Should you have Airbnb guests during the coronavirus outbreak?

It’s April in London and the sun has made its first appearance since late October last year. A mild but very wet winter caused a lot of maintenance issues with my Airbnb as water got into the house and did some damage but my bookings were mostly as normal.

For the first time since I started hosting over 5 years ago I started creating artificial gaps in my bookings (blocking off days) to reduce my workload and give me a break from guests. I did this because I was starting to get sick of strangers constantly coming and going and never really feeling at home in my own house. My wife was also showing signs of similar fatigue.

I need not have worried because the coronavirus (cover-19) outbreak would leave my airbnb completely empty.

Should you still have guests during the coronavirus outbreak?

The UK government introduced social distancing guidelines in early March and encouraged people to work from home wherever possible. As soon as these recommendations came into effect my airbnb bookings started to dry up. I find that guests generally tend to book 2-4 weeks in advance. So it was not long before my airbnb was starting to become empty. I heavily reduced my prices to a record low of £15 a night to try and make at least some income but even this was not enough.

Most of of my guests are either tourists or those who have to visit London for a short time for business or visiting a family member or similar.

What is the future of Airbnb hosting?

It’s February in London and Brexit is here. The UK left the European Union on Friday 31st January at 11pm. My first European guests since Brexit arrived about 1 hour later from Italy. They were nice guests and for them at least it seems nothing was any different. Strictly speaking nothing much hans changed. The UK is in a transition period for the next 12 months where as far travel for EU citizens into and out of the UK there is no changes. No new visa is needed. After that what will happen we don’t know yet.

What is the future of airbnb?

I recently read a forum thread about being a landlord and/or a airbnb host. Someone left some interesting comments that I agreed with and made me think more about the future of airbnb.

I have copied the post in full as I want to show it in entirety in respect for the writer. The link to the forum post is here. https://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/235721-landlords-regret-investing-in-buy-to-let/

i get hotels regular, and the airbnb concept is in for a massive crash.  the market is completely saturated and rooms very cheap. there is hardly a city in the uk that you cant get a 30 quid room infact none if you look hard enough. and as airbnb is mostly homes with 2 or 3 rooms whats happening is many are getting fed up. lucky to achieve 50% occupancy rates and very little in the winter. the changing of sheets and tidying up and organising of it all is creating a situation many are making very little. add in the fees airbnb take and mortgage interest and very soon half are begging for a full time tenant again. 

hotels have got smarter and better and takling airbnb head on and i can get room after room with a breakfast throwing in for 30 quid something no airbnb can do. i know people doing bnb that have started to refuse 1 or 2 night lets and are only looking for week long lets due to the work involved switching over to new people each night. hotels can do this due to economy of scale with 20 or 30 or 50 rooms full a night. 

hence when i rent rooms now i never do airbnb for these reasons. 

1. airbnb is often more expensive

2. airbnb is full of amatuer landlords that make you feel uncomfortable to relax in their precious homes

3. the neighbours of tese homes are often hostile and fed up of people coming and going

4. you get a breakfast at a hotel

5. airbnb owners will be far more active in complaining or witholding any monies due to any damages due to the same reasons amatuer landlords do the same ie granmas precious house where they really despise anyone staying but need the cash.

5. i want informal, heres your keys and have a nice evening. airbnb is often full of owners far too interested in your comings and goings and what your up to than a hotel is. 

6. mostly no owner on the premises what if the loony in the next room starts running around the place with an axe

7. big chance of getting to the property but then having to wait around for the owner to arrive to gain entry.

8. as above but with far more restrictive times to get keys etc than a hotel unless there in all day and live next door. 

9. more chance of a perv sticking a spy camera in the shower room

10. far more penny pinching going on with heating etc especially when they only got one room let and only got 35 quid for it, they dont want you burning the heating all night whereas a hotel with have 30 or 40 guests and a bigger more economical heating system. (this is actually a huge moan of people that use airbnb, )

 

Should you become a host or perhaps stop hosting?

I can only tell you about my own experience of being an airbnb host. I don’t want to make assumptions of how other hosts find the whole system and how they benefit. For me it has been mostly very good. I have empty bedrooms in my house and wanted to let them out for the extra income. So i gave it a try.

