Beginner's Guide to Airbnb Hosting like a Pro: Be Safe and Make Money

Published: November 16, 2017 - 9:00am EST

Airbnb guest arriving

It’s a no-brainer that signing up to be a host for Airbnb can be a great way to make money on a property you own that you don’t need to be using all the time. What isn’t as obvious is how you can prevent your home from getting trashed periodically by guests, how you can protect your identity, how to get consistently good ratings as a host, and how to actually make decent money on Airbnb when you list your property.

If you want to make the big bucks, all while making sure you keep your property in good shape, you’re going to need to be on your game as a good host. To do that, simply follow this guide; before you know it, you’ll know everything you need to about Airbnb, including:

  • Requirements for becoming a host
  • What Airbnb does to protect their hosts
  • How to get your property listed on Airbnb
  • Factors you need to make decisions on while listing
  • How to take your listing to the next level to get more guests – and make more money

If you have never used Airbnb as a guest, you might want to try staying at someone else’s Airbnb before you try hosting yourself. Check out our free Airbnb course to learn how, along with other useful information like Airbnb safety tips.

If you want to go from Airbnb beginner to absolute pro, read on!

Airbnb host requirements

Though almost anyone can sign up to host on Airbnb, there are a few restrictions and requirements that help ensure quality properties and hosts are listed on the site, and that users will keep coming back to book. Before you go through the work of signing up as a host, you need to make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • You must be the legal owner of your property, or have the written permission of your landlord if you are a tenant
  • Have a valid way to communicate with potential guests
  • Must list your property in a country where property rental is legal, which excludes Crimea, Iran, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea

If you meet all three of these standards, then you’re good to go! But before you list your property, you’re going to want to read up on the steps Airbnb takes to protect you as the property owner. You want your property to stay in tip-top shape, and Airbnb will help.

4 ways Airbnb protects you as a host

1. The $1,000,000 Host Guarantee

The Airbnb Host Guarantee helps protect you as a host from damages done to your property. Essentially, if damage is done to your property by guests, Airbnb will reimburse you for the damages up to $1,000,000! There are of course, some terms and conditions that go along with this, but basically, you’re fully protected.

Handing a key over

2. Host Protection Insurance

This program helps to guarantee protection against possible claims brought against you, again, for up to $1,000,000. This protects you against bodily injury claims, so for example, if someone injures themselves at your home, the costs will be covered. It also helps with cases that a landlord may bring against a host. This is only available in certain countries however, including:

Australia | Austria | Belgium | Canada | China | Croatia | Czech Republic | Finland | France | Germany | Hungary | India | Ireland | Israel | Italy | Japan | The Netherlands | New Zealand | Norway | Portugal | Singapore | Spain | South Africa | Sweden | United Kingdom | United States

If you want to learn more information about Airbnb protection insurance and what it covers, check out this help article.

3. Verified identities

Airbnb now requires hosts and users to verify their identities. This prevents people from creating false accounts, or running phishing scams through the website. Users can scan images of their passport or drivers license, so Airbnb can identify they are legitimate. That way, you know you’ll have a real member of society coming to stay with you!

4. A community for support

Airbnb has an extensive help center to answer any of your questions, but they also have the Airbnb Community, which is full of tips and tricks, and even help related to your local area. If you’re looking to connect with other hosts for support, this is a great resource to start making use of.

Airbnb community

Getting your property listed on Airbnb is quick and easy! Just follow the steps below to get started.

