6 Tips for New Airbnb Hosts

Airbnb has more than 640,000 hosts and 2 million listings across 57,000 cities. Northwest Arkansas has around 80 listings in Fayetteville, alone, and we have been one of them since October 2015 (and Airbnb users since 2013).

We have had a love/hate relationship with our basement. Two weeks into being new homeowners it flooded. A few months after that the sewer backed up, and then again a couple months after that. The RotoRooter guy said, “Oh I know this house…” when he came to service it for us. Not a good sign.

Before Iya was born, we decided to bite the bullet and invest in renovating the basement as well as all the plumbing. No one wants to deal with sewage backup and a newborn at the same time. Needless to say, it was a huge undertaking that was well worth the investment.

After a two-week long road trip out west where we stayed in Airbnb’s the entire time, we decided to join the community of hosts. Our basement listing offers guests a semi-private entrance, a full-size bed, private bathroom, refrigerator and coffee. We also offered our bikes for use.

Over the last 6 months, we’ve hosted 19 guests for 25 nights and have made $1,443. All but one of those stays were in 2016.

Although the extra cash has been great, the real benefit has been being a host to those who have an interest in our corner of the world, sharing our favorite things to do and hearing about their experience. Guests have come from near and far (Little Rock, Chicago, Austin, Atlanta) for several different reasons (job transitions, visiting UA students, weddings, a long weekend touring the area). We’ve enjoyed sharing our home and town with them.

If you’re considering being an Airbnb host, here are a few tips:

  1. Be descriptive with your listing: As an Airbnb guest, we always appreciated and booked spaces with a descriptive listing with lots of photos. Be as descriptive as you can. Walk guests through the space as if they are touring it in person. If your location is a selling point, give viewers more information on walking/biking/driving times to points of interest.
  2. Be competitive and test nightly rates: Airbnb will suggest a price for your space based on the market. We, however, thought their suggestion was a bit on the low side and wanted to see if the market would pay a bit more considering our location. We ended up getting one rental with our high price ($75/night) in three months. So we lowered the price to see what would happen. After lowering it to $59/weeknight and $65/weekend night we found ourselves booked almost every weekend and some weeknights. The rate we ended up with was still more than what Airbnb suggested.  
  3. Review your guests: Airbnb does a great job at encouraging reviews. When a guest reviewed us, we couldn’t read it unless we reviewed them and vice versa. I always made sure to review our guests first and to send reminders for them to review us. I know as a guest, I always read the reviews….so as hosts it was equally as important.
  4. Be available and communicate: Airbnb rates you on your responsiveness. They make it really easy to communicate on their platform too. Anytime someone made a reservation or sent you a message, it’d ping me via email and text, and I could respond either way too. As the main point of contact and “booking agent”, I made sure to be extra responsive. Justin and I came up with a pretty good system so that we were sharing hosting responsibilities. Since we had several back-to-back reservations Justin was the primary housekeeper since his schedule allows for that.
  5. Don’t forget the details: A great Airbnb has everything you may need during your stay. We made our space as convenient as we could for our guests by including a dorm-sized refrigerator in the closet (Justin’s college fridge!), a coffee pot and coffee, water cups, coffee cups, extra linens, a hairdryer, a notepad, instructions to the TV (suggestion from a guest), toiletries, city guides and maps, wifi info, etc. Think of everything you’d ever need during an overnight stay and consider including it in your space. Your guests will appreciate it!
  6. Control your environment: This is more important for hosts who have a shared space like us. It was important for us to be extra quiet when our guests were here. That meant keeping Sammy, our sometimes noisy schnoodle, in our room at night. Or leaving the house to go on an early morning walk when Iya got up, or just sending her for an overnight stay at Grandma’s. You obviously can’t control everything - creaky wooden floors, babies crying, dogs barking, etc., but you can try.

Being an Airbnb host was a lot of fun! One of my dreams is to own my own Bed and Breakfast one day, so I’m happy I got this experience. Since baby #2 will arrive soon, we’ll probably unlist our space and end our stint as an Airbnb host for now. Although, we had a lot of fun doing this, I will say it’ll be nice to have our entire house back and be as loud as we want in the mornings and at night!