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10 Most Commonly Asked Questions From New Airbnb Hosts

What’s really worth investing in? How do I know if starting an Airbnb is worth the risk? How can I manage it if I’m working full time? You’re about to find out.

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I'm Sabrina, a short-term rental host coach who knows starting your own Airbnb biz can quickly get waaaay too complicated. But it doesn't have to be. I help first-time Airbnb hosts like you go from overwhelmed to "Yes!! Another  booking!"
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The truth is, starting an Airbnb is hard. It’s scary, time-consuming, risky, and filled with uncertainty. But anything worth doing doesn’t come easy! If you’re thinking about becoming an Airbnb host (or are already knee-deep in getting started!) then your head is probably swirling with tons of questions like…

What’s really worth investing in? How do I know if starting an Airbnb is worth the risk? How do I know what to price my Airbnb? How can I maintain it if I’m working full-time? Do I need to promote it on social media to be successful?

Read on to get the answers to 10 of the most commonly asked questions new Airbnb hosts (just like you!) have. When you’re done, be sure to drop any additional questions you have in the comments.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I’m not affiliated with Airbnb in any way (other than being an Airbnb host, of course). Read my full disclosure policy here.

A cozy spot to curl up by the fireplace at my Airbnb. | The Realist

10 Most Commonly Asked Questions From New Airbnb Hosts

1. Is starting an Airbnb worth the risk? How do I run the numbers?

When deciding whether or not to start an Airbnb, the best first step is to find the right potential location. Thankfully, AirDNA makes finding the right location for your Airbnb super easy. AirDNA instantly calculates the expected short-term rental revenue, nightly rate, and occupancy rate of any location or property you type in. If you want to minimize your risk, this data is crucial before starting your Airbnb. The best part? This data is totally free.

That said, before investing in any property, you’ve got to know the market on a much deeper level. With AirDNA’s monthly subscription, you can dive deep into market data like monthly revenue breakdowns, seasonality, and your competitors’ performance. AirDNA’s low-cost monthly subscription is well worth it for the confidence you’ll get before spending even a dollar (make that hundreds of thousands of dollars) on starting an Airbnb.

However, just understanding the market isn’t enough to make a sound real estate investment. Before making an offer on any specific property, you need to run the numbers to know if it would actually be profitable as an Airbnb. My free Airbnb profitability calculator will help you do just that.

This profitability calculator is exactly what I use to determine whether or not a potential investment property would be profitable as an Airbnb. Based on specific inputs you’ll plug in, this free downloadable instantly calculates three crucial financial metrics you need to make an informed investment decision.

TL;DR With my Airbnb calculator, you can quickly assess whether or not a property would be profitable before you even spend time touring it.

Pro tip: One of the best ways to maximize your revenue is to optimize your listing.

2. Should I go with an individual housekeeper or use a bigger company?

If possible, I would actually recommend a small-sized cleaning company that can, hopefully, give you the best of both worlds. Ideally, they’d be small enough to really care about each individual home (you don’t want to be “just a number”) but big enough and established enough to be experienced with Short-term rental turnovers, really take their business seriously, and have enough cleaners to have a backup if your typical cleaner can’t make it from time to time.

3. Is investing in major amenities (like a pool) worth it?

When it comes to building major amenities like a pool, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on your exact situation. Here are a few things to consider before deciding:

  • How much would this amenity increase your property value when you sell?
  • How much would it increase your Airbnb’s nightly rate and/or occupancy rate? I know this is hard to predict; I would start by looking at comparable properties and using the data within AirDNA. I would also consider who your target guest is and if this is something they’re looking for in an Airbnb. Here’s my step-by-step guide to help you identify your target guest, if you haven’t already.
  • Are both of those “rewards” worth the “risk”? Meaning, is the amount you expect to earn from this amenity worth it compared to the cost and time it will take to set up and maintain. In the case of a pool, I would also consider liability risk.
  • Are there any other reasons you would/wouldn’t want this amenity? (e.g. you want a pool and would use it yourself)

4. How do I promote my listing? Is social media the best way to get bookings?

When it comes to promoting your listing, I think there are two crucial things to do before promoting your listing off-platform (i.e. on social media).

First, optimizing your listing to convince as many potential guests as possible who land on your listing to excitedly hit “book!” is crucial because, ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many people you drive to your listing if you don’t successfully convince those people to book with you.

Second, optimizing your listing to show up higher in Airbnb search results will help you leverage the awesome search engine built into Airbnb to effortlessly drive potential guests to your listing right when they’re ready to book.

I would highly recommend doing both of those things before investing in promoting your listing on social media. My listing optimization guide, Listing Optimization Secrets, walks you through how to do both step-by-step so you can start earning more Airbnb revenue today.

One of the highlights of my Airbnb: the expansive couch. | The Realist

5. How will I maintain my Airbnb while working full-time?

To answer this, you first need to decide if you want to manage your Airbnb yourself.

Whether or not you choose to manage your Airbnb yourself totally depends on your personal situation. Some hosts enjoy the day-to-day guest interaction, love being hands-on, and have no problem fitting it into their busy schedules.

However, many hosts choose to hire someone else to manage the day-to-day operations of running an Airbnb. This can be an especially good option if you work full-time and don’t have the flexibility to respond to guests right away or resolve problems at the drop of a hat. It can also be especially helpful if you manage your Airbnb remotely and can’t frequently visit the property in person.

If you think hiring someone to help manage your Airbnb might be right for you, check out this blog post. In it, I’m breaking down what exactly Airbnb co-hosts do and how to know if hiring a co-host is right for you.

