My recent business strategies
Ever since we moved to Canada, I have started being more business-oriented. I monetized my blog the moment I came here, started my digital marketing business and initiated cat-sitting service. I have attended a lot of seminars, met influential people, listened to podcasts, read a lot of business books and learned a lot about passive income and the idea of not putting all your eggs in one basket. I have now learned the art of diversifying your income streams in the hope for a better tomorrow IA.
Recently, as part of my business expansion, I decided to explore Airbnb as our guest room was vacant.
What is Airbnb
Airbnb, Inc. is a privately held global company headquartered in San Francisco that operates an online marketplace and hospitality service which is accessible via its websites and mobile apps. Members can use the service to arrange or offer lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences.
Its a win-win situation for those who need a place to stay and those who have extra vacant rooms in their house.
Airbnb is different from a typical B&B (Bed & Breakfast) as the host is typically not responsible to make breakfast (unless its included) which is definitely a plus! The guests can use the kitchen and utensils to make their own meals.
There are two sides of Airbnb:
There are separate dashboards for each of the above.
Initially, we were a little hesitant by the idea of a stranger living in our small apartment with us. I had also had really horrible house-mate experiences in London for years.
But we gave it a thought and realized that the city has a lot to do with the quality of guests. Since Halifax is known to have friendly and good people, it was highly likely to have good guests here.
Security was definitely another main apprehension. So we took the following steps:
- Decided to only have single female guests for my security reasons as I work from home alone during weekdays.
- Didn’t keep valuables at home.
- The best way is to have a lockable bedroom so you can feel even safer.
We also had great experience of Airbnb hosts when we were guests initially after landing in Halifax. In fact, we made great friends with our first Airbnb hosts and we still go out together. So we thought we should give it a go.
Before you think of any business idea, the foremost thing is to make sure what you’re doing is right. If you have your own house or mortgage, then there’s no problem in hosting Airbnb. However, if you are living in a rental property, best is to check with your property owner or read the contract to know if it’s okay for you to go ahead with it. We checked that and also attended an event on Airbnb basics. There we found out that at the moment this business option is new and legally in the grey area. New regulations about it would be passed in our province Nova Scotia in 2020.
Account set up
It is very easy to set up your Airbnb account. All you have to do is download the app Airbnb on your phone and can access the website on your laptop for easy setup. You may sign up with Facebook which makes the account set up extremely easy.
Simply click on host and start listing your property by posting a few good pictures and some basic details of your property. You need to clarify which areas of your house will be shared and which will be private for the guest.
The best part is that you can set your preferences as you wish. We decided to start with only single female guests as I work from home and am home alone till the evening on weekdays and we didn’t want to take any chances. You can choose couples only or whatever suits you best.
You can set your account according to your preferences. You will have to explore settings in detail. There are options to pre-approve guests or and approve them yourself (which I prefer). Payment, guest, booking, dates, rent rate, cleaning fee, house manual, house rules have customizable options which you should set according to your preferences.
Choosing your guests
You can also set up your account so you get an approval/decline option for everyone who is interested in booking your property. This way no guest can instantly book without your approval.
When you get a request, you can go through the guests profile to check whether or not he looks worthy.
Following are some basic tips:
- Anyone without a profile photo is definitely fishy. So avoid any guests without a picture
- The best way to find out about the person is to check his reviews
- Take bad reviews very seriously
- If he has more than 3 good reviews, he/she should be trusted
- Trust your vibe, there is nothing wrong with declining guests as it’s your home and you have to be choosy
Preparations for our first guest
Since I had just set up my account and had zero reviews, I thought I’d keep the pricing really low but only for females to start. Within a few days, I got a booking request from a girl named Anne from Germany. I checked her picture and reviews. Everyone had praised her a lot. She had great reviews. We decided to accept her request.
A day before she moved in, we had invited some guests over to our place for dinner. So we had already cleaned the whole house. All I did was changed the bedsheets/duvet covers and put out some new towels in the guest room. I sprayed some fabric spray too. I also got extra house keys made for the guest.
It struck me that we should always be professional in whatever we do. I remembered how one of our Airbnb hosts had a proper file with a printed Manual which contained all information about hosts and property that we’d need. I had really admired that.
I decided to work on my manual and printed it out before Anne came over. We believe we are ambassadors of our country when we live abroad so we try our best to be well-mannered and courteous. We decided to offer free meal to guests on their traveling dates (arrival/departure). Although it meant extra pressure on me, I felt really good introducing our guests to Pakistani cuisine in the process and getting to know more about their countries in the process. We made really good friends thanks to this too.
Here is a copy of the Home Manual for your reference. I’m sharing it with you in case you need an idea for your Airbnb hosting. It is so important to be specific and detailed in the manual so there is no confusion.
Anne’s stay with us
Anne was our first ever AirBnb guest who stayed with us for 1.5 months. She has really set our standards high as she’s been an ideal guest. She has been more like a friend/family than a guest. We instantly clicked and had so much to talk about.
