Getting Your Space Ready for Airbnb Hosting

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By Vince Mancuso, Storage.com

Plenty of businesses run into the same problems of running out of space to operate. Storage.com is here to help provide solutions for growing businesses, whether through unique tips or additional space.

Airbnb has been growing in popularity across the United States as an affordable and fun way to travel, essentially offering renters as much of the local flavor as they can get through having hosts rent out their rooms, apartments, houses, and even castles at rates much lower than most nearby hotels.

While this is a great way to travel, Airbnb is also a great way to make money as a host. Listing your apartment or home is free—though you do pay a 3% service fee when reservations are confirmed. As a host, you can make anywhere from $300 to $400 a week in major cities such as New York City or San Francisco by renting out a spare room in your home. However, you can rent out your entire house or apartment at a much higher rate.

Now may be the time for potential hosts to sign up. Between the growing trend of personal use of the service and recent news of Airbnb expanding its Business Travel Program, there is a growing opportunity for hosts to find success in renting their space.

How to Make Money with Airbnb Hosting

The beauty of Airbnb is that nearly anyone can participate as long as they have the room. However, much like hotels and other accommodations, you’ll be competing with other rates and rooms. So, what can you do to get the most from your space through Airbnb? To make money, you need to create a welcoming living space for renters.

While Airbnb offers tips for new hosts, such as accurately listing amenities and nearby attractions, starting with a lower, competitive price to build up good reviews, and even setting guidelines as to who can rent the space, you also need to have photos that will draw renters in and a room that will live up to what’s promised.

Staging Your Living Space for Airbnb

Eric Foutch Quote
“You want to give the illusion that your space is always ready to be rented.”

—Eric Foutch, Airbnb Host

Preparing your home for Airbnb is similar to staging a home that is for sale in that you have to create a space that is attractive to renters. Airbnb hosts provide photos of their available rooms through the Airbnb listing page to give potential renters a glimpse into the layout of the space.

“You want to give the illusion that your place is always ready to be rented,” says Eric Foutch, who hosts out of downtown Omaha, Neb. using Airbnb. He said he learned how to stage a room while growing up around his mother, an interior designer who owned and staged a furniture store.

The first step, he says, is conducting a deep cleaning. “Even a little dust will show up in pictures and will make the place look dirty,” he warns. “Clean first and then set the room.”

While cleaning, keep an eye out for “stuff” that may clutter the listing photos. Eric says this can be small, everyday things that you may not think about. A few things to keep an eye out for when preparing to take pictures of your available space are:

  • Personal photos on end tables and shelves.
  • Bills, mail, and other papers on dining and coffee tables.
  • Food, spices, and other disorganized items in the kitchen.
  • Toiletry items such as hand soaps and toothpaste.
  • Any garbage cans that may be in the way of the picture.

bathroomWhile Airbnb can provide a professional photographer in some cases, you may find yourself having to take your own pictures. While doing this, there are some important tips to follow. For starters, always be aware of the lighting, especially when having windows in the background. Avoid having direct sunlight behind any images to prevent silhouetting. Additionally, it may be good to hang drapes or curtains to create soft lighting, making your space seem all the more inviting.

Another solid tip is getting the right angles of your space. In most instances, you can really show the dimensions of a room by taking a photo from a corner area. It may even help to take the photo from a stepping stool for a slightly-elevated view of the room. Showing the outside of your space can be a huge advantage to you as well, as staging goes beyond setting up the inside of your house or apartment. People care to see what the neighborhood is like, where they’ll be parking, and any other outdoor space they may have access to, such as a fire pit or backyard pool. Be sure to clear out such spaces of any clutter when possible and use similar practices as you would inside your home.

Kitchen

Lastly, when taking photos, be sure to take a lot. While you shouldn’t take the same shot over and over again, renters enjoy seeing different aspects of the home. Highlight the living space, bedrooms, bathrooms, outdoor areas, kitchen, and any other space that may be important. Renters want to know the space before they stay, so provide them plenty of photos to look at.

These areas are easily overlooked when you see them every day in your home, however, your space is new to renters, and they’ll be sure to spot anything that may distract or disengage them. By following these simple steps, you can capture the attention of potential renters and start making a profit.

How to Prepare for Airbnb Guests

One thing renters always check out before renting a particular space are the reviews. Was the space clean as promised? Was the room just as described in your listing? Are things just like the pictures? Having reviewers giving positive reviews on these issues makes you a trustworthy host that people will rent from in the future—and they may be willing to pay a bit more for that trust.

Kristen Hoffman Quote
“Preparing a home is a lot of work, but the payoff is always worth it!”

—Kristen Hoffman, Airbnb Host

“I initially pay attention to creativity within the space, followed by photo quality,” says Kristen Hoffman. “After that, I read the reviews and comments.”

Kristen says she and her husband, Joshua, use Airbnb about once or twice a month and hosts guests in their home as well. As someone who uses both sides of the service, she says it’s very important to read the reviews. “We put a lot of effort into preparing our home for our guests and would like to be treated with that same respect. Preparing a home is a lot of work, but the payoff is always worth it!” she says. Hosts, such as she and her husband, should want guests to feel clean, safe and, “most importantly—at home!”

To give guests this secure, at-home feeling, Eric says he takes basic steps such as putting out clean sheets and placing out fresh toiletries, as well as picking up things around his home that would otherwise clutter the space for his renters.

“I am always tucking things into closets and putting things under my bed to make the place feel open and clean,” he says. “I want it to look just like the picture that made them rent my place.” Even though he has plenty of extra storage space in his home, Eric adds that a storage unit would definitely help those with less storage space at home or renting out their space for longer time periods.

How a Self Storage Unit Can Help

A basic 5×5 or 5×10 storage unit is comparable in size to a spare closet in your home and can be used to better prepare and clean out your home before guests arrive. These storage units give enough space to hold any documents, photos, or even furniture you have to clear out for a bit. Additionally, a storage unit can give you a secure location to store more of your personal valuables during longer renting periods.

When taking the right steps to stage and prepare your home, you can create a successful listing on Airbnb, earn additional income while helping visitors experience your city and your home.