How to Start an Airbnb Business: Questions Answered

how to start an airbnb business

By  The Hospitable Team

Airbnb is an online marketplace for short-term rentals that allows hosts to rent out unused private accommodations to travelers as an alternative to staying at a hotel. Airbnb rental properties range from single rooms to entire houses and are available in more than 100,000 cities worldwide.

Tourists love Airbnb because it gives them a unique opportunity to live like a local while traveling the world. And with consistent hard work and dedication, running an Airbnb can be profitable for hosts. So, if you want to make extra money and build a thriving side hustle, listing your space through Airbnb is a good option.

If you’re considering renting out your property on Airbnb, here are tips on how to start an Airbnb business and become a successful host.

If you are in an options-comparing mood, you may also want to check how Airbnb compares to Booking, Vrbo, and long-term renting.

While this blog post is a good starting point, you may want to dive into the details of becoming a successful short-term rental host. Download our free ebook on mastering short-term rental business.

Starting an Airbnb Business: Important Things to Consider

Anyone can list a short-term rental property on the Airbnb marketplace, and signing up to become an Airbnb host is fairly simple. If you have a second home, an extra room in your primary residence, or an RV, you can start an Airbnb business. You may also consider buying a residential property and turning it into an Airbnb rental.

How to choose the right property for Airbnb

If you decide to buy a property for Airbnb, it’s important to think strategically and avoid making an emotional decision. Look for a property with a high earning potential in the popular areas with tourists or business travelers to get the best ROI.  

Remember that your decision should be based on reliable data, so you should research each location carefully and study local STR market trends. When choosing profitable cities for vacation rental investment, the most important Airbnb metrics are occupancy rate, average daily rate, monthly rental income, and cash-on-cash return.

Doing your market research and analysis can be challenging, so a smarter approach is to take advantage of Airbnb analytics tools like AirDNA, Rabbu, Airbtics, or others. They get real-time data directly from Airbnb and other OTA platforms and can help you find the best STR markets and choose the top-performing properties within specific locations and neighborhoods.

Buying a property in a lucrative vacation rental market is an important step. Still, if you want to become a successful host, setting the right business processes is crucial. Vacation rental software like Hospitable can help you automate almost all daily operations and increase efficiency. Hospitable will give you all the tools and features needed to build a thriving Airbnb business.

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Check local STR laws and regulations

Before you decide on a location for your Airbnb rental, you should research local short-term rental laws and regulations. Find out what requirements you must meet to operate legally and what taxes you must pay. This step could save you headaches later.

Keep in mind that some cities ban short-term rentals completely, and some locations don’t allow non-owner-occupied short-term rentals. Some cities may restrict your ability to rent out your property short-term to certain zones or limit the number of days you can rent out per year. Many cities and counties require short-term rental property owners to register and obtain licenses and permits.

If you are considering starting an Airbnb business in the US, you may want to check out our blog article covering different aspects of Airbnb regulations by state. You’ll learn about STR laws in some popular locations. 

But keep in mind that short-term rental regulations vary from city to city and are constantly changing. So, you should check out local government websites and consult your local lawyer if you have any questions about the steps you need to take to ensure compliance.

Consider your expenses

Listing your rental space on Airbnb is free, but you’ll want to consider any extra costs you might incur as a host. They include Airbnb service fees (typically 3% on each booking) and ongoing expenses for maintaining your vacation rental home. They include repairs and maintenance costs, professional cleaning services, utilities, subscriptions for WiFi and Netflix, and money you’ll need for supplies and goods to restock your space after each stay.

Besides, you should consider how much money you’ll need to invest into your property to make it cozy and visually appealing to guests to ensure a comfortable stay and enjoyable experience. For example, you may want to buy new durable furniture suitable for a rental apartment that will add personality to your space.

Interior décor is also important, and your rental’s aesthetics can greatly impact your income potential. You may want to check out our article to find Airbnb decorating ideas and tips to help you create an inviting space and achieve the “wow” factor.

Make sure you can meet the basic Airbnb host requirements

Airbnb has a few basic requirements and rules that hosts are expected to follow to create comfortable, reliable stays for guests and maintain a high standard of customer service:

  • Provide the essentials, including toilet paper, soap, linens, and at least one towel and pillow per guest. Tick out all the boxes in our host checklist;
  • Keep your listing clean and free of health hazards before guests check in;
  • Accept reservation requests from guests when you’re available and provide a reliable check-in experience;
  • Avoid cancellations of confirmed reservations unless there are certain valid reasons that you can’t control—Airbnb cancellation policy is very strict;
  • Ensure timely communication with guests. Be quick to respond to your potential guests’ booking requests and inquiries. The slowest response time you can afford is 24 hours. Sometimes, to win a booking, you must send a message within minutes of inquiry.

