Since the sharing economy began to appear in the mid 2000s, people have been getting smart in their ways to win over the system. Airbnb was launched just 4 years ago, yet these three men have been able to create their own Airbnb empires. They’ve shared their stories and tips with me so we can emulate some of their practices in our own businesses.
Ryan Scott, a full-time consultant of IBM, began renting out his own place in downtown San Diego on Airbnb when he was traveling on business. He has a notebook from a goal-setting seminar in early 2014 where he scribbled down that he plans to replace his IBM salary with his Airbnb and short term rental income. He bought a triplex in Mission Beach and began drawing a huge return on investment.
“Get the biggest bone you can get. The greater the risk the more leverage you have,” said Scott.
Alexander Van Dijl needed an alternative source of money while he was writing his new book. In the meantime, he learned he could make substantial money by renting out his home and living elsewhere.
Adam Falla began using Airbnb as a form of supplementary income. As his listing began to climb in the rankings he started to scale the business and acquire more properties. While scaling his business he realized there is a huge need for Airbnb hosts. Traditional cleaning companies were both too expensive, and didn’t understand the needs of Airbnb hosts. Which is why he founded 'aircleannsheen', a turndown service that comes to your home to clean and change the sheets and towels prior to the guest’s arrival.
How has Airbnb helped to grow your personal business?
Adam Falla: "My customers tend to list on either Airbnb, VRBO, and Homeaway, but the majority of them are listing on Airbnb, so the platform has huge impact. I hope to support the sharing economy through my personal business."
Ryan Scott: “The disruptive power of Airbnb to the industry is what has enabled me to convince investors that I, as a newcomer on the vacation rental scene, could outperform entrenched vacation rental managers.”
What piece of advice would you give to novice Airbnb hosts?
Ryan Scott: "First, don't do all of the work yourself. I'd tell other homeowners to consider using the complimentary service Guesty if they don't have time or attention to respond quickly, as it's a personal Airbnb management system that helps you to organize all of your timely Airbnb management tasks. I couldn’t keep up with traveling and my job while simultaneously managing 19 rentals without some sort of external help. If they ask tons of questions or bicker about policies, it is indicative of the kind of person and probably isn't a good fit unless you are in a place where guests are hard to find."
Adam Falla: "Read reviews from previous guests if they exist. If not, ask a few questions about themselves and their trip before you confirm the booking. Only accept guests that have the ID fully verified through the Airbnb system."
Alexander Van Dijl: "Do it! Keep your most valuable possessions safe (just in case), realize Airbnb takes care if something goes wrong."
What makes Airbnb excel at customer-experience?
Alexander Van Dijl: "Airbnb now has the option to keep an empty night between two guests. This allows me to offer check-in and check out times convenient to the guests. I've had check-ins as early as 8 am and check outs as late as 6 pm. The review system also helps a lot, as guests give me a lot of advice. I now include free phone calls, free sim cards, free breakfast, free wine, sometimes even free waffles, free beer, public transport cards and, of course,I welcome the guests myself, which people also really appreciate."
Ryan Scott: "Trust. People believe the reviews from guests and hosts. Accountability, because of the reviews, the platform is self-policing. You have a personal connection with the guest/host and, honestly, it is like staying with a friend of a friend. You just wouldn't destroy that person's house because they would tell your friend and you care about their opinion. It is the same here and it has changed the whole game. Reliability: there aren't scams and people respond."
What are the best tips you've learned as an Airbnb host?
Alexander Van Dijl: "Listen to the guests would be the best tip. Even something that is not brought as a complaint can help a whole lot. Once a guest mentioned that the apartment was a little cold when they came in. So I added an electric heater, and now turn on the heat before the guests arrive."
Adam Falla: "When you are new, make sure you get professional photographs uploaded as soon as possible. Initially, drop your prices until you have at least 10 reviews because until guests trust your property you will not be able to charge higher rates. Focus on offering great service to your guests, then the reviews and your search rankings will take care of themselves.''
These guys are on their ways to replacing their day jobs by making a living off of the sharing economy. Although many people see Airbnb simply as a place to stay on vacation, these entrepreneurs are paving the way for others to make a business out of something they already own.
Whether it’s to supplement your existing income while you’re away, or you too want to leave your current position and try to make it on Airbnb, these tricks of the trade are coming from those who truly know what they’re talking about.