More Money, Fewer Problems: How Airbnb Hosting Can Transform Your Bank Account

More Money, Fewer Problems:  How Airbnb Hosting Can Transform Your Bank Account

Since its founding in 2007, Airbnb has become the leading home-rental platform in the world. Due to the millennial generation's prioritization of ease and convenience, coupled with discounted accommodations that are anywhere from 6% to 17% cheaper than hotels, it's easy to see why this online marketplace has disrupted the entire industry. With 150M+ worldwide users who have booked 1+ billion stays in 100,000 cities worldwide, it has quickly overshadowed the traditional hotel industry, which once had a chokehold across the entire hospitality and lodging market. And if you choose to serve as a Host, renting out your own home and charging what you'd like, the deal gets even sweeter. The average American Host earns $13,800 annually, with those in heavily populated cities making much more. In the Los Angeles area, Hosts' average annual earnings are upwards of $70,000.

"It's been pretty salubrious and well worth it," plainly states Brendan Francis, an employee at Airbnb who's been listing his property on the platform for nearly a year. "[The primary motivator for me was] to get more money." After purchasing his Los Angeles home, Francis began looking for passive strategies to increase his wealth. After looking in his backyard one day, he recognized his guest house wasn't getting a ton of use and decided to try his luck on Airbnb. An active Host for nine months now, Francis’ guest house has been a hit on the platform and is showing no signs of slowing down.

To get started, while Airbnb allows Hosts to list properties they own and rent, Francis cautions against listing the property they rent. "It's a lot easier to [list property on Airbnb] when you actually own your space versus trying to subrogate out your space." Many rental companies oppose subletting and include language in the lease terms to discourage and prevent the practice. If listing a rented place, it is your job to read and understand your lease to ensure you're not breaking the terms. In addition, the city of Los Angeles requires registration and a permit number for listing the short-term rental space; this includes securing a signed affidavit from your landlord if renting. Listings without a permit number or exemption posted are blocked from hosting short-term stays.

Next, Francis recommends taking as much care and consideration into the presentation and layout of your listing as possible. "Design a space that you would want to stay in," he begins. "Design something that appeals to others, that people will be enticed to live in and spend some time." He is on to something. Most customers chose Airbnb because they want a personal touch and the ability to live like locals. In the age of social media and Instagram, aesthetically pleasing visuals and a nice investment in the overall functionality of the space are surefire ways to help boost your ratings and, consequently, your bookings. To help further highlight your space, investing in a photographer to take professional photos of your space is a long-time tip veteran Hosts use. Airbnb's site has ideas for a finishing touch. "A bottle of wine or a small gift can also make guests feel extra welcome, but definitely isn't required."

Amenities are the hosting kit's final tool to ensure platform success. The more you have, the better your draw. Francis shares, "[When considering the space, pick] amenities that you personally would want if you were a guest in that space. Really just make it as comfortable as possible." Airbnb's list of essential amenities includes toilet paper, hand soap, body soap, towels, pillows, and linens for each bed.  Aside from this, the sky's the limit when considering just how inclusive and comprehensive a list of amenities you'd like to have in place. Laundering equipment, swimming pool or hot tub, WiFi, secure parking, home exercise equipment, a fully stocked kitchen with dishware and cooking utensils, and working locks on doors come in high demand in Los Angeles. 

In the nine months Francis has been hosting, where he's welcomed nearly 100 guests, he has yet to encounter a truly horrific guest. "Every now and then, you'll get someone that wants to push the boundaries, but I have no horror stories, and I'm thankful for that." While there is the occasional guest who might have violated his protocols of no guests or left behind leftover food purchased during their visit, for the most part, he has met with kind, polite visitors who have stuck to his house rules and left his property in great shape. 

As mentioned, because Airbnb guests aspire to live like a local when traveling, Airbnb diversified its offerings by adding Experiences in 2016. Designed to create in-person or online activities hosted by inspiring local experts, they go beyond typical tours or classes by immersing guests in a Host's unique world.  While Francis does not lead Experiences, he has participated in them when traveling abroad. One Experience, in particular, stands out. "When I was in Brazil, I went to a soccer game with someone who spoke Portuguese and knew a lot about the local team. They were able to tell me about the culture and facilitate travel, tickets, and everything… I don't regret it at all." For those interested in hosting Experiences, the biggest determining factors must demonstrate expertise, insider access, and connection. For guests to truly receive the value, your experience must include an interactive and curated activity.  

Moving forward, Francis has seen a tremendous response and impact since he started using Airbnb to rent his guesthouse and is grateful for the additional income that pads his bank account. There has been no encroachment to his privacy, no disruption to his lifestyle, and nothing short of wins on the platform. With no real downside to speak of, Francis is highly incentivized to maintain his successful hosting run. "I'm going to keep this setup. I'm going to let it run."

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