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!

How to Start an Airbnb Business: Essential Steps

For hosts, renting out a short-term property is much more lucrative than taking on long-term tenants. But before you even sign up for Airbnb and start creating your listing, you should prepare your house for welcoming guests.

Spruce up your place

Your space may be perfect for you, but it doesn’t mean it can be ideal for guests. So declutter your home, consider a proper house renovation, review must-have amenities, and deep clean every room.

If you don’t have a large budget when renovating your home, focus on what your guests would value most after a long day of traveling and exploring. Invest in comfortable beds and high-quality bedding, revamp the bathrooms, and modernize the kitchen, replacing outdated appliances with energy-efficient ones.

Here are some tips on cutting your costs in the long run—following these pieces of advice will minimize your maintenance and repair costs. Rest assured—the comfort of your guests will not be jeopardized:

  • Choose robust, durable materials, fixtures, and fittings that will withstand a constant stream of STR guests.
  • When painting walls, use high-quality, hard-wearing paint that requires minimal maintenance, and use heavy-duty gloss paint where possible.
  • Furnishings may be broken and damaged by Airbnb guests, and they are costly to replace. So it makes sense to use only absolutely necessary furnishings and remove everything else.
  • Soft furnishings are subject to spills and stains as well as wear and tear, so it’s better to replace them with hard-wearing PVC or leather alternatives.
  • Replace carpet with hard flooring where possible because hard floors last a very long time and are easy to clean.
  • Paint skirting boards with dark, hard-wearing paint—then scuffs and marks will be less visible. You can also use dark-stained wood as an alternative.
  • Use black grout with any tiling work in the bathroom since it makes any mold buildup invisible and is easy to clean. Then, you won’t need to re-grout tiles often.

Pro tip! There are a few significant differences between an apartment you want to live in and an apartment you want to rent out. And it's not about saving on the quality of amenities. It's about efficiency.

Make your property safe for guests

You should take measures to ensure the safety of your guests. Equip your rental with safety items such as a functioning smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit. Provide emergency contacts for the nearest hospital and directions for emergency exits.

It’s important to identify potential risks before they turn into accidents. Go through your home to check for potential issues like loose steps, tripping hazards, slippery tubs, broken railings, or exposed wires, and fix everything.

A good idea is to install security cameras around entrances to keep your guests safe and protect your property. Just inform your guests about their location in your listing’s description. And remember that Airbnb hosts aren’t allowed to have security cameras that monitor any part of a listing’s interior, regardless of their location.

You may also consider installing noise monitoring devices to receive alerts if noise rises above a certain level. That will help you prevent unauthorized parties and avoid neighbor complaints. However, remember that Airbnb doesn’t allow hosts to install noise monitoring systems in bedrooms, bathrooms, and sleeping areas.

Set up self-check-in

You’ll also need to set up a smooth check-in process. Today, more and more guests are looking for vacation rentals that offer a self-check-in option, eliminating the need for a host to be at the property in person when guests arrive.

The simplest solution is installing a lockbox and storing the keys to give guests access to your property. But this solution is outdated, and there’s a smarter alternative. So consider installing a smart lock, which you can manage remotely via your smartphone and easily change the code after each guest checks out. Offering your guests self-check-in will save you time and ensure a seamless experience for your guests right from the start.

Create an attractive listing

Your Airbnb listing page is your first opportunity to attract the attention of potential guests. So, ensuring that your listing accurately reflects what you offer to manage guest expectations is important. Setting the right expectations will help you avoid many problems and increase your chances of getting positive reviews.

Here are some tips on how to set up an Airbnb listing:

  • Describe your space in detail and emphasize what makes it unique. Consider the type of guests that will appreciate your rental the most and make your description appealing to your target audience. Try to create a vivid picture of the experience your guests can have if they book your property. Use relevant words and phrases to help the Airbnb algorithm categorize and show your property in appropriate categories.
  • Provide high-quality images of your whole space. Upload several photos of each room from different angles and pictures of top amenities and focal points to help guests imagine themselves in your home. If your rental has accessibility features that can help guests easily navigate your space, you should also add photos of each of them to your listing.
  • List your amenities. Many guests search for such popular amenities as a laptop-friendly workspace, WiFi, a pet-friendly space, and free parking, so it’s important to mention any you offer.
  • Create a list of house rules to explain to your guests the dos and don’ts at your vacation rental property and help them understand your hosting style. Clear house rules can also help travelers determine whether your vacation rental is a good fit for them.

