The vacation rental industry is becoming increasingly popular as a way to make money – and, luckily, you don’t have to own a house to have your slice of the pie. In this post, we´ll look at how you start an Airbnb business when you don’t own a home.
Unlike big hotel chains, vacation rentals and Airbnbs actually benefited from the COVID pandemic as travelers searched for unique, safe domestic experiences.
Leading online travel agent, Airbnb, posted impressive results with revenue of $1.5 billion up 70% year over year in Quarter 1 of 2022. It also exceeded pre-pandemic Q1 2019 revenue by 80%. They have attributed the strong revenue growth to a combination of growth in nights and experiences booked, and continued strength in average daily rates, despite the ongoing pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and macroeconomic headwinds.
With around 3 million hosts on Airbnb and 7 million listings worldwide in 2022, it is obvious that Airbnb has become big business. Everyone knows someone who owns an Airbnb property, but being a short term rental owner is not for everyone. Not only do you have to own your own property, but you have to put in a lot of time and effort to create and manage a successful business.
So, if you can’t afford a house, or you don’t think being a host is for you (and it most definitely is not everyone´s cup of tea), there are many other creative ways of making money off Airbnb without owning property.
This one is obvious – it is possible to secure a slice of the lucrative Airbnb business pie without actually having to secure a mortgage and buy your own property.
The more is at stake, the higher the risk. Being a vacation rental owner is not as easy as it seems. Industry stalwarts will tell you that the idea of running a vacation rental ´part-time´ is a myth and it takes a long time and a lot of effort and investment to turn your rental into a successful business.
If you want to boost your income by starting a business as a side hustle, there are other, much more manageable and accessible ways to tap into the Airbnb market than renting out your own property.
Let’s take a look at some of those ideas now.
How to start an Airbnb business without owning property
Here are some ways in which you can get your foot in the door of the vacation rental property market or invest in Airbnb without owning a property.
Become a rental property manager
Many vacation rental owners, particularly those for whom their Airbnb is a second career or those who own multiple properties, employ short term rental managers to run their business and manage their properties for them. As an Airbnb property manager, you will need to know the short term rental business inside out. Your job will be to ensure that the property is never standing empty, costing the vacation rental owner money. So, for example, it will be your job to look after the Airbnb listing of the property, as well as listing on other OTAs, and if the landlord has their own website, to generate and manage direct bookings.
Usually, your job will include setting a suitable rate for the property and keeping on top of market trends and what competitors are doing. You´ll need to manage guest relations – which means you need to be a great communicator and project manager.
Offer vacation rental marketing, SEO and social media services
Successful Airbnb hosting requires a lot of time marketing the property to make sure it stands out among a sea of online competitors. So, If you´re a digital marketing or social media expert, you could offer to promote the host´s property online to help him or her draw potential clients. You would apply the same marketing principles as in other industries, in other words, you would identify the client’s unique selling proposition, and the audience they want to reach and work out a vacation rental marketing plan targeted to their needs. This could include publishing regular blog posts, search engine optimization of the client’s website pages, and promoting the rental on social media channels.
Of course, the more experience you have in the industry, the better you´ll be able to sell yourself as an expert in this area, but you can learn a lot about the industry by following forums for hosts on Facebook and LinkedIn, looking at competitors and following industry publications, newsletters and podcasts.
Start an Airbnb cleaning service
This is another common way of opening a door into the short term rental or long-term rental market. This is not a glamorous job, but every vacation rental needs regular cleaning before turnover and also sometimes during longer stays. Many hosts simply don’t have the time or capacity to do this themselves.
This is a professional relationship, and you typically will be expected to sign an Airbnb cleaning contract, which ensures both parties know what is expected of them. More experienced hosts may also have a SPA (standard property appearance) guide – to guide cleaners in the finer details of how they like the property to appear for each new guest.
Offer an Airbnb experience
Through Airbnb experiences, you are able to offer an activity you love to give visitors a flavor of the local area, for example, a cooking class, yoga (with dogs), a local craft class or a well-being experience. The experiences have to meet certain criteria set by Airbnb, and you can manage the bookings, and payments through Airbnb.
Offer an Airbnb upsell service
You could also partner with local Airbnb hosts, helping them to offer Airbnb upsell services that their guests may be interested in and that they don’t have the capacity or time to provide themselves. For example, this could include food delivery, home-cooked dinners or fresh-cut flowers, catering services, fitness classes, massages, and more.
Now is the time to join the industry
The industry is set to continue growing in the future, and now is a good time to get your foot in the door. As you can see, there are many creative ways and business models for getting involved in the Airbnb or short term rental property industry for those who are not property owners.
Be creative, keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities, and don’t be afraid to reach out to local hosts for potential collaborations.
Disclaimer: Lodgify is an Airbnb Preferred Software Partner. This post, including any claims or statements within, is solely from Lodgify and is not endorsed by, directly affiliated with, authorized, or sponsored by Airbnb in any way.
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