Often cheaper (and definitely more unique) than hotels, Airbnb has long been a fantastic way to travel. I’ve rented everything from a tiny room in Barcelona to an entire California home for my backyard wedding.
And if you’re willing to list your own home on Airbnb, you can make a serious amount of cash. I made just over $2,000 last year by renting out my San Francisco studio on the weekends my husband and I went camping.
The site is no longer just for personal travel, either. Businesses have started using it for conference travel and employee relocation, and Airbnb just released a new tool to make things easier: Airbnb for Business.
What does that mean for you as a host? If you’re strategic with your listing, you can make even more money from these business travelers.
How Airbnb for Business Helps You Make Money
The new tool, which helps companies better track bookings for their employees, means more businesses may start using Airbnb, rather than hotels — meaning more demand for your listing. Whether you have a spare room, a pull-out couch or a full house, visitors traveling to your area for business may want to rent your space.
My husband and I earned more than $2,000 last year renting out our apartment for a total of 15 days. Every time we opened up an available weekend on the Airbnb calendar, our apartment would be booked within hours. Overall, our experience was amazing. Airbnb’s security measures are top-notch, our guests were lovely and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
“Business travelers are the best guests,” says Christine, a host in Fairfield County, Connecticut who preferred not to use her last name due to the constant regulations controversy.
“They pay through Airbnb and don’t ask to go outside of the site (because they need receipts). They’re gone during the day and are, for the most part, more mature and therefore respectful of the fact that they are in someone’s home, not a hotel.”
Strategies for Targeting Business Renters
Christine says around half of her guests are on work trips.
“One regular guest has a consulting gig in town and is required to be here for one week at a time four to five times a year. I think he enjoys having more space than a hotel room and a semblance of home life. He eats at our kitchen table (or sometimes standing at the counter while I cook) and watches television in the family room.”
“Business travelers are already very aware of Airbnb,” adds Christine, “so the key is not so much attracting them but making one’s listing stand out from the others as more business-friendly.”
So how do you craft a business-friendly listing? Here are a few tricks to attract the right guests.
Offer a Monthly Discount
If you have a guest room or a second home, consider renting it for longer stints than a few nights. Your earnings will be more consistent, with less turnover — and therefore less work.
To attract longer-staying guests, consider offering a discount. A “relocation package” with a discounted monthly rate will be a lot more appealing to an HR rep than a standard per-night cost.
Research the going rates for furnished apartments in your city on Craigslist, then drop your price accordingly.
Highlight Business Perks
First and foremost, provide a fantastic WiFi connection, especially in the room you’re renting out. Then throw in work-specific items like a bedroom desk or printer.
“I’ve been miserable at some Airbnbs because I was confined to doing all my activities, including eating, on the bed or the floor,” says Christine.
While every guest is different, give them the option for complete privacy so they don’t feel forced to interact in common areas or have trouble concentrating on their work.
Also highlight location-related perks, like “walking distance from the conference center” or “Google shuttle right outside the door.” These tidbits will be a big selling point for any business traveler.
Review Your Calendar
Make your space available during peak business times, like your city’s annual boat-engine trade show or makeup conference.
Many attendees will have a hard time finding accommodation during those times, and if you have a pull-out couch for half the price of a jacked-up hotel room, you could find yourself making some decent money.
Build Up Your Reviews
This step is so important. Before charging full price for your place, collect ton of positive reviews.
To do this, check the average price of similar rentals in your neighborhood, then lower yours while you gain experience. Once you’re a comfortable and experienced host (and have the reviews to prove it), increase your price.
Tips for Stress-Free and Successful Airbnb Hosting
If you’re serious about hosting travelers on Airbnb, these tips will make every transaction smoother for both you and your guests:
Hire a Housecleaner
Guests deserve a spotless stay, and most of us aren’t huge fans of deep-cleaning. Hiring a cleaner will make it way easier on you.
Make a Welcome Packet
Guests will ask you for tips on places to visit, restaurants to check out or where to do their dry cleaning.
Make a big list, complete with map, and laminate that bad boy so you don’t have to keep reprinting it. I also found it helpful to create little note cards explaining how to use the Vitamix, not to run two appliances at once in the kitchen and where we keep the extra sheets.
Also, put the WiFi password somewhere obvious. No one wants to have to hunt around to get online.
Have a Buddy
If you’re renting out a whole house and will be away, you need someone nearby for emergencies. Ask a neighbor to hold onto a spare key or a landlord to help if a fuse blows.
Don’t be the host who refuses to provide basic amenities like towels, cooking utensils and hand soap.
Some hosts go above and beyond with a little tea cart, electric kettle and toiletry basket. Be one of those hosts.
I now live in Düsseldorf — the “trade show capital of the world” — and I’m thinking of listing my new apartment on Airbnb. I don’t have a spare room, but I do have an air mattress and my husband and I travel a lot. It might be worth it — especially for business travelers.
Your Turn: Would you rent your place to business travelers through Airbnb? Have you tried it already? We’d love to hear about your experience!
Marian Schembari is a writer and blogger based in Düsseldorf, Germany by way of San Francisco. She writes about travel, creativity and spends way too much time on the internet.