How to get your property listed on Airbnb

  1. Go to Airbnb.com and create an account (if you haven’t already).
     
  2. Click Discover Hosting, and then click Host a Home.

    Sign up as a Host buttons
     
  3. Click any of the Get Started buttons.

    Get Started button
     
  4. Fill out each section of the registration pages, clicking Next at the bottom of each page.

    Host registration form
     
  5. Click Finish on the final page.

Finish registration button

On the registration page, you’ll need to make decisions about your listing, as well as provide information about the layout of your place, and what you have to offer. The registration pages will ask you the following questions:

Step 1: The basics

Basics about the property

  1. What kind of place do you have?
  2. Where is it located?
  3. How many guests can you accommodate?
  4. What type of property is it?
  5. Is this your personal home, or is it set up primarily for guests?
  6. How many bedrooms are there?
  7. How many beds are there, and what type are they?
  8. How many washrooms are there?
  9. What is the complete address of where you live?
    (Note: this will not be released to any user until they actually book with you and payment has been made.)
  10. What amenities do you offer? Including: Essentials (towels, sheets, soap, toilet paper), Wi-Fi, shampoo, closets/drawers, TV, heat, air conditioning, breakfast/coffee/tea, desk/workspace, fireplace, iron, hair dryer, pets in the home, private entrance, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, bedroom door locks, etc.
  11. What spaces can guests use? Including: pool/hot tub, gym, laundry, kitchen, elevator, parking, etc.

Step 2: Set the scene

Kitchen in Airbnb home

  1. Add photos of your space.
  2. Add a 500-character summary description of your property.
  3. Indicate if your property is suitable for families, children, large groups, and pets
  4. Add specifics about your place that would be relevant to a potential renter, what guests can access, if/how you will interact with them, what the neighborhood is like, and how to get around.
  5. Choose a listing title (50 characters max).
  6. Add your mobile phone number.

Note: Much of what you can include in Step 2 is optional, but if you want to make money on your property and get lots of people interested, you can bet you’ll need to include as much of this information as possible.

Step 3: Get ready for guests

Rules for listing

  1. Review guest requirements, and add optional requirements of your own, including government-issued ID verification, recommended by others hosts, and/or no negative reviews.
  2. Set rules: suitable ages, pets allowed, smoking allowed, events or parties allowed, and any rule you want to make up (for example, no shoes in the home).
  3. Indicate how often you want to be renting, and Airbnb will set calendar availabilities for you (which you can alter at any time).
  4. Choose how far in advance guests can book, how long they can stay, and when/if they can cancel.
  5. Update your calendar and block out dates that are unavailable.
  6. Add a fixed price, or set to “demand pricing” which adjusts based on demand in your area.
  7. Choose if you want to offer welcome pricing (15% off to your first guest).
  8. Choose to offer weekly or monthly discounts to encourage longer stays.

Those are all the things you’ll be forced to make a choice on, but if you want to be a top-notch Airbnb host, there are some things you’ll need to start making decisions about right away, which will determine what kind of host you’re going to be.

Decisions you’ll need to make about your property listing

What you’re offering

Pantry box

Though you need to be clear about things like the number of beds and baths you have, there are other things that are really, entirely, up to you. Things you’re going to include with your listing are, to the user, things they are getting for the price they are paying. Think about the difference you’d feel between two possible listings that are essentially the same in layout and amenities, but one of them offers free shampoos, coffee, and some fruit!

See our tips below to learn more about how to go above and beyond to get those 5-star reviews on Airbnb, but keep in mind, you should have decided upon these things before listing your property, so you can include all relevant information while listing.

What your guests will have to pay

Making this decision is tough – we know that – and so does Airbnb. That’s why, while you’re listing your property, they will offer suggestions for you about what to pay. Our recommendation is to have a number in mind before you view this suggestion – that way, when the time comes, you’ll really know whether you think that’s a fair price or not.

To help you out, think about what you would be willing to pay for a place like yours, and look at some comparable listings on Airbnb. And remember, you can always change the listing price at any time, so it may make sense to start out with Airbnb’s suggestion, and then raise it if your place is booked frequently, or lower it if no one seems interested.

You can also offer discounts to guests:

  • First-time renter: a discount of 15% to the first guest to book with your property – which will help bring business to you as a host with no reviews.
  • Monthly or weekly: a reduction in price if someone books to stay at your place for an entire week, or for a month – which will encourage people to stay at your location longer, rather than looking for cheaper alternatives.

