airbnb management

The ins and outs of using Airbnb as a guest

Airbnb is an online platform that enables holiday goers to find short to medium-term accommodation within a framework that encourages a sense of community and accountability. If you are looking for an alternative to hotels and hostels when you are planning your next holiday Airbnb could be just what you are looking for. It offers a truly unique collection of properties and accommodation types located in some of the most sought after areas in the world, the majority at offering some of the most competitive rates in the market.

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, meaning 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 and provide hosts a guarantee of up to £600,000 for every eligible booking through Airbnb.

The ins and outs of using Airbnb

Setting up your account with Airbnb

 The first step as a guest is to setup your personal Airbnb account. To do this simply go to the "sign up" tab on www.airbnb.com and follow the instructions. Once this is done you can actually start searching for accommodation in your desired destination but we'd recommend reading on for a few useful tips on things to look out for on Airbnb.

It's good to note that Airbnb and hosts encourage guests to develop their profiles as much as possible. For Airbnb this helps create a greater sense of community, trust and accountability. For hosts this helps them decide if they want to accept a booking or not. Note that a number of hosts will prioritize longer bookings but might become more flexible if faced with a positively reviewed and welcoming guest.

Some of the things that are worth spending time developing include an inviting description, a welcoming profile picture, verification with official ID and social media, and ultimately generating reviews. Reviews can only be written once a stay has been completed and will only be published if the other party also reciprocates with a review. These are extremely helpful to both hosts and guests as they tend to give a more honest and unbiased account of the host or accommodation type.

What should I look out for when searching for accommodation on Airbnb?

 When you are searching for accommodation on Airbnb expect to come across a whole variety of accommodation types from whole properties, shared accommodation to private rooms. Airbnb currently has over 800,000 unique listings around the world so you will very likely be spoilt for choice.

A few things to look out for when you are searching through the listings on offer are:

1. The host’s reviews. It's always a good idea to thoroughly read through the reviews and star ratings to gain a more realistic imagine of what the listing has to offer. 

Look out for the things that are not mentioned in the reviews that you would normally expect from a guest such as cleanliness, location, communication, etc.

Note that a large number of properties are managed by property management agencies, you can find out if they are by clicking on the hosts profile page and checking how many listings they manage. Have a look at our listings by clicking on the link here

2. The number of reviews relating to the property. When there is a shortage of reviews this can be due to a number of reasons. Normally it is because the listing is new and has not yet had enough time to generate enough reviews. It can also be due to bad experiences on behalf of the guests or because the owner is only listing their property for a short period of time. It's a good idea to ask these questions before finalizing the booking.

3. The host's profile. It's always a good idea to look at the host's profile to gain a better image of the person you will be dealing with. If you see more than one listing on the profile page it is very likely you are dealing with a property manager. This tends to be good news for the guests as the accommodation tends to be more professionally managed and you will have someone at hand in case something goes wrong.

Things to search for when looking at property listings on Airbnb

The booking process

Once you come across something that you like you will be faced with one of two options depending on the host’s preferences. You will either be able to book it instantly in which case you will see a tab entitled "Instant Book". This means you will be able to book instantly without being pre-approved by the host. In the majority of cases you will be faced with the tab "Request to Book". In this case the host will want to hear a little more from you and your reason of visit before they pre-approve your stay.

It's always a good idea to confirm a few things with the host before finalising the booking. Double check the availability of the dates you are looking to book and the overall listing description so as make sure you will be getting what you are hoping to get. A few good things to ask includes access to property, the floor it is on, if there is a lift , parking, the exact location, the closest public transport, the check in and check out procedure, and make sure to bring up any doubts that you have relative to the listing.

Once you have asked all your questions and the host is happy to confirm your booking the host will pre-approve you to book. Once this is done you will simply have to complete the booking from your end and finalize the booking. Only once this is done are will you be charged for the booking.

Note that if you have only just signed up to Airbnb you will be asked extra forms of identification to prove your identity. This step does not involve the host and is only between Airbnb and the guest. Once this is done Airbnb will allow you to confirm and finalize your booking.

Once the booking has gone through you will be charged the full amount which includes the booking total, cleaning fee and Airbnb service fee. The funds for the deposit will be blocked on your account but they will not be charged until the host has made a request in case of breakages once the stay is over. Note that the deposit is fully handled by Airbnb and that any requests by hosts to pay a deposit in cash is not protected by Airbnb and maybe even void the transaction made with Airbnb.

At this point you are ready to go and will have to coordinate with the hosts on how to go about the check-in and check-out procedure.

What else should I be aware of as a guest?

If you have only just signed up to Airbnb and are looking to book last minute you will be required to provide additional forms of identification to continue with your booking request.

A large number of properties require a once-off cleaning fee. This is clearly stated in the property description at the top of the listing. This is charged by Airbnb when you confirm your booking.

Some properties charge a damage deposit. This is clearly stated in the property description at the top of the listing. The deposit is handled by Airbnb and is only charged to your card if the host makes a claim once the stay is over.

Cancellation fees - if it is the guest that decides to cancel due to some unforeseen reason the Airbnb guest service fee is non-refundable. If the reservation is simply modified and extended or shortened the service fee is simply adjusted to the new subtotal. The host has a choice of 3 options when setting up their cancellation policy.

1. Flexible - This means the guest will receive a full refund up to 1 day prior to arrival, but they will not be refunded the Aibnb fees.

2. Moderate - You will get a full refund up until 5 days prior to arrival, but you will not be refunded the Airbnb fees.

3. Strict - You will be refunded 50% up until 1 week prior to arrival, and you will not be refunded the Airbnb fees.

Once the stay is over Airbnb will ask the guest to write a review about their stay, accommodation and hosting experience. It's highly recommended to write a review and try to be as honest as possible to help the next guests make their minds up. Once your review has been sent to Airbnb the host will be informed that you have written a review (but they will not be able to see your review until they have written a review themselves). Once the host has written a review in return you will have 48 hours to edit your review until it is published.

So how much does it cost to book through Airbnb?

 It is free to join and set up your guest and hosting account. 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 hosts and guests. On top of the rental fee expect to pay the Airbnb service fee. This is normally 12% (In the UK this is 14.4% as it includes VAT) of the booking total. This value decreases to 6% as the stay gets longer. Depending on the listing also expect to pay a cleaning fee and a damage deposit. Note that the damage deposit will only be charged at the end of your stay if breakages have been identified by the host.


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.