How to start an Airbnb business (An In-depth Guide)


Airbnb is an online platform that connects landlords with guests that need a place to stay. Homeowners can rent a few of their rooms to guests, in exchange for payment. In this post, you will learn how to start an Airbnb business, learn the pros and cons, know how much it costs to start an Airbnb business, and many more.

What is Airbnb, and how does it work?

Airbnb is an online property marketplace that connects homeowners (hosts) with people (guests) that are looking for accommodation in specific locations.

Airbnb stands for “Air Bed and Breakfast.” It is named so because of its origin, which goes as far back as 2007. The co-founders converted their living room into a bedroom and rented it out while intending to earn extra income.

Today, and as of the moment of writing this article, Airbnb has more than 5.6 million listings, a presence in over 100,000 cities and towns, and more than 220 countries in the world.

Quite a story, right?

Advantages of using Airbnb (for hosts and guests)

1. Wide selection (for guests)

There are many types of properties available on Airbnb. This ranges from single rooms to apartments, houses to houseboats, caravans, castles, etc.

2. Free listings (for hosts)

Landlords and homeowners don’t have to pay a dime to list their properties.

Whenever you start an Airbnb business, your listings should include written descriptions, real pictures, and other vital info.

Also, you should have a user profile that guests can view to know more about you.

3. Hosts can set their own price (for hosts)

Being the owner of your house or property, you have the right to decide how much to charge per night, per week, or per month.

4. Customizable searches (for guests)

Guests in need of accommodation can search on Airbnb and filter results based on the following metrics:

  • Date
  • Location
  • Price
  • Type of property
  • Amenities
  • Language of the host
  • Extra features

5. Additional services

Contrary to what most people think, Airbnb does not only deal in housing and rent. You can also search for experiences, restaurants, classes and sightseeing.

6. Protection (for guests and hosts)

As a guest, Airbnb will not give your payment to the landlord until after 24 hours. The time starts counting from the moment you check in.

As a landlord (host), you’re eligible for a compensation fee of up to $1,000,000, should a guest damage your property?

Note that this protection is free of charge. However, there are terms and conditions, and it doesn’t cover all damages.

Disadvantages of using Airbnb (for hosts and guests)

1. What you see may not be what you get (for guests)

Not everyone in this world is honest or sincere. Almost every landlord in eligible countries can create their own listings. Unfortunately, there’s no way to be sure until you arrive at the place.

One of the things you can do to protect yourself is to read comments from previous guests.

2. Potential damage (for hosts)

Property damage is one of the risks involved while starting an Airbnb business. Although most guests will come and go without damaging your property, there may be a day when the opposite would happen.

Airbnb’s Host Damage Protection program offers some assurance, but it will not cover damaged or stolen cash, rare artworks, jewellery and pets.

3. Added Fees and taxes (guests and hosts)

Airbnb will charge its own fee for bringing the landlord a guest. Both the homeowner and the guest will pay a service fee to Airbnb. We will talk about that close to the end of this article.

You will want to pay attention to this. Hosts and guests in certain countries will pay a value-added tax (VAT).  Also, some landlords and homeowners may have to pay taxes on the income they generate from Airbnb, depending on their country of residence.

How to start an Airbnb business: Step-by-step guide

Follow these steps to start your Airbnb business:

1. Find and prepare your Airbnb space

You can rent whatever you have, no one cares. Just make sure you inform potential buyers about the perks, as well as the shortcomings of your property.

It can be a single room that shares your bathroom, a private wing or a whole house. Either way, you should prepare it in a way that will look welcome and presentable to a guest.

2. Decide your price

Think about the perks of your space. How much do you think it’s worth?

Offer a fair price, and do that while remembering that you’ll have to pay 3% to Airbnb and also pay some tax levies. The remainder is what you’ll get at the end of the day.

3. Create your listing

  • Start your Airbnb business by creating an account
  • Upload your listing. Be sincere and don’t withhold details about shortcomings
  • Indicate extra features that are special about your space
  • Upload clear photos that correspond to the actual size of your space

4. Hire some help (if you need to)

Depending on the number, size, and price of your Airbnb listings, you may need to ask a relative for help or hire someone.

Such a person will assist your Airbnb business by:

  • Responding to urgent issues
  • Replying to emails and communications
  • Handling and notifying you about damage and repairs
  • Giving guests a tour around the neighbourhood
  • Assisting your guests whenever they’re checking in or out
  • Meeting guests on your behalf, and lots more

5. Host an Airbnb experience

Like we said earlier, housing and physical properties are not the only businesses available on Airbnb. You can also host experiences, yoga classes, tours, etc.

For instance, you can host tourism activities around the Eiffel Tower, surf lessons at a beach in Greece, a tour in London, sightseeing in beautiful locations and lots more.

How much does it cost to start a business on Airbnb?

Airbnb service charges (for hosts)

Being the homeowner, you will have to pay a flat service fee of 3% to Airbnb. You will be paying 3% of the booking subtotal.

The subtotal is your rent rate (e.g $1,000 per week) plus your cleaning and additional guest fee. Note that this service fee of 3% is separate from taxes.

Airbnb service charges (for guests)

While the host pays 3% of the booking subtotal, guests will have to pay a flat service fee of 14% to Airbnb.

Note that these fees are what keep Airbnb functioning to date. Aside from their startup capital, they have to pay employees and spend money on ads while also making a profit.

Learn more about Airbnb service fees.

Conclusion

Now you have everything you need to start an Airbnb business. List your property, provide descriptions and images, and don’t set a price that’s too high.

Since you now know how to start an Airbnb business, you can start by listing your properties here.



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