What Is AirBNB? Here’s How It Works

If you’re keen to rent out your property – or just a room – to holidaymakers, Airbnb is the way forward. Here’s what you need to know appeared on the scene in 2008 in San Francisco, but here in South Africa, we’ve only really got on board in the past two years or so. Along with Uber, it’s part of the booming sharing economy’ – which allows people to share resources and customers to access goods without owning them. THE FINE PRINT Airbnb recommends you confirm with your insurance provider that your rental activity is covered under your current policy before listing your space. AIRBNB’S HOST GUARANTEE PROGRAMME: If you’re worried about potential damage to your belongings or property, this programme protects hosts against damages to their own possessions or property by guests. According to Airbnb, it provides protection for up to $1 000000 in damages, in the event of guest damages that are not resolved directly with the guest. (Note that the Host Guarantee is not insurance and should not be considered as a replacement or stand-in for homeowners or renters insurance.) SECURITY DEPOSITS: Ask guests for a security deposit to cover accidents that may occur – wine stains, a broken window, or unreturned keys. You have to add a security deposit to your listing before a reservation is booked -the deposit can’t be paid off-site in cash as this violates Airbnb’s terms.

Flowers can be a lovely welcome for your guests! travelling than a hotel stay; you can rent a room, an entire home – or even a castle. Even more appealing, perhaps, is that you can rent out your home to earn some extra cash. It’s as easy as going onto the Airbnb site and clicking on become a host’ at the top right-hand side of the screen. Airbnb handles all the money, which makes things easier (note that they do take a small service fee). Check out the Airbnb site (www.airbnb.com) for lots of info about how it all works. HOW TO BE THE HOST WITH THE MOST Remember that your guests will review you, but you can also review them, which generally ensures good behaviour from both sides. Obviously your space should be neat, tidy – and squeaky clean, but these pointers can make all the difference. Picture this You’ve set up a profile on Airbnb. Next, upload some images of the area you’re renting out. The main picture, specifically, should showcase the best feature of your home – this is the picture people see while scrolling through their options.

It should draw them in and make them want to see more. A blurry picture with poor lighting won’t do the trick. The more pictures you include in your profile, the better. Give potential renters a detailed portfolio of your place, so there won’t be any surprises. Be upfront about any shortfalls -don’t use angles or editing to try to deceive people. They’ll find out the truth when they arrive – and they’ll let everyone else know all about it when they write a review! It sounds obvious, but don’t take pics at night. Make sure there’s plenty of light coming through – if there’s one thing we South Africans have to offer, it’s sunshine! Show it off. If you’ve got it, flaunt it If you’ve got something unique or different to offer, let guests know! Include it in your description, for example – Cape Dutch house in Vredehoek’. Some tourists are looking for the unique and authentic. Location, location Put your area in the listing name. Include photos of your surroundings, and let them know what’s nearby, for example: the bus stop is a five-minute walk down the road; there’s a grocery store within walking distance; situated close to a beach, park or museum… Do some spring-cleaning This one is especially for those of you who plan to rent out your own home. People don’t want to live knee-deep in your clutter! Sure -a few ornaments, plants and other knick-knacks create a nice, homey feel. But you don’t want countertops overflowing with personal stuff, or drawers full of papers.

Leave your guests with space to live! Splurge where necessary Towels and linens are important. A thick, fluffy, good-quality towel trumps a thin, raggedy one – it’s so worth the extra spend. And then there’s the bed. If you don’t have a real’ bed, buy one, with a good mattress to boot. Guests won’t be happy sleeping on a futon or a lacklustre mattress – and they will complain. You can save in other areas, but not this one. Tired tourists make crabby tourists. Crabby tourists write bad reviews. Be flexible with check-in Your weary travellers can’t always control things – if their flight happens to land at 11am, don’t make them wait until 5pm to get into their room to unwind – if you can help it. Wi-Fi is essential Data is super-expensive when you are not in your own country. If you’ve experienced this yourself, you’ll know that Wi-Fi is a must. Be responsive and available Airbnb will notify you when someone is interested in staying in your home. From the get-go, always respond to e-mails timeously. When guests are staying, you should be easily reachable via e-mail, in case they have any questions or issues. Give clear directions to your home When you’re conferring with your guests, let them know exactly how they can get from the airport to your home.

They might not have data for GPS, and getting lost in a foreign country or city is no fun. Stock up on essentials It’s vital to have the necessities available to your guests. Your kitchen should have pots, pans, cutlery, crockery and basic utensils. Always leave a few rolls of toilet paper for them. Provide dishwashing liquid your guests won’t want to buy a whole bottle for a week’s stay. You don’t necessarily have to provide coffee, tea and milk, but it’s a nice touch that they will remember. Pay attention to the details Plenty of hangers in the cupboard, a clothes dryer if there is a washing machine, tourist information such as maps, a coffee-table book about the city, a list of places you recommend – these are all small things that are easy to overlook but that will show your guests that you are thoughtful and have gone the extra mile. Another nice option, if you’re noticing a lot of the same questions from guests, is to give a list of FAQs. I rent out my home on Airbnb to fund my own holidays } – Margaux Knuppe, Cape Town When did you first sign up on Airbnb? After hearing about the global success, we signed up in November 2014. Where is the home you rent out? We have a three-bedroom townhouse in Chelsea Village in Wynberg (Cape Town’s southern suburbs). We list it as a two-bedroom place so we can lock up breakables in the other room.

How often do you rent your place out? Usually over holiday periods -Christmas, New Year and Easter. So far we have rented it out four times, mostly to families. What made you decide to become a host on Airbnb? I had read and heard so many positive stories about Airbnb and how simple it was to list your property. As we were going away for the holidays anyway, I thought it made sense. I was amazed at how easy it was to list our place – it literally took 30 minutes and our place was available. The first enquiry came about four weeks later. I love how user-friendly the site is, and I have the app on my phone so I’m notified immediately when someone is interested. You can manage your calendar around your holidays, only listing your house as available when you are away. Also, the support is amazing: we had a cancellation and I received a call from Airbnb San Francisco to ensure I was happy with that, and that nothing fishy was going on.

Your tips for keeping renters happy? We always leave fresh milk in the fridge, as well as tea, Nespresso coffee pods and sugar. We also leave a bottle of local wine. That way if they get in late, they don’t have to dash off to the shops. Also, I like to leave flowers and a note about the area, the restaurants we recommend and the closest garage. What have you learnt? That it’s essential to check out previous hosts’ reviews of potential guests (to see how they treated the house) as well as guests’ reviews of places they have stayed before, to see what they expect. Also, it works when we’re away for more than a week at a time; otherwise, it’s a lot of preparation for only a few days’ gain. Have you had any problems? We prefer to have international guests or people who have used Airbnb before and understand the concept. We had an unpleasant experience with a South African couple who didn’t understand that this is a home rental, not a serviced guesthouse.

What Is AirBNB? Here’s How It Works Photo Gallery



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