Airbnb Hosting Guide

Making Money with Airbnb Hosting: The Most Complete Guide on the Planet

Thanks to my students and my staff, we have created one of the most complete Airbnb Hosting guides on the planet. I hope it will guide you and help you too make 6 figures in this rental business, as it helped me and many of my students…

The best part?

You don’t even have to own a property.

Airbnb Hosting: An Introduction

If you have some space that you can rent out, Airbnb can find you short-term tenants for that space from around the world. You simply list your space at the Airbnb website and they market it to accommodation-seekers all over the world. That’s a big change from having to depend on local residents and brokers to earn some money from the space you can rent out.

The levels of rent you can expect can be significantly higher than what is possible through renting out locally. And you come to meet people from all over the globe.

Like in everything else, there are certain best practices for Airbnb hosting also. By following these practices you can build a great reputation on Airbnb and maximize your earnings and minimize your costs.

Whether you are just starting out on Airbnb or expanding into Rental Arbitrage Empire, this guide will help you achieve success. You are most likely to be surprised at the possibilities! We know of students who earn incomes in the range from $500 a month to $30,000.

Visit our Airbnb Hosting Case Studies page to find out examples of monthly expenses and profit when doing either Airbnb Arbitrage or simply host one property on Airbnb.

How does Airbnb Work?

Airbnb is all about Vacation Rentals, Homes, Experiences & Places

Airbnb targets both accommodation seekers and accommodation providers.

  • For the former, they come up with accommodation offers from all over the world.
  • For the latter, they provide the opportunity to earn money by making accommodation available to the above group.

The accommodation can consist of a room, an apartment or an entire castle. One innovative host even offered their backyard for tenants who wanted to pitch their tents in open space! Others have offered tree-houses in the woods and boats on the water! Just any kind of space where people can live and sleep can be offered.

Space is offered on rent for short periods from overnight stay to a month. Tenants prefer Airbnb spaces over hotel rooms owing to lower costs and also because these provide a more authentic experience of the place they are visiting. Together, these create better value for money.

Actually it is not just living spaces that you can offer to visitors. You can also offer great experiences by offering to act as local tour guides, providing skill development sessions say, in a hobby or other unique experiences say, horse riding in Alaska. Airbnb markets these experiences.

Learn how Airbnb pays you and how long it takes to get paid.

How to become an Airbnb Host

You can sign up as a host at Airbnb website free and then list your offer – BnB (bed and breakfast), other kinds of space or some great experience – at the site. The listing can be just an airbed at your apartment or an entire castle if you own (or can get) one. Or it can be your expertise in some skill or familiarity with local attractions.

Airbnb hosting invitation

It does not cost an arm and a leg to become an Airbnb host. Learn about hosting costs at this post.

When someone searches for accommodation or the listed experience in your area, they will see your listing among others. They might choose you if the listing meets their needs and expectations, and are in line with their budget. They will then contact you through Airbnb and you can discuss things.

Actually, you can make money through Airbnb even if you do not own the space to be rented out. This is possible through Rental Arbitrage and by becoming an Airbnb co-host.

Please note that Airbnb is not currently available at Crimea, Iran, Sudan, Syria and North Korea.

Rental Arbitrage and Co-Hosting

Wondering what that rental arbitrage thing means? It means earning money from the difference between what you pay as rent and what you earn from renting that property on Airbnb. For example, you take a property on long lease at an ideal location and then rent it out for short periods through Airbnb at an average rate that is higher than what you pay. Learn more about this opportunity at this post on Airbnb Arbitrage.

Airbnb Arbitrage Visual Example

This is an alternative for entrepreneurs who don’t have their own properties to rent out. Just make sure that your landlord will not have issues with it. It is best to negotiate with the landlord in advance.

And read about Airbnb co-hosting at this separate post.

Airbnb Hosting: How To Start An Airbnb

I will now guide you step-by-step in your journey to becoming a successful Airbnb host. It can be a great source for earning passive income, i.e. income that is generated without much effort on your part. You can go ahead with your main job (or life) while Airbnb works to generate a source of income for you.

