If you have a second home, or an extra room, or even just a computer, you can start and scale an Airbnb business. But maybe you’re reading this without a clue about how to start an Airbnb. Maybe you already have a listing. Maybe you just don't know how to momentum as a new host.
Today, let’s talk about how to be a successful Airbnb host and grow your business.
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But first, we need to take a look at how the short term rental industry has evolved over time.
Changes in STR industry
First is the traditional vacation rental industry. These people used traditional ways of marketing their properties: their own websites, etc. Then came HomeAway. These types of vacation rentals still exist. But today we're going to talk about the professional Airbnb host.
Airbnb, now valued at an estimated $38 billion, came from modest beginnings. Initially, the Airbnb founders envisioned a platform where people could make money off an extra air mattress.
Now, it’s a full-blown industry. People are using the platform as a career. The timeline went something like this:
- Extra space. Airbnb started. People with an extra room or air bed could list that space online. It was used primarily this way.
- Full homes. People realized they could make more money by renting out their entire homes. Airbnb gave them a platform to list their second homes and make even more money.
- Urban listings. People in big cities started focusing on renting out their apartments via Airbnb. That’s when the regulations started coming about — resistance started from the local authorities and communities.
- Listings in scale. More opportunity. As Airbnb grew, it changed from a side income project to a full-time hustle. People began buying or renting properties specifically to use for Airbnb purposes. Some started renting out other people’s homes.
- Time of the professional host. Now, being an Airbnb host is a profession. You don’t even need to own property to make six figures on Airbnb. If you want to get into the business of Airbnb, this post is for you. The real estate industry is noticing what’s going on, and competition, quality, and level are skyrocketing. It’s now harder to make money on Airbnb unless you’re approaching it professionally.
So how do you start an Airbnb in a professional capacity?
You can start with my Airbnb hosting guide. This will show you how to start an Airbnb, prepare the listing and get your first booking. What about growing, though?
5 steps to gaining momentum as an Airbnb host
There are 5 elements to focus on when you learn how to start an Airbnb.
Focus on getting bookings
When you begin, your main focus will be getting more bookings. There’s lots of competition out there. Many other bookings competing for the top. You can’t move forward until you start getting reviews.
And you can’t get reviews until you get bookings. You’ll get your initial bookings by:
And doing everything to work with the Airbnb SEO, which we’ll talk about below.
2. Overdeliver on guest experience
Your job isn't over after you get bookings. Remember, you’re now a hospitality professional. And without positive reviews, your Airbnb business won’t thrive.
If you take anything from this lesson on how to start an Airbnb, it's this: guest experience is number one, always.
Try to go the extra mile and always put yourself in your guests’ shoes.
3. Get feedback from your guests
Your Airbnb business is only as good as your guest reviews. Remember, you’re in business and you shouldn’t leave it up to chance. Chase those reviews! One good way to do it is to leave your guest a review. They’ll get notified that you left them one. However, they won’t be able to see it until they leave you one.
That curiosity gap always works! Also, be sure to ask them for a review. After all, you’ve over-delivered on their experience, right? So the review should be a great one!
4. Educate yourself
Stay a student. Always study new ways to automate your Airbnb business, ways you can provide an outstanding guest experience, and news about regulations and the short-term rental industry in general. Connect with other hosts and share experiences and learn from them. Never stop learning. You’re an entrepreneur now and this will be vital to your business growth
5. Improve the guest experience
There’s always room for improvement. Always. What was the universe’s greatest guest experience 50 years ago is now outdated. Expectations change. Keep learning how to improve your guest’s experience.
But how exactly do you do that? Now that we’ve gone over the basic steps of how to start an Airbnb, let’s see the next important step in gaining moment. How to provide a unique hospitality experience.
Use welcome books like YourWelcome or leave a bottle of wine on the bed. How far will you go to create the best experience?
How to start an Airbnb: providing a unique hospitality experience
I think I’ve said it enough times for you to understand, but I’ll say it again. If you want to know how to start an Airbnb and grow it into a money-making machine, hospitality is the answer. Today, Airbnb guests are looking for the best experience, not just a place to sleep.
