Home sharing service Airbnb has taken the world by storm, offering a competitive alternative to the dominant hotel industry.
It gives travellers the chance to stay in a home away from home, often at an affordable price.
We hear so much about the famous platform from travellers who stay in Airbnbs, but the experiences from the hosts aren’t quite as commonly shared.
People choose to become an Airbnb host for a variety of reasons: making an additional income, connecting with travellers or as an alternative to offering a long-term rental.
However, it seems hosts get more from the experience than financial gain.
Four women share an insight into what it’s like to host an Airbnb.
Angie: the fly-in, fly-out worker
After a positive personal experience in the Philippines and encouragement from a friend, Angie was sold on becoming an Airbnb host.
She started hosting in January 2018 in Perth.
“I work fly-in, fly-out which means I fly away to work for one week then I’m at home for one week. My best friend had been pestering me for a long time to do it (Airbnb) as I had this huge house and no one occupying it,” Angie said.
Apart from a few small complaints and bothersome customers, Angie has mostly had wonderful, respectful people come through her home.
“You meet people from all walks of life – from international travellers to homegrown Aussies to university students who, might I add, left my home better than some of my more mature families,” she said.
Angie said the layout of her home works well as an Airbnb rental, as she has two big bedrooms and a sunroom which can be converted into a third room.
This means she’s free to lock up her master bedroom, along with any valuables, and offer the rest of the space as an entire home to guests when she’s away.
While Angie enjoys the experience of being an Airbnb host, she has some sage advice for potential hosts.
“You never know what to expect but just remember, don’t take things too personally. If you come back and something is broken just brush it off, otherwise you’ll stress yourself out for nothing. If you are cool, calm and collected as a host I believe it’s reciprocated through your guests,” she said.
Fiona: using an investment property as Airbnb
With a fantastic location in the heart of Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, Fiona and her family opted for Airbnb over long-term renters for their investment property.
“We do Airbnb on a full-time basis. We had about 80 guests stay over the last financial year. We generally have one to three guests stay per week,” she said.
Even though she never stayed in an Airbnb before joining the platform, Fiona has been extremely happy with the arrangement.
She said the app is easy to use and the system is set up well to protect both the guests and the hosts.
“We are financially a lot better off having guests in our place as opposed to longer term tenants. We also clean (the place) ourselves after each visit to ensure firstly, that cleaning is to our high standard and secondly, so we can track any damage that may occur. But so far hardly any dramas with our guests,” she said.
Fiona’s top tip for guests choosing an Airbnb is to look for excellent reviews or stay with hosts that have a Superhost status.
“Superhosts have continued excellent reviews from their guests. So, generally speaking, staying with Superhosts ensures a great experience. We have been Superhosts now for some time and we have attracted other Superhost owners for this same reason,” she said.
For Fiona and her family, the biggest pitfall of hosting an Airbnb is the high volume and turnover of guests.
“Although it’s our preference, having to go ourselves to clean the unit and wash all the laundry is our least favourite part of the experience. We generally have one or two-night stays but sometimes up to 10-night stays. It can sometimes take me two and a half hours to clean after longer visits,” she said.
Alys and Majella: earning extra income at home
Couple Alys and Majella have been Airbnb hosts in Brisbane since 2016.
They hadn’t experienced Airbnb prior to becoming hosts but now love using the platform and recommend it to others.
“We love travelling and meeting new people and thought this would be a wonderful way to meet people from around the world, plus make a bit of extra money at the same time,” Alys said.
Their favourite aspect has been meeting solo intrepid travellers and talking about their adventures. They’ve even stayed in touch with some guests long after their visit.
But Alys is quick to warn potential Airbnb hosts that it’s not always a pleasant experience.
“I don’t enjoy having my weekends disrupted by guests arriving or leaving. We don’t mind weekdays so much, but we like to have more freedom on weekends. It can be frustrating if you have to wait a long time for guests to arrive when you could have been off doing something else,” she said.
The pair shared a few horror stories, including a guest who spilled hair dye on the carpet and another who arrived at 5.45am to check in without forewarning, or an apology.
For Alys and Majella, the main benefit of hosting an Airbnb is the flexibility to block off bookings when they need a break.
“For the first year we had two or three guests per week. In 2017, we reduced it to one per week, and this year we closed our books for a few months to have a break,” Alys said.
Karen: the traveller supporting travellers
After running her Airbnb for three years and loving the experience of meeting travellers from around the world, Karen decided to try something different.
In September 2018, she started running an experience through Airbnb called Meander Melbourne, a walking tour of Melbourne.
“I had a long-term job finish and I was looking for something new. Airbnb had been sending information about tours, so it was in the back of my mind. I also wanted to be doing something that would get me outdoors and exercising, rather than sitting at a computer,” she said.
Although she hasn’t yet seen a correlation between bookings for her home and the walking tour, Karen thinks it could drive bookings as Airbnb sends an email to anyone who has booked accommodation in Melbourne with a link to local experiences. She’s also promoting her tour on Facebook and Instagram.
“I really enjoy sharing the things I love about Melbourne. I have also learnt a lot by researching the areas I’m walking in. And it’s just a really relaxing day out, wandering around the city,” she said.
Karen said she would recommend becoming an Airbnb host but that it all depends on personal circumstances.
“For me, I love to travel, and when I’m not travelling, I find it nice to be able to host travellers and talk travel with my guests.”
Things to consider if you want to become a host
There are several reasons to consider becoming an Airbnb host, but it ultimately comes down to whether it’s right for your lifestyle and situation.
Here is some further advice:
- Trial being a guest yourself before hosting
- Set guidelines and house rules
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – there may be cleaning to do and damages, but it’s all manageable
- If you need a break, block out the bookings calendar. You’re in control.
TELL US: Are you an Airbnb host that can impart some advice? Share your tips in the comments below.