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5 tips for making money with Airbnb from someone who’s actually done it

Got an extra room or an unoccupied property somewhere? Airbnb can turn that in to cash-money, and quickly.

Airbnb is one of the leading travel rental web sites [3] that let you become the proprietor of what amounts to a mini-hotel. If you have a spare room sitting uselessly in your home, you can use Airbnb to arrange a short-term rental with travelers looking for inexpensive accommodations.

All you have to do is sign up (it’s free, and you can use Facebook, if you want), and share a little bit about the space you have to rent. You choose the availability and price of your rental, and Airbnb takes a cut of the fee you receive. It’s fairly straightforward (as long as you read the policies), and lots of people are using it to make thousands of dollars on the side.

Here are 5 tips from Jack Middleton, an Airbnb user who has made AU$40,606 so far this year from providing accommodations in Melbourne, Australia.

1. Write a vivid, appealing description

“Create a property description that brings the experience of staying in your place to life, rather than a dry list or inventory of features” says Middleton. “Use language that sparks the imagination, but be honest in your description.”

That combination of descriptive, creative language and honesty is important. “Nothing hurts your potential for success more than a disappointed guest,” Middleton says. “A bad review is likely to follow departure.”

2. Use high-quality images

“A picture tells a thousand words,” says Middleton. Just as you want to use high-quality images when selling your home, it’s a good idea to use images with your Airbnb listing. Even better? Airbnb offers a completely free professional photography service. Take advantage of this perk in order to get the best-looking images for your listing.

3. Answer potential guests

One of the most important things you can do for success with Airbnb is to be responsive. “The faster you respond to a booking inquiry, the more likely you are to seal the deal,” says Middleton. In order to make this even easier, Middleton recommends the free Airbnb mobile app. That way, it’s possible to respond to inquiries even when you aren’t at your computer.

4. Delight your guests

It’s the little things that matter, especially if you offer an entire home or apartment. “Provide weekend papers, a copy of the latest issues of Time Out magazine, or milk and some basic food supplies in the fridge,” Middleton suggests.

Including a few amenities, like Wi-Fi, coffee and tea, and other items that you might find in a hotel room can add a nice touch. You are more likely to garner better reviews, and encourage others to stay at your rental.

If you plan to offer a room, you can still offer some of the little pleasures, such as providing breakfast for your guest, or offering travel-size toiletries.

5. Stay safe

Finally, you need to make sure that you stay safe when you offer your property via Airbnb. “Make sure you check the prospective guests before you accept a booking,” Middleton says. “If a guest does not have a complete profile, request that a photo or references are provided before you say yes.”

It makes sense to carefully vet people who will be staying in your living space — especially if you plan to be there while they are. It’s a good idea to exercise due diligence to avoid dangerous situations and/or property damage.

(Photo: Flickr user OuiShare)