She was clean, friendly, kind, helpful and generous. She knew just the right balance between own space and hanging out together. While she stayed with us, we planned to go out, get groceries, cooked, watched movies, attended events, met friends and played sports & board games TOGETHER. One of the biggest challenges of working from home can be loneliness and having her great company at home was exactly what I needed. We would have great conversations on every topic. It has been a pleasure having her stay with us. She was great company and we’ve found a good friend in her.
Her last day at our place was so emotional, we shared gifts, emotional letters and hugs.
Airbnb Update & Summary
We did Airbnb for 6 months in total.
We hosted 16 guests in our place in total. 15 of them were women as we advertised women only (as I work from home). Our guests were from all over the world belonging to so many different countries. All the guests were roughly aged between 20 and 35. Following were the guest origins:
- African American
- Canadian from Regina
- Indian Canadian from Montreal
- Canadian from Saskatoon
We had a lovely time with so many of these guests including pakora parties, late night gup shup, working together, going out for groceries together and having lunches/dinners together. We find it fascinating and interesting to get to know people from different places as one learns so much from the experience.
Almost all the guests were clean, polite and courteous.
The chinese guest didn’t keep bathroom in a good condition but thank God she didn’t stay for long. We had really bad experience with our last Philipino guest as she would have all her meals in her room and leave the traces on the floor. This attracted hundreds of ants to our apartment which we never had. The day she left, we found clusters of ants in her room and we weren’t happy at all.
Payment on Airbnb account can be through one of two options:
- Connecting your bank account
- PayPal account
When a guest makes a booking online, on the day of their check-in, you get the funds into your desired payment account automatically. So you don’t have to manually collect funds from each guest. This is one of the best parts of Airbnb.
I know that PayPal doesn’t operate in Pakistan yet. Since I only have experience of Airbnb through Canada, I don’t know about how you can get paid in Pakistan if you operate it there. I understand some banks in Pakistan like Standard Chartered are recognized abroad. Maybe one could connect that bank account for payments. But I would love to be sure about this. In case you have experience from Pakistani perspective, I would love you to comment on this post so I can add details here.
You probably know by now that I like to record my expenses, income and manage monthly budgeting. Its important for us to have a goal in mind so we can manage our money motivation. For my Airbnb project, I had my mom’s visit to Canada as an incentive. I really wanted to be able to purchase her ticket from Islamabad to Halifax through the income. And thank God I was able to do that. It took a lot of determination and perseverence but I’m so happy my goal was achieved with the grace of Allah.
My suggestion to you would be to always have an updated excel sheet for each business you do/manage. So for my airbnb business, I had the following sheet:
This way you would know exactly how much you earned with each guest considering the room rent you kept for each booking. You would also know how much you invested in the business i.e. furniture, towels, bedsheets if purchased for the room and finally your goal. So I could easily summerize that thanks to this business, I made a profit of $488 after achieving my goal which was booking mamas return ticket and travel insurance. I had subtracted the investment before the final profit. It was so worth it as I didn’t want to burden my husband at that time and really wanted my mom to be here for our first born.
Importance of reviews on Airbnb
Reviews are extremely important on Airbnb. For any successful Airbnb account, you need to have really good reviews. 5 stars are what you are aiming for at every single guest. This is why we must make sure we are at our best behavior and keep our property clean, secure, quiet and pleasant. Even a single bad review can be disasterous for the business.
When any new guests sends a booking invite, the first thing you must do is to check the guests reviews as these are powerful and speak volumes. If a guest has all great reviews, I will not think twice before booking her in.
My thoughts on Airbnb
I fully support the idea of Airbnb and think that it’s a great business opportunity for all those who have an extra room/s in their house. Apart from easy money, it’s also a great way to socialize and increase your circle. In life, it is always great to learn about other cultures and people.
Sure, one has to be very careful when it comes to your home. It is best to have your bedroom locked when you have a stranger living in your house. Or keep your valuables in a bank locker. The risks can be great but if we can just be a little proactive and check reviews properly before accepting. But we just need to open our minds to the idea as it can also turn out to be the best decision for you.
Tips to make the most of Airbnb
Following are some tips to increase your Airbnb income:
- Make sure your living spaces are extremely clean & smell good
- Take quality pictures of the property
- Make a Home Manual which you give each guest (linked above)
- Make sure you add all property benefits in your account profile
- Make sure you add public transport links, parks, libraries around
- Try to add value & price with a study table/utilities
- You may add a cleaning fee (starts at $7) with every booking
- Add a guidebook to your account for guests including recommended areas around your place
My Airbnb Code
Airbnb would give me a small reward through you if you liked this article and start hosting using my code HERE.
The best parts of Airbnb:
- It is passive income and easy money. You don’t have to do much to get paid this way.
- You make great friends and meet people from all backgrounds.
- Your home stays clean all the time as you have to clean up before every guest.
Have you ever considered Airbnb?
Have you had experience being a host or guest?
If you have hosted in Airbnb too, how has your experience been?
I would love to know. If you liked this article, share it with your friends.