ACR agent and resident AirBnB expert Alex Concepcion teaches you how to master the AirBnB game. This is just a quick guide...getting in touch with the source by calling Alex is the next step.
AirBnB has caused quite the splash in our world. The now-household-name-company has turned millions of ordinary people into overnight entrepreneurs, given everyone unprecedented access to affordable “live-like-a-local” accommodations, pissed off a lot of hotel executives, and continues to confuse local regulatory bodies.
For many people, becoming an AirBnB host means having extra money to pay the mortgage, make rent more affordable, turn events like SXSW and ACL into spending money for world travels, and making sudden friends with interesting people from all over the world.
Obviously, this business isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Without paying close attention to rules & regulations, a once profitable happy-go-lucky side hustle can turn into an angry fine-filled cease-and-desist letter from your apartment complex or local government.
As Austin Craft Realty’s local short term rental expert, I’ll be converting my extensive experience managing, marketing, and consulting these businesses into easy and actionable tips that you can use to successfully launch and operate your own AirBnB.
First of all, should you even do AirBnB?
I’m not here to sell everyone on becoming an AirBnB host. Plain and simply, some people shouldn’t host. Hosting means taking people’s money and hard-won travel time. If you’re not ready or willing to put in serious effort into providing people high quality accommodations and guest experiences, this business isn’t for you. If you’re excited about the idea of meeting new people, showing them a great time, and creating unique experiences excites you, then proceed forward!
Before you decide to pull the trigger and make that AirBnB listing, let’s talk about the elephant in the room - regulations.
If you rent an apartment chances are your complex will frown upon you hosting guests. Many complexes routinely monitor AirBnB (especially during major events) to bust hosts. If you’re comfortable “flying under the radar”, you should make remove any obvious indicators that your listing actually belongs to you (as in don’t put your room number, building name, and personal info). It’s definitely possible to pull off, and many of my friends have, but you are running the risk of getting caught.
If you own a home, regulations go through the City of Austin. Without going too far into the regulatory weeds (and there are plenty) I’ll outline the 3 types of permits. More info can be found here.
Type 1: Owner Occupied. Basically, you own and live in your home, and rent out a spare bedroom. Austin isn’t restricting these licenses right now, so they’re easy to get. You won’t need to worry about this too much.
Type 2: Non Owner Occupied. If you don’t live in your home (ie. run it as an investment) You’ll need a type 2 permit which Austin currently isn’t giving out.
Type 3: Multi-family building. These are possible to get, and run out of a larger multi-family condo building, but chances are you’re dealing with an HOA which won’t allow STR’s
Regulations in Austin are notoriously complex, so go beyond taking my word, and do some further research yourself. Many hosts do operate without a permit (surprise!), but do so at their own risk. However, enforcement of these rules can be difficult.
How Much Money Can You Make?
Presumably, you’re interested in AirBnB because you’d like to make some money. Research your zip code on analytics websites like AirDNA and Everbooked where you can check out local revenue estimates, occupancy rates, and spy on the competition.
So you’ve decided to take the plunge! To get started, I’ll outline the basic principles you’ll need to start and operate a successful AirBnB.
Why Would Anybody Want to Stay At Your Home?
Before you even start crafting your AirBnB listing, your home needs to be a place people actually want to stay in. This may sound obvious, but you’ll find plenty of AirBnB hosts listed who probably shouldn’t be AirBnB hosts. Bribe your interior designer friend, call mom, steal inspiration from pinterest while you sip on fancy wine, whatever. Make sure your place looks good.
Hint: This is not appealing.
Hint: This is appealing
Take Great Photos
Casual hosts can get away with taking mediocre iPhone pictures and calling it a day. However, your listing won’t pop out amongst the crowd of other listings. If you’re a serious host, I consider professional pictures mandatory. Few things will have a higher return-on-investment than high quality pictures. If you think your cell phone pictures are good enough. They aren’t. Hire a pro. This will immediately catapult your listing to the top 10% in terms of quality.
Which one would you book?
Sell Your Listing!
When you’re writing about your home, sell it. Think about the exact kind of person that would love to stay with you, and write to them specifically. Your copywriting should be a healthy blend of factual information, and heartfelt personality. Don’t be afraid to have fun in your description. Part of the charm of AirBnB is that people like to stay with people, not corporate robots.
If you don’t enable Instant Book (which if you’re just starting off, is understandable) make sure you respond to inquiries quickly. Few things increase booking conversions than rapid response times.
You obviously don’t want to host a guest who is coming to throw a huge rager. Ask why your guest is looking to stay with you. You have full control over who gets to book or not book your property. Decline to host anybody that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Don’t become the next AirBnB horror story.
Hint: This is bad.
Create An Awesome Guest Experience
Your guests are looking for more than just a bed to sleep in. They’re looking to live like a local (aka, you). The experience you create for your guests is ultimately what they’ll remember. (And what their 5 star reviews will be made of) Put your Anthony Bourdain hat on and show your guests how to live like a local.
Pro Tip: Use a tool like Hostfully to create and share awesome digital guestbooks.
Speaking of Reviews….
After a guest stays, make sure you get them to review your home. Having a solid track record of reviews will increase your bookability, reputation, and yes, profit.
There is a giant suite of tools available that make running your AirBnB easier, profitable, and more enjoyable. Tools like dynamic pricing, smart locks, communication automation, digital guestbooks, etc. Diving into all the technology would take way too much time. Luckily, I built a website to show off all the stuff out there to help hosts like you. Vacation Toolbox
The fun of this business comes from building relationships new and interesting people from all over the world. The more fun you have, the more fun guests have, the more money you make, the more breakfast tacos you eat. Win-Win-Win
Pro Tip. Work With a Pro (me!)
If you’re overwhelmed with starting off in this business, as many people are, reach out to me! I’ve collected lot’s of valuable insight and wisdom from the world’s vacation rental professionals that I’d love to share with you.
Becoming an AirBnB host can be one of the funnest ways to make extra money by connecting you to like-minded people all over the world, or it could become a nightmare if done improperly. Hopefully the information I’ve shared should help you decide if hosting is right for you, and how to start off on the right foot. I look forward joining you on your hosting journey!