Looking for some extra money to cover bills? Perhaps you have a guest room that hasn’t been getting a lot of use and you’d like to find a way to do something more productive with it? Or maybe you travel for work and are gone for days on end. If this is the case www.Airbnb.com might be something that interests you. A new take on the concept of a bed and breakfast (the breakfast is optional) www.Airbnb.com connects home owners and travelers looking for a place to stay on a short term basis.
To list your place on www.Airbnb.com is free and as part of their service, Airbnb takes care of the logistics and money side of the transaction, as well as providing screening tools and an insurance policy to help ensure things go smoothly for all parties. The great thing about Airbnb is that you can rent our your entire house/condo, a room, or even provide shared accommodation for the budget traveler.
As the manager of your new micro hotel you set the price for the accommodation you're offering, which can be offered on a nightly, weekly or monthly basis depending on how long you make the space available for. With a price in mind you create an ad that includes a description, neighbourhood info, and photos. As part of this you can also include your expectations and guidelines for guests in a section called “House Rules”. If you’re going to still be in the property while a guest is visiting, Airbnb has a profile section where you can let your prospective guests know a little about yourself and who they’ll be living with while they’re in your home.
One of your immediate concerns for trying out Airbnb might be safety and the protection of your property. Because of this, Airbnb provides what they term “sophisticated communication and screening tools”. These include setting up a list of reservation requirements that a prospective guest sees before they send you a booking request. These can include requiring the guest to send a trip itinerary/description, verification of their phone number, scanning of their Id, as well as social network access. You’ll also be able to communicate with the prospective guest and can ask any additional questions to assess your level of comfort with the person wanting to stay in your home. This can be done through Airbnb's secure “Voice Connect” system. In addition to these tools, there are also guest reviews for visitors that have used the service before and personal references can be requested.
With every booking of your home, Airbnb provides what they call a "Host Guarantee." The Host Guarantee is an insurance policy from Lloyd’s of London that is meant to provide additional peace of mind by covering up to $900,000 in damages caused by a guest (should something go wrong). As with any insurance policy there’s some exclusions, so make sure you’re aware of these.
Once you’re new little business is all set-up on the site and ready to go, as soon as you get your first reservation request you'll have 24hrs to confirm or decline before the request expires. Airbnb suggest that you respond to all requests, even if you decline the reservation as a non-response can negatively impact your rating and placement in search results on the website.
Now I’m sure the question on your mind at this point is how does the money thing work and what’s in it for Airbnb? After you've accepted a reservation, the guest is charged the full cost of the booking by Airbnb who keep these funds for 24hrs after the check-in date. Once this period has past, the funds are sent to you either via PayPal, bank transfer or cheque, minus a 3% fee. In addition to the rate you charge, guests are also charged a fee of 6%-12% to cover airbnb's customer support and the Host Guarantee insurance.
For people looking to travel to another City without having to pay hotel prices, or to meet new people by connecting with hosts and staying with them, Airbnb provides a great alternative to the traditional and often expensive hotel stay. For homeowners the service allows you to generate income for those times when you’re away or monetize space in your home that isn't being used.
While this is just a summary of the www.Airbnb.com service and some of the tools they have available to make the process for both travelers and hosts go as smoothly as possible, they have more resources and helpful information on their site that is worth checking out if you think this is something you’d be interested in doing.