I have gained a lot of insights along my way and am excited to share the tips and tricks. Let me hope that you will be equally excited to learn these!

Start with Researching the Rental Market

All markets are not equal and you have to spend some time to research the rental market in your area. Don’t be intimidated by big words like market research. Much of it is just common sense observation. And then there are some tools and resources to help you.

The Airbnb Tool is great for a high level of research. Supplement it with market research using AirDNA. You can find answers to the following questions  by searching the Airbnb site itself for accommodation available in your area:

  • Who are the competitors in my area?
  • How much are they charging for their properties?
  • What do they offer to their visitors?

You will find the information invaluable in deciding how much to charge and how to make your offer an attractive one. You can also check my post about what is your space worth according to Airbnb Calculator

Sign up at Airbnb

If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, go to Airbnb and click the Sign Up button. You can sign up using your email address, Facebook account, Google account, or Amex. Signing up and creating an Airbnb account is free.

Create a Great Airbnb Listing

Once you have created your account at Airbnb, the next step is to list your property at the site. You can do a number of things to make the listing instantly impressive and also attract the right customers, i.e. persons who are looking for just the kind of accommodation that you offer.

See our blog post on the Airbnb most wish-listed homes for 2019 and draw some inspiration from them

#1 Create a Profile the Generates Trust

You can create a personal profile about yourself under the listing. Try to create a profile that makes prospective tenants feel safe and comfortable with you. Typically, such trust is gained through reviews by earlier tenants; with a good profile, you can generate trust even without such reviews. See two examples below:

Airbnb Profile Picture Sam

The above is my own profile at my own Airbnb listing. Below is another with a headshot and a major local attraction in the background.


Attend to a few things to create a great profile:

    • Do smile: nothing symbolizes the open arms of a welcoming Airbnb host more than some pearly whites.
    • Do include your significant other or any relevant family members sharing the Airbnb account. The image of the family gives off positive emotions, while it also conveys the image of togetherness, community, and comfort. These are all things that may very well be the final push for a guest who’s on the fence.
    • Do make sure your profile picture is clear, and of good quality. You don’t want to scare away guests by representing yourself as an ambiguous blur who doesn’t even bother to take the time to refine your own physical features.
  • Do be color conscious. Certain colors, like red and blue, can manipulate the feel-good emotions, like comfort and calmness (respectively), that your potential guests feel when looking at your profile. In other words, there’s a psychology of colors that can be spliced into your photograph to help sway bookings.

What not to do!

    • Don’t include any distracting surroundings that steal attention away from you. Just as you aim to keep your listing summary straightforward and succinct, you want to convey who you are with as little background noise as possible.
  • Don’t take a photograph that is so overly professional that it looks staged.  While you want to appear sleek, staying approachable and friendly is your number one concern – these are the most overt qualities in a good host.

#2 Give Your Listing a Professional Title

A good title:

    • Will be easy to remember, and also unique and inviting
    • Avoids using quirky characters like $ % ^ @ etc. in the title
  • Avoids ALL CAPS, which is considered equivalent to shouting. If you want to emphasize something, do it in more sober ways

#3 Provide a Description that Creates Desire

The description of your offer is a key element that makes a prospective tenant to choose your place over others. So take time to write a description that projects a great image of the property.

    • A short and clear description in words, supplemented by uncluttered and clear photographs, is most likely to impress the prospect
    • Include the features that make for an enjoyable stay – bedrooms, bathrooms, great views and any other that the tenant is likely to be looking for

#4 Use Professional Quality Photographs

While you might be tempted to save costs by snapping pictures with your smartphone, it could damage your prospects of getting tenants (unless you happen to be a professional photographer). The best option is to hire a professional Airbnb photographer to take the pictures that you will include in the listing. 

