Is Airbnb forcing down your prices?

The heatwave that has engulfed London this summer has finally ended (we think). After some of my guests complained the rooms were too hot to sleep in I ordered some fans for the bedrooms, however these did not arrive before the hot weather ended! I suppose they might come in handy next year.

Is Airbnb trying to make me lower my prices?

When I first started being a airbnb host in 2014 I charged a basic £20 per night for a single person. Today I charge about the same. I assumed as time went on my prices would steadily increase. I figured this not only because of inflation but the general improvement of my area and it's transport links into central London would push up prices. So why am I still charging the same?   I was slowing increasing my prices every year by about £1 per night. I thought this was reasonably fair and certainly no more than the natural rate of inflation. However this plan was abruptly ended on January 1st this year 2018. As 2017 came to a close i noticed that my calendar for 2018 was looking suspiciously empty. I certainly wasn't doing anything differently and saw no other reason why this would happen, if anything I was expecting the lower value of sterling GBP to increase bookings. Also the fact that this was suddenly happening on 1st January made me very suspicious that it was Airbnb deliberately not pushing my listings. The reason why was immediately obvious to me - I wasn't using the Airbnb Smart Pricing Tool.   The issue of Airbnb forcing down prices appears in the Host Q&A - Airbnb Community 2018 event. Airbnb explained the issue as below: - Our tools help you set a competitive price and get more bookings when demand is low, which can mean suggestions to lower your price. But we’re launching improvements that better consider your market during periods of high demand. Soon we’re going to equip you with more data, not just pricing suggestions, to help you set your price. As for comparisons, we look at successfully booked listings in your area with similar numbers of guests and amenities (listings you won’t see if you’re searching dates they’ve booked). We also look at what guests click before and after visiting your listing.

Should you be using the Airbnb Smart Pricing Tool?

I started using the Airbnb Smart Pricing Tool as soon as i realised what the problem was. As soon as I activated this tool in my living calendars bookings suddenly flooded in. However I was now using lower prices than before. The Airbnb suggested price was lower that I was previously using and almost made me think twice about wether i should stop using Airbnb altogether. I recently received an email from Airbnb with the subject reference "Demand is down by 15% in London." The email was a call-to-action to reduce my minimum prices before its too late. Presumably every host in London has received the same email. What the actual effect on demand would be if we all cut our prices is hard to be sure. The recent decline in the pound sterling has made the UK cheaper to visit compared to other countries so even lower prices might have virtually no impact at all. I would prefer to be fully booked with a lower price than empty as its all a question of cashflow. It's hard to go bankrupt sitting on a pile of cash. But on the other hand growth is a measure of success and when your not getting it you so ask yourself what is going wrong. I can only say what I see and I see Airbnb bringing in the punters for me so that's great. For the guests themselves cheaper prices are obviously a good thing. To be honest some hosts do charge hotel prices for basically nothing special so pushing down their prices might not be a bad thing; before Airbnb gets a reputation for being a general rip-off.

How to be a real Airbnb Superhost

It's July in London and it has been a record hot summer. It suddenly became warm at the end of April and it seems is just getting hotter and hotter. Airbnb has been busy every day but my prices have been kept low because of the Airbnb smart pricing system (it only shows the lowest price in every situation). So i'm still charging £20 per night on average which is the same as nearly 5 years ago.

How to be a real Airbnb Superhost

This year I finally went on holiday myself and booked a private airbnb room in a hosts apartment in Istanbul, Turkey. Although I have been a member of Airbnb for 5 years this is actually the first time I have stayed in a private room in another Airbnb hosts place. Being a live-in host myself I now experienced the other side of hosting. I guess my host made it very easy for me as he is possibly the ideal airbnb host and rightfully holds the coveted Superhost Status badge. I arrived in Istanbul very early in the morning but my room was already ready for me. My host Savas uses the Airbnb Calendar setting: Preparation Time - Block 1 night before and after each reservation. This means my room could be made ready the day before I arrive and I can check-in straight away. 1. Excellent Check-in The apartment I was staying in was very central but was tired and old. The apartment was clean but struggled to 'look' clean. But for me this was not a problem. I came to enjoy Istanbul and not the apartment, that is only for sleeping and washing. My host took me for breakfast in a local cafe and afterwards showed me how to use the public transport. 2. Make your guests aware of local Amenities I wanted to try the local food and drink. My host took me to a great local Turkish Kebab restaurant. He was a regular there are we got special service. Afterwards he took me to a local bar and even introduced me to some of the people there he knew. We drank beer and I hanged out with his friends and had a great time. 3. Live like a local Anytime I had a question on how to get places I could send my host a message on airbnb or even on his WhatsApp and he would reply usually within a few minuets. This was very handy for me as I don't speak Turkish and did have a lot of trouble working out how to use the ferries and other problems. It was a huge help to me that my host could answer my questions as they arrived. 4. Great communication

