Allow me to digitally tip my hat to you for joining the Airbnb hosting revolution – this new venture will yield both social capital and, of course, financial capital…without necessarily requiring any investments on your end. There are a number of ways to optimize these benefits that await, and the first road to Airbnb success is publishing your first listing (and a great listing, at that).
It may seem self-explanatory, but shaping your listing right is important for more reasons than optimizing return. For one, it’s crucial that you are as precise as possible in describing your place: if an inaccurate listing secures a booking, you will not be able to change the faulty criteria of that listing without first sending an alteration request to the guest in question. This could lose you a booking and waste your time. So be diligent with and mindful of how you configure your listing because a small erroneous detail could have a big impact on your potential guests’ decision.
With that, I present you with this step-by-step guide to take you through the process of perfecting your first listing from its very inception. There’s no reason to get overwhelmed: the work you need to put into creating your listing is the only work necessary. Once the listing is completed and published, you can hand us the keys to drive your Airbnb listing towards more bookings, with hands-off account management. Now, onto the slight collaboration needed on your end.
1. Getting started
First things first: head to airbnb.com and select the ‘list your space’ option in the top right corner of the homepage. You’ll be directed to a form prompting you to fill in the most general criteria of your place. Take note that you can only complete this first form prior to creating an account, so it may be more efficient to sign up (or log in) before you begin.
Home Type: These options are pretty straightforward. To avoid any confusion, Airbnb added a brief description of each home type that appears when your mouse hovers over. Select the option that best describes your place. Keep in mind that the drop-down menu to the right expands your list of choices pretty significantly, including everything from loft, to castle, to tent.
Room Type: This distinction is one of the most important ones, as both you and your guests may be most particular about maintaining a certain level of privacy. So, make sure that you’re accurately building your listing as to attract the most apt guests for your property. Again, Airbnb provides short definitions of their room terminology to help guide you through selecting the option that best describes your accommodation preference.
Before choosing “Entire home/apt,” consider the fact that granting guests exclusive access to your place might include access to other amenities on the property, such as a pool house or a garage. Similarly, the “Private room” option includes more home sharing than you might typically expect, such as that of your living rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens (in addition to the private bedroom that the guest reserves). In addition, you will not be able to edit the number of beds offered in this listing unless you select “Entire home/apt”; the other options will automatically register your property with 1 bed.
Accommodates: This menu allows you to select the maximum number of people that can comfortably fit in your place. It’s important to understand that capacity is not limited to bed space: you will have the opportunity to indicate the number of available beds in the subsequent steps (given you selected the “Entire home/apt” room type). For now, calculate how many people you can accommodate if each has his or her own bed, sofa bed, or inflatable mattress, provided that the sleeping arrangement is as comfortable as you would expect if you were the guest yourself. Finally, select the appropriate number from the drop-down list given.
City: Once you begin typing the name of the city where your place resides, Airbnb will automatically suggest all relevant matches. Your choice will allow you to press ‘Continue’ and move on to the next step of the listing.
Moving Onto The Fun Stuff…
If you have not yet signed up or logged in, you’ll be prompted to input your information at this point.
Now you’ve arrived at the hub of your listing’s more specific details. Airbnb has split this next step into sections, so it will be easiest to cover all information if you take it from the top and fill out the sections in the order that they appear on the list.
Keep in mind that at any point you can go back to edit the previous descriptions provided. Or, you can always select the ‘Preview’ button in the top corner of your screen to see how your potential guests will view your published content.
Airbnb provides three options for specifying the availability of this particular listing. Currently, the three available calendar selections do not yet require you to indicate specific listing dates but rather how long you want your listing to be posted on the site. In other words, the distinction between the three calendars lies within whether you want your listing to stay on the Airbnb market indefinitely (‘Always’), to remain available only for specific dates or a fixed periods of time (‘Sometimes’), or to be limited to a single fixed period of time (‘One Time’). The actual dates themselves should be inputted as soon as you publish your listing and should be updated regularly.
Airbnb will suggest a price for you to charge based on the information that you’ve provided thus far as well as on trends currently shaping the local rental market. If you want to play around with the pricing generator yourself, you can visit this page to decipher for you how much your place is worth.
For first-timers or hosts who are new to the site like you, Airbnb recommends starting below the suggested rate, so as to get a foot in the door before you’ve had a chance to build up your profile’s reviews and other credentials. However, it’s important to remain relevant and competitive, so take this part one step further by personally comparing prices of similar Airbnb listings in your area.
On top of general listing qualities and market activity, there are a few other factors you should consider when calculating a price. For one, you may want to exercise your option to tailor your listing’s going rates by creating weekly or monthly packages to encourage longer rentals. Further, you should factor in the cost of utilities, taxes, or cleaning ahead of time, or even add an additional cleaning fee to the price.
Keep in mind that this price doesn’t have to be set in stone, as you can always negotiate a special offer with a potential guest if you so choose. It’s also important to note that while you cannot include these in this base rate, any penalties for late check-ins or other situational variables that you plan on charging guests should be communicated before a booking is secured.
4. The Overview
Title: Think of the title as your first impression. You want to make those 35 characters engaging enough to capture attention and unique enough to accurately depict your place. Try using descriptive and pleasant adjectives to cushion your title.
Summary: A great summary covers the major features of your listing in 250 characters or less. People like a bit of personality, so let yours shine through while explaining exactly what it is that makes your place unique. Bullet points and short sentences can go a long way: too much writing looks daunting, so try to break it up.
While you have the ability to add many photos, it’s best to add only around 10 as to not overwhelm the potential guests. Regardless of how many you decide to upload, the first 3 are the most important as they frame the window into your listing before users make the decision to click into the post or not. This is all the more reason to offer standout and high-quality pictures. Try to take this opportunity to show off amenities, quirky rooms, or other features unique to your property. Airbnb recommends using bigger photos for better resolution (1024 x 683px) and even offers free professional photography sessions to help you best capture your place.
This section has a lengthy list of features that ranges from common rooms and extras, to needs accommodations, to home safety measures. At this stage of the listing, you are only given the option to tick the amenities relevant to your property, but once the listing is created you will be able to edit this section and add additional or further descriptions and details.
If you’re totally lost here, refer to this resource for the essentials that every host should include in order to maximize their Airbnb experience. Then, when indicating what you do have, make sure to include every appropriate feature as some guests can by swayed by certain extras or turned off by lack there of.
7. The Listing
Most of these details should already be filled in for you as of the first few forms of the listing process. You can edit every item unless you’re listing only single room (either private or shared), in which case the number of bedrooms will be pre-registered as and unchangeable as 1.
Simply input the location of your listing and voilà, you’ve completed the Airbnb listing process. Once you begin typing your address, Airbnb will suggest the remaining details to autofill for your convenience. After your location is filled in, Airbnb will prompt you with a box to add directions and generate a section below with a notice of your local property laws, for your reference. As noted on the sidebar, the indicated location will not be viewable to the public, so you don’t have to be concerned with any private information circulating around the web. Instead, on your listing, a circle will appear on a map at the bottom of your listing to give an idea of your area and neighborhood.
When you’ve finished all this and are happy with your listing, you’re ready to be published on Airbnb. One thing to keep in mind is to always be honest in your description: it won’t take long for the truth to come out once your guests arrive. However, it will be helpful for you to try and spin the not-so-good features of your place in a positive light whenever possible.
You have the option to wash your hands of managing your listing at this point. Guesty can take care of everything for you from here, from listing optimization to guest communication to booking management to scheduling and coordinating on-the-ground services. What would it mean for you? It would mean that the only work you have to do as an Airbnb host is already behind you.