You can even get Airbnb to automatically adjust your price based on need, so it will go down if no one is really booking in your area, but will go up if places are highly in-demand. You can change this setting at any time, so it may be a useful thing to start out with until you better understand the price trends and cycles of demand in your area.

When your property is available

Calendar updating

When you list, you’ll need to have your calendar in tip-top shape right away. Nothing will get you a bad review faster than if you didn’t block out a date you weren’t available, and the first guest interested in your place gets turned away, even though you never indicated the property wasn’t available.

Make sure you not only have this in mind when you’re listing, but update it constantly. Most hosts have their calendar set at least 6 months in advance, and are very flexible with bookings and cancellations. If you want to have more people book with you, you’ll need to present your listing in this way as well.

If you want to become a top-rated Airbnb host, you’ll need to go above and beyond the expectations of your guests. These few steps below will help turn any beginner host into an instant pro.

5 easy steps to elevating your Airbnb property listing

1. Take the right photos to show off what you’re selling.

Well-lit living room

When you take the photos for your property, you can’t just quickly snap a pic of the living room and post it; nobody is going to want to rent from you if they don’t know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. Here are some quick, easy things to cross off the list when taking pictures:

  • Well-lit – always take the pictures in the day-time, unless you have something specific to show off at night time (like outdoor lights, a hot tub, etc.)
  • 8 or more – if you haven’t taken at least 8 pictures of your property, it simply isn’t enough. There should be at minimum, one image of each room.
  • Don’t forget the exterior – take pictures both indoors and outdoors. Seeing an image of what the house, cottage, or building looks like from the outside can help potential guests get a much better feel for what the place is like.
  • The corner is your friend – one of the best ways to get a comprehensive shot of an entire room is by taking the picture in the corner – it helps provide a much wider viewpoint of the room.
  • Show off what you have – if you offer anything particularly enticing, make sure you take a picture of it. If you offer a pool, it should be featured. If you claim to have a princess-style, King-sized, canopy bed with beautiful drapery, you’d better include a picture of it to entice people.

2. Be available and answer questions quickly and clearly.

Chances are, the person who is interested in your listing is going to contact you before confirming their reservation to ask you a few questions. Even if you included this information in your listing, be sure to answer quickly, and take the time to answer every query they ask you. This person is considering staying in a stranger’s home – they have a right to ask questions and make sure the trip they are planning will go off without a hitch!

3. Provide complimentary items that are tangible, and that people actually appreciate.

Coffee pods

Towels, sheets, running water – these are all things that people expect. To go above and beyond a guest’s expectations, you need to offer something tangible, that they can hold in their hand and appreciate. Things like a bowl of fruit, complimentary coffee and tea, or a bottle of wine can go a long way when it comes time for them to review you. These kinds of offerings only cost you a couple of bucks, but pay out in the long run when you continuously get 5-star reviews, which make more and more potential guests want to book with you.

4. Don’t ignore safety information.

Guests appreciate knowing as much pertinent information about the home as they can, including where a fire extinguisher is, how to get out of a building in the event of a fire, and other things related to safety. Post a booklet near the entrance that contains all of this information, and provide an emergency contact phone number in case the guests have issues while staying in your home.

5. Help your guests make some meaningful memories.

People smiling at a table

Remember they key description of your job with Airbnb – you’re a host. A host cares for their guests, and helps them in any way they can. The people booking with you are staying away from their own homes for a reason – maybe to vacation, maybe for business, and hundreds of other possible reasons – but they chose your home. Make them feel welcome, meet their individual needs, and provide them with the things that will leave them smiling and satisfied when they walk out the door.

 

We hope this guide helps you go from beginner to Airbnb pro, with enough time to get your property listed and ready for the upcoming season. We also have other helpful articles on vacation rental sites, including some other Airbnb-like websites you can list your property on if after reading this, you’re feeling like Airbnb doesn’t seem like the best fit for you.

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