I will never be an Airbnb Superhost and here is why

To be a super host requires something very special from you - your time! I have a demanding job on top of my responsibilities as a airbnb host so this means I simply can't be the great host I would like to be. My friend Savas in Turkey does have a job but it's closer to part time than full time and he is not married with all the additional responsibilities that come with it. Despite this I have come close to being a super host in the past but have always seen it disappear in-front of my eyes because of one bad review. Even if I were a super host I do get the impression that it has no overall effect on bookings and creates unrealistic expectations for your guests. Perhaps it's better to be a near-superhost that an actual superhost!

What is the Super Referral Airbnb Program? and Are Guests sneaking in extra people to your listing?

What is the Super Referral Airbnb Program?

Today I got an email from Airbnb inviting me to be part of the Super Referral Program. Apparently because I have referred hosts in the past (I believe through this website) then I qualify to be a member (or maybe they send this to everybody I don't know). If I successfully refer a host then I get sent $300 in cash or in my case the GBP equivalent; about £215. How exactly this is different from the host referral program I used previously to lure others to become airbnb hosts I do not know. The only difference I can see is that I get a larger payout (previously the amount was about half).

If you want to become an Airbnb host like me then you can sign up here. Good Luck!

Are your Airbnb guests sneaking in extra people to stay the night?

I recently had three instances of guests booking for one person and then in the dead of night sneak in another person. In all these instances the room was a double room in my house but only one person was booked to stay. I believe in all three instances the person was 'visiting friends in London' and was just looking for somewhere to sleep that night. It's a very good idea to install cameras on the front door of your listing especially if you also live in the property. I use Canary cameras because they are easy to setup and the quality is very good, On one occasion I actually bumped into the guest and his secret friend when they were checking out. I happened to see them both leaving the bedroom with their bags in hand. I was surprised to see two people but I calmly said "i'm sorry thought you only booked for one person" they immediately replied that the secret person had only just arrived and came to collect my guest. I was unsure of how true this was so let them leave and waved them goodbye. I immediately checked my front door camera footage (easy to do on the mobile app) and discovered the secret person had actually arrived late in the evening the night before, and made a pathetic attempt to cover the camera on the front door with her hand I might add. I raised the issue with airbnb and they said that it was not possible to confirm if my story was true or not (in this instance I did not tell airbnb I had security camera footage) but they agreed to give me £20 free airbnb credit, which I was happy to accept. On another occasions I actually did not see anyone secretly arrive but a few strange noises in the middle of the night alerted my suspicions. I guess the sounds of two people is difficult to fully conceal, the extra footsteps going up the stairs for example. The next morning I scrolled through my security camera footage and sure enough the guest had secretly invited anther person into the house for a few hours. She left about 4am so was only in the house for approx 4 hours but this is enough in my opinion to count as an extra person (and definitely enough to break my house rules on guests only into the listing). This time I went to airbnb and told them what had happened and that I had camera footage to prove it. After a slight delay I got an email telling me I was going to receive the extra person payment from the guest, in this case £10.

Airbnb NYE bookings and How you should warn your overseas guests about Christmas

It's the end of the year and New Years Eve is only days away. I had a last minute cancellation of a guest for NYE. I took this as an opportunity to increase my price for this night and after having done so it was booked again within an hour for a 50% higher price. Clearly there is a last minute rush to find a room and that is when you can really get that extra profit.

airbnb lower pricesReducing your prices can start a cascade of bookings

December I find is a quiet time of year and usually so is early January. At one point during the month I reduced my prices by 20% to avoid being empty, the first time I have done such a thing in as long as i can remember. Reducing prices instead of being empty is sometimes the best thing to do. I am very much of the opinion that bookings usually follow other bookings. By this i mean that if you reduce your prices to get a booking the airbnb algorithm will see you got a booking and therefore promote you further as usually this means more bookings will flow.

Warn your guests from overseas about Christmas

It seems every year I have a guest who seems to not know the consequences of being a guest in London on Christmas day. A guest from South Korea arrived at my house on boxing day. I had already warned him when he booked that the 25th of December is a public holiday and there will be no public transport and that most of London will be closed. When I spoke to him he started asking me about how he can get to the British library. I explained to him that there is no public transport and even if there was public transport the British Library would be closed! He seemed extremely surprised. I guess some countries so not understand the enormity of Christmas day in the west.