Set your pricing strategy

Don’t underestimate the importance and complexity of a good pricing strategy. Your objective is to maximize RevPar (revenue per night). So you must find the balance between charging too low to keep your place occupied constantly and charging a premium when the market allows. The key to finding a competitive price is understanding the local demand and all the factors influencing it. Luckily, you can automate the whole process instead of becoming a pricing analyst.

Manage your Airbnb efficiently

Getting started in the Airbnb business is fairly easy. Managing guests is the real trick. Providing excellent customer service is the backbone of any successful business, and being an Airbnb host is no different. Here are some tips on how to run a successful Airbnb property.

Hire professional cleaners

Keep your rental space clean and guest-ready at all times. Cleanliness is the top priority for Airbnb guests, so you should always go above and beyond with your cleaning standards. And since vacation rental cleaning is very time-consuming, it’s better to delegate this task to professionals and hire cleaning services. Provide your cleaners with a comprehensive cleaning checklist that they must follow during each turnover to ensure that your vacation rental is always sparkling clean for the next guest.

When hiring cleaners, look for cleaning services that specialize in vacation rentals. They understand the unique demands of short-term stays and can do the job efficiently to ensure quick turnovers. It’s best to find cleaners who operate within a reasonable distance of your property and can adapt to your needs in case of last-minute bookings.

Finding reliable cleaners will be easier if you use services such as Turno, Cleanster, or ResortCleaning, which provide a centralized platform that connects hosts and cleaners and helps them automate their processes, from scheduling to payment.

Ensure perfect communication with your guests

Be polite to your guests and respond quickly to their inquiries. Remember that first impressions count, so keep the tone friendly yet professional and efficient. Be available to answer your guests’ questions 24/7 and proactively communicate with them via messages during all stages of their journey. This way, you’ll be able to provide them with the necessary information at the right time and make them feel special and cared for.

Ensure that the property is in top condition

Perform routine property maintenance to keep your rental space in great shape. It can help prevent many severe issues from happening. Fix all problems ASAP: if a guest reports a leaky tap, you should fix it immediately, apologize to the guest, and show empathy.

If you decide to take on multiple properties, build a team that includes such professionals as plumbers, electricians, cleaners, and laundry services. Ensure you have the necessary processes and tools to manage your team.

Update your calendar

Regularly update your booking calendar to help potential guests determine when your rental property is available. Block dates when you aren’t hosting and set the minimum and maximum number of nights guests can stay. That can help you prevent unnecessary cancelations.

As soon as you extend your sales beyond Airbnb, calendar sync becomes uber-important. You definitely will want to avoid double bookings.

All you need from a channel manager is here!

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Create a direct booking website

If you provide a memorable guest experience, you’ll be rewarded with positive reviews, higher placement in search rankings, and more bookings on the Airbnb platform. But limiting yourself to one booking channel means placing a limit on your potential.

If you want to maximize your revenue and have more power regarding how you build your brand and market your properties, you should create a direct booking website. It will save on OTA fees, foster good relationships with your guests, build customer loyalty, and drive repeat direct bookings. As a result, you’ll be able to generate higher profits.

If you opt for Hospitable, you can take advantage of our dedicated service, Hospitable Direct, and build a direct booking website without any technical skills. Additionally, your properties will get listed on Google Vacation Rentals.

Then travelers can find and book your properties directly through Google Search, Google Maps, or when browsing the Vacation Rentals tab in Google Travel. Travelers who visit your Google Vacation Rental listing will be redirected to your Hospitable Direct website, and you’ll get direct bookings without paying high third-party fees.

Conclusion

Becoming an Airbnb host can be a great option if you need some additional income, or it can become a full-time business. There are minimal startup costs, and a lot of the setup and marketing are done for you on the platform.

We’ve provided tips on starting an Airbnb business, but becoming a successful Airbnb host is not just about landing a booking. It’s about providing your guests with the best experience.

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Airbnb Hosting Guide for Beginners

Hosting on Airbnb can be a very lucrative and rewarding path, but it’s not that simple. We’ve created this comprehensive Airbnb hosting guide that covers all the essential things you need to do to begin hosting and set your business for success.

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Airbnb Host Checklist: Setting Up for Airbnb

Planning to start a short-term rental business on Airbnb and are looking for an Airbnb startup checklist? In this post, you’ll find an Airbnb host checklist of essential things you will need to invest in for the greatest experience for your guests.

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