How To Be An Airbnb Host: Beginners Guide

May 07, 2015 |

Airbnb’s culture is growing by the day and attracting more and more people along the way. The direction of this growth is steered by the community itself. In other words, the people of Airbnb shape the culture, and not the other way around. That’s why it’s important for new or inexperienced hosts to approach this whole new world with an understanding of the kind of people that give it its identity. So – who are they? Well, for the most part, Airbnb users choose to join the Airbnb community for its values and its philosophy, and not for any financial motivation that the industry offers. This indicates a certain level of respect for the sharing culture that’s unique to Airbnb, so keep that in mind when you review these guidelines on how to approach this new collaborative lifestyle as an Airbnb host.

A Beginners Guide on How To Be An Airbnb Host:

Airbnb is a unique hospitality platform in so many ways, one of which is the relationship encouraged between the host and the guest(s). When potential guests become interested in an Airbnb listing, they are welcome to open up a line of communication with the hosts to inquire or gather more information about location, price, what have you. While this is a refreshingly personable way of conducting business, it also comes with some expectations. For one, potential guests expect prompt responses, especially since many of them have strict timelines governing their travel planning. It’s easy to fall short of guest expectations on this front, with time zone differences, career distractions, and any number of other external factors.

While understandable, delayed response times can pose a huge issue for your Airbnb host experience. A quick reply rate is important not only for each individual guest’s experience but also for your overall standing on Airbnb. The site rewards attentive and available hosts by including in their profiles their respective response rates and times and ranking their listings in the Airbnb search results accordingly, as well. So in most cases, your availability is crucial to your booking success.

As a host who believes in Airbnb’s incredible sharing culture, your involvement in the community should remain easy and fun. To preserve a stress-free, yet professional, Airbnb experience, you can opt to outsource communication and other booking management operations. That way you can save your time and focus while still contributing to and taking part in the unique worldwide network.

100% Authenticity

Again, Airbnb’s philosophy and culture is its main selling point for guests and hosts alike. Just as you’re most likely opening up your home to the sharing economy for some combination of community involvement and income, most guests are looking further than just discounted travel and onto some degree cultural immersion, convenience, and sociability.

The significance of this is that guests aren’t simply looking for accommodations, but for authenticity. Don’t struggle to convert your Airbnb into something on par with a hotel experience; keep the personal touch and character in your place. Then, when writing your listing, play up the personality in the walls so that you can be sure to attract the most fitting guests for you.

Honesty is the Best Policy

I can’t stress it enough – full disclosure is the easiest way to get on the right track with Airbnb. First, it’s the basis on which the trust within the community is built.  It’ll help you achieve a better fit with your guests.  It’ll prevent any disputes that could occur while helping with your reviews.  To abide by the Airbnb culture and to optimize your experience as part of it, it’s always best to be honest and upfront to any questions and lose a guest rather than have to handle the aftermath.

The emphasis on honesty transcends written communication and extends to all touchpoints between host and guest – your calendar arguably being the most important of them all. Your calendar must always be accurately updated. This will save you from the all too common bad experience of an unsatisfied potential guest relying on a, well, unreliable host. Airbnb rewards consistent calendar updates, too. So, whether you always keep an eye on your availability at all times or you decide to allow us to update your calendar for you every hour, your Airbnb SEO (and booking success) will reflect the effort.

You Make The Rules Around Here

While the premise of your host-to-guest relationship may be sharing, it is still your property and you have the right to enforce certain boundaries. There’s plenty of space on your listing to mention any house rules you may have and to set the standard for what you expect in your Airbnb. Because it’s your place, the sky’s the limit when listing restrictions (and allowances), but you have to remember that your guests aren’t always able to guess what’s right or what’s wrong conduct (nor are they always willing to). Be as explicit and upfront as possible, because I think it’s safe to assume “leftover food outside may attract bears” (for example) is a rule that’s near and dear to your place.

In the process of listing the dos and don’ts, try to answer questions before they’re asked. For example, “No Parking” or “Smoking Allowed” are general aspects that guests look for or avoid in bookings. So, save them the trouble and the questions by attending to these most basic qualities of your property first (consider the fact that answering questions before they’re asked may also save you from missing any last minute bookings from guests in a time crunch).

This process of using Airbnb doesn’t only go for what you expect of your guests, but for what they expect from you, as well. Just as you insist that they comply with certain rules of your property, they assume that you’ll comply with certain standards of hosting.

It’s Not Easy Being Clean

Take a few minutes to go around and take note of anything broken or about to break, so as to not be unpleasantly surprised if something like a shifty doorknob falls off its handle. Make sure all the kitchen essentials are clean, along with any guests’ towels and bedding. It may seem arbitrary, but coming home to an Airbnb scattered with crumbs is a pretty off-putting first impression.


Keep it clean. Tidy up everything you can think of, showers and toilets included. Remember that it may be a good idea to polish off this all-around house cleaning with a professional service – we can recommend one for you and even coordinate everything for you. Charging your guest a cleaning fee is common, as long as you indicate so upfront or incorporate it in the overall pricing of your listing.

Are You Ready For Takeoff?

Following this theme of being one step ahead of your guests (and making sure you live up to their expectations), let’s dig into what goes into preparing your place for guest arrival. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to move any valuables and personal items from out in the open. Luckily, these types of precautions really are just safety measures, as Airbnb will cover you up to $1,000,000 of damages or theft if anything were to happen during an Airbnb guest’s stay. And odds are, nothing will…

The amazing thing is how few problems actually occur. At Airbnb when we look at the number of cases where something happens (e.g. breakage or property damage) it’s really small. In fact we recently increased our claims liability to $1m, as it doesn’t cost much to offer this service because not much actually happens.

Olivier Grémillon, Managing Director – EMEA at Airbnb

Appease your guests by adding little extras like a few rolls of toilet paper and other amenities, and even something small like a chocolate on their pillows. The goal here is to make it as easy for them as you’d want it to be for you. So tidy up, load up the trash bags, and you’ll be sure to get a happy, smiling guest opening your door.

Saving Private Renters

Regardless if you’re renting out a room or your entire place, be sure to respect the privacy and space of your Airbnb guests. Try to keep a healthy balance of being available enough as to serve as a resource, but not as overbearing as to act like a smothering grandma. By all means, interact as much as to reap all social benefits available from listing on Airbnb. Just make sure to let guests feel welcome without invading their space.

This is all situational: it may take some time to gauge the degree of input they may expect from you. Some guests will opt to travel uninterrupted – that’s just guest preference, not host aversion.

The Bottom Line

Airbnb hosting can be both a fun and lucrative experience when done right. It’s about being part of the sharing community and abiding by the philosophy that makes the collaboration so special, but these rewards are only optimized when approached by the right direction. By going along these guidelines, you can ensure that both you as a host and your guests have a great experience – and much more to follow. You can even make this experience even more enjoyable: by taking a load off and handing over all management responsibilities to us. We’ll do everything according to these guidelines, while you enjoy everything about the culture, hands-free.

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