Getting an Airbnb mortgage and What REALLY gets you more bookings on airbnb

It's nearly October in London and it's gotten much busier now that summer is nearly over. Over summer I had plenty of bookings but I was not 100% full. Since the start of September I have been full every day and with higher prices that July or August. I recall this being the same last year also. Most of my airbnb customers stay only one or two nights. This means more bed sheets to clean and more hassle checking in and out guests but I prefer this to having empty listings. In previous years I used to keep my prices very low to ensure I get plenty of guests but now I think I don't need to do this as much as I have over 600 reviews. Having so many reviews gives people confidence they will be getting what they are paying for.

Can you get an Airbnb Mortgage?

As far as i'm aware there is no such thing as an Airbnb mortgage and I think it's highly unlikely there will ever be. Despite what you may have heard from friends or from some get rich seminar you can't walk into a bank and borrow huge amounts of money on the promise you will run a very good airbnb with the money. Now more that ever banks are under very strict rules of what they can lend to who. Unless you have a large provable income you won't be getting a mortgage that would allow you to buy an property for an airbnb business. The vast majority of airbnb hosts who let whole apartments are using the standard buy-to-let mortgage and have not told the bank they are letting on airbnb. Metro bank is offering mortgages that give you permission to let the property on airbnb for up to 90 days a year. This is a case of Merto bank using it's common sense. They already know that many of their customers are listing their mortgaged property on airbnb and are keeping it secret from the bank. Other banks would be wise to follow their lead instead of simply turning a blind eye.

Superhost secrets - what REALLY gets you more bookings on Airbnb

There are lots of blog posts on the internet giving tips on how to be a great airbnb host and how to get more bookings etc. Most have pretty much the same content. A good example is this blog post on the airbnb website (presumably the content is acceptable to airbnb and factually correct so bear that in mind). But a lot of this stuff is not overly useful unless you can actually get someone to book your listing. Your place might be amazing but if nobody books it the world will never know. So here is my advice on how to get more bookings and be full all the time: -
  1. Be good value for money. Or in other words be 'cheap'. Everyone wants a bargain and you can be that the cheapskate in everyone will usually win out. Be at least a pound or two cheaper than your nearest rival.
  2. Have lots of reviews. People want safety of choice. There are no instantly recognisable brand names when it comes to listings. If you have lots of reviews (and I mean hundreds of reviews) you become a 'safe bet'. Get more reviews by getting more guests so be willing to accept a smaller amount of money and more short term guests to get those reviews stacked high.
  3. Be flexible. Accept short term guests. So many of my guests are one nighters. This may seen like so much more trouble (and it is) but since so many people have a 2 night minimum stay you will never have an empty listing.
  4. Have professional looking pictures - both of The Listing and Yourself. Use the airbnb photographer to get professional looking pictures done (also they become airbnb verified). You might seriously want to have a nice clear professional picture of yourself in your profile. Not a picture of you trying to look cool at some party, a proper professional picture like you might see on Linked In. If you look like a joke then you can't expect to be taken seriously.
  5. Don't charge a cleaning fee. This is a turn off.
 

Should you pay for the official Airbnb Photographer? and Why you must use Instant book!

It's September in London and Summer is drawing to a close. Like every year so far the July and August period has been slow. It's unusual for me to have empty listings so i really notice the difference. I believe things are now picking up as i'm full for the next few weeks. The prices I have been charging for my airbnb listings are higher this year than in previous years but only by a small amount. So far no great wealth has flowed from airbnb for me but it has paid my mortgage and then some.

Should you pay for the official Airbnb Photographer?

When I started doing Airbnb nearly 3 years ago the airbnb photography was free. You simply used the online link and then a photographer was sent to your listing and usually did a very good job of the photography and a week later your listing looked beautiful on the website and more bookings flowed from it. I have 4 listings and three of them had the free airbnb photographer. When it came time for the forth listing to have its photo's taken all of a sudden I started receiving the message "no photographers are currently available in your area" from airbnb. I kept trying and got the same message until eventually i forgot about it. I recently tried again and was told that I needed to pay £77 to have the photo's taken. So is it worth paying for the official airbnb photograher? The advantages of the official photography are twofold. First you get excellent professional photos of your space usually much better than you might ever take yourself. Second your photos become 'verified' which means your listing should rank higher in the search results. If your expecting to be a airbnb host in the long run it must be worth having the official airbnb photos.

Why you must use Instant book!