I was initially surprised when my first airbnb bookings came in. I had 4 empty rooms in my house. Two I let to people from my work (on a lodger agreement). They were longer term but not fixed (i.e not locked in for a year). One left after a year or so. The other stayed for 2 years I think. The remaning two rooms I would put on airbnb and try my luck. My house is reasonably central in London but is not central enough that you can walk to the main tourist sites. The distance to the centre might seem quite far for someone who is not used to the size of London. I assumed my place would be nothing but a last resort type place but at 2000+ guests so far it’s exceed my expectations.

If I search right now for a room like mine in a better part of London then I can see similar listings for about £40 which is double my price. To be honest if I were a guest I would probably pay the extra money for the better location. But not everyone will feel the same way. I do offer a alternative deal for a more price conscious traveler. But it does tell me that unless the upper end prices go up mine will probably stay low too since there would be no reason to save the extra.

Just for comparison an Ibis hotel in my part of London is £50-60 a night. So my airbnb is about half the price of a proper hotel (when you take into account the fee airbnb charges the guest etc). Which is good but I recall before airbnb existed a decent but cheap London hotel would be about £80-100. The hotels have gotten more competitive since presumably they were losing a lot of business to airbnb.

Airbnb seems constantly pushing me to lower my prices. This may be for my own good. Assuming airbnb’s data is correct people are expecting lower prices. It’s very possible that if your listing is very special (like say you can see Big Ben out the bedroom window) then you can probably ignore such advice. But if like me you have a very nice but still very ordinary room then being competitively priced is a good idea. My strategy has always been to be fully booked all the time, no matter what it takes. So if I need to lower my prices I will!

I have noticed some airbnb listings are what I would call expensive. £50 or more to sleep in someones spare bedroom seems like a lot to me. Even if it is well decorated and kind of niche it just doesn’t seem right. I’m sure many of the hosts are very nice and welcoming people but at the end of the day you are only a guest in their house. When you pay for a hotel room your kind of made to feel like your the boss by the hotel employees. I’ve never known anyone apologise to a hotel owner for coming back late at night.

I do generally leave my guests to themselves. In fact I would say I almost avoid them. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable during their stay so I stay away. Occasionally if I get a good vibe from a guest i will offer them a glass of wine or similar. But that’s about it. I don’t offer an ‘experience’.

What to do when your airbnb bookings dry up in January?

It’s January in London and so far its been a mild winter but it has rained almost every day since August (well it certainly feels like it). The heavy rain has caused unexpected damage to my house which is very annoying but it has not affected my airbnb which has been full most days (only Sundays I was not 100% booked out but that was almost a welcome relief for me). But now it’s reached January and like every year for the past 5 years that i’ve been an airbnb host my bookings have dried up.

Did you airbnb bookings suddenly drop off in January?

It’s only because i’ve been a host for over fives years that I know the sudden drop off of bookings is normal. I know its obvious that January should be a quiet month, thats not the full issue. The issue is this – not only is January quiet but there don’t seem to be forward bookings either. In my experience about half my guests book about 6-10 weeks ahead. The other half about 2 weeks ahead. But looking at my calendar there are very few bookings in Feb and March (where I would expect to be about half full already, and of course no bookings at all in the next 2 weeks). So what should i do?

What to do if you don’t have bookings?

If you have suddenly stopped getting bookings in January first don’t panic. There may be nothing at all wrong with your listing, or a borderline bad review has not ruined your hosting future. It’s just that time of year. It’s actually scary looking into the darkness and only seeing a empty airbnb calendar, if this is your main source of income.

I have a mortgage to pay so I really need my airbnb money to come in every month without fail. I can’t miss a month and make up the difference later. I need that money now! Its a simple fact that demand has dropped and now the airbnb market is crowded with empty rooms. There is only one thing for it and that is to drop my prices.

When I first became a airbnb host 5 years ago I was charging £20 a night average for a private room. Today I charge the same amount – £20. Adjusting for inflation I am charging less than five years ago. Why am i charging the same price? Well it’s basically because the market can’t handle a higher price.

Despite the increasing popularity of airbnb for travellers this has been more than offset by the increased number of those who want to host. Also I suspect traditional hotels have significantly reduced their prices to compete with airbnb, so this has kept prices low.

I have tried to increase my prices slightly but this sometimes led to not getting bookings and I would rather be full than empty so this didn’t work out. I find it’s better to be full ALL the time for two reasons: 1. the constant cash flow 2. bookings generally lead to bookings

Should you drop your listing price?