Tenants often make their choices based on the photographs. Hence it is important to highlight those elements that appeal and eliminate elements that are likely to repel them. Pictures in a natural light show off the true colors; hence it is best to take the pictures during the day, with all doors and windows open for interior views.

Remember the saying that A Picture is worth a Thousand Words. Use a number of pictures to give a complete ‘picture’ and use high-quality images to project a great image.

#5 Add a Welcome Offer

Imagine a guest finding a basket with a bunch of fresh flowers, a bottle of sparkling water, just the right number of good quality chocolates and a local curio! Add a personalised welcome card to the lot! What would be your own reaction if you receive such a welcome on arriving at your destination!

If you are providing luxury accommodation, the welcome can even include a bottle of excellent wine and cheese.

Small things like these can make a huge difference. And even get you great reviews.

#6 Get Great Reviews (and Avoid bad ones)

Discriminating tenants won’t fail to look at reviews about past guest experiences of a listing after they have gone through the other elements. They might be on the point of choosing you after going through the features, descriptions and photographs. However, if they find a number of bad reviews from past guests, they are quite likely to reverse their decision and choose some other facility with great reviews.

How do you ensure that you get good reviews and avoid bad ones? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Deliver what you have promised. The photos you have used in the listing must be accurate representations of what the guests will see when they come. And any services you have promised must be rendered during their stay.
    • The premises must be clean; use a professional cleaning agency if you need one.
    • Politeness and helpfulness on your part will go a long way in making the guests feel like giving you a good review. In fact, you can even ask for one!

If you get a bad review despite your best efforts, don’t consider it the end. Instead, respond to the negative guest review it in the right way, which means that:

  1. Do not blame the guests for anything
  2. Do not use lame excuses, or even the same excuses repeatedly
  3. Do not use “template responses” you got from somewhere
  4. Provide a reasonable explanation

#7 Set up the Calendar Right

Do you know that setting Advance Notice for booking at ‘2 days’ could mean blocking further bookings for two days after a guest leaves? That is what Airbnb will do automatically if it sees such a notice period in your listing. And it means loss of revenue for two days if you have a steady stream of bookings.

Instead, get a cleaning maid to clean up the place immediately after a guest leaves and make the place ready to receive the next guest. Learn about such common beginner mistakes and avoid them.

#8 Protect Your Identity

Take particular care to keep your login information confidential. Use a strong password for logging into your Airbnb listing and not easily guessable ones like 12345. And use similarly strong passwords for the email accounts to which communications will come from Airbnb.

Otherwise, you could find somebody hacking into your listing and damaging all the reputation you have built up; or even stealing your earnings.

Basic Airbnb Requirements for Hosts

There are two types of main basic requirements that every host must cover in order to create comfortable and reliable stays for guests.

  1. Provide essential amenities: Toilet paper, linens/sheets, soap and at least one towel and pillow per guest.
  2. Be responsive: Replying on booking inquiries and reservations within 24 hours will help you maintain a high response rate and can get you even higher ratings.

Airbnb Super Host Requirements

Airbnb has its own evaluation program where they monitor the quality of their hosts. If you meet their requirements during the evaluation period, Airbnb will give you the Superhost status. To be an Airbnb Superhost, you must:

  • Have no cancellations within the last year.
  • Get at least half of your gets to review your listing.
  • Respond to 90% of inquiries within a 24-hour period.
  • Complete at least 10 bookings in the last year.
  • 80% of your reviews must be of at least five stars

An excellent start for becoming an Airbnb Superhost is my Superhost Checklist blog post.

If you are an advanced host, you can also find out more about the Top 9 Products That My Guests Raved About

Develop Creative and Simple House Rules

House rules are the “rule” in the hospitality industry. When you receive all types of guests from very different cultures, you need certain rules to ensure that they do not disrupt your (and probably your neighbors’) lives beyond tolerable limits. At the same time, imposing too many rules could mean stopping the flow of guests.