It seems now that airbnb will automatically apply the Instant book filter whenever someone is searching for a listing in the immediate future. So if someone is looking for somewhere to stay tonight or maybe tomorrow then when that person searches in airbnb it will show only those listings which are 'Instant book' ready. So if your listing is not instant book and your hoping to fill a last minute vacancy then your chances of getting a booking just dropped through the floor. Anyone who is searching for a last minute airbnb deal is going to go for those places which are instant book ready; as time is short. So you could be losing your best deals by not being instant book ready. I find I can charge much higher prices on last minute bookings (sometimes 50% higher).  

Get £30 Airbnb Travel Credit for Free

Get £30 Airbnb Travel Credit for Free

This is only for new users of Airbnb. As far as I know there is no easy way to get free travel credit if your already a registered user of airbnb. If you have not linked your account to Facebook it is possible that you can sign up with a new email address and get another £30 free credit. There are terms and conditions such as that you need to make a booking of £55 or more the use the free credit. The amount of the free credit has varied from time to time from as low as £15 to the now high £30. There is also a bonus for new hosts but this has been wound back recently. It was the case that if you referred a new host that you received £90 in cash from Airbnb but again this has been wound back and you now get £55 in travel credit.

How Airbnb can stop you getting a mortgage and How to automate your Airbnb

It's now May in London and it's finally gotten warm like summer. I no longer need to keep the radiators bering all day and night to stop my guests complaining about being cold. Its been steadily busy the last few weeks. I have so many regular airbnb guests now (those that come almost every week to London, usually for work purposes) that I feel the slowdowns in bookings much less than previous years. I read a newspaper article recently that more tourists are visiting London than ever before so I expect most hosts are doing quite well.

Getting a mortgage with Airbnb

Recently I applied to re-mortgage my house. I was set to re-mortage with Santander and the deal was almost complete. The final hurdle was the usually quick and easy valuation of the property the bank does to make sure the house is worth what you say it is (in my experience they always value the property at exactly what you say it's worth). I was not expecting any problems as my house is relatively new and in central London. I did not tell Santander that I run an airbnb business from my home. I felt it would not add anything to my application (such as current attitudes are to airbnb it seems earning more money make you a bigger risk, go figure?) so I didn't tell them. The valuation expert who visited my house reported back that I was running a bed and breakfast in my attic. There we no guests staying in the house at that time (some were due to arrive later in the day). So I was first amazed about how he knew this and secondly why he had reported this as it was in my opinion not his job to report on such things - he is supposed to be an independent expert to value the property. Santander refused my mortgage on these grounds. I later heard that the valuation expert had seen the bottles and water and chocolates placed by the beds. Getting a mortgage for an airbnb is still an issue. Airbnb is seen as a commercial business and would therefore require a commercial loan. It does not seem even possible that anyone could use airbnb on a residential application for their own home. The ability to earn extra income to help pay the loan you are taking out to me seems like an excellent safety net. Most people rely on their employment income to pay their mortgage which is nowadays not so secure and reliable. Having a second income should make an application stronger but this seems not the case. How long will it be before banks change their attitude? I think not until they are forced to.

How to Automate your Airbnb

For me the worst thing is when a Airbnb guest arrives at your house early and your not at home. You may have no choice but to drop what you are doing and rush back to let your guest in. This is something that has happened to me on a few occasions. More often I plan to go out but a guest is booked to arrive later so I have to wait until they arrive before I can leave the house. So now I automate my airbnb in two ways.
  1. Install a Keysafe outside the house
  2. Install a intercom on the door that can call your phone
I bought a police approved high quality key safe and bolted it to the wall near my front door. It's not visible from the street and has a protective cover so it looks like a wire box or something like this. A set of keys can be placed inside the box and a special code is needed to open it. Therefore if you can tell your guest the code and how to find the key safe they can enter your airbnb when your not at home. For a long time I wanted to buy an intercom for the front door which would tell me when someone rang the bell and allow me to speak to them from my mobile phone. I understand the likes of Apple plan to develop such a device but have yet to do so. There are many such devices on the market already but none especially stand out. I was waiting for a reliable high quality intercom to hit the market for some time but so far none have appeared. Not willing to wait any longer as I was occasionally having trouble with guests arriving at my house but was not able to reach them on their mobile phones. I did purchase this intercom from Ring. It does work but if your in a area of low internet connection it can cut out easily. So now It is possible for a guest to arrive at my house and they can speak to me on my intercom when I'm not at the house and I can tell them how to get the key from my key safe and they can get in the house without me being home. So I no longer need to rush home across half of London to answer my front door.

Airbnb Issue Categories and Find an Airbnb Co-Host and save on Tax.

It's March in London and we just put the clocks forward one hour which means only one thing - spring is on the way. We are now out of the worst of the Airbnb low season and things are already picking up. I've had several bookings as far in the future as August but still most of my reservations come in less than a month before the actual booking date.