So what can you do about your empty airbnb calendar? Well first you need to drop your prices. Every year I have bitten the bullet and dropped my prices BELOW my acceptable minimum price. In some respects I was making a loss (when you consider my time and effort as well as the actual cost of my house). My guests were getting a dam good deal in my opinion.

Why would I drop my prices like this? Well first as mentioned above bookings generally lead to bookings. This is part of airbnb search rankings. A place that was booked will be seen as positive by airbnb’s search engine and push you up the rankings. Possibly therefore ensuring future much more lucrative bookings! Second is to stay liquid. Cash in every day pays the bills. Profit next year is no good to me if I have bills to pay TODAY.

Also to get more bookings there is possible 2 things you can do. First is start using Instant book. Using Instant book will push you up the rankings. Second is to be more flexible with your guests. An example of this might be reducing your minimum trip length to 1 night (some hosts have a two night minimum for example). There are other possibilities such as allowing pets etc.

Having regular guests can keep you in business

Bookings have dropped off but fortunately for me I have a steady stream of regulars. Some of my regular guests have been coming for 4 years or more. They all pay cash and usually come on the same days every week (for example every Monday and Tuesday).

All my regulars are working in the city of London so they are consistent. They usually arrive at about the same time every day and are out all day (at work of course). Guests like this are easily the best in my opinion. I give them a good price and I get peace of mind (the chances of a regular guest causing trouble are very low).

How do you find regular guests? Well I suppose if your listing is not close to any commercial centre you might struggle to get any regulars. However if like me you are in a major city this should be easier. Its somewhat easy to spot a potential regular. Often they will mention in their first contact with you they are in town for work. If not this then if you see them hurry out the door in work clothes early in the morning then this might be an easy hint. You simply have to ask them straight if they are here for work and do they want to make their stay with you ‘a regular thing’. I often immediately make clear that it’s cash only and and that I’m flexible with bookings (often people don’t like to commit too far in advance). It’s usually as easy as that!

My friend wants to start a airbnb business- What I told him…

It’s November in London and its getting dark at 4:30pm and the temperature is getting lower by the day. Apart from a few very warm days it was a generally wet and grey summer this year. My airbnb was full most days apart from the occasional empty room on a Sunday (to be honest its nice to have a day guest free day sometimes). My prices are as low as ever and it doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. My competition in East London seems to have increased in my area over the last 5 years I have been a airbnb host, and is probably one of the reasons why my prices are still so low.

A friend who lives in the same area of East London as me asked me to the pub for a chat and it wasn’t long before he started asking about my airbnb. He wanted some advice on starting his own airbnb. He was more interested in having a country retreat style airbnb business; a small cottage perhaps in a nice part of the English countryside? I gave him my advice and on the whole he was not very happy.

There is a big difference between being a live in host (i.e. your listing is a room in your house or flat) and hosting a place that is separate from your residence (especially if some distance away such as in another town). It’s a huge problem if you have to travel long distances to check in guests, clean, or fix issues. This can make any profit you make on your listing simply not worth it.

I am a live in host so chances are if something needs to be done at my airbnb I am on hand to do it – immediately. Even if a guest arrives at 2am, it may mean dragging myself out of bed but I can do it and be back asleep in minuets (happens way too often for my liking). The idea of driving across town at 2am to do the same thing is a much bigger ask. Its the daily hassles that cause the most grief. Try to avoid them if you can. There are things you can do such as using automated check-in systems such as key safes but some things are only cost effective to do in person.

Automate your airbnb check-in process with key safe

The idea of having a airbnb listing out in the countryside may seen romantic but if it’s going to be a lot of trouble to manage then you have to ask yourself  – is it worth it? Unless you can charge big money for a few nights stay then by the time you factor in your costs and time you might be only making a few pounds. Cleaners don’t work for free and even then could be not available when you need them.

My friend who is thinking of starting his own airbnb business also quizzed me on how I get paid and what tax do I pay. I explained to him how that airbnb pays me only AFTER a guest checks in and the money can go into my bank account but it’s quicker if the cash is paid into my Paypal account. I also explained that my Paypal account in any name and can make payments straight out of my Paypal account to purchase almost anything. This means it does not have to hit my own bank account.

I explained to my friend when and how much tax he will need to pay on his airbnb business. How the government rent-a-room allowance works and what expenses he can claim. He seemed surprised that he would need to pay tax on the income and how much it would be. This is important because if you already have a full time job then the extra income is going to be taxed at a higher rate. It might make your airbnb business simply not worth it.

