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Vacation rental conversations encompass a variety of topics like the top technology to use, the latest rules and regulations, and how to improve your guest experience. In this post, we’re going back to the ground floor and tackling the basics of earning income from your rental property – specifically, how to make money, as a host, with the top vacation rental booking platforms. Airbnb, for example, is only a platform, and as such, it’s up to users to determine their own success. Airbnb emphasizes the ease by which its users can utilize their platform and it really is easy to get started. Being a successful host on Airbnb, however, is a multifaceted skill that requires a lot of time and attention to detail. This post will walk you through everything you need to know on how to make money on Airbnb.

Understand the Basics

When it comes to vacation rentals, there are three key players with a vested interest in the situation.

The first is the traveler; mostly those who habitually seek out vacation rentals as a style of travel. Over 80% of people say they are likely or very likely to return to a vacation rental within 2 years, which is supported further by 30-40% of Airbnb travelers reporting they would not have taken their trip if it weren’t for Airbnb.

The second key player is you, the host, who makes money off the former by offering your home as a place to stay.

And third, is the platform itself, namely Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO.

This industry is becoming increasingly prominent and is evidenced by the rapid success and popularity of companies like Airbnb and Booking.com, and statistics, which show a 75% increase in vacation home sales from 2013 to 2014. In addition, homeowners are not only actively renting out their primary residences, they also specifically invest in vacation properties, which they rent out for the majority of the year.

HomeAway survey results showed 54% of U.S. vacation homeowners were able to cover at least 75% of their mortgage by renting out their vacation home, and approximately two-thirds were able to cover at least 50%, according to “HomeAway Vacation Rental Report: Owner Edition.”

Get it Done

It goes without saying – the best way for you to make money on Airbnb is to first get bookings. The top online booking sites employ unique search algorithms that affect your placement within a traveler’s search results. Here are four areas that help ensure your listings are on the first page, making you significantly more likely to receive a booking.

PicturesDon’t settle! Quantity and quality matter. Let me say this again. QUANTITY and QUALITY matter. Airbnb recommends uploading at least 10 pictures but don’t stop there. HomeAway recommends 26, their maximum. The more photos your listing has, the better you’ll score in the algorithms. Pictures are part of setting expectations, so make sure all important areas i.e.bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and major wow factors (like hot tubs, a great view, etc) are shown. Don’t leave your guest guessing what certain areas might look like. And if you’ve got it, flaunt it!

As far as quality goes, the better the picture, the better the chance your listing will be clicked on. Check out these photo tips to ensure they are professional quality, or risk a neighboring listing getting more visibility, higher rankings, and more bookings.

ReviewsGuests will take in every facet of their experience when they review their stay. And reviews are good! It’s often one of the first things (after pictures) that guests take into account during their selection process. Follow up with your guest for a review: it has a twofold effect – you want guests to recommend and come back to your rental, and of course, the better these reviews are, the higher your listing will be in their search results. If you’re faced with a negative review, take these steps spin it positive.

Response RateIt’s important to respond to inquiries as soon as possible. The speed at which you respond to guests is an important factor in the ranking algorithm as it shows that you’re creating a positive booking experience on the platform. A key caveat, however, that’s often overlooked is accuracy. Be sure to thoroughly address all your guest’s questions – they asked them for a reason. When you quickly and adequately respond to the traveler the chances of them transitioning from potential guest to guest increase.

ReachIt’s time to start learning some basic marketing skills. Target your home and advertise it to the right guests. This is a very easy thing to do and can make a world of difference for your booking rates. Take a look around and ask yourself, “Who lives in this area?” “What is its appeal?” If you live in a family friendly neighborhood, say it! If you’re close to the financial district, say it! If you live near the best restaurants, say it! Know who your audience is and advertise to their vacation wants and needs.

So, now you have your first booking! Congrats but the work’s not over… Here are your next steps and some key considerations:

Clean, Clean, CleanMake sure your house looks as good as it did when you took those pictures. One of the first checks a guest does upon arrival is for cleanliness. People understand they are staying in someone’s home, and that’s part of the charm, but your dust bunnies, toilet grime, and kitchen crumbs are not charming. In addition, make sure you have all the livable necessities and supplies for you guests. Perks like fluffy towels and a welcome pack go a long way!

Communication Your guests are going to need some guidance. Handling instructions from how to get there, entry and check-in, to house rules and local recommendations are all necessary for a satisfactory stay. Being there for any questions or problems that might arise during the stay, however, is what makes for a great guest experience. Remember to stay upbeat and positive during all communications.

Check-OutNow that your guests have checked out, quickly clean so you can do it all again. If you can do the cleaning right away, it’s possible to have a check-in that same day. Don’t forget to restock supplies and toiletries. It’ll take quite a comeback to make up for not having toilet paper for your next guest. Lastly, follow up with your guest. Do those reviews – they’re what keep you high in rankings!

Badges – Once you’ve had enough reservations, Airbnb offers 2 specific badges that’ll do wonders for your listing visibility and search rankings. Superhost and Business Travel Ready. Each has their own requirements, but both require keeping your listing in good standing and offering certain guest options. The reward for earning these badges goes far beyond the little icon in the corner of your profile. In addition to travelers being able to set filters to include only listings with these designations, the badges also signify that you provide the desired Airbnb experience, and your listing will be highly promoted within the search algorithms.

Make it Work

Making money on Airbnb can be very rewarding. You’re making what is often your biggest asset, your home, work for you. After the initial set up, HomeAway states hosts spend an average of nine hours a week just managing their rental. Effectively running the day-to-day operations is the most challenging part of vacation rentals, and it is where most people fail. This is where Pillow can help you. We’ll do it all for you – from start to finish. From pictures, listings, and bookings, to check-ins, cleanings, and support, Pillow has you covered.
Perhaps you’ve already been handling your vacation rentals yourself? You know the time commitment it takes, and if you’re a great host, you put a lot of extra time into making your guests feel welcome and ensuring they have a great stay. Now get your time back! See what Pillow can do so you can rest easy.

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