What makes up a unique hospitality experience?
- Space: What is the property like? Does it have all (and more) the amenities a modern guest can come to expect? Is it eco-friendly? Is it well-located? Find something special and unique about your space.
- Standards: Remember, you’re competing with hotels. Treat your guests to the same standard that a nice hotel would. That means a spotless property, clean towels, a TV with Netflix, a hairdryer and whatever else you’d expect from the hospitality industry.
- Connection: Here’s a difference Airbnb has from hotels. Your connection with the guest. You’re showing them the ‘local’ life, not to mention you’re a person, not a big corporation. Stay in communication with your guests and go the extra mile for them.
There’s more to turning strangers into guests than slapping your listing onto Airbnb. The short term rental industry is more competitive than ever. It’s a business. Treat it like one.
That means you need to understand every part of your guest’s journey as a customer.
The customer journey of an Airbnb guest
When you first learn how to start an Airbnb, you’ll probably learn more about how to make your home Airbnb ready and whether you should incorporate your rental property. But just like any other business, you need to understand the process your guests go through before becoming guests.
This will let you optimize each step to give your listing the greatest chance of being booked and rebooked. Every step is important for your Airbnb business, even before the stay.
Start optimizing from the beginning.
You want to start optimizing your guest’s Airbnb experience from the beginning. Not once they get to your place.
- Instant Book – Airbnb gives preference to listings that use Instant Book. You can read more about it on this post: Should I use Instant Book?
- Response time – The faster your response time, the higher you’ll show on the rankings. You can use an automated guest communication tool like Hospitable (read my detailed review and tutorial of Hospitable here).
- Update your calendar – Keep your calendar updated daily. You can also use tools to automate this.
- Attractive listing – Make sure you use the best photos and write the best descriptions to keep your listing attractive to potential guests.
- Reviews – Always, always get reviews from your guests.
Optimize Sales & Fulfillment
Once your Airbnb listing is actually visible, you’ll have to optimize it for sales. In the corporate world, we call it ‘conversion’.
There are also 5 steps to doing this:
- Accept all booking requests – Unless they seem shady. Find out how to screen guests here.
- Respond quickly to inquiries – Again, you can train a guest communication AI to do this for you.
- Remove objections to book – Answer all objections guests sometimes have in your description, in your communication. Use Instant Book and a flexible cancellation policy. Make it EASY to book with you.
- Send out a guidebook – You can make beautiful customized guidebooks using Hostfully. Send it out as soon as they book and start giving your guests an amazing experience from the get-go.
- Send your guests a short welcome video – This is a great way to make a personal impact on your guest. Show them your face!
Go the extra mile
When you finally have your guests where you want them (in your property), now you have to woo them with your extra-miley-ness.
This is how you’re going to get the raving reviews you need.
Do things they won’t always expect from an Airbnb host, like the following:
- Do in-person check-ins. This can be nice for many if they want to talk to someone. Sometimes people want to get to know the host. If they don’t, you can offer them a self-check in option.
- Leave a personalized welcome gift. Ask them what they like when they’re booking with you. Wine? Leave them a bottle of red. Chocolate? Leave a chocolate on their pillow. Basically anything as a token will make them feel special and happy.
- Touch base with your guests often. Make sure they’re enjoying their stay and everything is up to par. Create an open environment of feedback
- Be very proactive in fixing issues. Be enthusiastic about fixing anything your guests complain about. Don’t let them ‘read’ you rolling your eyes via text. Show you want them to have the best experience.
- Encourage your guests to leave a review. After you’ve blown them away with this amazing experience, ask them for a review. Leave them one too.
How to start an Airbnb business and absolutely crush it
Learning how to start an Airbnb isn’t just about setting up your listing and getting bookings. It’s about running a business, having systems and the right mindset.
FREE 2020 Masterclass: Leverage Other People's Properties & Build Financial Freedom Through Airbnb