Despite their post-Covid prevalence, having a short-term rental is still a great way to earn additional income. Since its founding in 2008, Airbnb hosts in the United States have made more than $60 billion, according to data from the company. Last year, the typical U.S. Airbnb host’s income was more than $13,800 a year, an 85% increase over 2019. Still tossing around the idea of launching a short-term rental property? With the holidays approaching, it can be a great time to try it out.
This week, Escape Home contributor Joelle Anselmo spoke with four different Airbnb hosts to pick their brains about what really makes their listing stand out and what’s important to know before you get started.
Canyonside Airbnb in Park City, Utah
Rocky and Gianni Donati own two beautiful cabins in Park City, Utah — one is a secluded home, dubbed “The Hideaway” and the other is “The Treehouse,” which is perched in a 200-year old fir. Being in a rural, canyon community, her first tip was to honor your community and support local businesses.
“No one has an issue with our Airbnb. It’s the other ones that don’t conduct themselves with integrity and don’t consider how the Airbnb impacts their neighbors,” Rocky says. “And we do, and we take feedback from them and correct the course as necessary.”
They also contribute to the local plow fund and donate to fire protection initiatives.
“We try to make it public that we’re doing it so that people know that we are not just making money off of our land and our neighbor’s homes, but we’re also giving it back to them at the same time,” she says.
They also recommend making the space as unique as possible, from the furniture and artwork to the location and experience. In their Airbnb, which isn’t unlike any basic cabin you can rent in Utah, they added a hammock floor to make it a bit more special.
“We wanted a certain experience which is to experience nature inside or outside anywhere you were in the cabin, to feel that connection to Mother Earth. And the hammock is a way to do that, it’s facing the windows,” she says.
They even bring their hosting efforts to the next level by adding small, custom touches, especially if the renters are celebrating an event, like an anniversary. They throw in extra amenities to tie the “experience” aspect all together — snowshoes, a snowman baking kit, and baking supplies.
“And the reality is none of this costs anything except time and I think that that’s the difference between being an Airbnb superhost, because you have the reviews that put you at that status, versus the super hosts that truly impact guests,” she says.
Lakeside Airbnbs in Ashland and Delta, Pennsylvania
Laura Diamantoni owns three lake and riverside Airbnbs in Pennsylvania. She emphasizes investing in high-quality items, like good mattresses, linens,and sofas, and said not to “cheap out” when buying furniture.
“I always want to be proud to have friends and family visit my Airbnbs so that’s the bottomline, how I do mine,” she says.
Just like Rocky, she also credits the uniqueness of some of her homes for bringing in more guests — especially the one that looks like an American flag.
“I just think it’s the unique aspect of the flaghouse and then my little ones up at the lake. I just felt like each of them have their own different personalities,” she says. “You know, they’re little, they’re nothing fancy at all, but I just really want my folks to feel comfortable when they visit.
She also spices up her homes with original artwork, even from her own kids, and collects other eclectic items.
Airbnb Big Bear Lake, California
Rina Yano owns an A-frame cabin with wall-to-wall windows and a cozy fireplace, right on Big Bear Lake. She revealed that one of the most important things, as she operates her Airbnb completely remote, is to have a trustworthy crew of cleaners.
“Having that quality assurance is really important. And there’s a lot of behind the scenes even before a guest checks in, just to make sure that the premise is immaculate and clean,” she says. “Cleanliness is probably one of the most important standards to be able to meet superhost.”
Yano recommends having a platform that automatically sends out messages to your cleaning crew as soon as the guest leaves. On top of that, she has a pricing dynamic software that shows peak seasons, so it can raise your rates automatically depending on the season or any special event.
Since there are a lot of A-frame cabins in Big Bear and they have a bit of a cult following, she tries to make her place stand out by having new furniture, adding pops of color, and even having a mural painting on the property.
“So that’s why I took my cabin off the market for four months to do a full renovation of the kitchen, as well as the bathroom. I’ve added a mural. … I had to retake all of my pictures so that my listing stands out,” she says.
Christine Vanderkaap owns an Airbnb in Austin, Texas, right on iconic South Congress Street. And because guests usually come to the city for music festivals, she says that leaving little thoughtful gifts, like a rack of beer, some granola bars and even dog treats for their animals, is a great way to make them feel more special.
Vanderkaap suggests completely immersing yourself in the space your guests are going to stay in.
“The biggest recommendation is to stay in your Airbnb … and use the things, like use the shampoo and conditioner, use the coffee that you’re giving them, and see how you feel about the experience that you’re giving people,” she says.
She says she tries to stay in her Airbnb once a week or so to see what’s broken and what’s missing.
Depending on your budget, Vanderkaap recommends splurging on essential items, like a quiet, good quality fridge, but that buying second-hand is completely fine too.
“I was a professional artist for about six years here in Austin … so I try to put local art around. I’ll find antiques and … put them there,” she says.
She also added that some of her biggest turn offs are bad heating and cooling and noisy appliances.
In her experience of staying at other Airbnbs, Vanderkaap says there’s a clear distinction between the hosters who care about their renters and the ones who don’t.
“You can tell that they just built it and stocked it and furnished it to make money, not because they love hosting people,” she says. “There’s a difference and you can feel that when you walk into a place.”