Airbnb Guest Review 'Issue Categories'

I've noticed that the guests reviews now reveal the actual number of stars you received from that guest (it's between 1 and 5 stars). When I first started hosting this was not actually revealed to you. The only way to know for sure what star rating each guest left you was to keep track of the number of stars you currently had before the guest arrived and check it after they left and then do the math. This new system does make the whole thing easier to follow and can alert you to issues you may have quicker.     If a guest leaves you less than 5 stars for any category (cleanliness, check-in, accuracy etc) then they have the opportunity to be more specific what was not up to standard. My main negative feedback point is LOCATION and SIZE OF HOME. These are not a surprise to me as the area I live in although is relatively close to central London it does look a bit shabby. The other issue is 'size of home' which I can only guess is because the guests are sometimes surprised that I have more than one room in my house on airbnb and either it feels less private or less safe.

Adding a Airbnb Co-Host

For those Airbnb hosts who are just too busy to stay on top of their bookings a co-host could be very helpful. And more importantly can help avoid income tax. If like me you get booking requests and guests questions at the wrong time of day (in my case when in am asleep) then a co-host could be the answer. I currently do not use a co-host but I like the idea and may start using it soon. My wife would be my obvious co-host but it may make sense to have someone else you trust but who has very different financial circumstance.     To all those people out there who think the money you make on airbnb is not liable for income tax you are 100% completely and utterly WRONG. In fact ALL earnings must be taxed - except in certain circumstances. Yes there is the rent-a-room allowance (currently £10,000) which is free of income tax but beyond that your going to have to pay. That is unless you can shift the income to someone else who is already not using their full tax free threshold (currently £11,500 a year). Say some stay at home relative who has no other real income. Someone who you can co-host with and pay them for the excellent service they are doing for you (or pay them anyway even if they do nothing). After your co-host has taken their tax free income they might want to give you an early birthday present in cash?

Should you accept cash payments from Airbnb guests? and How to automate your Airbnb home.

Its January in London and cold and wet. The number of bookings I am getting has reduced and I have the occasional empty day. This is the same as last year i recall so I'm not worried. The low GBP will keep the tourists coming to London and I keep my prices low so I've always got a steady stream of customers. I have many 'regular' customers who found me on airbnb but have kept coming back and now pay me cash.

Should I accept guests who pay cash?

Nobody want to pay the airbnb service fee but that's the price you pay for using their platform. Without the airbnb platform I would find it very difficult to find new customers so it's only fair I pay them for this service. But what if I already found a customer should I accept them? Well yes if your happy with that person. Airbnb does keep a record of who stays at your place and should have copy of their ID etc so there is some safety. If you accept a cash payment then you open the possibility of getting into some unexpected trouble perhaps. Most of my regulars are UK citizens who are working in London a few days a week so I'm happy with them. Guests who pay cash might also be a way of getting round the 90 day rules in London.    

How to automate your Airbnb Home

If you are a live-in airbnb host like me then from time to time you might feel unsure about leaving your guests in the house alone when you go out to the shops or where ever. It's hard to relax when there are strangers in your home even if they seem very nice on first impressions. So there are a few small ways to keep an eye on your home and give you some piece of mind.

Install security cameras

Now don't get me wrong here the idea is not to spy on your guests. I have a camera in my living room, which is off limits to guests. The purpose of this camera is partly to keep an eye on my little dog but also in case any guests decide to break the rules and enter my living area and kitchen. I use this camera from Canary https://canary.is I find it excellent quality and easy to setup. I am also considering putting one facing my front door so I can see who comes in and out of the house.  

Door Sensors and Motion sensors

I once had a guest who sent me a complaint via my mobile phone that the house was too cold. I was not at home at the time so was unable to switch the heating one. Shortly after I installed Hive Active Heating in my home so I can control my heating using the mobile phone application. As part of the pack I was send a door and motion sensor. Both of these I have found very useful in keeping an eye on my home. The door sensor lets me know when someone opens and closes the door. The motion sensor detect movement. I put the motion sensor near the guests door so I know if they are at home or when they come and go. It's non-intrusive and can make you feel more comfortable when away from your listing.

New Airbnb 90 day House Sharing Rules in London. Do they affect me?

