A lot of Bachcare owners come to us having taken a DIY approach to property management, without fully realising the time involved. Whilst it can be a lucrative side income, there are absolutely additional pressures and responsibilities that aren’t always considered. These days, it’s easier than ever to list a holiday home, house or apartment for short term rent. However, if you’re holding down a full time job and it is starting to eat up evenings and weekends, it can become quite the juggling act to keep everyone happy. This is often when we get the call asking for help. Weighing up the pros and cons, we sat down with a previous Airbnb host Denym to get his side of the story.
What first attracted you to consider using Airbnb?
Naturally I was intrigued as anyone would be with the concept of making an easy 25k a year renting out a spare room. Living in the heart of Ponsonby, I was surprised after browsing the listings in the area that people were willing to pay over $100 a night for the pleasure of staying in one of Auckland’s most unaffordable suburbs. I decided to give it a shot, took some quick photos of the room and listed it up - within 24 hours I received my first booking, 3 nights - a lovely couple from Belgium - whoop! Time to cash in on this tourism boom!
From 0-100 in 2 weeks
Within two weeks my first booking turned into 5, and 5 into 15. By then, I was basically running a small hotel out of my home each and every week - everything ramped up so quickly, with guests booking my house out sometimes months in advance!
I was meeting some amazing people too - It was incredibly refreshing welcoming new cultures into my home each and every week.
But weren’t you worried about people being in your house when you’re not there?
I was initially worried about bad characters at times, but Airbnb’s ‘Peace of mind. Guaranteed’ promise, and $1,000,000 insurance policy set my mind at ease. Nothing was lost or stolen, and I found the guests to generally be friendly, polite people that left my place tidy. A few guests left the bathroom messy, and made a minor mess, but I overlooked this for the most part.
When using Airbnb, there is an option to offer ‘instant book’ functionality - whereby guests can book your place without needing to apply first. I decided against allowing instant book, as it meant that I could pick and choose who stayed. If a potential guest asked to stay with me, and their profile was brand new, they seemed like a fake profile, or they didn’t seem like the type of person I would get along with, I would choose not to host them. This put my mind at ease, as it allowed me to carefully vet who I let into my home.
Why did you stop being a host?
The extra income was great, I loved the excitement of learning about new cultures, and it made me feel proud to be an evangelist for my home town. However, as I was quickly approaching my 100th booking, I was starting to get exhausted. Being an Airbnb host was taking on a life of its own - a life that consumed most of my time outside of work.
From one job to two: Peace of mind - Not Guaranteed
With a full time job, and a life to live, running my Airbnb was becoming quite demanding. I was changing and washing linen almost everyday; welcoming new guests early in the morning, late at night or even having to skip my lunch break at work to pop home to greet them. I felt like I was working two jobs, or often 3: my normal full time job, a hotel manager and hotel maid - this isn’t what I signed up for.
‘At times I thought my tiny Ponsonby villa was more popular than the Hilton.’
I was enjoying the extra money, but couldn’t get away from managing this small hotel - the hardest part was having to plan my life around welcoming new guests and preparing for the next ones. Guest expectations are quite high, and I wanted to maintain my Super Host status. I was beginning to make serious sacrifices to run everything smoothly.
Guest expectations started to get more demanding… and then I received my first 3 star review:
I had forgotten to vacuum the room after the previous guest. Harmless mistake, but vital mistake in the eyes of my paying customers. Eventually I got to a boiling point where running my Airbnb started to run me. I decided to call it quits.
What insights or tips could you share with others looking to run their own Airbnb?
It’s important to keep in mind the type of guest that you are looking to attract, and to price your accommodation with this in mind. If you charge too much, you will not get many bookings, and guest expectations will tend to be very high. If you don’t charge enough, you will be fully booked all the time, and will tend to attract guests that don’t look after your place as well as you might expect. It can be helpful to look at similar properties around you to get an idea of a fair price for your space. This can take some time as the market is always evolving so keep track of this every 2-3 weeks so you're not leaving money on the table, you don't want to be the bargain that gets snapped up when theres a big game in town!
Buy two sets of bedding and towels so that you can swap out these items and wash them in your own time. If you are going to provide soap and shampoo in the bathroom, it is much more hygienic to provide it in a bottle form, as bars of soap can be off-putting to guests if not replaced after each stay.
As noted above, avoiding instant book functionality can be a great way to vet your guests and help to put your mind at ease with who is staying in your house.
Consider adding in cleaning and extra person fees. These fees are not reflected in the displayed rate, but are added into the final price. On this note, it’s important to keep in mind the final rate that guests pay for your room or house. It can be useful to search your listing on Airbnb and see how much you would have to pay to book it.
Don’t take huge deposits - these are off-putting to guests. Also, when offering cancellation options, I always offered the mid-range option. This meant that there was a cost to pulling out at the last minute, but it wasn’t so cumbersome that it put guests off.
Limit the amount of time guests can stay to 4 nights max. If they stay for longer, they will start to treat the place like home… this is not always a good thing.
Although it’s not essential, little touches like providing a jar with a few pieces of fudge on the bedside table can make all the difference in guest satisfaction. I have also stayed in a number of Airbnbs, and can vouch from personal experience that these little things go a long way.
If you had your time again, what would you do next time around?
I would investigate options that allowed me to be more hands-off, and look at ways to have oversight of it. If I didn’t have such a busy work schedule, it might be more pleasurable to be an Airbnb host. However, with my current work-life balance, juggling it all wouldn’t be sustainable over an extended period. I hadn’t heard of Bachcare before you approached me but would definitely consider this as a way to enjoy the income from Airbnb whilst avoiding the management duties - to have my cake and eat it too, as you put it.
Denym Bird is a former digital marketing manager at Tradify, an Auckland Software As A Service Business. He now runs his own Digital Marketing Consultancy.
If you are interested in letting your home out on Airbnb, but don’t want the hassle of managing everything, feel free to give us a call for a no obligation chat. We list properties for rent on all the major platforms and websites (including Airbnb), meet and greet guests, arrange for cleaning, inspections, optimise pricing to meet market demands, and much more.