Airbnb is a website that allows people with extra space – whether it’s a bedroom, a guest house, or an entire house – to directly connect with travelers and others looking for short-term rentals outside of the traditional hotel realm. In just a few short years, Airbnb has become big business. Many travelers swear by it and prefer staying in Airbnb rentals over hotels everywhere they go. And property owners have found it a great way to make anywhere from a few extra dollars each month to full-time living.
“That’s great if you own a home or other property,” you might say, “but I don’t own my own place, so how can I make money from Airbnb?”
The truth is, there are so many people renting out their space on Airbnb and other short-term rental services like VRBO or HomeToGo, that you can make money by providing much-needed services to both the people who list their properties on Airbnb AND their guests! Some of these ideas could be a source of occasional extra pocket money while others could scale up into full-time businesses.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Housecleaning Services
This one is obvious. Each time guests depart from a short-term rental, the property must be “flipped,” i.e., thoroughly cleaned, restocked, and made ready for the next guest. Rental periods can vary widely, even on the same property. It’s possible to have three different guests in one week or have the same tenant for several months. Also, you may have a window of just a few hours between one guest and the next. For this reason, it’s difficult for AirBnB owners to contract with a regular cleaning service, because those prefer customers that can be scheduled for a definite time slot each week.
If you are skilled at cleaning thoroughly and efficiently and have a flexible schedule, you could offer cleaning services specifically to Airbnb operators through an app like Handy. The best approach would be to provide a fixed set of services at a flat rate, perhaps with an a la carte menu of add-ons for special touches. For example, a basic turnover service may include a thorough cleaning of the bathroom and kitchen, a quick touch-up to other rooms with dusting, sweeping and vacuuming, changing bed linens and tidying throughout. After a longer-term stay or messier guests, a property might require a more significant effort with mopping, multiple loads of laundry, stain or spill removal, and other services. You could also offer a periodic deep-clean service where you clean windows, baseboards, and walls, and launder items like curtains and small rugs.
2. Property Management
Short-term rentals have become profitable enough that investors are purchasing locations to operate as full-time Airbnb properties. Some even own and rent out multiple properties. Keeping up with a full-time property takes more time than people think – there are guest inquiries and reservations to handle, getting guests into and out of the location, handling complaints and questions during stays, and taking care of all the cleaning, property maintenance, repairs, and monthly bills for each property.
For investors, it makes sense to hire someone to keep track of and handle these day-to-day responsibilities, particularly if they live any distance from the rental property. Having someone nearby who can respond to middle-of-the-night calls about the heat not working or the wifi going down is a service they will readily pay for, especially if you can provide top-notch and reliable responses to requests.
3. Marketing Assistance
There is a knack to getting your property seen and rented on Airbnb. Getting started includes a learning curve as you figure out the best ways to furnish and decorate your rental location, take the most flattering and attention-grabbing photos, and write descriptions with keywords that will show up in searches while seizing the imagination of potential renters. If you already know how to do any of these things, you can sell your services to novice and experienced short-term rental operators alike.
Airbnb makes frequent changes in the services and amenities they require their property owners to provide, and it will push for rental rate increases and decreases that may or may not make sense for a particular location. Getting good reviews and ratings from guests is critical to success as well, as these significantly affect where your property appears in searches, and that can require skill in following up and communicating with guests before, during, and after a stay.
Keeping up with it can be a massive headache. If you have experience with renting your own property on Airbnb, helping someone else do so, or even using the site frequently as a renter yourself, you will have some knowledge about what attracts people to a listing. If you know nothing about Airbnb, but know how to write good marketing copy, stage a room for flattering photographs, or take and edit excellent pictures and video, you can find property owners hungry for assistance in marketing their listings.
4. Concierge Services
One of the things that Airbnb guests love and rave about in reviews is a personal touch from the property owner — or someone the owner hires to provide those touches. Concierge services for guests can include arranging airport transportation, coordinating a location for family or friends to meet up, delivering meals or recommending restaurants, arranging tours or tickets to local attractions, and anything else that can make a stay memorable for the guests.
People rent locations on Airbnb and other services for so much more than just travel. Guests have used these rentals to host events, to provide a “base camp” for wedding preparations, to film movies or television shows, to recover from medical treatment or surgery — even to evacuate from hurricanes! Anything you can do to assist property owners in providing thoughtful services customized to a renters’ specific needs can be a source of income for you.
How do you find customers for these services? Local advertising through free venues like social media or Craigslist is a great place to start. Look for sites where short-term rental owners might gather, like Facebook groups. Look for hashtags on Instagram and Twitter that people use to talk about their AirBnB experiences and use those hashtags for your own tweets or photo captions.
If you are a student, retiree, or anyone else with a flexible schedule and some self-marketing skills, you have an excellent opportunity to cash in on the booming short-term rental market, even if you don’t have a home of your own to rent out!