When you start an Airbnb, you’ll quickly find that hosting is fun, challenging, and frustrating all at the same time.
During my first month as an Airbnb host, I had guests nearly every night and grossed nearly $19,000! I also learned that, no matter how well you prepare, mishaps are sure to happen. Now, I’m sharing everything I learned so your first month can be incredibly profitable, too. Before you start an Airbnb, read on for the three surprising things you need to know.
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3 Surprising Things to Know BEFORE You Start an Airbnb
1. Nightmares do happen
Airbnb nightmares do happen. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way with my second guest ever.
I’m not telling you this to scare you. I’m confident you can handle anything that comes your way as an Airbnb host. Plus, if you stick around to get all my Airbnb hosting tips, it’ll make preventing and navigating even the worst situations much easier!
My Airbnb nightmare was as classic as they come – and if I knew then what I know now, I might have been able to avoid it altogether. A group of friends rented my Airbnb for one (Saturday) night, threw a party, disrupted many of my neighbors, and left my property trashed.
After all the hard work I put into renovating the property and making it a wonderful place for guests, it was really disappointing to see how badly this group mistreated it.
If you have awful guests, here are my tips to help you navigate it successfully:
- Don’t make assumptions
- Ask your cleaning crew for explicit details on what was damaged or excessively dirty
- Always ask when the damages were found (your cleaners won’t necessarily update you in real-time)
- Get photos from your cleaners. You’ll need them if you submit a claim to the Airbnb Resolution Center
- Pause before contacting your guests
- You want to ensure you have all the information before contacting your guests. It takes time to get everything from your cleaning crew
- Moreover, seeing photos of damage done to your property can be emotional. Give yourself time to have those feelings and then move on so that you can treat all of your guests with kindness and respect. You’ll be glad you did when you see you’ve maintained a 5-star rating
- Remember that most guests are fantastic
- Given that my second guest ever was awful, the experience was pretty jarring. I’ve had dozens of guests since then and can confidently say that the disappointing ones are few and far between
Pro Tip: Airbnb used to require Resolution Center claims be submitted before the next guest checks in. Thankfully, they removed this restriction in their Winter 2021 update.
2. Some guests make it all worthwhile
All that said, interactions with your guests aren’t always negative.
If you create a fantastic place for guests to relax and enjoy their vacation, they’ll let you know how much they appreciate it!
Take the time to research other short-term rentals in your area. Figure out how you can provide a better experience than your competitors. Your guests will notice and thank you for it!
There’s no better feeling than hearing your guests had a wonderful vacation because of you and they can’t wait to stay with you again.
Pro Tip: Things at your Airbnb will break or go missing, no matter how much you prepare. In my first month as an Airbnb host, the blinds broke, two towel holders broke, and the track on the bathroom door broke. Make sure these don’t impact your guests’ experience by doing regular property maintenance. Get all my property maintenance tips here.
One instance I’ll never forget – the fire that started in the kitchen.
One night – not long after those awful guests stayed at my Airbnb – I got a very nice message from my then-current guest. She said she turned on the oven to make dinner and started to smell a bit of smoke. Soon after, she realized it was unmistakably the smell of fire.
She opened the bottom drawer of the oven where she found a box of spare tile that I had left tucked away in the back of a closet downstairs. Someone had moved a cardboard box into the oven!
Thankfully, the current guest immediately realized what was happening and extinguished the fire.
But what if she would have gone outside for a few minutes after turning on the oven? Or got caught up on a phone call? It could have turned out much worse.
These guests were incredibly thoughtful and kind about the whole ordeal. They made what would have otherwise been a terrible situation just a blip on the radar. I can’t thank them enough.
Pro Tip: When you have wonderful guests like this, go above and beyond to show them your gratitude. For me, that typically means inviting them back for another stay with a 10% discount or refunding them one night if something really frustrating happened during their stay.
Recommended: The Hands-Down Best Way to Respond to Airbnb Reviews
3. You’re now a 24/7 customer service representative
In my first month as an Airbnb host, almost every booking was back-to-back. That means one group would leave and another would arrive the same day.
While that might not sound like a big deal, each group requires several touchpoints. So, the more bookings you have, the more you need to communicate with your guests.
Pro Tip: Have Airbnb app notifications turned on. When you get a new message, respond as soon as possible (ideally, within 10 minutes.) This is important because quick responses are appreciated by guests. Over half of my reviews mention that they appreciated my quick responses.
So, you’ll be sending a lot of messages to your Airbnb guests.
There are five standard messages you’ll want to send to every guest. You can save tons of time by scheduling these messages in advance.
Better yet, save even more time by using the exact scheduled messages I send to my guests.
In addition to sending these automated messages, you’ll likely get questions from your guests before, during, and after their stay. For example:
- Before each stay
- Guests might ask you about the area, how to access the property, or for directions to the property
- On the day of check-in
- Guests will message you if there’s an issue when they arrive. This is their first time seeing the property they just spent thousands of dollars to rent. So, making a great first impression is crucial
- Out of all your touchpoints, this is the most important time to respond promptly
- And, guests won’t always check-in at check-in time
- For example, when one of my recent guests arrived at 3 am after a long travel day, my keyless entry wasn’t working. Thankfully, the guest called me, woke me up, and I was able to resolve the problem right away (half asleep!). Because I did, those guests left me a 5-star review
- Throughout their stay
- Guests may have additional questions about the area
- Or, they might find another issue at the property. In these instances, having a kind and generous response can prevent small hiccups from turning into disasters
- After their stay
- When your cleaning crew arrives, they might find broken items or need to charge additional cleaning fees
- If you choose to charge your guests for any additional costs incurred, you’ll need to talk to them about those charges
- And, you could spend days trying to recoup the money from them through the Airbnb Resolution Center. Before that happens, get everything you need to know about successfully submitting claims to the Airbnb Resolution Center
You can see how quickly all of this work adds up. And, the more bookings you have each month, the more time you’ll spend communicating with guests.
Some days, customer service will be your full-time job.
I hope these tips help you succeed during your first month of hosting!
My biggest piece of advice? Know that when you start an Airbnb, things will go wrong.
Don’t forget to celebrate the things that go “right”, too.
Pro Tip: One of the best things you can do to increase your profitability is optimize your listing.
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What are you looking forward to as an Airbnb host? Let’s chat in the comments.
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