It's December in London and Christmas is coming. After a very busy Autumn Airbnb has started to go quiet. I am booked most of the time but some days i have one or two empty listings a week. It has been the same the previous two years and usually pics up towards the end of January. The price I am charging for the each listing has risen slightly this year (after being flat for two years). I believe this is possible because of the lower £ versus the Euro and the Dollar  

New House Sharing Rules in London

New rules from the Greater London Authority (which only affect Airbnb Hosts within Greater London not the rest of the UK) have come into force which will affect some hosts (but not all?). Up until 2015 rules forbid any short term lets without planning permission.   The important part of the new rules say: - the cumulative number of nights of use as temporary sleeping accommodation does not exceed 90 nights in a calendar year   The vast majority of hosts in London will be letting out for more than 90 days a year so this could be a real problem for hosts. It is possible to apply for permission to be exempt from the rules by obtaining planning permission. Obtaining planning permission for temporary sleeping accommodation (effectively a hotel) is not going to be possible for most hosts as the criteria is exhaustive and would be opposed by neighbours.   You can read Airbnb's guide to hosting in London here.  

Airbnb is limiting their platform for hosts from 1st January

In a letter recently sent to hosts Airbnb says it will limit the number of bookings to 90 days (presumably the website will automatically de-list the listing when the 90 day limit is reached). As of 1 January 2017, Airbnb’s systems will automatically limit entire home listings in Greater London to 90 nights a year.......we are introducing a change to our platform that will create new and automated limits to help ensure that entire home listings in London are not shared for more than 90 days a year, unless hosts confirm that they have permission to share their space more frequently.    

Do the new rules only affect entire home listings?

The letter from Airbnb to hosts clearly says that 'entire home' listings are not shared for more than 90 days a year. Presumably we can take from this that those hosts offering private rooms in their house will be exempt from the 90 listing rule. The deregulation act does mention 'This applies even if only part of the premises is used as temporary sleeping accommodation' so those hosts who have only private room listings may also fall foul of the new rules. I think that Airbnb is trying it's best to conform with local rules (the bad press the company has received all over the world is surely on the mind of the directors) but hopefully is doing it in such a way to give hosts a chance to be seen to adhere to local rules and still host without interruption. We will have to wait and see how the new rules will affect bookings on the website. A obvious solution to getting around the rules would be to have the same listing under numerous profiles (presumably 360 days per year/ 90 days = 4 profiles needed).   It's worth noting that up until 2015 short term lets were effectively illegal in London and the vast majority of hosts had no problems. At the very least we are now getting some clarity on what the rules are and will be in the future so hosts can plan properly. To be honest the rules do make some sense and will deter those 'professional' hosts from investing large sums of money buying property purely to let on airbnb. Those hosts who simply let out a spare room and work in regular jobs hopefully will be unaffected.

Getting last minute bookings and will the lower GBP benefit UK hosts

After a very quiet August bookings have picked up in September. I also have removed the minimum two day booking rule on all my listings. I was starting to get empty rooms and I just couldn't see that money go to waste.

Last minute bookings

Last minute bookings can be very rewarding. If I have a gap between bookings I sometimes put the price really high (usually 50% price increase) in the hope of getting a last minute windfall. I have found on many occasions that if you take the risk for last minute bookings you can earn some very good extra money. Some people for whatever reason need a place to sleep when they otherwise thought they would be ok. Sometimes they are last minute holiday makers other times people stuck in London unexpectedly, perhaps a delayed flight. Using Instant book can get you that last minute windfall If you want to make money above and beyond what you would normally expect then putting your price high in the expectation of a last minute booking is a way to do it. To make this happen I recommend using Instant Book because those guests looking for a last minute booking will only want to book instantly and not wait for a reply. Also you will need to set your calendar so guests can book later into the night - say as late as 9pm. screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-15-23-41

Will the lower GBP mean more airbnb bookings?

The GBP dropped by 15-20% against most major currencies after the Brexit vote on 23rd June. This means it will be cheaper for foreigners to visit the UK. This could mean either more tourists will visit the UK (because its cheaper than other destinations) or that anyone visiting the UK will be willing to spend more money when they are here (because it's cheaper). Perhaps both will happen and the UK will have a kind of tourist boom. Airbnb hosts should be benefitting from the lower GBP as more people may choose to visit the UK than previously would have done.

Will Brexit effect Airbnb? And Changing a reservation for a guest.

It's August in London and it finally turned hot after many weeks of rain. I was really bust in June and most of July but it has gotten quieter in August and I have decided to drop my prices slightly to reflect that. Although I did put the price up on one room on a Friday night by 50% (because I didn't want it filled that night as I had plans the next morning) but it sold suddenly at the last minute to a really nice man from Taiwan. Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 20.17.11 In June the UK voted to leave the European Union. The immediate effect of Brexit was the £ Sterling dropped a significant amount against mainly the US dollar but also against many other currencies. This means visitors to the UK will find prices cheaper so I think this is good for Airbnb hosts. More people may choose to visit the UK (a place previously seen as expensive) when they realise it will be cheaper than other major destinations. Although I do get many guests from the European continent I get much fewer French and German guests than I do from Eastern Europe. Why this might be I'm not sure. I may start seeing more guests from Asia and North America because of the more favourable exchange rate and because their economies are better than Europe. 

