If you’re a new host on Airbnb, it’s a good idea to make the most of the ‘new host boost’ that you’ll get when you first add your listing to the site.
WHAT IS THE AIRBNB NEW HOST BOOST?
Airbnb wants to encourage you to keep hosting with them so in order to do this, your new listing will get a boost when people are searching for accommodation in your area. In other words, you’ll come up high in the search results.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO MAKE THE MOST OF THIS?
New hosts need to bear in mind that this boost will only last for a few weeks. Sometimes this will mean – if you’re lucky – that your listing will be viewed often which could mean that you’re fully booked for several months. But after that, you’re on your own. Something that Airbnb encourages new hosts to do is to set their prices low when they first start. I’d strongly advise against this.
Their reasoning is good – that lower prices will bring more guests and that will mean that you quickly build up a good selection of reviews. But the chances are that you’ve spent money before you created your listing and so it’s a good idea not to drop your prices to low levels during that period in which you can almost guarantee that you’ll be fully booked.
For the sake of easy mathematics, let’s imagine that you’ve spent $700 on brand new bedding, maybe a new mattress, new towels and so on. You’ll have paid for a new insurance policy to cover your new business too. Now let’s imagine that you have got a superlow price of $25. (I hope you don’t but this is just to make the sums easy. This may be the lowest price in your area so you immediately get bookings.) That would mean that you’d have to be booked for more than 28 days before you have recouped your startup costs.
But actually it could be more than that once you’ve deducted the Airbnb fees. (However, if your room / apartment was priced at $100, you’d only need to be booked for seven days before you started making money.) But would you? Factor your time into your calculations, and be sure that it’s taken into account.
For example, in your first month let’s say that you spend 25 hours working on your Airbnb business. This can be preparing the room, doing the laundry, spending time answering queries, tweaking your listing, shopping for supplies, writing reviews, dealing with your current guests and so on. If we calculate your time at a measly $10 per hour (not much more than the USA minimum wage) then at the end of the month add $250 to your costs.
There will also be the purchasing of supplies (cleaning products, loo paper at minimum) and the added strain on your utility bills. Let’s be generous and say that all these things have only cost you $150. This means that by the end of your first 28 days you’ve been paid out $700 or thereabouts by Airbnb. You spent that amount getting your place ready, then you added an amount for your time and another amount for sundry expenses such as cleaning materials.
Which totals $1,100. So you’re actually at least $300 away from making a profit.
So in theory, you’ll have to host for another twelve nights before you break even? Not exactly. Because for those twelve nights you’ll still be expending your time and having increased utility bills and supplies to pay for. So it’s going to be even longer before you start making a profit.
JUST AT THIS POINT, YOUR NEW HOST BOOST WEARS OFF! You might have been thinking, during that first six weeks or so when you weren’t making money, that everything will be fine when you’re charging the ‘proper’ nightly price for your rental. So you up your price to $50. The problem is though that now there are new hosts on the site who are in the same situation you were when you started. They are pricing low (much lower than you) and now they are getting the new host boost and you’re not.
SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?
I believe that there are several important messages.
- UNTIL YOU ARE SURE THAT AIRBNB IS FOR YOU, DON’T SPEND A FORTUNE ON PREPARING YOUR PLACE It’s important that your space is clean and that applies especially to the bedlinen and towels that you provide. This can be done inexpensively. Making sure that your rental is clean and appealing doesn’t have to mean spending money. If you have plans to purchase new items for your rental, then make a plan and add your renovations gradually once you are seeing a profit.
- BUT BE SURE THAT YOU’VE THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING Don’t spend too much money but also don’t under spend. Don’t decide that you’ll provide your guests with a new coffee machine / a TV / toiletries / or whatever ‘once I’ve started earning money from Airbnb’. As we’ve seen above, it might be quite some time until you’re in the black. Be sure that your guests have everything they need but without spending too much money. You don’t want mediocre or complaining reviews at this early stage of the game.
- DON’T UNDER PRICE YOUR LISTING Make a great impression instead. There are a lot of jaded hosts out there so be sure to offer your guests cheap or free advantages that others might now. For example, can you offer a flexible check in and checkout? Can you offer to call a cab for your departing guests? Be welcoming, friendly and approachable. A bottle of water, a vase of fresh leaves from your garden, plenty of tourist brochures, a small snack – none of these are expensive and some are free. Think about ways you can add value to your listing without it costing you money. We started years ago at our full (then) price. Today our base price is only $7 more per night.
- GIVE YOUR GUESTS A MEMORABLE STAY BE sure that your first guests love you! When the new host boost wears off, you’ll be glad you did because your first guests are perfect ambassadors for your rental. You want them to tell all their friends about the wonderful stay they had with you. You want them to return next year or next time they’re in town. This costs nothing. Be helpful and friendly with your guests. Think about the little things they might need. This doesn’t mean spending money. For example, if it’s raining when you get up in the morning, ask your guests if they want to borrow your umbrella. Tell them about the places you truly recommend in your area and why you love those places. There are so many little ways to make your guests feel special and well looked after.
- BE A REAL HOST Invite your guests to share a bottle of wine with you. Bake them a cake. Treat them as though they are friends who are staying with you. Be prepared for the questions they might ask – you might not know exactly how long it takes to walk from your place to the nearest grocery store but Google Maps does so have this type of information at your fingertips.
Does it seem like a lot of work? Do you feel that you’ll be exhausted treating your guests like royalty for weeks on end? It’s worth it. The guests you host in your first couple of months set the ball rolling for you. They give you – we hope – your first glowing reviews, they recommend you to their family and friends. They’re likely to return. So treat them as honoured guests as these are the people who are putting you on the road to a successful business.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.