For more information on what tax you need to pay on your airbnb income read my guide here.

 

Airbnb review system

It’s Easter bank holiday weekend in London and it’s very sunny. My airbnb is full over the long weekend as usual. My strategy is to be fully booked at all times and it works fine for me (even if I am charging lower prices than this time last year). My average charge per night is only £18 now (my price was £20 when I first started as an airbnb host nearly 5 years ago). This should be a warning to other airbnb hosts that your income could possibly fall over time. The major reason I think this has happened is the increase of rival airbnb hosts in my area. Also the two year delay for the new crossrail train line has not helped.

Airbnb changes to reviews system

Airbnb has informed us that the way it treats your less that positive reviews has changed. The idea is that getting one very bad review when your reviews are usually positive or excellent will not negatively effect your appearance in the search rankings (well thats sort of what it says). I have generally found that getting bad reviews had not overall affected my bookings. There are some reasons for this. The first is my low prices – guests don’t tend to have high expectations of a cheap one night stay. The second is that I have so many one night guests that often a bad review will get pushed down the review feed quickly (hopefully replaced by better reviews) and someone will have to scroll down far to get to the bad reviews. This is another reason why accepting one night only bookings can be a very good thing.

What bad reviews do I get?

For an example of my bad reviews take the case of the guest who wanted to put cheese in my fridge. I have a very clear rule in my listings and that is “no access to the kitchen”. This is mentioned frequently in my listing description (it’s mentioned 3 times in the description and once before you can actually book). I mention this so many times in big letters because so many guests fail to read the reviews properly and just assume they can use the kitchen. So when this guest asks to put cheese in my fridge I said “sorry no I can’t let you use the fridge”. He complained that he got bad service and he didn’t feel welcome. One of the reasons why I don’t let guests into this part of the house Is because my dog is there (the dog will most certainly attack an intruder like this) and in my mind more importantly the guest already agreed to no use of the kitchen when he made the booking. So I believe this bad review to be unfair but there is very little I can do. He is entitled to leave his review. There is nothing I could have done differently other than buy him a fridge for his own personal use for one night and put it in his room.

The most surprising bad review I get is for ‘Value’. I say bad review. This is the Star Ratings that guests can leave at the end of their written review. It’s between 1 and 5 stars (1 being the lowest obviously). I usually get either 4 or 5 stars for everything. But occasionally I get a low star rating for Value and this I find strange. The main reason being is that I am so cheap. I charge £20 or less a night for central London. This is a rock bottom price. I could maybe understand a low rating if my house was literally falling to bits but it’s almost brand new and has most of the modern conveniences. Many of my guests are genuinely surprised how nice it is. So a low rating for value makes little sense unless your really trying to say something else.

The worst review I received was from a guest who didn’t even stay at my listing. A guest booked but was expecting to be able to check-in to the listing very early morning. This was not possible as the room was still occupied by the previous nights guest (checkout is by 11am). The guest was upset and cancelled. A full explanation of this incident can be found here. The guest promtly left all single star reviews for each category. The worst possible. It made no difference that she didn’t even set foot inside the listing. She was still able to rate the listing 1 out of 5 for cleanliness for example. This to me is a very unfair system. The only thing I could do was to leave a reply to the review explaining the incident. But overall it has not affected by bookings (I have over 1400 reviews so this is a drop in the ocean).

Airbnb Single Night Bookings

It’s February in London and apart from a small dash of snow it’s been a rather mild winter. Unlike last winter I have not been forced by Airbnb to refund my guests because their train or plane was cancelled due to the snow ‘force majeur’. This may seem fair to the guests but for me it was a real loss.

Should you be accepting one night bookings?

One of the reasons for my success (if I may say so) at airbnb is that I am willing to take 1 night only guests. It’s very tempting not to take single night guests because of the trouble re-setting the room  and checking in and out new guests. But if so many other people are not taking one night guests you may find a more steady stream of guests if you do. Plus you won’t have single night gaps in your calendar.

It’s my current strategy to make sure i’m full – ALL THE TIME. If that means taking single night guests then I will. If it means I have to drop my price to super low then I will. I’m currently charging the lowest price I have ever charged in 5 years of airbnb. I have to do this to stick with my ‘be full’ strategy.

Should you accept one night bookings?