Can a guest amend a booking if it has already started?

A guest recently stayed with me who had come to London from France for a new life in London and only wanted to stay with me for 3 nights to give her enough time to find a permanent place to stay. I prefer guests who come to London for sightseeing and not those who are coming here to find work etc. One of the reasons for this is because some guests start using my address when filling out forms etc when they first arrive. For example this guest even ordered GiffGaff sim cards to my house before she arrived. The problem with this is no I will be receiving junk mail to my house in her name for the next few years. The guest asked to end her stay one night early and sent me a booking change request on airbnb. The reason she wanted to end her stay early was because she had found a new permanent place to live and she wanted to get some money back from her stay with me. I was surprised because I had no idea this was possible. I had even been paid out for her stay and had spent the money, so I had no idea how this would even work refund wise (I have since learned airbnb take the money from your neat booking payout). Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 20.38.25 I told her I would not agree to the amendment. It was not in my interest to lose a nights payment and because of the short notice I was unlikely to get another booking, which would anyway be more hassle for me to clean everything and check-in a new guest etc. I have a 5 day minimum notice cancelation setting for my listing anyway. I gather she was not impressed by my decision (I don't think I was unfair under the circumstances and the amount of money was quite small at £20), and she even went to the extreme of cancelling the reservation presumably in an attempt to try and reclaim some money, which achieved nothing of the sort.

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Resolving a issue with your Airbnb guest

For the first time since becoming a Airbnb host more than a year ago i've had to use the Airbnb Resolution Centre. I was impressed with the results but perhaps my case was an easy one fortunately I haven't had any serious problems being an Airbnb host.   Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 20.28.12   I raised a Airbnb Resolution Centre case because a guest had booked the room for one person but sneaked his girlfriend in to sleep the night. He checked in by himself but at some point during the night while I was sleeping very quietly brought his girlfriend home. It was almost certainly pre planned and I would never have known about it but they made no effort to hide it the next day.   [caption id="attachment_279" align="aligncenter" width="372"]Use the Airbnb Resolution centre if you have a problem Use the Airbnb Resolution centre if you have a problem with a guest.[/caption]

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How much should I increase my Airbnb prices during the summer?

Spring is in the air in London and I'm fully booked. I occasionally raise my prices on days where I would prefer to not be full (to give myself a bit of a break) but even these slots were booked up. After 3 months of cold weather and horrible rain it looks like the weather in London is about to improve. Better weather usually mean more guests so it could be very busy over the next six months.

How much should I increase my prices during the summer?

Although I do increase my prices during the summer it's not by much. Only a few extra pounds per night. Part of the reason is that I don't want disappointed customers who rate my listing less than five starts for value. If I put my price high then there is a certain expectation to live up to that price. A lower price has much less expectation - "at least it was cheap."   [caption id="attachment_269" align="aligncenter" width="511"]Make your price correct as guests will rate you on value for money Make your price correct as guests will rate you on value for money[/caption]   I did notice this on my listing for the first time. "This is a rare find - Richard's place is usually booked." Being a 'rare find' must be some sort of special Airbnb host badge. It does at least create this extra impetus to buy for potential guests - If Richard is usually booked then he must be good. I have no idea what it takes to become a rare find but I have had over 300 guests and I'm usually full so maybe thats it.   Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 16.03.01   My strategy is simple - stay booked all the time. If I have to lower my price I will. The way I see it Airbnb wants good hosts who will take bookings at any time. If your a reliable host they will reward you with more business (hopefully). Being too choosey on what price your willing to take and which type of guests your happy to accept will reduce your future bookings.   [caption id="attachment_274" align="aligncenter" width="299"]Guests putting you on your wish list helps your rankings Guests putting you on your wish list helps your rankings[/caption]   The more guests you've had the more guests you will have. It's all about being a safe bet. Most of your guests will be from out of town and will not know your area and will judge on your pictures firstly and secondly on your reviews. A good looking picture helps a lot but it's the reviews that make the sale. A long list of great reviews will put someone at ease and be confident they are getting what they see in the picture. To get those reviews you need lots and lots of bookings which means taking almost anyone who wants to stay and at the times when it doesn't always suit you. Thats business.

