Staying at an Airbnb can be one of the best ways to make a trip special. Choose well, and your accommodation becomes a key part of the experience, making a memory that bonds you to a time and place.
Inspired by our stays across the globe, we started our very own Airbnb three years ago, and still clearly remember welcoming our first guests with trepidation.
Today, we’re Superhosts with 118 reviews and a 4.9 star rating, and we think we’ve found our stride.
We’ve come to learn how hosting can be an adventure and a privilege. Sure, we’ve had our share of plumbing mishaps and messy guests, but overwhelmingly, we’ve been enriched by the connections we’ve made with visitors from all over.
Most of the work is behind the scenes and not particularly glamorous, but planning and consistency are key factors in maintaining a successful Airbnb. It’s still a business after all, and your investment needs to be as productive as it can be.
Here are ten practical lessons we’ve learned that’ll help you keep your Airbnb profitable and fun, so you can focus more on the rewarding part of the experience: your guests.
1. Buy cleaning supplies in bulk
2. Make a checklist, look for specials, and order online in bulk
4. Have multiples of bedding and towels on hand
5. Use an in-cistern toilet cleaner
7. Track your Airbnb incomes and expenses, and save your receipts
8. Consider using white bed linens instead of patterned or colored ones
9. Consider a two-night minimum
10. Self-check-in takes the pressure off you and your guests
With a cleaning regime required for each guest’s turnover, your Airbnb will demand more in cleaning supplies than an average home.
When you buy cleaning supplies at a typical retailer, you spend more and create a lot of packaging waste: plastic bottles used for floor cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, degreasers, glass fluid, and more.
Look instead for concentrates that you can buy at volume and dilute into refillable bottles.
Having a stock of cleaning supplies on-hand also means that it’ll be a long time — years, probably — before you run out. No more unexpected, mid-turnover trips to the store!
Your Airbnb will require a plethora of other supplies: cereals, washing powder, toilet paper, shampoos, soaps, hand sanitizer, cleaning cloths, treats for guests — the list goes on. These will also cost you more if you shop for them only when required.
Get your supplies sorted in one lot by buying online and in bulk from online retailers like Amazon, or if you prefer to shop locally, a grocery store that lets you buy online for delivery or collection.
Price comparisons, hunting for specials, and repeating orders are easy online, and you don’t need to wander the aisles with a massive shopping cart. When you have your haul, set up a good system for organizing your stock so it’s easy to re-supply. You also feel like you have your own grocery store, which is kinda great.
We left a fruit basket for every guest when we started, and while we’re sure our guests appreciated the gesture, often the fruit went uneaten. It doesn’t matter if it’s free; people are picky about fruit.
So we now offer non-perishable treats like chocolates and other snacks, which still helps our guests feel a bit more welcome without the resulting wastage if they don’t choose to partake.
Turnovers can put pressure on your laundry system, particularly if your linens need more work due to staining, or if you can’t launder and dry them in time (winters can be particularly tricky in this regard).
Invest in multiple sets of your bedding and towels. This not only ensures that your linens last longer, but you’re also not reliant upon a single set.
Having spares takes the stress out of preparing laundry to a schedule, giving you more flexibility.
Yes, this list gets less glamorous. But hopefully, more valuable!
You know those things that make your flushes blue and bubbly? Pop one in the cistern and keep it topped up.
This helps keep your toilets clean during stays, prevents buildup, and makes the cleaning job easier after the guests leave.
We were skeptical about these things, until Bowser — our Roomba — entered our lives. He’s very effective and thorough, and has cut down turnover times and costs significantly.
Since moving in, Bowser has done 691 jobs and vacuumed for 312 hours and 3 minutes, averaging 45 minutes a job for a total of 9,485 square meters.
Think about it: 312 hours saved. That’s enough time for:
You get the idea. Get a robot!
Your Airbnb expenses may well be deductible from your taxable income. Deductible items may include interest on the mortgage, utilities, cleaning fees, Airbnb’s own service fees, insurances, and other expenses.
Every expense has the potential to save you money on taxes, so keep good records. This means less work during tax time, and you also get a better understanding of how much you’re actually earning from your Airbnb.
Photograph your receipts as soon as you make a purchase, and store them in an easily accessible location.
PocketSmith is a perfect tool for tracking and organizing Airbnb incomes and expenses. It automatically downloads your transactions from your bank account, and lets you attach receipts to your expenses so you can easily find them later.
This means you can get to the information quickly as you need it, and reports for tax time are a breeze. Learn more about how to use PocketSmith to track a side hustle.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to pick a color that easily stains, hotels use white linens because they:
The time and cost required to clean after a one-night stay will most likely be the same as that of a two-night stay or more, and it’s always more productive to do fewer turnovers for each night’s stay.
Switching to a two-night minimum resulted in a significant difference to the quality of our lives without a noticeable impact on booking volume.
If you can make the occupancy work, a two-night minimum (at least!) will make each stay more worth your while.
When we started hosting on Airbnb, we met every one of our guests at check-in and realized they broadly fell into two camps:
Upon reflection, we too realized that there were stays where it was delightful to be met by our hosts, but also stays where we were just too tired for conversation, much less overcoming the language barrier. At these times, we preferred to be left to ourselves when checking in.
Ultimately, if the check-in process is easy, guests generally don’t mind if the hosts aren’t around to receive them.
So now, we chat to our guests if we chance upon them, but we always offer self-check-in, which saves considerable time and stress for everyone. Guests check in at their leisure and have their privacy, and we’re not waiting around for them.
Instead, you can go about your day and smile as you remember that you’ve helped your guests make a treasured memory.
Are you an Airbnb host with experiences and tips to share? Drop us a line at [email protected] — we’d love to hear from you!
Jason is the CEO and co-founder here at PocketSmith. He is fascinated by our unique relationships with our money, and is passionate about making peoples’ lives better through the technologies we craft. He’s been a sneakerhead since the 80’s, and loves gardening on sunny days while listening to Planet Money.