October 5th, 2014


Making some money with AirBnB

[Letter sent to two of our friends during our recent trip.]

Great to see each of you this week, Friend1 and Friend2!

We arrived at our Fenwick Island host's last night;
this place is absolutely stunning. Cat Lady and I are
quickly coming to the realization that this couple is
participating mostly for the social aspect, not for the rent.*

(Social contact is not a requirement, by the way, as long
as one is honest about not being around to chat.)

So, since both of you expressed strong interest in this,
without further ado, here's our invitation link.

(If you know how, it may be helpful to clear out any
airbnb.com cookies from your browser before you click;
if not, do not worry about it!!)

That link will start you out with a $25 voucher to register
with the site, and we also get vouchers for recommending
the service, (but that's not why we do so).

Registration does not commit you to do anything! You can
(and probably should) send them copies of your driver's
license and other documentation before you ever list your
properties. There may also be a brief phone call involved.

Even once you list, you have full control over your calendar
of availability. (Friend2, you may only want to offer a rolling
2-3 weeks out if you're trying to rent the unit full-time.)

As we mentioned, there are many safety features built
into the service. e.g., Your private contact details are only
revealed once a guest has paid, and they pay up front
(upon booking) into an escrow account that's released to
you after they have checked out.

It looks like you will be able to charge around $50 to $75
per night for a private room in Purcellville, and about $100
to $125 for a full apartment in Ellicott City. You'd start off
at first, of course, and gradually play with the pricing
to see what works, especially during local events. As you
build your reputation with the system, you'll do comparative
to learn what features are worth what amounts.
(e.g., Each of you is able to offer a private bathroom, rather
than shared.)

You definitely want to stress the local culture in your listings,
since people will be searching for things like "wine country"
or certain football games. In fact, many successful hosts
incorporate a word or two of that right into the title of their
listing, e.g., We've seen "Chocolate" and "Amish" in our
recent PA Dutch searches. Pictures are also very helpful,
both inside and outside. (Hint: Alpacas are irresistible.)

You also want to offer a glimpse into your own personality,
what you like to do, who you are and how you fit into the
property offering. Potential guests like to have a connection.

The more details and total honesty you can offer, the better.
You want to communicate your feelings about noise level
and hours, smoking policy, your pets and theirs, safety,
and so on. Continue the conversation once you start getting
contacted by potential guests; they are vetting you, and
you need to vet them. We've been known to back away
if something doesn't feel right about a particular person.

OK, I've babbled on long enough here. :-) Please let us
know if you have any questions.

Thanks again, from both of us, for everything!

*P.S.: We had a long chat with our hosts last night, and I had to
smile, because (without prompting) they admitted precisely
this, in almost these exact words. None-the-less, they also
disclosed that they made $20k on AirBnB in the last three
. Now admittedly, they're in a very good position, as
Ocean City properties are in high demand and low supply, so
their results are far from typical, but still, they're encouraging.

[Alpaca pictures courtesy of Double Diamond Farm.]