I’ve been an Airbnb host for more than 3 years now, since Nov 2011. It’s true that you can generate significant income from posting your place on Airbnb. It’s free to post and the site makes a small commission when someone books your place.
Well you can more than double the average monthly rental you usually get for your property. So if the market rate for your property is around PHP20,000 a month then, if you have a healthy stream of Airbnb bookings, you can easily double that to more than PHP40,000.
Yes, that’s net even of utility bills and other expenses.
So how do you get on the Airbnb bandwagon? There a lot of Philippine hosts now and it’s difficult to get noticed if you’re just starting out.
Don’t be discouraged though and here are some tips to get started. Happy hosting!
1. When you start, price below the market
If you think your place is worth PHP5,000 a night then when you first post it make it PHP4,500 or even PHP4,000 a night. In your first 6 months or so of operations you’re not after so much profit as volume, you want a lot of people staying with you so that more people can review your place. This is very important for new hosts who have few to zero reviews.
Trust me, when I first started on Airbnb I priced our 2BDR at USD120 a night. After a month of no one booking I slashed the price to USD90 a night, that’s when we started seeing some action. The nightly rate of the 2BDR now? USD140 a night.
2. Encourage people to review you by reviewing them
Reviews are life for new hosts. You can encourage guests to review your place by reviewing them. Airbnb allows both host and guest to review each other. To encourage honest reviews one party can’t see what the other wrote until both parties have written reviews. But the system will alert one party if the other has already reviewed them.
So if you (the host) review a guest who hasn’t reviewed you yet then Airbnb will inform the guest they have been reviewed. People like to reciprocate and if a guest knows that you’ve reviewed them this increases the changes that a guest will review you.
3. Reply as soon as possible
I leave my computer on throughout the day with my browser open to my gmail. When I receive an inquiry or booking request Airbnb shoots me an email and I log on right away to respond. Quick replies benefit you in two ways.
One, it’s believed that Airbnb takes note of how quickly a host replies and ranks the properties of hosts with quick reply times higher in the search rankings. So if someone is searching for a 1BDR in Cebu the search results will be factored, in part, based on which host has an average faster response time.
Two, guests naturally prefer quicker response times and many will even thank you for responding quickly. A fast response time means that you’re on the ball and this is what you want the guest to feel – that you know what you’re doing and that he will have a great time at your place because you are an experienced, professional host.
4. Location, location, location
If you’re on Airbnb you most likely already own a property in the Philippines and want to make some extra money from it. Your location then is fixed, wherever your property is will be where you will be hosting.
While you can’t pick the location of your current property you can emphasize descriptions of the location to entice guests. Are you near a mall or the airport? Put that in the title of your property!
Names of places like Greenbelt, Intramuros or Mall of Asia are well known even to foreigners traveling to the Philippines. They will often use these places as landmarks and you should as well. So in your description of your property you can put that you’re 5 minutes away from Mall of Asia or a 10 minute walk away from Ayala Center Cebu.
5. Have a system
The best hosts do a lot of their work behind the scenes. Have a system in place to handle regular cleanings, laundry, meeting the guest and maintenance. Having a system ensures that common concerns (eg. how do I get the key) are not an issue and that you can respond promptly to anything out of the ordinary.
Out of the ordinary events can range from a guest losing his key, or the toilet in the bathroom backing up or even an air conditioning unit suddenly dying on you.
If you have a system and people in place you can more easily respond to these situations.
(Having an aircon die on you is a real pain.)
6. Don’t let them see you sweat
Airbnb is great in part because it’s person to person. Interacting with a true local allows for some interesting spontaneous events. I was an Airbnb guest once in Seattle and the night I arrived my hosts, as part of their annual family event, burned their Christmas tree in their backyard. The flames reached so high one of the neighbors called the fire department. You would never see anything like that in a regular hotel or condotel setup.
The vast majority of guests and hosts on Airbnb are awesome folks. But inevitably you will get some characters, people who think that just because they booked your place then that means you are their personal concierge for the rest of their stay.
Be polite with these type of people but also be firm. Give in to requests that are reasonable (could I have an extra blanket) and put your foot down when the requests are absurd (I need a blender in the kitchen).
Most importantly, don’t ever let your guests see you sweat. Be calm, relaxed, informal.
Stay cool even if one of the main lighting fixtures in the dining room spontaneously disassembles or instead of 5 people staying at your place there is a whole barangay of relatives and helpers.