Airbnb 101 and In-Person Consulting

I am fortunate to live in a 4-story Seattle townhouse that is entirely supported (and then some) by my Airbnb rental income. Sometimes I look around my house and at the guests in front of me, and I ask myself How did I get so lucky?

Not only do I have the flexibility of a lifestyle on my terms, I am also:

  • Supporting myself as a freelancer during hours that work for me. Some days I am busier than a one-legged woman in a kicking contest, but I enjoy being active.
  • Saving time at the gym, burning calories by cleaning rooms and laundering linens.
  • Meeting and connecting with people from all over the world, from all walks of life.
  • Consulting for landlords and potential new Airbnb hosts.

This past week I have met with two property owners hoping to list several of their rental units on Airbnb. If you live in the Seattle area, I am happy to connect with you, too. Contact me if you’d like to learn more about my fees and availability.

It’s good for me to rewind back to what it was like two years ago when I began hosting on Airbnb. In April of 2013 I was nervous and intimidated, feeling my way through the process after a mere 2-hour session with my mentor–a woman who’d been hosting on Airbnb since 2010 when hardly anyone knew of the service.

To a new host, it can be a bit daunting to entertain all the steps necessary for listing your room or property. I totally get it and am here to help. 

First, theres’s interior considerations like linens, furniture, and decor items you need buy for an empty unit or bedroom.

  • Buy new beds. In this day of rampant bed-bug infestations, don’t skimp out on a new mattress set. Your guests deserve a firm/fresh mattress where you’ve been the sole owner. The cost of remediating a bed-bug infestation is not worth the risk of buying a cheap mattress off Craigslist.
  • Consider discount stores like Costco, Ross, and TJ Maxx for quality bedding and towels at a reduced price.
  • Look around your house for unused decor items or inexpensive items from a thrift store.
  • Thrift stores are also goldmines when it comes to dishes and kitchen items. (I am not a microwave user and I found one for $10 at my local Goodwill.)

Then there’s uploading the listing on Airbnb:

  • How can you make the content of your listing  effective in a way that is descriptive, will save you time answering questions, and will also attract guests?
  • How should you market your neighborhood and city attractions? Check local government websites.
  • Who will take the photos–an Airbnb photographer who will shoot the listing for free or a photographer you pay and whom you can direct to shoot the listing in a style you desire?
  • I highly suggest walking in the footsteps of a visitor. How would a traveler get to your listing via rail, taxi, bus, train, and rental car? I detail all of these processes in depth in my listing and have taken good notes as a pretend traveler seeing my city with an inexperienced eye.

After your listing is live, who is going to correspond with guests, update your calendar, and clean the rooms?

  • Will you live on site or hire a property manager or cleaner to help you with your listing? I had the recent fortune to connect with an amazing person who has my back when I travel or am sick–and the feeling is priceless.
  • If you’re not living at the property and plan to hire someone, vet them carefully! Your guests will have high hospitality standards and you want to deliver the best customer service and cleanliness possible. There are freelancers and responsible college students out there who would probably love to help you with your listing. Get creative and ask around for referrals from friends and colleagues.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your cleaning person to perform a paid trial run so you can see how well they clean.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Obviously they will vary by country. Mention me on social media if you have other tips that have worked well for you or if you have questions. I’m happy to connect with you!