Do you want to earn MORE revenue from your Airbnb business?
In my first month as an Airbnb host, I took home over $19,000 in revenue!
To make that happen, I came up with five clever tactics – and they all work so well that I still use them today.
In this post, I’m spilling all (secret) five ways to make more money with your Airbnb business.
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- How to Earn More Money with Your Airbnb Business
How to Earn More Money with Your Airbnb Business
1. List your property before high season
Airbnb revenue is seasonal.
How much your revenue swings month to month depends on where your property is located.
For example, my condo in Lake Tahoe has two high seasons.
The biggest season is in summer (June – August) when visitors come to spend time at our beautiful lakes and hiking trails. The other high season is in winter (January – April) when we have world-class skiing and snowboarding.
Airbnb Host Tip: To figure out the seasonality of your location, head to AirDNA.co. AirDNA forecasts revenue, average daily rate, and occupancy rate for a specific address based on comparable properties in the area. In my opinion, it’s an essential tool for your Airbnb business. I use it religiously when determining whether or not a property is a good investment. You can see high-level revenue information for free or pay $40 per month per zip code to get more detailed information.
Getting your property listed before high season is so profitable that you could pay off your entire mortgage for the year in just a few months.
The problem was, I couldn’t move into my new home in Jackson Hole, WY until August.
So, I packed up my things and headed out on a month-long road trip. I was gambling on being able to hit AirDNA’s revenue projections while spending significantly less to travel.
And it worked.
Traveling the whole month of July cost ~$6,000.
My Airbnb earned $19,000.
By listing my property during high season, I was able to cover more than five months of my mortgage.
2. DON’T turn on Airbnb Smart Pricing
Smart Pricing is a tool built into Airbnb that automatically updates your nightly rate based on Airbnb’s proprietary algorithm.
Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t do a great job calculating your optimal Airbnb pricing.
When I first listed my Airbnb, Smart Pricing predicted my rate should be ~$100 per night while comparable properties were ~$400 per night.
So, your Airbnb business could lose out on hundreds of dollars per night if you turn on Smart Pricing right away.
If you’re considering using an automated pricing tool, be sure to check out my comprehensive review of Airbnb Smart Pricing and other pricing tools first.
Instead of turning on Smart Pricing, do your own competitive research with AirDNA.
Set your nightly rate based on what you think is best, and monitor your pricing closely for the first month. Adjust your price as needed to see what works for you and your goals.
3. DON’T let guests book too far in advance
When you first list your property, make just one month available for booking.
This is important because you’ll be figuring out your Airbnb pricing during this time. So, you don’t want to let too many people book all at once.
You need time to learn what works and what doesn’t. That way, you can adjust your strategy before filling up your calendar.
Another reason to open your calendar one month at a time: Airbnb offers a discount on your first three bookings.
While this discount is totally optional, it’s a strong incentive for guests to book before you have any reviews.
Unfortunately, it also allows guests to get a huge discount on bookings over holidays and weekends.
If you open your calendar six months out, for example, chances are all of the holidays in that window will get booked for 20% off. Meaning, you could miss out on thousands of dollars in revenue.
So, take it slow. Give yourself time to figure things out.
If you list your property during high season, you shouldn’t have any problem getting bookings as you gradually open up your calendar.
4. Increase your cleaning fee
Unlike other booking fees that get taken out before hosts get paid, cleaning fees get passed on to the host. Then, hosts pay their cleaning company directly.
When setting the cleaning fee for your Airbnb business, you might be tempted to charge your guests the same fee your cleaners charge you.
The problem with that is, from time to time, the cleaning crew will charge more than their typical rate or you’ll need to replace damaged items.
Maybe one booking requires an extra hour of cleaning. Or they find that the linens were stained and need to be thrown out.
Most often these additional cleaning fees are minor (~$30 or one hour of your cleaning crew’s time).
This puts you as a host in a weird position.
If you were to pass that additional cost through to your guests, won’t an extra $30 make them feel like you’re penny-pinching? Will they refute the charges? Will they leave you a bad review for charging extra on something so small? Maybe.
$30 just isn’t worth the risk of ending your guests’ trip on a bad note.
Instead, add a little bit more to your cleaning fee for all guests.
Reserve this additional fee for small cleaning costs that occasionally come up. Doing so will make hosting a lot less stressful.
The biggest culprit of extra charges at my Airbnb? Stained sheets. Thankfully, I found these sheets on Amazon. They’re the perfect combination of high-quality and inexpensive. (Make sure to keep plenty on hand as backups! And, don’t forget to buy mattress protectors.)
Airbnb Host Tip: Airbnb allows you to easily change your cleaning fee through their app or website. When viewing your listing as a host, navigate to ‘pricing and availability’ on the left-hand menu and select ‘fees’.
5. Increase the likelihood that you’ll get paid out for extra charges
From time to time, a guest will do something that costs way more than the small bump you’ve added to your cleaning fee.
For example, they might leave a stain on your couch that costs $400 to professionally clean.
Or, they might do something that’s unrelated to cleaning, like forget to leave your $50 parking pass.
In these instances, Airbnb allows you to charge them for these extra expenses after their stay.
Airbnb Host Tip: To charge additional fees after a guest books, navigate to your Airbnb messages. On the Airbnb website, you’ll see an option to ‘send or request money’ in the menu on the right-hand side. In the Airbnb app, click ‘details’ then scroll down to ‘send or request money’.
If you need to charge a guest additional fees, you’ll want to first read Everything You Need to Know Before Submitting Claims to the Airbnb Resolution Center.
BONUS: Propose compromises
First off, say yes to your guests as often as possible.
Doing so builds strong relationships and provides a great experience. This can create return customers for years to come.
For example, if a guest asks for a discount because something was dirty when they arrived – give it! (Better yet, offer a small refund before they ask.)
However, from time to time guests will ask you for a large refund that you don’t feel comfortable with.
Rather than giving a flat-out yes or no, consider proposing a compromise.
This happened during wildfire season at my Airbnb. For over a month, there was an unhealthy amount of smoke in the neighborhood as well as evacuation orders nearby.
Several guests asked for full refunds but because of the timing, refunds weren’t allowed under my cancellation policy. So, I had every right to tell my guests no.
At the same time, I could have given them a full refund if I thought that was the best thing to do.
A much better solution, however, is proposing an option that you both benefit from.
In this case, I offered my guests the option to reschedule their trip. That way, I wouldn’t lose out on the revenue altogether and they would still get to enjoy their vacation.
Here’s the message I sent in response to the guests that asked for a full refund:
Airbnb Host Tip: After I sent that message, these guests reached out to the Airbnb Resolution Center. Airbnb support then reached out to me asking if I would make an exception to my cancellation policy. If this happens to you, hold your ground! You have every right to say no if this would be outside of the cancellation policy these guests agreed to. Once I said no, I got a message from my guests graciously accepting my offer to reschedule.
If you only take away one piece of advice, let it be this – treat your guests the way you’d want to be treated. THAT is how you consistently maximize your revenue as an Airbnb host.
If you need a little help following the Golden Rule, go stay in someone else’s Airbnb. Think about all of the things you love and want to implement yourself. Also, think about what you don’t love so you can avoid those mistakes with your own guests!
As a host, it’s important that you are kind, forgiving, and have positive interactions with your guests. Doing so will result in positive reviews, repeat customers, and a more profitable Airbnb business.
And – my last tip for you – don’t start an Airbnb business to make a quick buck. It’s much more customer service than you’d expect. You have to enjoy the work.
Recommended: 5 Essential Airbnb Messages That Will Save You Time
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