Airbnb has revolutionized the way travelers find accommodation. You no longer have to rely on expensive hotel rooms while traveling on business or holiday. If you are someone with a room or property to spare, startups like Airbnb offer a profitable money-making opportunity for solo entrepreneurs.
But Airbnb is not the only service that lets property owners rent out to travelers. While the service charges a flat 3% commission on every transaction, competitor sites like VRBO let property owners advertise their listings for a flat annual fee of around $499. If you are the owner of multiple properties, you may also completely skip these listing sites and find your own customers. Here is a guide to do this.
Build a website
Travelers rely on high quality images of your property to make a decision on their booking. The first step in renting out your property is to build a website for your listings. A comprehensive listing page should include details regarding the property, high quality photos and videos of the rooms that are available to the customer, location of your property and rates.
In addition to this, it is a good idea to integrate your website with a third party booking software that will allow you to show availability on any particular date. This adds a layer of credibility to your listings. Also, capturing reviews (positive and negative) from your past customers lets a potential customer know what to expect before making a booking.
Set up your back-end infrastructure
A side hustle on Airbnb or elsewhere is not just about the property. You will also need an infrastructure that can handle incoming enquiries from prospective customers, handle tie-ups with insurance agencies to handle property damage, and a team that can handle janitorial services across various properties. There are a number of startups that specialize in insurance and cleaning services for Airbnb properties.
You may also consider investing in a business phone system that can let you handle questions from customers regardless of where you are. This is especially important if you have a day job and will need to divert these calls to different numbers depending on the time of the day or your availability.
Marketing your property
Finding customers over platforms like Airbnb or VRBO is straight forward since these platforms take care of customer acquisition. This is, however, not as simple when you market your own website.
There are two primary marketing channels that you must focus on: search engines and travel blogs. With search engines, you may be able to reach an audience that is looking for accommodation in the localities you have properties in. A well-executed search engine optimization strategy could help you rank for the relevant search terms.
In addition, you may also consider advertising on travel blogs that cater to readers traveling to your destination. A well-executed affiliate marketing strategy allows you to promote your listing among a targeted audience that can help with conversions.
It is, however, worth assessing the cost benefits of each of these strategies. Would your customer acquisition cost be lower than Airbnb or VRBO while marketing your own website? Affiliate partners typically request at least a 5% commission on the sales made. This makes it more expensive than finding customers through Airbnb. Work out the costs associated with customers acquired from each of these various platforms and invest in those that get you the highest profit margins.
Reviews are a big part of customer conversion strategy in this industry. Websites like Airbnb make it absolutely easy for the customers and the hosts to leave reviews that influence future transactions. If you host properties from your own website, it is a good idea to seek video testimonials from your happy customers. Video testimonials are several times more effective than plain text and can ensure better conversion from your website.
Renting out properties on sites like Airbnb is not truly a hands-free, money-making hustle. However, using the tips provided here, it is possible to make sure that your investments are profitable and sustainable as a side hustle.