If you are lucky enough to find yourself in possession of your very own holiday home – you know, the sort you can win in those Prize Home lotteries (wink, wink) – you might be considering renting it out when you’re not there for a bit of extra income.
Depending on the set-up of the home, you might even be able to accommodate guests when you’re staying there too. Take this $1.3 million Coolum Beach Prize Home for example. With the versatility to section off a two-bedroom apartment (with its own private entry) from the main home – it’s possible to have guests stay almost unnoticed, while you’re staying in the home as well.
Whichever way you look at it, there’s definitely some real profit to be made from sharing the joy and letting others experience what you are so lucky to own.
One of the most popular ways to do this is to list your home on Airbnb, an online marketplace that connects people wanting to rent out their place with people looking for accommodation.
From humble beginnings back in 2008, Airbnb has become a global phenomenon with millions of hosts and travellers using the service. Airbnb has also become hugely popular in Australia and is one of the first ports of call for many looking to stay somewhere more personal than the big hotels and resorts.
So, if you’re keen to list your home on Airbnb, where do you start? The first decision you need to make is if you are going to manage your Airbnb yourself or get a management company on board to take care of everything for you.
If you find the idea of running your Airbnb on your own a little daunting, there are a number of management services available that can take care of the whole process for you.
If you live far away from your holiday home or investment property, this option might be the only realistic path to take.
Airbnb management services typically charge around 15 to 25 percent of the booking fee (which is on top of Airbnb’s fee of three percent). The management services usually include things like setting up the listing, choosing the right price, property styling advice, professional photography, guest screening, cleaning, and managing the bookings right down to the key handover.
If you do go down this path, make sure you are crystal clear on what is and isn’t included in your management fee. That way everyone will be happy and there will be no surprise bills in the mail.
However, if you’re prepared to do all the leg-work, there is obviously more profit to be made by hosting your Airbnb yourself. Whether you’re ready now, or just thinking about it for the future, we’ve put together a basic run down of how you go about setting up your own Airbnb.
To become a host, the first thing you will need to do is set up your Airbnb profile. This is a really straight forward but important step. Your profile is your first introduction to potential guests and you know what they say, first impressions count! Don’t worry though, Airbnb will give you some suggestions of what to include to make the process as easy as possible. The aim of your profile is to put your guests at ease and to make them feel like they’re already getting to know you. A complete profile will give guests confidence to trust you and make a reservation. An empty profile may leave them wondering.
Hosts are also required to include a profile picture of themselves. Choose a nice friendly image that says, “I’m a great host”. Make sure it’s current too – there’s no point including that glamour shot from ten years ago if you’ve ‘changed a little’ (read ‘aged drastically’) and look nothing like your former self. This is particularly important if you are going to be greeting your guests at check-in time. It’s nice for them to be able to spot you without you needing to wear a red rose in your lapel. Unless, of course, you want to.
At this stage, you will also need to provide your mobile number, link up your Facebook or Google account, and verify your identity, usually with a scanned copy of your passport (don’t worry, this remains private and can’t be seen by other members.)
Once your profile is all set up, it’s time to get your home listed so you can start to take bookings.
To get started with adding a listing, choose the ‘add listing’ option in the menu bar. You will then be taken through a list of basic questions about the accommodation you are offering.
Deciding how much to charge
The simple option is to let Airbnb do it for you but it’s also worth giving it some consideration yourself.
It’s all about striking a balance. You need to feel like you are being appropriately paid for the use of your home and your effort, and your guest needs to feel like they are receiving good value for money.
It also depends on what the market is dictating in your area. While you may really love your little slice of paradise and feel that it is worth a higher price, potential guests need to have a good reason to pay more than another home with similar specs in the same area. It’s a good idea to look up what else is available nearby to get an idea of the going rate for properties like yours and how competitive it is out there.
Try imagining you’re the guest and think about what you would be prepared to pay for what your home has to offer. Be as objective as possible and weigh up all the factors like location, proximity to attractions, size and quality of the accommodation and any negatives that may be a deterrent for guests.
Should the price fluctuate with demand?
Demand-based pricing is a common approach across the tourism industry. We’ve all been onto accommodation websites to see the price of the same hotel for the same future date, changing on a daily basis. It’s like playing a game of roulette – watching and waiting for the moment to pounce and snag it at the cheapest price.
By using Airbnb’s Smart Pricing tool, you too have the option to set up demand pricing and maximise your profits.
Consider additional charges
Once you’ve settled on a figure you also have the option to include additional charges for things like cleaning, after-hours check-in, and pets.
These fees must be disclosed to potential guest before they make a reservation.
Again, look at what other listings in your area are doing. If everything else is comparable, something like a high cleaning fee might just be the thing that swings a possible guest toward another listing.