6. How do I price my Airbnb? I don’t want to underprice and leave money on the table or overprice and struggle to maintain occupancy. I compare my Airbnb to other local listings and find pricing is all over the board.

First off, pricing is super hard! It’s one of the biggest things I struggled with my first year hosting because there’s just so much uncertainty when it comes to finding the sweet spot that maximizes your revenue.

That said, I think a pricing tool like AirDNA is super helpful because rather than manually looking at a few other properties when you have the time, AirDNA makes pricing suggestions and gives you tons of competitive data based on daily analysis of all your comparable properties. So, I’d highly recommend using AirDNA to inform your pricing decisions.

7. During high season I’m fully booked but during low season I struggle to get bookings. Should I list on another platform to fill in the gaps?

This is very common! Practically every location has a low season (or off-season) when few, if any travelers, come to the area largely due to the weather not being ideal for travel that time of year.

To counteract low season, listing on an additional platform might help. Vrbo is the second most popular platform after Airbnb and many hosts have had great success with it. If you think Vrbo might work for you, I think it’s definitely worth a try! That said, I personally find that the Vrbo platform is very cumbersome and doesn’t bring in many bookings at all. To help you decide if it’s worth it for you, check out this blog post where I walk you through everything you need to know before listing on Vrbo.

However, I think a much better use of your time is to start by improving your Airbnb listing. Improving your listing (the right way!) is something you do once that helps increase your bookings forever and can have a huge impact during low season when you really need to stand out to get bookings. My listing optimization guide, Listing Optimization Secrets, walks you through every single step of improving your listing to start getting more bookings today. This guide is so comprehensive and filled with examples that many hosts are able to completely optimize their listing it in just one day!

8. Since starting my Airbnb business, my anxiety has increased a lot. How can I reduce my anxiety and fears to successfully run my Airbnb long-term?

When you start your Airbnb, you might find that all of the uncertainty and unknowns are super anxiety-inducing. What if something breaks while I have a guest? What if my guests are unhappy and leave a bad review? What if the cleaning doesn’t get done between stays?

I have absolutely felt this. All of the “what-ifs” of running an Airbnb can be terrifying.

The biggest thing that’s helped me, personally, is realizing that “perfect” is impossible. When I first started hosting, I definitely tried to make my Airbnb perfect but over time, I’ve realized that my Airbnb will never be perfect. For one thing, guests’ preferences are so subjective that even if you make everything “perfect”, some guests will inevitably dislike the very thing every other guest loved. Plus, no matter how much you prepare, unexpected things will inevitably go wrong. Instead, focus on just doing your best and not worrying about the rest. If you want some real examples of things that recently went wrong at my Airbnb and how I successfully handled them, check out this blog post.

The other thing I would consider is outsourcing the day-to-day management of owning an Airbnb. Since hiring my co-host, my stress level is a fraction of what it used to be because they now handle any issues that come up and all guest communication. Here’s how to know if hiring a co-host is right for you.

9. Do I need to keep upping the ante to keep my Airbnb new and exciting?

Probably not! Major changes to your property tend to add significant complexity. The more complex your property is, the more that can go wrong. (Think: broken hot tubs, missing game pieces, broken decor, etc.) Keeping it simple ensures your property meets your guests’ expectations and you have fewer mishaps to deal with.

If, however, your Airbnb is lacking in major amenities that are likely causing you to lose out on bookings, it may be worth investing in adding those amenities. Or if your furniture is getting worn down and creating a less-than-5-star experience for your guests, that also may be worth investing in.

All that aside, here’s what’s always worth investing in–thorough deep cleans and regular property maintenance. As a short-term rental host, the importance of regular property maintenance can’t be overlooked. Taking the time to visit your rental property at least every six months will ensure that you’re addressing small issues before they become disasters that impact your business. Get every step of a thorough property maintenance check here. Following these steps will ensure your rental stays in 5-star shape.

10. Should I reach out to guests who have had successful stays to offer them incentives to stay again? Discounts? Ability to book directly through me for savings?

Maybe! Reaching back out to previous guests to let them know how much you appreciate them staying with you and that you’d love to host them again (with or without offering a discount) might help you get another booking or two, but I wouldn’t count on it to significantly move the needle.

I don’t allow guests to book directly through me because I love the liability and damage protection Airbnb provides (“AirCover”) as well as the platform itself for getting and managing bookings. That said, many other hosts love getting direct bookings so if it’s something you’re interested in, give it a shot! Just make sure not to talk about it on the Airbnb platform—that’s a great way to get kicked off.

BONUS: How do I do my taxes?

First off, it’s important to note that I can’t advise on tax-related issues (none of the below is tax or financial advice); I would definitely recommend talking to a tax professional who can advise on your exact situation.

That said, when I first started Airbnb hosting, I asked my accountant tons of questions, which was super helpful both for my personal understanding and to ensure they knew all the important information about my exact situation. If possible, I would look for a tax professional with rental experience. One thing you could ask them about is if your rental income is considered passive income, which may reduce your tax burden. If you spent any money to start your Airbnb, you can also ask them if those expenses are considered “start-up costs” which may also reduce your tax burden.

Takeaway

Whew! We just covered a lot! You now know how to invest in the right Airbnb, set it up for success with the right cleaning company, maximize your profitability, successfully navigate the day-to-day operations and much more—great work!! What remaining questions do you have? Drop them in the comments so I can help you out.

If after reading this post you’re thinking, ‘Heck yes! Let’s do this whole Airbnb thing!’ then you’ve got to check out these other posts:

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Do you have any questions about how to become an Airbnb host? Let’s chat in the comments.

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