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To get your £35 free you will need to create your listing and have a booking to the value of £70. The booking can't be from a family or friend (no idea how they would know).   [caption id="attachment_264" align="aligncenter" width="215"]Make some serious money being a host on Airbnb Make some serious money being a host on Airbnb[/caption]   The terms and conditions state - "To qualify for any payouts, the Referred Host’s first received booking must have a value of at least 100 USD. The Referred Host has 150 days from the date they are invited to Complete their first booking in order to earn the Payment." The bonus is actually $50 USD so whatever the exchange rate to GBP £ is on the day of your bonus is what you will actually get. Hosts who refer other hosts actually get a £70 bonus (again depending on the exchange rate).

Making your Airbnb listing safe for guests

Finally we are coming out of winter in London. Its getting brighter in the mornings and evening and Christmas is just an old memory now. The heating is still on non-stop in my Airbnb house as the couple from Singapore find it very cold even on a nice day. My gas and electricity bills are double last years despite the recent global fall in energy prices. Being an Airbnb host means higher costs and greater wear and tear on everything. Demand did fall over winter especially when the temperature started to get very low but now i'm getting fully booked every day again.

Do I need extra security in my Airbnb listing?

I let my guests come and go as they please in my house. I have three rooms listed on Airbnb and they are usually full. This means I have guests coming and going late into the night. Most forget to lock the front door despite the little notice I put up above the door handle. To make things worse non of the guests know each other so if a stranger were to enter the house and I was not there the other guests might not even know that person is not supposed to be there. I am considering beefing up security by placing cameras around the house especially in the entrance way. I'm told that eye level cameras are the best as the police have facial recognition technology. I would much rather deter an intruder rather than catch him afterwards. There is some excellent advise here from the Metropolitan police. I can strongly recommend having locks on all the bedroom doors. I understand that this might cause a problem if the event of fire but it goes a long way towards making the guests feel safe.   [caption id="attachment_260" align="aligncenter" width="733"]Keep your Airbnb listing safe. Your guests will appreciate it. Keep your Airbnb listing safe. Your guests will appreciate it.[/caption]   Most of my guests come from overseas and about 99% have been very nice people. I would warn against allowing guests to bring any friends over as in my experience it's those people who always seem to be the ones who cause the most trouble. I don't allow any friends to come into the house. If they ask just say "no sorry it's a house rule" if they ask why just say "it's for the safety of everyone." Airbnb will back you up on this as only paying guests can are allowed in the listing.

The £GBP is falling. Will my Airbnb listing reap the benefit?

If your an Airbnb host in the UK you may be surprised to know your a British export. Tourism is an export and is one of the UK's biggest. So the next time you ready something in the news about British exports increasing you can pat yourself on the back. Exports generally suffer when a the nations currency is high (as it's costs more for foreigners to pay for goods/services) and of course improves when a currency falls (goods and services become cheaper). The British pound recently took a fall against major currencies like the Euro and US Dollar partly because of the upcoming European referendum. Most of my customers are from the Eurozone so demand may increase to a point I can charge much higher prices.

How to do your first Airbnb listing and How do you decide if being an Airbnb host is right for you?

A friend of mine has just become an Airbnb host for the first time. His first guest had just finished her stay with him and had left a nice review. The listing is a private room in his London flat near Shoreditch high street and he charges £35 a night. Being an experienced Airbnb host myself my first question was "did you use the airbnb photographer for your listing?" He said "No need, I did the photo's myself." This is a classic mistake.

You need to make your Airbnb listing as professional as possible

I did a search for my friends Airbnb listing and it was full of classic mistakes. He was not using the free airbnb photographer and consequently his photos were a disaster. The bedroom looked like a hostel room. There bed was badly made and looked like someone had just slept in it (the dull grey sheets didn't help), no other furniture was visible expect for a mirror (not hung on the wall just left on the floor). No flowers or any pleasant decor. The bathroom continued the hostel vibe being clean but otherwise uninviting and the toilet being centre of the picture - with the seat up! Using the Airbnb phtographer is important for two reasons: 1 - the pictures will look better and 2 - the photos will be verified which means your listing will get a boost in the airbnb search rankings. I read through the description of my friends first Airbnb listing and it had several grammatical errors and used some texting type like PPL instead of people, which to me looked unprofessional. The profile picture for himself also looked dark and with a serious face instead of a big smile.   [caption id="attachment_242" align="aligncenter" width="637"]Your profile picture should be nice and welcoming Your profile picture should be nice and welcoming[/caption]

How to decide if you should be an Airbnb Host?

Being an airbnb host is not for everyone. Its much more demanding that being a traditional landlord and guests can be difficult and unpredictable. Although the amount you can charge is greater than with traditional lodgers and renters there are additional cleaning costs and more importantly the personal time it can take off your hands is high. A handy guide to help you decide if being a host is right for you has been written by learnairbnb.com website and can be found here:   Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 20.25.12