Chances are, at least one of the reasons you want to host an Airbnb is the opportunity to earn passive income.
But while hosting an Airbnb may not require full-time work down the road, setting up an Airbnb is anything but passive. You’ll have many steps to complete before you get your first booking and can start seeing profits.
That’s where our Airbnb startup checklist comes in. By following a straightforward checklist, you can make sure you don’t forget anything and set your Airbnb up for long-term success.
After all, it’s not just about checking off items on a list. It’s about doing everything that’s necessary to create a truly impactful guest experience.
Your first-time Airbnb checklist
Starting an Airbnb checklist doesn’t have to be daunting. Follow these instructions step by step and you’ll be open for business in no time.
1. Create your Airbnb business plan
First things first: you can have no business without a business plan.
A business plan defines how you will set up, manage, and grow your business. Without one, you may find yourself coming back to the drawing board because you forgot to make important decisions before getting started.
Creating a well-defined business plan requires a checklist of its own (luckily, we have an Airbnb business plan template you can use). For now, just know that you’ll have to put together details such as the following:
Unique selling points
Market and competitor research
Future business goals
Prepare your property
So, your business plan is complete. Now, let’s see what’s necessary to prepare your property for hosting.
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: the safety of your guests should be paramount.
To that end:
Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functional.
Store cleaning products safely. (You don’t want small children or pets getting into the bleach.)
Take measures to prevent slips and falls. Think bath mats, proper lighting, etc.
And safety best practices don’t stop there. Think through your specific property and anything that might be hazardous. Do guests need instructions on how to use the barbecue? Are there burn bans in place due to wildfire risk?
However trivial a risk may seem, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Furnish your Airbnb, focusing on the specific types of customers you expect to see. For example, do bunk beds for kids make more sense, or queen beds for couples?
4. Stock up on amenities
Furniture alone won’t cut it. Your guests will expect your Airbnb to be stocked with all the essentials, from hairdryers to garbage bags.
If you’re afraid you might forget something (and let’s face it, how could you not?), check out our blog on Airbnb essentials.
Decorating your Airbnb goes a long way toward standing apart from the competition. If your property is priced similarly and offers the same amenities as another option, travelers will choose whichever option looks the nicest.
You might consider choosing a theme — for example, an industrial interior for properties in the city, or tropical for beach vacations. Or simply add some color to your Airbnb’s interior to make it stand out.
Create an attractive listing
Your property is ready. Now, it’s time to create your Airbnb listing.
6. Take professional photos
Photos are one of the first things guests will notice about your listing. And according to Airbnb, hosts with professional photos can even expect up to 20% more bookings and earnings.
Your listing’s title should be both descriptive of your Airbnb’s unique offerings and attention-grabbing (and no more than 50 characters).
If you eventually plan on creating your own vacation rental brand, you might want to consider including your brand name in your listing title as well. After all, it’s never too early to start building brand awareness.
Try to come up with a brand name that reflects the essence of your property and speaks to your ideal guests. Our blog on how to choose a vacation rental brand name has some additional tips, and you might also consider using AI tools such as chatGPT for inspiration.
8. Write your listing description
Finally, it’s time to write your listing description.
Remember to highlight your unique selling points and share everything potential guests might need or want to know. (But don’t get carried away — they want to book accommodations, not read a novel.)
This number shouldn’t be arbitrary, but be strategically set to maximize your bookings. And while you may have touched on your pricing strategy in your business plan, it never hurts to double-check the following steps.
9. Determine your costs
Before you can worry about profits, you need to make sure your costs of doing business are covered. Add up all of the expenses you’ll incur by hosting your Airbnb, such as:
Your guests are going to expect you to share key information and respond to their questions in a timely manner. Airbnb makes this easier by allowing you to save messages you expect to send again and again (such as welcome emails or responses to common questions).
You can also use autoresponders to schedule and automate messages so you don’t have to be glued to the screen all day. Just be sure to set these up before you’re slammed with reservations (trust us).
Prepare for guests
Now comes the fun part — preparing for your guests.
15. Plan your check-in process
If you haven’t already, consider how your guests will check in and out of your Airbnb. Will you coordinate a time to meet them and hand over the keys? Or will you automate check-in with options like a lockbox or smart lock?
Pro tip: Many guests prefer self check-in. So, if you plan on offering self check-in, be sure to highlight it in your listing description.
16. Create a welcome book
Creating a welcome book for guests is one of the best ways to make them feel at ease—especially if you offer self check-in and won’t be there to welcome them personally.
Here, you can include information on everything from house rules to local recommendations. And don’t be afraid to have fun with it—guests love to get to know their hosts!
Consider items such as a hand-written note, local foods or beverages, or toiletries. Guests are sure to be delighted, and will show it when it comes time to leave a review.
Bonus: Create a growth plan
The previous steps of our Airbnb checklist for hosts will prepare you to open your doors to guests. But the most successful Airbnb hosts go even further to grow their business and streamline operations.
18. Market your Airbnb
Every host would love to simply publish their Airbnb listing, sit back, and watch the reservations come in. And while that might be the case for your property, chances are a little marketing wouldn’t hurt—especially as you’re getting started.
If you’ve ever booked on Airbnb yourself, you know that reviews are crucial. They lend credibility to a listing and often help guests decide between similar properties.
So, encouraging reviews is an essential part of your growth plan. To that end, ask for reviews—in a message after check-out, in a hand-written note in your welcome basket, or even in person if you’re there for check-in. Show guests how much a review means to your business, and they’re sure to follow through.
And of course, the best way to encourage reviews is to provide a truly delightful stay!
Listing your property on Airbnb is a great way to tap into the platform’s popularity and start booking guests quickly. But many Airbnb hosts don’t realize that reservations through a direct booking website can provide more value.
Finally, you’re going to want to be able to measure your success. Did you meet your goals? Or do you need to make some changes to hit your targets?
The easiest way to answer these questions is with analytics and reporting tools. These tools will enable you to analyze your bookings and revenue over time so you can make data-backed business decisions moving forward.
Your roadmap to Airbnb hosting
There you have it—22 steps to becoming an Airbnb host.
Whether you’re starting completely from scratch or have already given thought to a few of these items, we recommend taking it from the top. You’ll benefit from double-checking that everything’s in place, and may come up with ideas you didn’t think of the first time around.
And before you know it, your very first guests will be enjoying your brand-new Airbnb.
Download our free Airbnb setup checklist
Ready to get started? Download our Airbnb host checklist PDF to mark off your steps as you go.
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