Develop a set of simple house rules after looking at things that could cause serious disruption. Consider what are important to you. Common among these are:

  • Noise: Is your space located in an apartment with many other residents who could be disturbed by loud music, parties and events? If so, you might need to make some strict rules.
  • Smoking: Non-smokers could be seriously affected by the smoke and its smell. Plus there is the health impact of passive smoking. It is best to have a rule to disallow smoking inside the premises. Smokers could be advised to enjoy their smoke in a way that does not affect others, including you, the host (unless you are a smoker)
  • Pets: Have you or neighbors have serious objection to having pets in the property? If so, state it clearly. Otherwise, you can offer pet-friendly accommodation, which could be a plus point.
  • Check-in and Check-out: Guest must have clear ideas of check-in and check-out times so that they can control their billing amounts.

While the above are the common topics for rules, there is nothing that prevents you from having rules for other things. However, it is best to consider the impact of these on guest traffic. Also, frame the rules in simple language that even non-English speakers can understand. Finally, try to phrase the rules in a humorous way so that they come across as more acceptable (instead of causing offense)

Be Helpful and Ensure a Convenient Stay for Guests

It is your helpfulness and the resultant convenience that guests experience which could make a big difference to the revenues you generate. Guests who have enjoyed a supremely convenient stay are likely to write good reviews and spread the good word about you in other ways. The question is how exactly could you be helpful? Here is a small list:

  • Polite and Friendly Behavior; Be ready with a smile, a pleasant greeting and a readiness to engage in conversations
  • Information Ready: Be informed about the attractions and events in your locality so that you could provide specific information if guests ask for these
  • City Map: Keep a stock of printed map of the city and its surroundings and give one free to the guest
  • Restaurants and Bars: Have a list of good restaurants and bars nearby where guests can have a good time
  • Living Comfort: Make their stay comfortable by attending to the little things they need or ask for

Do you Care for the Guests, or just their Money?

Guests can easily detect whether you care for them and their comfort, or just their money. If they feel that you fall into the second of these categories, they can spread the word. So how do you make them feel that you do really care for them?

  • Create a great first impression by being at the house to greet them when they arrive. The welcome basket we mentioned earlier is a key element of creating a great first impression. And don’t forget the short, personal, welcome message greeting them and wishing them a great stay
  • Fit up the accommodation with the amenities that make for a comfortable stay. A bathtub with hot water if needed, clean towels, slippers, and other bathroom needs; comfortable mattresses and pillows with clean sheets and blankets
  • Luxury accommodation will need luxury amenities and supplies
  • Attend to the small details and requests that the guests make. For example, you can provide candles on the dining table and near the beds; respond positively to any small requests they make

If you are having trouble satisfying your guests, you should consider doing additional research through my guest posts. Another option is to hire an Airbnb consultant that can help you identify and improve your weak hosting points.

Anticipate and Resolve Guest’s Problems

Problems are likely to occur in all hospitality situations. Anticipate the kind of problems guests are likely to face in the setting of your offer. And be ready with ways to help resolve these problems. This readiness could turn out to be the factor that differentiates you from competitors.

And be ready to help with unanticipated problems. It is best to have someone at hand specifically tasked with attending to all kinds of guest problems.

Do your best not to leave any guest unhappy.

Also, make sure you read all about my first experience with an Airbnb Nightmare Guest

Smart Airbnb Hosting

Hosting on Airbnb doesn’t have to be exhausting. I am using the Pareto 80/20 Principle when managing all of my properties.

Basically, you put 20% effort to get 80% of the results, and this what Airbnb Arbitrage is all about.

The 20% of effort when you hosting smart is no more than 20 hours monthly of managing your Airbnb Properties.

Learn how to avoid loosing money when hosting on Airbnb.

Also, check some of the tools I am using for Managing my Airbnb.