Write your description
This will include a title (up to 35 characters) and a short summary. You will also have the opportunity to provide more detail if your potential guest decides to read more. Talk about your home’s best features and what you think guests will like most about your home. It’s ok to put a positive spin on less favourable details (like using the word ‘cosy’ instead of small when describing a space) as long as you are honest and don’t oversell. The last thing you want is for guests to be disappointed when they arrive. It’s much better if they are pleasantly surprised when they walk in the door.
Before you rush in to take photos, take a look around your home with your ‘guest glasses’ on. Adding a few finishing touches like scatter cushions, artwork and accessories can really help to create a holiday vibe and give the space a lift.
Once you’re happy with how it’s all looking, it’s time to take the photographs. Make sure you consider lighting and take your photos at the time of day that literally shows your home in its best light.
Consider having a professional real estate photographer take the shots. The added expense could quickly pay for itself with extra bookings.
Ok, we may as well break it to you early. You are going to have to clean. And we don’t mean a quick once over with the Dyson. We mean, the kind of really good, thorough clean that would even impress your mother-in-law.
Generally, we all expect that a hotel room or a holiday unit should be squeaky clean. It’s pretty icky to find stains on the furniture or short and curlies in your bed.
While the expectation for our homes is a little more relaxed (after all, we hardly go around to our friends’ places armed with a white glove), if you are going to be renting your home out as accommodation, you really need to be aiming for ‘hotel clean’ rather than ‘leave-your-glasses-at-home clean’.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a home with rustic charm or quirky old furniture. But dust, dirt and mould tend to be less charming.
Of course, if that all seems too hard, the easy option is to pay someone to do it. Many holiday home owners employ a cleaning service to sweep through (see what we did there) after the guests have left, and if the property has been vacant for a little while, they can even do a quick spruce before new guest arrive.
Make sure you have all the essentials
To ensure your guests enjoy their stay, there are a few basic ‘necessities’ they will expect, and look for, in your Airbnb. Here’s a rundown of the essentials you should include, room by room:
It is generally expected that you would provide fresh, beautiful smelling towels (at least one for every guest) and basic personal care items like soap, shampoo and conditioner. Make sure you have a box of tissues on hand and don’t forget to include a spare roll of toilet paper.
A hairdryer isn’t a must have but it does fall into the ‘nice to have’ category. It’s definitely a good one to include if you are going for a higher level of accommodation.
Let’s talk about the bed. Given that this is probably where your guests will spend most of their time in your home, it’s important to pay it some special attention.
Obviously, having a comfortable bed is a great start. There’s no point having an uber-cool looking Airbnb if your guests can’t get a good night sleep.
Fresh, crisp linen is a must unless you specify in your listing that linen is not provided. Also make sure that blankets and quilts are regularly laundered so that everything seems, and is, fresh as a daisy.
Just like you would find in a hotel, have some spare pillows stored in the wardrobe along with a couple of extra blankets in case things get chilly.
Everything you need to make tea and coffee is generally expected. A selection of herbal teas is always a nice inclusion and would be appreciated by many guests.
It’s obviously not cool if your guests leave you with the washing up, so make sure they have everything they need so there are no excuses.
Provide the things you would typically use to get the job done like a dish rack, washing up liquid, a sponge or dish cloth and a dish brush or scourer.
A roll or two of paper towel is also a good idea along with some sort of surface cleaning spray to clean up any spills.
If guests have access to the laundry and your washing machine, make sure you leave enough laundry powder or liquid to do one or two loads.
If possible, provide a drying rack for guests to use, and store your iron and ironing board in an easy to find spot.
It’s also important to make sure guests have access to whatever they would need to clean up after themselves before they leave. This may include a broom, dustpan and brush and possibly a vacuum cleaner. The easier you make it for them, the more inclined they will be to do your dirty work for you.
THE ‘NICE TO HAVE’ WISH LIST
Other nice touches that are not expected but would impress your guests include: a bottle of wine or chocolates as a welcome gift; breakfast ingredients for the next morning; some cookies or light snacks; books, board games or magazines; a folder of local takeaway menus; or even a guide to the local area.
While these things aren’t necessarily expected, including one or two of them will certainly add to your guests’ experience and is a great way to encourage them to leave a favourable review as a thank you.
Once your listing is up and your line is in the water, all you have to do is wait for a nibble. If you’ve followed all of our tips you shouldn’t have to wait for long.
Our latest Prize Home on the Sunshine Coast was once a luxury holiday rental in a former life. Who knows, it may even become one again depending on what the future winner decides to do with it? Take a virtual tour now or snap up a ticket for your chance to win this amazing holiday home.