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Like a lot of people, when I was first starting out on Airbnb I was completely overwhelmed! Especially in its early days, the concept of whatever an “Air-BNB” was supposed to be seemed foreign and strange. Nowadays, however, Airbnb has become a household name for millions of people across the globe.
Tens of millions of users have experienced what Airbnb has to offer, but if you’re relatively new to the homes haring game, you might still be wondering what exactly Airbnb is and how it works.
What does Airbnb stand for?
Airbnb began in early 2008 as airbedandbreakfast.com. The founders were originally renting out air mattresses and sharing their home with others in typical bed and breakfast style, thus the name which has morphed into “Airbnb”.
Read along below for more answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding what Airbnb is, how it works, and how you can make money renting your extra space out on Airbnb!
What does the acronym Airbnb stand for?
Airbnb is a catchy business name, but what exactly does it mean? Well, when Airbnb was founded by two college friends in early 2008, it consisted simply of them renting out air mattresses in their living room to strangers. They wanted their rental to have the cozy feel of a typical bed and breakfast (or BNB), so they marketed themselves as Airbedandbreakfast. This was soon shortened to Airbnb, and the rest is history!
The founders of Airbnb got the inspiration for the now-famous company when they noticed that all of the hotels in town had been booked leading up to a large conference in the area. This leaves people vulnerable to price gouging or being left with nowhere to stay, so they set out to create an accessible option for people to use instead of traditional hospitality businesses.
What is Airbnb and how does it work?
Airbnb is a home-sharing service that was founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. It has grown significantly since then and now boasts tens of millions or users. There are two sides to Airbnb: hosts and guests. Hosts are people who rent out their home (or a part of their home) to guests who pay to stay there. Typically these stays are fairly short in length, similar to what hotels would offer.
Airbnb has developed a pretty robust security system in recent years and has always prioritized both guest and host safety. Hosts must verify their address, identity, and tax information before allowing anyone to stay at their rental. Guests don’t have to verify themselves, but most hosts will require that they do before allowing them to complete a booking.
This verification can be made in a few different ways, but the main way in the US is by uploading a photo of your driver’s license and confirming your legal address. You may also be asked to upload a picture of yourself which will then be matched with the one on your license. It is mandatory to be over 18 years old in order to book an Airbnb, but many hosts allow children to stay as long as they’re with their guardians.
Check Out This Rental Recon Article: Airbnb Essentials: 75+ Items Every Host Should Have For Guests
As a host, once you complete your profile you will be able to create your first listing. This is where you can showcase your house or space that you’ll be renting out and try to attract your first guest. You will be required to provide the address of the Airbnb as well as several photos and a description of the space. A lot of hosts will also add some extra information to answer frequently asked guest questions such as if children or pets are allowed if there is a minimum stay length, and if they charge any kind of deposit.
When guests scroll through listings in the search page, they can filter several properties. One of the major concerns is price, which is why it is important to price competitively. They may also wonder how far the property is from a major city, or what other attractions are nearby.
Once they’ve settled on a listing that suits their needs, guests can request a booking. Some hosts may even have Instant Book turned on, meaning that guests will automatically be approved to rent out their Airbnb as long as the dates are available. A host will receive the request for a booking and can message the guest with any questions or concerns they may have. As long as everything works out, they will approve the booking and the guest is good to go!
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Hosts can set check-in and check out procedures as well as house rules for their Airbnb. These will be communicated to the guest in advance so that there aren’t any issues down the road. Some hosts meet the guests in person to check them in, whereas others leave a key in a lock box or utilize a smart lock with a code for a self-check-in. If the Airbnb is a room within a shared house, the room should have its own lock on the door for guest safety.
When guests leave an Airbnb, they’ll leave behind the key for the host (if applicable). Most Airbnbs use cleaning services or have the host clean it themselves, but guests shouldn’t leave a huge mess behind. Not only is it disrespectful, it could also cost them their security deposit or even a larger cleaning fee.
Speaking of the cleaning fee, some guests might wonder why it is a separate price that isn’t just bundled within the overall nightly price like a hotel. Most hosts feel it is better to be transparent about their pricing, and the cleaning fee is expected to cover the costs of basic tidying, washing, and sometimes even replacement of amenities inside the Airbnb.
If something in the unit is damaged or excessive cleaning is required, hosts have the option to request money from the guest. If the guest refuses, a dispute can be opened within Airbnb’s Resolution Center. Airbnb will act as an impartial mediator to try to solve the problem. Thankfully, cases like these are pretty uncommon and most stays end with both the host and the guest happy.
What’s the difference between a B&B and an Airbnb?
Although Airbnb gets a part of its name from everyone’s favorite type of lodging, a bed and breakfast, the two are not exactly the same thing. At a regular bed and breakfast (or BNB), there is typically one host who operates a large house that has been converted into a hotel. Each room is similar to a hotel room and usually has its own bathroom. The BNB might have a shared dining space, but often it includes separate tables for each group of people.
Also, a BNB usually has staff members. This may not always be the case, of course, but a lot of BNBs are more commercialized than Airbnbs. They are mostly designated as businesses, sometimes owned by a larger corporation. Many have kitchen, guest services, and cleaning staff that keep everything operating smoothly. Some people prefer staying in a traditional BNB or hotel environment for various reasons including amenities or perceived safety issues.
