What is Airbnb?
Airbnb.com allows you to rent out your room or your whole apartment/house/bomb shelter to visiting tourists and you can charge whatever you like. People search by location and if your listing comes up they can make a reservation and pretty soon you’re running your own guest house.
Find a nice, quiet place in the coolest neighbourhood in town and make it beautiful. Buy new bed spreads and house plants. Paint the walls and give it stylish furniture. Then pay a photographer to come and take some really flattering photos, the kind you couldn’t hope to take yourself.
Work on your profile. Do several redrafts until you get it right – you need a flattering photo of yourself looking like the perfect host/guide/friend and make it sound like staying with you would be a life-changing/secure/cosy experience in itself.
Then get your friends to book your room (give them the cash first) and leave wonderful reviews confirming all of that. The better references you have the further you’ll rise in the listings when someone searches for somewhere to stay.
How Do I Get Business?
By scoring well in the listings. It’s not just the reviews that affect where you appear, it’s also how quickly you respond to queries. So you need a smartphone so you can get back to people almost as soon as they write to you – hook them before they shop around too much, establish a rapport and most likely you’ll soon have a reservation.
How Much Should I Charge?
The price will affect what kind of people book with you. If you want to host backpackers and hippies then aim low but don’t be surprised when they come back drunk and loud in the early hours and leave the room in a total state. If you charge more, however, then you also have to provide the expected level of service – clean towels and sheets, functioning hair dryer and toaster, and you can’t wander around your apartment in your underwear.
To find out how much you should charge check out the competition; you can see by the calendar in their profile whether they’re getting any bookings or not.
Will I Get Laid?
Possibly, but don’t put anything in your profile that suggests the thought ever crossed your mind. Of course there are plenty of single travellers who would love to have a charming host show them around town and be the perfect holiday romance. Best of all, not only have they already paid online so there’s no awkwardness with asking them to hand over the cash after sex, but they’re probably already booked to move on, affording you both a no-strings-attached affair.
But don’t come on too strong as you want to avoid bad reference like the plague.
Can It All Go Wrong?
If anything can go wrong, it eventually will. It might be that your landlord isn’t happy about you renting your place though if you’re in a big town it’s pretty unlikely he’ll find you on Airbnb itself. It’s always possible the neighbours might complain though.
You might end up with bad reviews if your dog attacks a guest or you get into a furious argument about politics with them or try to seduce their daughter. If you find that your guests are unhappy in any way, do all you can to grovel and apologise and offer them a refund or an extra night for free. Anything to avoid a bad review.
Of course it might all go right as well, and not only will you live for free with spending money on top, but you’ll host fascinating people who will occasionally sleep with you. But more than likely you’ll get your fair share of visiting Mormons who will follow you around all day asking you where they can buy a charger for their nasal trimmer.
But hey, that’s all part of being in the hospitality business.