So last year, I decided to offset my travel costs by Airbnb’ing my Manhattan studio. After going on a trip with a bunch of friends, I quickly realized that I was one of the only people in the friend group NOT renting out my place, and this assuaged some of my fears about letting strangers in my house. It’s been nearly a year of me renting it out while I’m traveling either for pleasure or business, and the results have been great. I even just recently received Superhost status! All of my guests have been super conscientious and clean and I’ve made a lot of money in the process. But, in order to have that outcome, you must be methodical and super picky. Below, read my post on all my advice on setting up your apartment for Airbnb and making sure you get great guests. (Want to host? Follow our referral link here.
What You’ll Need Prior to Renting Out Your Apartment:
I’m a bit of a germaphobe, so I made sure to stock up on separate items for my guests. I opted for these towel sets, sheets and a duvet cover that would only be used by my Airbnb guests. I ordered all of this from Target.com and chose charcoal and gray colors because they seem to hold up well. Here are links to each one I use when I have guests in town.
Locks. I can’t stress the importance of this item enough. My dad (Thanks Dad!) installed locks on all of my closets that I can use to lock away all my clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry and valuables when people are staying in my apartment. It’s been a lifesaver and it means I don’t worry about any of my things when I have guests. We chose these locks, because in addition to being pragmatic, they are pretty. (I didn’t want the locks to be an eyesore or make my guests feel like they are in prison)
Everyday items: I made sure to get extra silverware, toiletries, plates, bowls, etc. so that guests would have access to all of the things they’d reach for in their own homes.
Finding the Right Guests:
This is absolutely the most important part of the Airbnb process and the area you should be the most selective. I would much rather my apartment go unrented for a weekend I’m away than rent to the wrong guest who could potentially trash it or steal from me.
I have a strict rule of only renting to guests who have a history of renting before so that I can read their reviews. So, no first timers. I also won’t rent to groups of men or men traveling alone because I hate the idea of them partying or having sex in my bed. (Note: my boyfriend did not follow my advice on this and we found a used condom after returning to his apartment after his single, male guest checked out, along with tons of empty booze bottles which made it seem like he had a party)
I typically rent to women traveling for business, mother-daughter travelers or two women traveling together who seem responsible and not the party type.
Before booking to anyone, I set up a phone call or facetime them so that I can get a feel for their personality and see if there are any red flags.
Take Great Photos:
You must stage your apartment and rid it of clutter before capturing it for your listing. Good light, staging and other details really make a big difference. The more photos the better, and make sure to use the captions to your advantage in order to sell different features of your apartment or neighborhood.
Airbnb also provides photographers free of charge. My advice is to set up your listing with your own photos and then set up an appointment with Airbnb’s photographers to upgrade your photos.
Prepare a Welcome Packet:
In addition to providing the wifi code and standard details guests will need for check-in, I prepared a more comprehensive guide to my immediate neighborhood as well as my favorite restaurants, coffee shops and activities in New York. A few weeks before a guest arrives, I email them this list so that they can make reservations and plan activities. I also leave it out on the coffee table. My guests have been super appreciative for the recommendations and I’ve seen it reflected in my review scores, which are important to getting bookings. I also send them all of my contact information so that they can reach me ASAP if they have any questions.
Find a Good Cleaner:
I charge a $100 cleaning fee for my apartment and typically I will clean it myself after a guest. But, there have been occasions on longer trips where I’ve had back-to-back guests and have needed someone to come in in between and change the sheets and clean the apartment. I have two cleaners on standby, and recommend you find someone you trust, too.
All in all, this experience has been really positive for me. I’ve made a lot of money in the process, which has really offset my rent and travels. And as with anything, it’s a learning process. You get better as you go. But, if you are someone who travels a lot or has a significant other you haven’t move din with yet but are spending a considerable amount of time at his place, Airbnb could be a great option.
Want to host? Click our referral link here.