Why do I think the ‘be full’ strategy is a good idea? First I believe it’s better to have some money than no money. Cash flow is important. Second even a booking which may have little or no profit can get you yet another review to add to your numbers. Third I believe Airbnb giving a search ranking boost to those listing which are getting bookings. So to keep your listing in Airbnb’s good books then your listing needs to be getting booked (if that makes sense).

How much should you discount to get a booking?

To be honest with you in my opinion I am willing to accept 50% off my asking price if it means I don’t have an empty listing. But usually I drop my price by about 10% if I see an empty listing less than 7 days away. But it does also depend on which day of the week we are talking about. Sundays and Mondays tend to be my least popular days (especially Sunday) so I will reduce my price more aggressively on these days.

Should you cut your prices to get bookings?

I do use the airbnb smart pricing tool on all my listings. I have had concerns about using the smart pricing tool in the past because it seemed to only ever offer my set minimum price, no matter what the day of the week etc. More recently I have noticed that the prices do seem to be higher but only about 3 months away. It’s as if the airbnb smart pricing system assumes that if your not booked out 3 months ahead then you need to discount immediately.

I find that most of my guests book about 2 weeks in advance. Most of my guests are here to see a little bit of London or see friends. It’s even not unusual to get bookings same day. When I stay in another airbnb it’s often part of my annual family holiday planned 6 months previously. This is very different to the type of trips most of my single night guests are making. The smart pricing tool does not seem to suit my type of guest’s booking pattern.

You can read my previous post on earning extra money for last minute airbnb bookings here!

Airbnb Profile Pictures and Private Room Listings

It’s January in London and like last year things have gone very quiet. The Christmas and New Year period were ok but not as busy as some previous years. This time last year I had a significant drop in bookings. I blamed the airbnb smart pricing system (or to be more specific the fact I was not using it and I believed I was being penalised by airbnb for not doing do). I can’t say the same thing again this year as I am already using the smart pricing system. I have dropped my prices 10% to see if this helps get me more bookings. Still the airbnb smart pricing system recommends £12 a night a massive 40% drop on my previous prices. I have now the lowest prices in 5 years of being an airbnb host.

Should you require guests to have a profile picture?

In my opinion airbnb profile pictures should show a picture of the person who is making the booking. This seems obvious but some people use other images such as Pokemon characters and the like. So sometimes I have no idea what to expect. You might say this shouldn’t matter but it does cause problems when I have to guests who can’t find my house and I have to go out looking for them for example. Sometimes profile pictures have more than one person in the picture and I am not sure who is who. Some guests have no photo at all and also provide no details on their profile. I find this both las and unhelpful. In my opinion the airbnb system is built on trust and this does not help.

There is now a option to require guests to have a photo when they make a booking. I am not certain this will work as I’ve already explained some photos are not of the person but something else. Airbnb says the feedback from some guests has been that they are not comfortable providing photos. I can understand this in some ways as I have occasionally made unfair judgements about someone by the way they look. I don’t insist my guests have a profile picture but I always ask them to complete their profile. Most usually understand what I mean.

As a reminder, Airbnb’s nondiscrimination policy prohibits hosts from making booking decisions or canceling reservations based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

How to deal with guests who book a private room

In my house I have 4 airbnb listings as private rooms. I live in the house with my wife and little dog. So I have to know how to treat my guests who may be uncomfortable staying in the same house as me and vice versa.

There are some very good tips from airbnb here about listing a private room.

It seems I have had over 400 guests in my private room listings in the last year. I honestly couldn’t remember about 300 of them. The simple reason is after they have checked in I rarely seem them again. Sometimes they even self check in using the key safe and some instructions so I don’t seem them at all. This shows a lot about my hosting style. I generally leave my guests well alone. I provide them with everything they need and leave them to it.

I do get a lot of feedback from guests that they enjoyed the privacy of my private room listing. I rarely see my guests after check-in. Occasionally we will pass each other in the hallway or similar and I say hello and ask if everything is ok. But that is usually all. Even the checkout I tell the guests to just leave the key in the room and don’t worry about saying goodbye. I understand this make the experience a lot less personal but it also makes guests feel less like they are under any obligation to act as a houseguest. The more business like this transaction is the less uncomfortable they will feel being in my house.

