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10 Shocking Lessons You Need to Know Before Hosting on Airbnb

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10 Shocking Lessons You Need to Know Before Hosting on Airbnb

Get a comprehensive understanding of some of the most challenging aspects of hosting on Airbnb and how to successfully navigate them.

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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As you get ready to become an Airbnb host, you’ve got to know how you can be as successful as possible.

You need to know what to expect so you can plan ahead, have consistently happy guests, and earn 5-star reviews. This post will help you do just that. This is a no-nonsense and transparent glimpse into Airbnb hosting.

After reading this post, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of some of the most challenging aspects of hosting on Airbnb and how to successfully navigate them.

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.

10 Shocking Lessons You Need to Know Before Hosting on Airbnb

1. Your Airbnb Revenue Can Fluctuate a Ton

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a steady and consistent stream of income, starting an Airbnb probably isn’t right for you. As an Airbnb host, your revenue can swing drastically from one month to the next.

And factors completely outside your control have a major impact on your revenue.

For example, I grossed just shy of $19,000 my first month hosting on Airbnb. Then, wildfires near my Airbnb caused an unhealthy amount of smoke and evacuations nearby. For two whole months, I got zero bookings. $0 in revenue. The smoke was so bad that it wasn’t healthy for anyone to travel to the area.

As an Airbnb host, you have to be able to survive low months like these.

One thing that can help is planning ahead. AirDNA’s forecasting tool helps you do just. With AirDNA, you can quickly see your expected revenue every month. You also get historical seasonality, competitive data, and pricing recommendations. This tool not only helps you predict your revenue but also maximizes it. I use it constantly for my Airbnb.

Pro tip: One of the best things you can do to maximize your revenue is optimize your listing.

2. Planning Ahead for Furniture & Supplies Is Crucial

Airbnb Kitchen
My guests LOVE that my kitchen is well-stocked with everything they need. | The Realist

When it comes to starting any Airbnb, getting all of your furniture and supplies before your first guest arrives is crucial. And achieving that is a lot harder than you might expect. You’ll need to:

  • Figure out what you need in every single room (100+ essential items!)
  • Find all of those items
  • Ensure they fit within your budget
  • Order them
  • Track your orders and make sure they all arrive on time
  • Assemble everything

It’s a ton of work. Staying on top of it all requires a lot of organization and planning. So, set yourself up for success (and save tons of time!) by downloading the free checklist I created for you:

Recommended: The Best Room-By-Room Airbnb Checklist: 100+ Essential Items

3. Airbnb Startup Costs Really Add Up

Those essential items are just one of the many expenses required during your first year of hosting on Airbnb.

You’ll also need to pay Airbnb host fees, property maintenance, mortgage costs, and much more. The cost of all those expenses quickly adds up.

Before you start an Airbnb, it’s crucial that you truly know how much it’s going to cost. With this simple step-by-step guide, you can quickly estimate your Airbnb startup costs.

Recommended: Airbnb Startup Cost: A Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Hosts

4. There Are Many Airbnb Listing Photo Misconceptions

Airbnb Primary Bedroom Close-up
The primary bedroom at my Lake Tahoe Airbnb. | The Realist

Two of the biggest Airbnb hosting misconceptions are (1) you need a professional photographer to take your listing photos and (2) you need to stage your property.

Can doing both of those things be beneficial? Yes.

But can you be successful without them? Yes.

I grossed just shy of $19,000 my FIRST MONTH hosting on Airbnb. No professional photos. No staging. Just me, myself, and my iPhone.

To determine if you need a professional photographer, ask yourself the 5 quick questions in this blog post.

Recommended: How to Know if You Should Take Your Own Airbnb Listing Photos

To learn more about staging your Airbnb property, check out the 10 staging tips in this blog post.

Recommended: 10 Lesser-Known Ways to Perfect Your Airbnb Listing Photos

5. You’re Now a 24/7 Customer Service Representative

The primary bathroom at my Lake Tahoe Airbnb. | The Realist

As an Airbnb host, you’re responsible for responding to guests day and night.