Automate Your Business

It requires anything from 5 to 20 hours each week to manage your Airbnb if you plan to do everything on your own. However, I always recommend automating and outsourcing most of the small tasks that need to be done. This type of Airbnb management is particularly valuable if you have several properties listed on Airbnb

Properly organized, it will require less than 10 hours monthly to review and manage all these things There are 3 areas that you can optimize:

  1. Pre-check in
  2. During your guest’s stay
  3. post-checkout

Pre-check in

Once a new guest is booked to your place, do you have ready templates that you can fire off to give them detailed check-in instructions? Will you have to be there or are you planning to use a lockbox? I have saved templates that I use and a lock box that a guest can access 24/7, so I don’t have to worry about being in person to exchange keys.

During your guest’s stay

Do you have a handyman that can help you if things go awry? You can use services like TaskRabbit, Uber/Lyft, or Amazon Prime to manage when things go wrong.

You might not need these services now, but they will be super helpful once you start and get going. The first unit will definitely be the hardest, so expect to put in a little bit more time into it.


Do you have a reliable maid to help you clean? Or are you going to clean your unit yourself? I highly recommend outsourcing this service when you have multiple units. Optimize your Airbnb Home Cleaning with this checklist.

Negotiate with your landlord

Negotiating with your landlord is crucial. Without having a proper conversation with the future landlord you risk of losing your Airbnb business. I know it might earn you more money in the short run, but it is not ethical and can get you in legal troubles with Airbnb, in the city where you are hosting and with the landlord.

Read more on how to talk with your landlord about hosting on Airbnb part 2.

Optimize your Airbnb Pricing

In order to get the most profit from your apartment, it is necessary to find the optimal pricing strategy for your Airbnb. I have written a very thorough post about optimizing your Airbnb Pricing. Make sure you check it out.

Final Words

We shared some of our expertise and I hope that you find this FREE information on Airbnb Hosting helpful and profitable. Looking forward to seeing you host your first Airbnb business. Please, if you have any questions or concerns just share them in the comments below and I would try my best to help!

  • CommanderMoney
    Posted at 19:42h, 10 December Reply

    Thanks Sam! I’ve heard that the pricing strategy is key to trying to fill occupancy. Air BnB automated suggests when you start out that you should price yourself above the market as you get 3 months of higher visibility. Thoughts?

    • Sam Zuo
      Posted at 21:13h, 10 December Reply

      Airbnb will give hosts with lower pricing higher search results.

  • Connor Griffiths
    Posted at 16:37h, 03 April Reply

    Thanks for the article! I’ve been working on my own Airbnb business in British Columbia, Canada: I’d love your opinion on what I’m doing!

  • George
    Posted at 10:23h, 05 May Reply

    Hi Sam! I would definitely recommend having a floor plan in the Airbnb listings. What are your thoughts on this?

  • Cheryl Fortson
    Posted at 09:08h, 13 May Reply

    Can a licensed real estate broker own and manage an air bnb?

    • Sam Zuo
      Posted at 01:33h, 15 May Reply

      Anyone can. Having a license might give you an edge. Customer service is key to Airbnb.

  • Talib Smith
    Posted at 15:31h, 25 August Reply

    Just wanted to thank you for the info, lot of good ideas and very informative.

    • Sam Zuo
      Posted at 01:42h, 26 August Reply

      The blog is here for that reason. Thanks!

  • Lori Cano
    Posted at 12:02h, 09 February Reply

    Hi Sam. I am a host and am wondering if I use a property management company, would the airbnb proceed go to my bank account and I pay the mgmt company or do they manage all money and pay me each month? thanks – lori

  • zuhier
    Posted at 05:58h, 15 February Reply

    Hi Sam, I’m planning to start my Airbnb soon.

    after checking the average monthly revenue in my city by AIRDNA it was around 2000$, so if I have 3-bed room apartment and start the business does that mean 2000$ is the revenue per room, or does it reflects the revenue of the whole apartment

    Also, is the equation going to be as follow: (if we consider the average Occupancy is 18 days/month)
    18 day x 3 room x 12 month = 648 yearly Occupancy Factor
    130$ x 648 = 84240$ average yearly Revenue

    am I right in my calculation?

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