How you setup your airbnb business goes a long way to make dealing with private room guests easy or hard. I don’t allow my guests to use my kitchen, living room, or really any other parts of the house; other than their bedroom and allocated bathroom. In some ways it’s the same as a hotel. The guests have a nice clean comfy bedroom but not much else. This means I don’t have to worry about guests using my kitchen when I want to cook, or sitting on my sofa, or touching anything else. It also encourages them to leave the house as soon as possible. They usually get-up, wash, and go out. Most spend less than 8 hours a day in the house.

Most of the guests who stay with me are passing through London usually by themselves. They are using my private room listing as a safe place to sleep and use the bathroom. This suits me fine as I don’t have time to entertain them and it keeps my house mostly for me. Some guests check in as late as midnight and check out very early in the morning. I charge a low price for this service and I get mostly very good feedback. If I charged a higher price I think guests would expect more and I would have less favourable reviews. One of my most common review comments is “you get what you pay for” which in my option is exactly right.

Should you accept Airbnb bookings for other guests?

It’s December now in London and it’s very wet. No snow yet. My airbnb has been busy except on Sundays which have been quiet recently. Sunday and Monday have traditionally been slow days for Airbnb but I usually get last minute bookings so my occupancy rate is 100%. However recently I have had empty listings on a Sunday. This may seem not a big deal but this is easy money i’m missing out on.

What to do if you get a booking request but it’s not for the person making the booking?

Several times in the past I’ve had booking requests come in that are not for the person making the booking. What I mean is the Airbnb profile used to book the room is not the person who will be staying. Usually this is a husband or wife making the booking for their other half. Or sometimes a parent making the booking for a son or daughter. Occasionally its for a friend. I am hesitant to accept a booking made for a ‘friend’ because it seems much less safe.

I am currently looking after a Airbnb listing at my friends apartment in central London. It’s a very nice apartment and the price she is charging is more than double what I usually charge. A booking request came through for the whole month of December. But the request was from a company, not from an individual. This company was looking for a room for the month for one of it’s employees. The employee was relocating from Russia to London. I was hesitant to accept the reservation.

The Airbnb community works on a system of reviews. The idea is simple that a person who has been reviewed favourably by one host will then be welcome by other hosts. The problem of one person booking for another person destroys this system. When I have a guest who is not the same person who made the booking then I do not leave a review because this does not make sense. You want the review to match the person.

I did accept the reservation as the company which was doing the booking did have a full airbnb profile and some positive reviews (presumably other relocating employees). I did a quick google search on the company too and was satisfied it’s story checkout out. I had no problems with the guest he was actually no problem and very quiet.

What are the risks of accepting guests who didn’t book?

The risk with accepting bookings for other people are several. First the person staying in the listing might not understand the airbnb system and rules. They also might have very different expectations for what you will actually be providing. Second it might be difficult chasing the person for any damage costs. The person making the booking might refuse to pay on the grounds that you accepted someone who was not the person booking. Third if a crime is committed you might be held liable for not verifying who was in your listing.

It is worth noting that bookings made for two guests made by only a single person could have similar risks. Often a guest will book for 2 people and not provide any details on who the other person is. The person making the booking has a verified airbnb profile but the second guest does not. So if the second guest causes problems what can you really do? Well very little. Even if the guest making the booking admits liability it may be very difficult getting money from them in serious cases. In the end everything come down to chance.

 

How much money can you really make from Airbnb?

December is getting very close now in London and the weather has turned cold and very wet. I always keep a few old umbrellas near my front door in case one of my guests needs one. This is one way you can really help your guests out and this can make up for other deficiencies in your listing. Recently I spoke to a relative who was interested in becoming an Airbnb host. He seemed to think he could make much more money from being a host rather than being a traditional landlord. I think he is being very naive.

How much can you make being an Airbnb Host?

To get the official Airbnb figure of ‘how much money you can make being an airbnb host’ then use the below link.

Click here to find out how much Airbnb says you can make hosting in your area

My results came up as £499 for each private room. This is actually almost right. The tool can give you a good idea of how much money you can make being a host. The big problem here is that I know if I rented the same room out, to a local person who is working in London, I would get a minimum of £600 a month (and possibly much more). So in my case being an Airbnb host is not financially the best decision.

Check and see how much you can earn being an airbnb host

The Advantages of being a Airbnb host

I earn approximately £500 a month for each Airbnb private room. The same room rented to a lodger on a more permanent basis I would earn about £100 more a month. So why am I an Airbnb host?

