How to Rent Out Houseboats on Airbnb (EP 298)

How to Rent Out Houseboats on Airbnb (EP 298)

Creating a unique experience for your guests leads to five-star reviews and returning clients. And if you live near the water, you can take advantage of this open market for one-of-a-kind spaces by renting out houseboats on Airbnb. So, how is hosting on land different from hosting by sea? What are the special considerations for running a STR that floats?

Nicole Young is an Airbnb Superhost based in Norfolk, Virginia, with two houseboat listings on the platform—a 37-foot Holiday Mansion that sleeps two and a 50-foot Gibson that sleeps six. In addition to overnight stays on Airbnb, Nicole leverages Groupon to attract locals for date nights and does a food tasting Airbnb Experience on what she calls her ‘floating bed and breakfast.’

On this episode of Get Paid for Your Pad, Nicole joins me to share her experience with listing houseboats on Airbnb. She explains the ‘date night’ concept she uses to increase bookings during the week, discussing how guests book through Groupon and what you can do to apply a similar idea in your space. Listen in for Nicole’s insight around the regulations and legal issues associated with STR houseboats and learn how the little things you do to provide a unique experience create lasting memories for guests!

Topics Covered

Nicole’s houseboat listings on Airbnb

  • 37-foot Holiday Mansion opened in March 2017, sleeps 2
  • 50-foot Gibson opened July 2019, sleeps 6

Nicole’s experience with houseboat bookings

  • Calendar full on weekends, holidays and events
  • Added ‘date nights’ to attract locals during week

How Nicole’s date night concept works

  • Offering on Groupon and Airbnb Experiences
  • Provide sensory experience in 3-hour time blocks

How guests book Nicole’s houseboat through Groupon

  • Call to schedule (Airbnb calendar link reference)
  • Convert to overnight if date not available

Nicole’s advice around executing date nights

Nicole’s experience with regulations and legal concerns

  • Don’t go out on water for liability reasons
  • Issues with local government (i.e.: taxes, water treatment)
  • Move to private dock after marina policy changed

Why Nicole recommends hosting STR houseboats

  • Market open for unique spaces
  • Good revenue source despite renovation expense

Nicole’s very positive reviews on Airbnb

  • Guests comment on fishing poles, view of naval base
  • Wonderful experience leads to returning guests

Connect with Nicole

Nicole on Airbnb


Groupon Merchant Center

Airbnb Experiences

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