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By contrast, an Airbnb is usually run by an individual renting out their second home or space within their regular home. Airbnbs are owned by people, not companies, although some are managed professionally.
Depending on the Airbnb, guests can either rent out the entire home or as little as a single room within the home. If renting out an individual room, there may or may not be an attached bathroom and amenities can vary. Also, the host may or may not be present during the stay. Similar to a hostel, guests renting a single room will typically have access to the kitchen and other shared areas within the home, although this can also vary between hosts.
Airbnbs also can also charge security deposits, which most BNBs do not. However, both types of rentals can charge guests for excessive damage done to the property and guests agree to pay when they complete their booking.
If you have more questions about how Airbnb was founded and what the company’s vision is moving forward, check out my [Airbnb Founders Article]!
How does Airbnb make money and what percentage do they take?
Airbnb has taken advantage of the growing popularity of the “sharing economy”. Other services like Uber, Lyft, Grubhub, Doordash, and so many more connect service providers (like rental owners and restaurants) with customers (like people who need a ride or a place to stay). The service providers act like independent contractors and can work for themselves to facilitate the selling of goods and services.
In the case of Airbnb, the actual company itself has very little physical capital. They created a website which they now update and maintain, but hosts do most of the legwork to find guests willing to pay for accommodation. Hosts handle most of their own advertising, and guests handle all of their finding and comparing rental units.
Obviously, none of this would be possible without Airbnb, so what do they get out of the deal? Airbnb charges both guests and hosts a percentage of each transaction in order to make money. The guests foot most of the bill in most cases. They are charged a service fee which varies depending on the price of the stay.
Airbnb doesn’t explicitly say what percentage they charge or how they determine how much to charge each guest, but it typically ranges between 5-15%. The higher the total price of the booking, the lower the service fee is. Airbnb says this is so guests can save extra money on accommodations for large groups or long stays.
On the host side, Airbnb charges a flat 3% service fee per transaction to help cover the cost of processing payments. Hosts can set their own prices, so they typically build in the cost of the service fee they will have to pay.
How to Make Money on Airbnb
If you’re interested in becoming an Airbnb host, I would highly recommend it! The overall risk is very low, especially when compared with other business ventures. All you need is a space to rent out and you’re almost all the way there!
After you create your account using the link below, get your ID verified so you can create your first listing. All aspects of the listing are very important, but the photos are what will really need to shine. They are what grab the attention of guests and make them want to stay with you instead of the hundreds of other options in your city.
Photos should be clear and show the room or home from every angle. Be sure you’ve tidied up the space and made it look stylish and appealing. Don’t forget to showcase your amenities like great natural lighting, views, updated appliances, and a comfy bed. Airbnb also offers professional photography services in certain markets if you feel you may need some help!
Make sure your listing title and description talk up what you have to offer. Go over any frequently asked questions in the description to help your guests make a decision. Don’t be afraid to use adjectives in the title; “Open, Airy Country Home in Idyllic Farmland” sounds better than “House for rent in country”.
Lastly, be very responsive with guests! If you wait too long to answer a question or respond to a booking request, your guests may have moved on and you will have lost a booking. Stay attentive and you’ll be well on your way to your first successful stay!
How to Start and Sign Up for Airbnb: Use Our Airbnb Coupon Code
Signing up for Airbnb is fast and super simple. Head over to Airbnb.com and click Sign Up in the upper right-hand corner. Make sure you use our [exclusive coupon code]! You won’t be able to find this offer anywhere else, and it can save you (and your friends) quite a bit of money on your first stay!
Next, invite your friends who aren’t on Airbnb yet! They’ll get $55 off their first trip, and once they complete their reservation, you can get up to $30 too! Even if you’re looking to host rather than stay somewhere else, you can still use [this link] to get a credit on Airbnb. You never know when you’ll be in the mood for a vacation, so head on over now!
How else can you make money by renting your home?
Aside from renting on Airbnb, you can explore your options on other websites that offer similar services. VRBO, HomeAway, or even your own private website are great avenues to earn some extra money by making use of what you already have: living space!
If you choose to maximize your rental potential by listing on multiple websites, be sure not to overextend yourself or get into a tricky situation. One of the most common issues is double booking your property, which is when different people reserve your rental on the same night from different websites. Avoid this by using a smart channel manager to streamline your business.
How can I become a top Airbnb host?
Becoming a Superhost on Airbnb will take a lot of time and effort, but it is so doable and so rewarding! Airbnb sets certain criteria to becoming a Superhost that you’ll need to meet.
First, you’ll need to have had at least 10 stays over the last year. This way, guests will know you have a lot of experience and will be able to handle their needs. Second, you have to have a rating of 4.8 stars or more. This may seem like a tall order, but consistently meeting guests’ needs and keeping an open line of communication will earn you tons of 5-star reviews in no time.
Another requirement is having a 90% response rate in 24 hours, meaning that you can consistently get back to guests in a timely manner. Finally, a low cancellation rate of less than 1% is a must. Extenuating circumstances are exempt from this percentage calculation.