How to set yourself up as a host on Airbnb

If you're looking to advertise your property for short to long-term lets or looking for an alternative to a hotel or hostel Airbnb could be just the thing you are looking for. Airbnb works by letting guests and hosts create their own personalized profile on the Airbnb platform, once this is done hosts have the option to add an extra page for their accommodation listing.

It's good to note that Airbnb does not only act as a simple platform for hosts and guests to find each other, it also acts as the go between for all monetary transactions which means all payments are handled by Airbnb and no bank details are ever shared between guests and hosts. They also manage the damage deposits on behalf of the hosts to ensure a smooth process throughout. They also provide a host guarantee of £600,000 for evely eligible booking through Airbnb as well as providing free professional photography in most major cities.

How to set yourself up as a host on Airbnb

The first step as a host is to setup your personal profile. This is a very straightforward process as you simply have to follow the steps on www.airbnb.com when you click on 'Sign up'. Note that the more detailed your personal profile is the more genuine and trustworthy your profile is going to come across to guests. Once you have completed your personal profile you will be able to create a profile for the accommodation you are offering. To do this simply click on the green box in the top right corner and follow the instructions. When you fill in the details for your accommodation make sure to add as much useful information as possible. Guests are more likely to trust a host that has gone to the effort of filling in all the blanks. It also helps give a better image of the property and can help sell the accommodation if done correctly.

Other things that can help make the listing more attractive to guests: 

·      Be honest about your listing - the last thing you need is to exaggerate your offering and as a result receive negative reviews and feedback

·      Come across as easy to communicate with and welcoming - this will go a long way when guest are trying to make up their minds between two listings

·      Make sure to not add things that might not be there once the guests arrive such as a hair dryer, etc. 

·      Add extra info that will be useful for guests - distance to supermarket, local shops and recommended local restaurants, etc.

·      Make sure the available dates are correct, and make sure to keep these updated if you are using other online rental platforms like Airbnb, the last thing you want to do is double book and have to cancel

·      Add pictures that are light, taken from eye level, and that give a clear honest view of the accommodation on offer

Once you property has been listed and can be viewed by guests looking to book you can request the free professional photographer. Note that this is only available in certain areas. To book your photographer go to https://www.airbnb.co.uk/info/photography and fill in the blanks. Note that once the photographer has come around you might have to wait up to 3 weeks for these pictures to be uploaded to your profile. So if you are in a hurry to receive enquiries simply add your own pictures.

 

What else to include in my property listing?

The cleaning fee

Some hosts decide to include the cleaning fee within the daily rental fee and others prefer a once-off fee. It's up to you to decide but it is recommended that you put in a once-off fee because it tends to be fairer on the guests as this fee should not increase or decrease depending on the length of the stay. It is a set charge that is put aside for the cleaner at the end of the stay.

The damage deposit

It's always recommended to add a damage deposit as a host. This encourages guests to treat the accommodation with respect and will cover any potential breakages. Note that the deposit is handled by Airbnb which means that you will only have access to the funds in case of breakages once the guest's stay is over. You will have 48 hours to check over the accommodation and make a claim with Airbnb.

 

The booking process

Once your accommodation is fully set up and has been listed on Airbnb you will start receiving enquiries. The good news as a new host is that Airbnb will boost your accommodation in the first month so that you have a chance to generate reviews and bookings. Taking enquiries tends to be a very straightforward process, all you have to do is engage with the guests, ask a few questions and give them the information they need.

When you are dealing with enquiries make sure to ask a few relevant questions such as who will be staying at the accommodation. Note that it is not uncommon for people to book on behalf of friends and family. You can do this by clicking the 'write back before you decide' section in the conversation panel. As a host it's also a good idea to look up the reviews of the guest that is booking, if they have used Airbnb before and have excellent reviews from other hosts its very likely they will also treat your accommodation with the same level of respect. Take into account that a large number of guests have probably never used Airbnb before so the fact they are lacking reviews does not necessarily mean they are bad guests. If you want to find out more about the guests simply ask them for more information.

The booking process with Airbnb

Once you are satisfied with a guest click on the 'allow guest to book' and then 'pre-approve to book'. This pre-approval means that the host has agreed to a possible deal with the guest. Once you have Pre-approved the guest they will be able to confirm their request and go ahead with the booking. The guest will be charged by Airbnb the moment they confirm the booking but the funds will be held by Airbnb until 24 hours after the check in date. This is to ensure that everything is as expected from both parties.

Once the stay is over the guest will be asked to fill in a review of your accommodation and the hosting experience. Once they have written this you will be informed and you can write a review about the guest in return. If reviews are written by both parties these are made public on each other’s profiles.

 

What else should I be aware of as a host?

 Get in touch with guests prior to their arrival and prior to them leaving to coordinate check-in and check-out times, key exchanges, contact details, etc. Always remember that a large number of Airbnb guests will be travelling to completely new areas and cities and are not familiar with the area.

If you decide to charge a deposit without going through Airbnb your contract will be void. It's also a lot more hassle so it is definitely recommended to go through Airbnb.

Airbnb does not see cancellations on behalf of the host in a very positive light so try not to cancel as you will receive a comment in your reviews section that you have cancelled with a guest on a certain date. If you have no choice and have to cancel make sure to add the reasons why you had to make the cancellation below the commend in the reviews section.

The more positive reviews you get the more bookings you are likely to receive, so make sure your listing is a realistic description of what you offer and that you are friendly and helpful with the guests at all times.

 

So how much is this service going to cost me?

It is free to join and set up your guest and hosting profile, you will only be charged once a booking is confirmed and the transaction has gone through. Note that all payments go through Airbnb and there is no exchange of card details between host and guest. 

As a host you will be charged 3% (In the E.U. 20% VAT is added so this value is 3.6%) of the full amount you are earning from your rental.

Example: Tom rent's his house out for £100 per day, for a period of 6 days in London. He also charges £40 for cleaning services. He will be charged 3.6% of (600 + 40) which is £23.04. So he ends up receiving £616.96 from Airbnb. He then spends £40 on cleaning so ends up with £576.96. Which is £96 per night.

Note that if a deposit is charged this is fully managed by Airbnb and you will have access to the funds in case of breakages only once the stay is over. 

Like a large percentage of home owners letting their properties on Airbnb they are simply not able to manage short term rentals because they are not available 24/7 in case something goes wrong or available at all times of day and night to check the guests in and out. 

 

How do Airbnb property management agencies come into play?

With the increased popularity of Airbnb a new breed of property management agencies have come into play that handles every aspect of short term rentals. Here at Bedspoke.com the property listings are optimised to increase rentals and the whole process is fully managed from handling enquiries to checking out and cleaning. One of the many advantages of employing an Airbnb property management agency is that you will have someone available 24/7 in case the guests need any help with anything within the apartment. This helps generate much more positive feedback and more positive reviews which increases the likelihood of a larger number of bookings in the long run.