The Benefits and Realities of running an AirBnb

So you want to set up a vacation rental?

In the modern era, where the side-hustle is as important as your main hustle, it's easy to see how with the idea of running your vacation home is enticing. Once set up, a rental can be an indispensable source of income as well as a fun diversion from working life. But is it for you?

We have been running rentals for the last two years and here are our cliff notes.

It is profitable

We were amazed by the success of our first rental - a 1973 vintage camper that we remodeled back to it's kitschy pop culture era. While the ol' girl sits in our backyard, in the heart of the downtown Denver, we are on rent nearly 80% of the time. This proved to be so successful that we took our earnings and purchased an additional rental in Colorado Springs. Collectively, the two rentals bring in an income equal to a full-time corporate job.

You meet a lot of people

In just two years we have hosted over 150 guests from 10 countries and have made some friends along the way. Guests have offered us their rentals, and in some cases we have kept in touch with some of the people we have met, and built life long relationships with people from around the world. It's been a wonderful addition to our life.

It can be time consuming

Hosting is a job. You must be sure the property is clean and well kept (or face the bad reviews) and you must be available to serve the guests you host should anything come up. With a myriad of guests that will stay in your property, you will find some are high maintenance and need nearly constant hand-holding, and others are relatively self-sufficient.

We have had guests call and request extra trash bags, soap, coffee and some that needed us to light the furnace every single night because they were afraid of the retro settings in our camper. While they are a pain in the butt, it brings me to my next point...

Customer service skills are key

While it's true that not every guest is a dream guest, they all need to feel safe, respected and that they are getting the value they paid for to use your service. This means you need to be responsive (Airbnb will actually down rate you, if you don't reply to messages within 24 hours) so you need to address questions as fast as possible for future, current and past guests alike.

If you don't provide good customer service you will pay for it in the form of reviews which can be detrimental to your ratings and your visibility.

Not everyone respects your stuff

You will find your home in various degrees of disarray when a guest checks out. For the most part, we find our guests to be respectful, clean and many leave our rentals as nice as they found them.

There are the occasional guests who will leave dishes and their mess behind for you or your cleaning people, and while we think it's very rude to expect others to do your dirty dishes, I suppose these people chalk it up as a part of their cleaning fee. While the cleaning fee is not for dirty dishes, I don't down rate our guests for being rude. We just clean it up and move on.

There will also be downright terrible guests. We have had items destroyed, stolen, broken and have walked into various degrees of disgust after a few guest stays. We have had to file claims, and have also had to collect money from some of our guests and to be frank, it's not a fun process. Never stock the home with anything of sentimental value and be prepared to have your tool belt with you when it's time to clean.

If you hire a cleaning service it's imperative that you have a good line of communication with your cleaners and that they take photos and inventory of everything. Do be prepared to have to run back to the property for frequent maintenance. It's just the nature of having a lot of different people staying in your home.

You must have an eye for detail

An eye for detail is as important as the property itself. You must be able to keep the rental in clean working order, you must be able to address any issues that arise from a guest stay and you must be diligent in checking the property for damage after a guest checks out.

For most rental services, if you don't report damage before the next guest checks in, you are out of luck. The rental company won't be able to confirm which guest did the damage, sticking you with the fees. For this reason we find having a regular cleaner (or cleaning yourself) makes all the difference. They will know when something is missing and will be able to communicate this information to you at check out.

Design Matters

A good design is so important to the success of a vacation rental that this paragraph should really come first. But I am hoping you already know how important the design is.

With hundreds of rentals available in every market, your rental should feel like it offers a real getaway experience.

When planning the design for our rentals we chose designs that embody a boutique hotel or spa style design, we used bright colors and tried to use techniques that are unusual to the area. For example in Colorado everything seems to be designed around the "ski look" with carved bears and wooden post and beam furniture. It's a tired look that is repeated much too often here, so we stayed far from it. Instead we used a modern and trendy design that may not be embraced yet in the markets we rent. Our rentals have amazing reviews and bring in the kind of renters we like as a result. When planning your rental, think about the kind of guests you want to serve and decorate your house to suit. It will make or break your success.



Our rentals rank in the top 20 in the state!

We offer professional design, management and solutions for vacation rental owners. Contact us and see how we can help help your airbnb or VRBO property rank with the best!

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