The initial concept of peer-to-peer accommodation services such as Airbnb was simple – have a spare room? Then rent it to travellers. Win-win. However, we all know that today, many of us are preparing rooms or full apartments specifically for rental. No longer are we relying on ‘spare rooms’.
This means that you might find yourself in the position of preparing a room, studio or full apartment more or less from scratch and that is not the same as what we might call ‘normal’ decoration. All the choices you make, floor coverings, window treatments, furniture … affect your bottom line.
Even if you are not buying new furniture for your rental, certain principals remain the same. Even if you are not completely redecorating, it will still be worth your while to determine whether it might be worth your while (that bottom line again) to make a few changes.
Such as what?
Ease of cleaning is vital for an Airbnb or similar rental. Typical check-out time is 11 am with check-in at 3 pm. Allowing a little leeway, this gives your cleaner – or you – just over three hours to prepare your rental when you have a same-day turnover (which is naturally what you’re aiming for if your goal is to be profitable).
Hotels, your competition, have this issue carefully worked out. It’s estimated that a housekeeping crew take about 20 minutes to prepare a room – if experts can figure out a way to cut this my one minute then profitability is affected.
As an Airbnb host, there’s no way that you can prepare a place, especially if your rental is an apartment and you’re a solo cleaner, but remember that time is money and consider the following if you can:
- WASHABLE SURFACES. From ceilings to floors, from baseboards to bathtaps, all surfaces in your rental should be as easy as possible to clean. True, you might have to sacrifice aesthetics for practicality but remember, this is a business
- FLOORS. Carpet is easily vacuumed and this can be done much quicker than dealing with hard floor surfaces. But remember that carpets can stain, they harbour smells and will need to be professionally cleaned periodically. If you have the luxury of choosing floor coverings, consider solid coloured tile. Avoid tiles with a mottled or textured surface as these are very time consuming to clean. If you have gorgeous hardwood floors invest in several washable rugs for high traffic areas
- WALLS. If you use any wallpaper, be sure it’s fully washable. Basic paint is best as it can easily be touched up when (note, ‘when’ not ‘if’) marks and scratches occur. In your calculations be sure to account for regular (probably annual) re-painting. Choose standard colours (white is best) so that touch-ups won’t be noticeable. Be sure to have touch-up paint and brushes available for your cleaner if you employ one.
- WINDOWS. Be sure to include the cost of professional window cleaning into your calculations when you’re doing your sums. This is especially the case if you have a great view but even if you don’t, dirty windows are not going to help you achieve a five star cleanliness rating
- WINDOW COVERINGS. If possible, avoid curtains. These can harbour lingering smells. If someone has been frying food, smoking, using lots of perfume, eating curry or one of a number of stinky activities, your fabric curtains will hold the smell. Again, include regular professional cleaning in your calculations. Easy-to-clean blinds are better and if you have existing curtains, consider replacing them. Just one cigarette smoked in your accommodation and the smell will linger.
- BED. If you are buying a bed especially for your rental be sure that it’s one that sits directly on the floor. You’d be surprised if you could see the items (plus the dust and dirt) that can be found under the bed at just about every turnover
- SITTING ROOM FURNITURE. Large or heavy furniture is the same. You or your cleaner will have to move every piece of furniture that is on legs (no matter how tiny) after every guest. And believe it or not, guests will notice (and comment) if there are any stray items, hairs or dust under the furniture. It’s surprising how guests will invariably notice if you don’t clean absolutely everything
- APPLIANCES. Be sure that any appliances (TV, space heater etc.) in the room as easy to wipe over. All appliances will invariably have fingermarks after every guest.If your rental is an apartment, avoid kitchen ap[pliances that are prone to marks – remember that surfaces such as ceramic hobs, stainless steel fridges etc. will need special cleaning products which you’ll need to buy. This affects your profitability and the time needed between turnovers.
- BATHROOM. If you are renting a room in your home, then your guests may be sharing your bathroom. It may be that your rental is an apartment or a suite with its own bathroom but whatever the case, the bathroom will have to be spotless. It is too expensive for most hosts to change fittings but take a good look at your bathroom and see what can be changed inexpensively to make cleaning easier and quicker.
Remember that your goal is to turn over your rental as often as possible if you’re serious about making money. This means that you should study your rental carefully and be sure to remove or replace any items that are valuable or hard to clean. For example:
- Things will get broken. Have nothing in your rental that is super-valuable to you
- Remove hard-to-clean objects. For example, a small apartment with several mirrors, glass doors and so on can result in your cleaner spending an hour on cleaning all the glass only
- If your rental has a kitchen, leave just the necessary chinaware and silverware. Leave ten plates and one guest will use all ten. Leave on, and he/she will clean it after every use
- Ditto towels. If you have ten towels available for your guests’ use, they’ll use all of them
- Avoid upholstery fabrics that will need frequent cleaning or that show every mark or crumb
- Ensure that as much as possible is machine washable. For instance, shower curtains can be thrown into the washer with the towels and need no extra work. Rugs and throws should also be machine washable. Textiles that the guests will use such as bedding or towels are easier to keep clean and give the guest greater peace of mind if they are white
RULES OF THUMB
Remember that anything you add to your rental will need to be cleaned and maintained. Of course, you want to give your guests the best experience possible but bear in mind that every time you add something to your rental, you’re causing extra work for your cleaner (even if your cleaner is you) and that fact alone adds to your expenditure.
If you employ people to clean for you, check with them before you make any changes or make any additional purchases. Here’s an example that might seem small and insignificant – I read recently that hosts should supply ‘waste bins in every room’. That seems sensible doesn’t it?
It isn’t actually. Each waste bin will need a liner (expense) and each will need emptying (labour costs). If an apple core, an old newspaper, a used tissue and an empty bottle have been left in the rental, then it is far easier simply to pick them up and throw them away than empty and re-line four waste bins. Because believe me, just like dinnerware and towels, supply more than two and every one will be used!
Adding just a couple of extra items that will need laundering is another example. If the new items mean that an additional washing machine load will be required then you’ve just added expenses and extra labour to your balance sheet.
THINKING OF BEING AN AIRBNB HOST?
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.