  1. I can block off the listings whenever I want. If I want a break from guests or for example a relative comes to stay I can make the room free.
  2. I can limit the use of the space. For example I don’t let my guests use my kitchen or living room. This would be unacceptable to a lodger.
  3. There is some possibility of meeting people of different cultures etc.
  4. You can set stringent rules for your place. For example no extra guests, no music, no parties, no smoking.

 

The Disadvantages of being a Airbnb HosT

When my relative asked me about becoming an Airbnb host he was only really interested in the how much money he is going to make. I really can’t stress how much trouble it is being a Airbnb host. Especially if you have a full time job like I do. There are many reasons not to be a Airbnb host.

  1. Guests arrive and leave at very unusual times. Many guests arrive from abroad and arrive at strange times. Some super early like 6am some well past midnight. If you have a normal working life this can be a real problem.
  2. Waiting around a lot. When a guest says they will arrive at 2pm and they actually arrive at 3:30pm because they got lost or stopped to eat etc. It can be really frustrating waiting for people and cost you your precious time.
  3. If your a live-in airbnb host you have to get used to people arriving back late into the night. After your guest finished his west end show and had a drink it’s now nearly midnight and he’s jingling his keys in your front door and it’s woken you up. And you need to be up at 6am for work.
  4. The constant changing of sheets and cleaning. Also the additional wear and tear that comes from people throwing suitcases around your house.
  5. Neighbours not happy seeing strangers constantly coming and going. Possibly arriving at unusual times or coming home drunk. Making noise. Etc.

 

If your still thinking that becoming an Airbnb host is right for you then you can sign up here.

I like being an Airbnb host because it suits me. I like my house to be mine and I set the rules. I don’t like to share my kitchen and living room as this is my private space. I don’t mind sharing a bathroom so much. It is a lot of hassle being a host but it does pay the mortgage. There is always the possibility that Airbnb prices will rise enough for it to make more financial sense also.

New Years Eve Airbnb pricing recommendations

It’s the middle of November in London and Christmas is getting so close now the city has already put most of it’s Christmas lights out. I’ve been getting some poor reviews recently after a long stream of good ones. The main complaint seems to be the fact that I have multiple Airbnb guests in my house (I have four private room listings in my 5 bedroom house). The guests seem to be expecting that it’s only just going to be them and me in the house. So when they spot other rooms it can come as a bit of a shock. However at the low prices I am charging it should not be too surprising.

What price should you charge Airbnb guests for New Years Eve?

New Years Eve in London is the one night you can’t fail to be fully booked. That is unless you are doing something very wrong. So is this the best time to cash in on your airbnb guests? You can tell yourself It’s a simple case of supply and demand. If the demand is high enough then there is no limit to what price you can charge, right? Well yes. But don’t be too greedy. My personal experience of New Years Eve is thats it’s generally a big let down. So there may be a downside to chasing in on your guests.

The euphoria leading up to the sound of London’s famous clock ‘Big Ben’ striking midnight soon leads to anti-climax. Possibly followed by moments of regret. After your guests have paid their huge sum to stay at your Airbnb they now have to leave a review. Unless they have had their best night ever (unlikely) your not going to be getting the best review you’ve ever had. Especially when they see their bank balance. So charging a too higher price could lead to some negative feedback.

Make some money by becoming an Airbnb Host yourself. Click here to learn more.

Personally I only charge my airbnb guests about 50% more for New Years Eve. Anything above that might look greedy. Also I find that the higher price you charge the more guests expect from you. So unless your going to be offering some sort of five star service then I would avoid charging too much extra. People will expect to pay a bit more on NYE but not more than double and even then that might still be seen as too much.

Airbnb Multi-calendar – Can you use it to manage your bookings?

It’s November in London and already I can feel Christmas coming. I usually take guests over Chrsitmas but I always warn them that Christmas day in London means not much will be open. Certainly there will be no buses or trains and few shops. Especially guests from Asia need to be warned as some parts of Asia the 25th of December is a normal working day and they don’t understand the significance of Christmas in the west. Even in Australia and New Zealand it’s not unusual for some restaurants to open etc on Christmas day.

The Airbnb Multi-calendar just disappeared

I had a big shock last week when the airbnb multi-calendar disapperead. I have four listings in my house advertised as private rooms. Since very early on I have been using the Airbnb Multi-calendar function to manage my bookings. The reason I find it so useful is that I can see at a glance which days the listings are still empty etc. But for me the most useful reason is managing the non-airbnb bookings, also known as my regular guests. These are people who have stayed with me through airbnb but have since kept coming back to me on a cash deal basis. This has some downside but mostly it’s better for me.

