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.
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 bookingsLast 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. 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.
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.
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 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 24hours 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 which has meant I have 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. 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. [caption id="attachment_220" align="aligncenter" width="347"] You can limit how far in advance you want bookings.[/caption] 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. 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.
This week I turned on Instant book for three of my listings. I was always hesitant to use instant book because I liked the added sense of security of getting the chance to weed out undesirable guests at the request to book stage. When a guest wants to stay in your listing on airbnb they have to request to book by sending you a message introducing themselves. Only if the host is satisfied with the information the guest has provided do they release pre-approval for the guest to make payment and secure the booking. If you turn on Instant book guests can book without going through the request to book stage and obtain pre-approval.