Starting an Airbnb business can be a lucrative venture. According to Airbnb, the average income for US hosts recently rose to $13,800, an 85% increase from 2019. Not a bad chunk of change for an additional income stream. However, the money won’t be flooding in the moment you begin your new hosting gig; there are a lot of moving parts when managing a vacation rental, and the hosts that go above and beyond are the ones that outperform the rest. If you’re ready to take on the role of a vacation rental host, this guide will teach you how to start an Airbnb business and maximize your revenue.
Getting started — Airbnb business basics
Before starting your Airbnb business, there are a few crucial boxes to check, from complying with local short-term rental laws to budgeting for taxes and Airbnb fees.
Short-term rental permits
Before you attempt to start an Airbnb business, make sure your local government allows short-term rentals. Every state, county, and city has its own short-term rental laws. These often change, so make sure you’re fully up-to-date and understand the current rules and regulations in place for your market.
You’ll likely need a general business license or short-term rental permit. These ensure your vacation rental is compliant with zoning restrictions and meet the local health and safety requirements. You’ll also need to get permission from your landlord or homeowners association to rent your home on a short-term basis.
Short-term rental taxes
The IRS will recognize your Airbnb venture as a legitimate business, so you’ll need to keep track of your income and expenses for your federal tax return. You’ll likely be able to deduct expenses from running your Airbnb business, including utilities, property repairs, cleaning services, and more.
In most locations, Airbnb automatically collects and pays occupancy taxes on behalf of hosts. This isn’t the case in all jurisdictions, so check to see if your listing is eligible.
Also, consider working with a tax professional to make sure you’re always in good standing with the IRS.
While it’s free to list vacation rentals on Airbnb, most hosts pay a fee of 14-16% for each booking’s subtotal. This percentage can be higher depending on location, your cancellation policy, and if you’re an Airbnb Plus host. Keep the hosting fee in mind when setting your price.
How to start an Airbnb — next steps
Assuming you already have a home to rent on Airbnb, whether it’s your primary residence or an investment property, the following steps will help you kickstart your Airbnb business.
Prepare and furnish your space
A well-stocked thoughtfully designed and furnished Airbnb not only creates a positive guest experience but leads to better reviews and increased bookings. Make sure you tackle the following before welcoming your first guests:
- Install keyless entry locks for contactless check-in and issue designated codes for your housekeeping team
- Furnish your home with modern appliances and gadgets
- Style your space with elevated, locally inspired furniture and decor
- Purchase popular vacation rental amenities
- Keep your Airbnb well-stocked with standard operating supplies
- Create a welcome book/house manual (physical or digital) for your guests
Assemble a network of local support teams
From housekeeping to landscaping and maintenance, create a solid team of local contractors that you can trust to keep your Airbnb property in pristine condition. Build a strong relationship with these folks as they’ll be your right hand running a successful Airbnb business. Some team members to consider:
- Property Manager
Strategically price your Airbnb
Pricing your Airbnb property for market and seasonal trends is one of the trickiest parts of running a vacation rental. If traveler demand is high in your market, you could lose money by pricing your home too low. On the other hand, if your home is priced too high, you could lose potential bookings. Research your local market so you can accurately and competitively charge for bedroom count, amenities, views, proximity to local attractions, and other key features.
Create and optimize your listing
Your Airbnb listing is your first touchpoint with potential guests. Start with your title, description, and keywords. Your title should describe your vacation rental and leave potential guests compelled to click your listing. Then you can use your description to paint a picture of the guest experience at your home, including all the details that make your property unique.
When writing your headline and description, incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to further boost your reach. Research search terms (“keywords”) that are popular in your market and add those to your listing. Some examples include, “private beachfront home in Destin” or “dog-friendly Scottsdale vacation rental.”
Don’t just list amenities—describe how guests can make their own memories at your home! Do you have a private hot tub perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring? Or a patio with an ocean view paired well with morning coffee or evening cocktails? Use these in your Airbnb listing to encourage travelers to hit “Reserve.”
In addition, splurge on a professional photographer to take high-resolution photos of your vacation rental that accurately reflect the space, amenities, views, and what guests can expect when they walk into your Airbnb. Photos help guests imagine themselves in your space and create their own stories.
How to become a Superhost on Airbnb
Airbnb hosts that go above and beyond to create an exceptional guest experience are given a Superhost badge and additional promotions to reach more guests.
Every three months, Airbnb checks if you’ve met their requirements for the past year so you can earn or keep your Superhost status (no application needed!). To qualify for an Airbnb Superhost badge, you must:
- Host at least 10 trips, or have 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights
- Maintain a 90% response rate or higher
- Maintain a 1% cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower
- Maintain a 4.8 overall rating
Partner with an expert vacation rental manager
Running a successful Airbnb business can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming. So, why not partner with an expert who can do all the work for you?
AvantStay has been a top-rated Superhost for 22 consecutive quarters, so we know what it takes to take your home to the next level and maximize your revenue. We offer the first hands-off approach for vacation rental owners, using our proprietary tech suite to power bookings, operationalize in-field management, and activate an elevated guest experience.
In addition, guests can use our app to request upgrades and experiences like mid-stay cleans, fridge stocking, arrange private chef-catered dinners, wine tastings, in-home spa treatments, transportation, and more. A pristine home paired with our personalized guest services drives higher satisfaction, more five-star reviews, and repeat visitors.
If you’re interested in learning more about AvantStay’s best-in-class care and how we can maximize your revenue, our team is ready to help. Get started with our vacation rental management experts today!