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Your Guide to Successful
Vacation Rental Management

The Ultimate Airbnb Host Guide - Vacation Rental Guide

If you are a newbie in the vacation rental industry or just new to Airbnb as an online travel portal and are looking to find out about the vacation rental platform, you are in the right place. Here, we look into Airbnb from all angles.

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is an online marketplace for short-term rentals. Its community network helps owners of holiday rentals list out all kinds of properties from single rooms and entire villas to treehouses and tents.  
From a guest's perspective, it gives them a wide variety of listings to choose from before they book what best suits them.  
The advantage for both hosts and guests are there is nothing traditional to the type of properties listed in Airbnb so hosts can list any kind of property (though certain standards must be met, so you might not be able to list out a spare mattress anymore), and adventurous guests can find them checking in to properties that suit their daredevil appetites, instead of going for safer listings.  
Research shows that more than 4 million hosts use the platform with around 5.6 million global listings in 100,000 cities and over 200,000 countries and regions bringing the valuation of Airbnb to a whopping USD 110 Billion.

What does Airbnb represent?

Airbnb.com started off as airbedandbreakfast.com an ode to the three brilliant guys who turned to rent air mattresses in their apartment into a business that people now rent out everything from shared spaces to a wide array of properties including entire homes, private rooms, apartments, manors, castles, and private islands. 
Its logo, relaunched in 2014, known as “Belo” short for the Symbol of Belonging comprises of 3 intertwined parts, a head- for people, a heart- for love, and a location sign for places. Check out the logo to see if you can find all these elements.

Is Airbnb easy to use?

Airbnb thrives on the user-friendliness of its platform for both hosts and guests. It is easy to navigate and provides all the information a guest needs to make an informed decision. Hosts can save time managing their properties while maintaining a competitive business. It gives everyday people, who might not have a background in real estate or property management, a chance to enter the industry and provide a personalized experience for travelers without having to invest in a website.

How does listing on Airbnb work?

As a company, Airbnb does not own any property, instead, it allows other property owners to list their properties on their site for free only charging a small percentage as commission when a booking is made. 
A large part of Airbnb’s success can be attributed to its use of technology. The website is so user-friendly that property owners are not expected to know any technical or marketing skills to use it. Additionally, from their 24-hour customer support system to host insurance coverage, Airbnb has seemingly thought of and covered every aspect of the vacation rental business.

How to build a successful listing on Airbnb?

When building a listing on Airbnb everything depends very heavily on first impressions. If potential guests are not happy with the photographs on the site, they are most probably not going to check out your descriptions or amenities, so it's best to make sure to get professional help if you are not sure how to do it by yourself.  
Other key parts of the listing to pay attention to: 
  • Location 
  • Property Description 
  • Amenities 
  • Pricing 
  • Check-in Information 
  • Number of guests per room 
  • Maximum number of guests  
  • Property Ratings 
  • Any popular tourist attractions in your locality

What about payments on Airbnb?

The full amount is charged from guests by Airbnb before check-in. 24 hours after the guest's check-in, the host’s payout will be processed. Sometimes, however, depending on the payout method it may take up to 7 working days for some hosts to receive their payment.

How do Airbnb commissions work?

Airbnb gives hosts 2 options to choose from: 
  1. Split-fees: where a percentage of the commission is charged from the guest and the rest is charged from the host 
  1. Host-only fees: here the whole commission (14-16% of total booking amount) is charged to the guest when they make a booking. 

What about Airbnb Host protection?

One of the key problem areas when running a short-term rental on any platform is the potential for property damage by guests. While it is always advisable for hosts to invest in their own short-term rental insurance protection, Airbnb also provides protection for hosts through their Airbnb Host Protection Insurance program.  
Airbnb covers all its hosts through this program at no extra costs for the hosts. However, it does not aim to replace standard insurance and comes with some strict rules and conditions. It does not, for example, cover stolen property such as towels and ornaments in most cases, and in every case, the final decision about whether or not to process a payment and the payment amount if so is made by Airbnb alone.  
Nevertheless, having backup protection from Airbnb leaves guests feeling more comfortable about accepting bookings and allowing complete strangers into their property.

What about Airbnb reviews?

There are two types of Airbnb reviews namely, the host reviews and the guest reviews. Both types of reviews are equally important for the success of your vacation rental business.

Host reviews:

This is the space where guests who have stayed at your property review your property and your service. This is a key deciding factor for other guests when they decide whether to book your property. Inevitably, you may have one or two bad reviews but the key is to thank the guest and assure them (and others who will be reading the review) that it will be used as constructive criticism and the matter will be resolved or measures have been taken to not let it happen again or something to that effect, depending on the review. 
Whether it’s a positive or negative review, the key is to respond to each one of them to give guests the impression that you take time out of your day for them even after the business is done. 

Guest reviews:

With Airbnb, hosts can also review their guests. While this acts as good literature for the guest screening process it also shows guests that you care enough to take time to review them. This goes a long way for guests as it acts as a testimony to the guest’s credibility especially if they plan to book holidays via Airbnb again.

Contacting Airbnb customer support:

Hosts and guests can contact Airbnb directly via call and their website. However, the extensive list of areas covered in the help center allows hosts and guests alike to navigate their way into finding the solution to their problem without having to call Airbnb. The help center also assists those struggling to navigate the Airbnb website. 
Additionally, when guests make a booking, they will usually receive a contact number when they receive their confirmation email. This is the best number for guests to use if they want to contact Airbnb via telephone. 

How to make Airbnb safe for you as a host?

There is always a risk involved in any business, add to it the prospect of giving strangers control of your house and it might leave hosts feeling quite uncomfortable, to say the least. Here are a few things to consider if you are serious about starting your vacation rental business. 
  • Consider housing insurance for your property other than the one provided by Airbnb. 
  • Allowing you to check with guest identification documents, read reviews on guests from other hosts as a part of your vetting process. 
  • Install home security systems including fire alarms, cameras, and noise monitoring devices. 
  • Add damage deposits to your Airbnb rates 

Why should you list your property on Airbnb?

If you are just starting out on the vacation rental business listing on Airbnb is a good place to start as it provides great visibility and a much wider reach. With its user-friendly platform and easy to handle payment system, you will be able to handle bookings from the very first day of the listing.  
As far as profitability goes, it depends on multiple factors such as your location, the type of property you are renting, local laws, and Airbnb rules and regulations. For obvious reasons, there is a high demand for properties in popular tourist destinations. However, surprisingly enough, those properties that bring out the adventurous side in people seem to be attracting a lot of attention as well. 
Each rental business is different and it may be difficult to get it right from the start. If you need help setting up your property rental business, talk to our sales team or request a free demo.

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!