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Listing your place on Airbnb? Here's what you need to know

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While hosting has many benefits, it’s a full-time job - not unlike working in the hospitality industry. Hosting involves cleaning properties, accommodating guests, and dealing with issues like late check-ins and broken faucets.

What would compel more than 650,000 people to invite 2 million strangers into their homes each night through Airbnb? Mostly the opportunity to turn unused spaces into additional sources of income. Hosts who list their properties on Airbnb earn an average of $924 a month.

For many people, hosting just makes sense. For example, someone who owns a vacation home that sits idle for most of the year can list it on Airbnb when it’s not in use. Some people even rent out their primary residences when they go on trips to slash the costs of their vacations.

Anyone with a space to rent has a reason to rent, but that doesn't mean you should jump right in. Before you take the plunge, make sure you and your property are prepared for what comes next.

The Reality of Hosting
While hosting has many benefits, it’s a full-time job - not unlike working in the hospitality industry. Hosting involves cleaning properties, accommodating guests, and dealing with issues like late check-ins and broken faucets.

For many, the biggest aversion to hosting isn’t the time or work involved - it’s the thought of opening your property to strangers. Luckily, technologies like noise sensors, smart locks, and connected thermostats allow hosts to monitor for misbehavior while still giving guests privacy. Doorbell cameras, for example, can show you everyone who enters your property.

Even hosts who feel like their situation is perfect for Airbnb need to consider the risk and reward first. Hosting can take a lot of time, work, and expenses, and the income could be less than anticipated. Turning this into a profitable and sustainable opportunity requires an ongoing commitment.

A Checklist for New Hosts
The work you put in before you list your property should pay off in more bookings, better reviews, and higher nightly rates. Before you can reap the rewards, make sure you consider these priorities:

  • Create a perfect listing. Use clear, updated photos to give guests a tour of the property. Pay extra attention to your description, too. Instead of just listing off amenities, write something that gets people excited to book. Avoid generic language, use a distinctive voice, define what makes your property unique, and make it readable. If you’re not sure what to write, put yourself in the guests' shoes. What would you want to know before you booked?
  • Clean everything. Guests want to see your living space rather than your clutter. Before every new guest arrives, clean thoroughly - as if you were selling your home. In the same vein, consider putting out some fresh flowers or a bowl of fruit. It will make the place feel more inviting and add a homey touch that guests appreciate.
  • Start and finish renovations. Simple upgrades make an average space look attractive to guests. Freshen everything with a new coat of paint, brighten up areas with interesting light fixtures, and add some attention-grabbing decor. If you’re really ambitious, you could even add extra bedrooms, amenities, or updated tech to increase your nightly rate.
  • Put your best face forward. Guests certainly judge the property, but they also judge the host. A reputation for fast, friendly service works to your advantage, but great customer service isn’t easy. Plan how you will interact with guests throughout the process, and strive to be as available as possible.
  • Map the neighborhood. Guests want to experience your neighborhood as much as they want to stay in your home. Create a guide highlighting everything important and interesting in the surrounding areas: restaurants, shops, public transportation, parks, museums, etc.

With these tips in mind, it's time to post your listing and await your first booking. The hard work is only beginning - but so are the fruits of your labor.

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