nutshell:
Unlike many other short-term rental platforms such as Booking.com, Vrbo, etc., Airbnb charges the guest at the moment of booking.
And up until just recently, this payment was charged in full—100%; however, Airbnb has now added a payment plan option for guests looking to stagger payments too.
But this doesn’t equate to the money in your account just yet. Instead, this goes into Airbnb’s system, where they hold the money until 24 hours after a guest checks-in. At which point, the funds are released, and your account will be credited.
How to make money with Airbnb?
If you want to find out how to make money with Airbnb, it’s pretty simple.
Just take a few photos of your place, create a listing, hit publish and you’re away!
Sure, you’ll probably get a few bookings and make a little money this way, but it won’t see you retiring any time soon, that’s for sure.
But if you want to find out how to make lots of money on Airbnb, and push to be in the top 20% in your area, then you’ll want to invest a little time and learn how to do things the right way.
In its most basic form, making more money on Airbnb comes down to just two things:
- Maximizing revenue.
- Minimizing overheads.
So let’s take a closer look at each.
Maximizing revenue means getting more bookings at better rates. Here are a few ideas for you that might help:
Optimized pricing strategy
The quickest, easiest way to increase revenue is to optimize the price per night of your listing.
What does this mean?
It means adjusting the amount you charge per night to be competitive at all times.
As you see, the market price for your place will fluctuate depending on the time of year, day of the week, holidays, special events, availability, etc.
Sure this takes a reasonable investment of your time, but the payoffs are worth it.
To increase the number of bookings you get, try reducing your minimum nightly stay. Doing this will help your listing be shown in more guest searches, increasing the likelihood of securing bookings.
Granted, this approach takes a little more work on your part—more changeovers, more guest messages, etc.
You don’t have to do the extra work yourself.
Give it a try with a 14-day free trial.
But you will generate more bookings as a result.
Your booking rate is the number of people that view your listing vs. the number of people that make a booking.
This metric is important for several reasons.
Firstly, a good booking rate means that you don’t need as many views on your listing to secure a booking.
Secondly, a good booking rate will increase the visibility of your listing in Airbnb’s search results.
Think of it like this,the more bookable your place is, the more Airbnb will want to get it in front of potential guests.
Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
- Professional photos—Great photos sell your place more than anything else.
- Optimized prices—We talked about this earlier, but competitive prices will increase your booking rate.
- Complete listing—Guests like to know exactly what they are booking, so give ’em all the information you’ve got!
- Reviews—Great reviews add trust and social proof.
- Instant book—If you haven’t got an instant book on already, go switch it on now. Guests like to be able to book instantly.
- Response time—The sooner you can reply to guest inquiries, the more likely they’ll book.
Respond to guests’ questions in seconds!
There’s more we could add to this list, but that should be enough to get you started.
More importantly, though, is to understand that everything you do—or don’t do for that matter—will either increase or decrease your booking rate. So it’s always good to have this metric in the back of your mind.
It’s no good increasing revenue when your overheads are spiraling out of control, so close attention to outgoings is a must.
Reusables & buying in bulk
Things like shampoo, soap, washing up liquid, etc. can all be refilled and purchased in bulk.
These small little savings add up over time.
Damage & breakages
Without a doubt, you’re going to experience damage and breakages. Glasses, furniture, ornaments, basically everything!
They’re unavoidable. But, with a little forethought, they can be minimized.
Things like furniture, for example. What’s going to require more maintenance; an upholstered couch or a wipeable leather/PVC couch?
The wipeable couch, right?
And it’s decisions like these that can save you a packet over time—trust me.
Think like a landlord
Now that you’re kind of a landlord, it’s time to start thinking like one. And that means hard system solutions for reducing costs.
Take flooring, for example.Carpets get stained and dirty, need to be cleaned regularly, and replaced when old and worn. Not only is this expensive, but it’s a lot of hassle too.
A simple change to hard flooring solves all of this. It’s easy to wipe, hygienic, and will virtually never need to be replaced.
See more examples of this approach in our guide for reducing operations costs in short-term rentals. Download now.
So is being an Airbnb host really worth it?
Well, it doesn’t come without its negatives, and the workload can be considerable, but the payoffs—if you get it right—can be very lucrative.
Is it for everyone? Definitely not.
But for the right person, the flexibility, extra income, and not to mention the chance to meet new people can be extremely rewarding.
If you’re sitting on the fence, why not give it a go!
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