Some of your guests’ messages will be quick and easy to respond to. Other messages will require an hour or more to craft the right response.

It’s crucial that you respond thoughtfully to every message and not let your emotions get the best of you.

Learn how to best respond in tough situations in this blog post.

Recommended: 3 Surprising Things to Know BEFORE You Start an Airbnb

6. If You’re Not Careful, You’ll Spend Countless Hours Responding to Guest Messages

With every single booking, you’ll want to send at least five messages, including booking confirmation, pre-check-in, check-in, mid-stay, and checkout messages.

But sending all of these yourself will quickly take up way too much of your time.

Save countless hours by automating your Airbnb messages and using the exact same scheduled messages I send my guests as an Airbnb Superhost.

Recommended: 5 Essential Airbnb Messages That Will Save You Time

7. Negative Airbnb Reviews Can Help You Get More Bookings

Guest reviews are essential for your business. Reviews provide social proof from an unbiased third party. They help potential guests determine whether or not your listing is truly as great as you say it is.

And, let’s be honest, getting negative reviews from Airbnb guests is inevitable at some point. But getting a negative review isn’t necessarily bad for your business. How you respond makes all the difference.

Responding well to negative reviews shows that you’re communicative, thoughtful, and care about your guest’s experience. Your response to a negative review can build way more credibility than most positive reviews ever could.

Get everything you need to turn a negative Airbnb review into a positive in this blog post.

Recommended: How to Make Negative Airbnb Reviews Work in Your Favor

8. Having the Wrong Airbnb Cancellation Policy Can Be Disastrous

Airbnb Living Room Seating Area

You might’ve heard that as a new Airbnb host, having a strict cancellation policy will prevent bookings. The idea is that, since your listing doesn’t have many reviews, you should incentivize more bookings by offering a more flexible policy.

In my experience testing out several different Airbnb cancellation policies, I found that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Learn what my experience was like testing out different cancellation policies and which policy I now use as an Airbnb Superhost in this blog post.

Pro tip: This is just one of 50+ ways to maximize your Airbnb profitability by optimizing your listing.

9. Regular Property Maintenance Is Crucial

As a new Airbnb host, one thing that might surprise you is how much property maintenance you need. And, when you first visit your property, you might be shocked by how many issues guests haven’t told you about.

You’ll quickly realize how important it is to regularly visit the property yourself because proactive property maintenance at your Airbnb can turn a potential disaster into a minor hiccup.

Regular property maintenance is certainly an investment, but it’s one with a lot of benefits. It makes hosting more enjoyable, helps you get more 5-star reviews, and gets you closer to earning Airbnb Superhost status.

That’s why I’m walking you through 10 rental property maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them in this blog post.

Recommended: 10 Property Maintenance Mistakes Successful Airbnb Hosts Need to Avoid

10. You Need to Create an Airbnb Listing That Converts

As an Airbnb host, one thing that might surprise you is how much work goes into crafting a listing that converts on-the-fence guests into guests that can’t wait to hit “book!”. And that the work doesn’t stop after your listing with Airbnb goes live.

Before booking your Airbnb, potential guests need to be able to envision themselves enjoying your property. Here are 10 specific things you can do to achieve that through your Airbnb listing.

Recommended: 10 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Listing With Airbnb


That’s it! All 10 important lessons you need to know before hosting on Airbnb.

When you start your first Airbnb, there’s no doubt that you’ll learn A TON! No matter how much you prepare, mishaps are sure to happen.

I hope this post helps you prepare as much as possible so your business is a success right away. Just know that there will always be more to learn!

Embrace it. It’s all part of the journey.

Happy hosting!

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Any questions about starting an Airbnb? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: All content on this website is for informational purposes only. You are taking all provided information at your own risk. We are not financial, real estate, legal, investment or other professionals. Nothing on this website should be construed as professional advice. We will not be liable for any loss or damage of any nature. For more information, read our disclaimer.

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I grossed $160,000+ my first two years Airbnb hosting. Now, I’m sharing all my Airbnb hosting tips so you can build your own insanely profitable business.


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