Using the Airbnb Multi-calendar function can make your life easier

There are many reasons why regular guests are better than one time guests. The biggest reason for me is safety. Someone who usually lives far away in another country and speaks a language I don’t understand could be a much higher risk than someone who ordinarily lives and works in the UK. Also the great thing about a regular guest is exactly that – they are regular. And I don’t just mean they come every week I mean they are predictable. They tend to arrive about the same time, leave the same time and shower the same time, etc. This makes my life easier.

To see if you can access the airbnb multicalendar go to https://www.airbnb.co.uk/multicalendar if it doesn’t appear then you can’t use it.

Airbnb Multicalendar now restricted to those hosts who have 6+ listings

I contacted Airbnb help for hosts to ask why I could not find the multi-calendar function anymore (perhaps they had moved it?). I got the below reply from Airbnb Support: –

I understand that you want to use the multi-calendar to manage your bookings easily. However, the multi-calendar is now available for host who has 6+ listings. I am sorry if the option is now not available for you.

I was very surprised by the news that only hosts with 6+ listings can now use the multi-calendar function. Why this feature needs to be rationed to only a small number of hosts I have no idea. The solution occurred to be add two fake listings to my profile and make them unavailable for booking and therefore I will be able to use the multi-calendar screen again!

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?

Activate smart pricing to use Airbnb’s pricing tips.

 

I was slowly 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 calendar bookings suddenly flooded in. However I am 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.

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.

 

Airbnb Review 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 (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 on 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 the street do 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 i’m 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 £7,500) 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 a 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 on. 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 GBP 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 Airbnb host 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. This means more single night bookings and therefore more sheets to clean and checking guests in and out but this is the price to pay for keeping a full calendar.

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. Often they are last minute holiday makers or 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.

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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.

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.”

 

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

 

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.

 

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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.

 

Guests putting you on your wish list helps your rankings
Guests putting you on your wish list helps your rankings

 

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.

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 big 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. The 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 carefully 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.

 

Your profile picture should be nice and welcoming
Your profile picture should be nice and welcoming

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:

 

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How far ahead should I take bookings?

Its coming close to winter here in London and although the first snow has not yet fallen bookings have become thinner on the ground. I am lucky that London always has someone arriving from somewhere, so bookings do come in no matter what the weather is but sometimes it’s nice to have firm bookings in advance – or so I used to think?

The problem with being an airbnb host is that it becomes your life in many ways. For some this is a good thing and can add meaning and a source of enjoyment. For me this means I am effectively on call 24 hours a day. I can’t afford to pay anyone else to look after my business and nobody will ever care about it as much as I do. Thankfully there have been few occasions where I have had to run away from my real 9-5 job to sort out a problem at my listing. However I am conscious of the fact that one day something may go very wrong.

Airbnb Calendar Settings

To reduce the chance of future issues I have decided to limit my calendar to only a month in advance. To my knowledge there is no way of doing this other than blocking off the dates. There is a function to limit bookings for only 3 months in advance but this is too long for me. Why do this? Because my life doesn’t work on more than a 1 month ahead schedule. If I take a booking 3 months in advance and my life changes to the point where I can’t handle the booking then I have to cancel and that means I get a penalty from airbnb and then no more bookings.

 

You can limit how far in advance you want bookings.
You can limit how far in advance you want bookings.

 

I get a lot of last minute guests so I can still turn a profit only allowing bookings in the same month. In fact I have found that last minute bookings can achieve the  highest prices (due to other good listings being already full) and the guests tend to be those who are in the city for a short time and just need somewhere to crash before they leave – this means they tend to arrive in the evening after I get home from work and therefore there is no mad rush to get the room ready.

Airbnb Instant Book

I will have to stop using Instant book also as I need to control what time people will be coming and going to my place. Instant book has been very successful for me. I think all my Instant book guests were very nice people and knew what they wanted. As mush as I like this tool its got to go as one wrong booking could cause a nightmare for me. I already had a problem a few weeks ago with a guest who was coming and I couldn’t be there to meet her. I asked a friend to stay at my house and wait for the guest who was supposed to be there about 11am. My friend ended up waiting four hours for the guest (which is not unusual as many people misjudge the amount of time it will take them to clear customs at Heathrow airport and then actually make it all the way to my place) but it was very embarrassing for me and it really put my friend out.