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Would you put your spare room on air bnb?

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EachandEveryone Fri 03-Jul-15 15:23:55

We are twenty minutes from Central London. My friend and I are sick of looking for flatmates and would quite like a break from living with other people! What do you think to letting out the spare bedroom?

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ShortandSweeter Fri 03-Jul-15 15:46:22

go for it

itsmeitscathy Fri 03-Jul-15 16:22:49

I'd give it a go but with strict criteria - only because you have a flatmate though . I live alone abd would be terrified! good luck and tell us how you get on!

NomiMalone Fri 03-Jul-15 16:23:53

I could never do it as I can barely cope with having family to stay never mind strangers but it sounds like it might be good for you smile .

EagleRay Fri 03-Jul-15 16:30:39

I do it (two rooms in fact) - not London but v popular part of UK.

It's been exhausting at times but a great way of making cash from spare rooms and has enabled me to take a bit of a break from f/t work (I've got a 2yo DD)

If you are renting, it's best to check it doesn't breach your tenancy agreement - I've heard of a few people getting into trouble with this!

Theas18 Fri 03-Jul-15 16:46:19

Why not! I'd get a safe or a lockable cupboard for valuables and not keep sentimental valuables in public areas but otherwise why not.

I do idly wonder about insurance status though unless you already have a houses in multiple occupation/flat share sort of thing already and the right insurance for that.

EachandEveryone Fri 03-Jul-15 16:51:29

No insurance as it backs onto a canal drain we have nothing of massive value Appart from technology and we could lock that on a wardrobe. We don't live in Kensington Infact it's quite edgy where we are but it's very safe. We never have any trouble getting flat mates but I reckon if we can get £35 for just half the month it would pay the same as renting it out full tine.does anyone know how it works? Would it be really hard work?

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EagleRay Fri 03-Jul-15 17:15:43

What you offer is mostly up to you! All you need to do is photograph it, and be as accurate as you can with your listing. It can be hard when you start out as you will have no reviews, so best to keep prices low to start with then once you have had a few guests (and some feedback/star ratings) you can put up your prices in line with the rest of your neighbourhood.

And it would be a really good idea to check what is on offer in your neighbourhood already, in order to get a realistic idea of what hosts offer, and how much it costs.

I have a period townhouse and am fairly close to very popular tourist attractions. The downside is we are a busy (and slightly messy) family with a toddler and so the two rooms are self contained as much as possible (seating as well as sleeping areas) and then we have two bathrooms which they use too. And self service breakfast is laid out in the kitchen diner in the mornings.

I've developed a modular pricing system rather than a flat one, so there's a basic price for one person, then additional charges for each extra person, then it's slightly more at weekends too.

Biggest challenges have been getting the house turned around quickly (so a triple occupancy on the top floor of the house involves 6 towels, two sets of bed linen, hoovering, cleaning two bathrooms, hoovering all halls and stairs and cleaning the kitchen). And of course a lot of people stay only one night so it's a bit of an endurance at times (you can have a minimum stay of > 1 night but I allow them as needed the bookings).

Most people turn up when they say they're going to, but a handful of guests have turned up 3/4 hours late, which is infuriating (especially if it's 1am and you're sat by the door so that DD isn't woken by the door going).

I've also found it quite stressful being 'scored' by each guest. Reviews are good, but it's really galling when you've bent over backwards for people and then they're a bit moany when they write a review. I sometimes think the more you offer guests, the more they have to complain about...

So, basically keep it clean, keep it simple, be upfront about what you can and can't offer (perfectly ok not to offer breakfast for example) and play to your strengths (local landmarks, views from the room, etc).

Phew - that was a bit long! Hope it helps though

I could possibly write a book about the things my guests have got up to but that's another thread

MarthaMonkeynuts Fri 03-Jul-15 18:08:06

Ooh Eagle please start that thread, sounds really interesting smile

serenmoon Fri 03-Jul-15 18:10:55

Oh yes Eagle, I want to read a thread about this smile

EachandEveryone Fri 03-Jul-15 18:30:54

How does the money work do you take a deposit and what is that for? I don't think I would be bothered with that.

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EachandEveryone Fri 03-Jul-15 21:50:51

I've looked at the site and I really think we can do this!

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EagleRay Sat 04-Jul-15 09:57:58

Regarding the money, guests make a booking and pay Airbnb the amount for the room plus an extra fee. Once they've arrived, Airbnb pay you the amount for the room, minus a deduction (so host and guest both pay Airbnb something for providing the service).

I think deposits are only normally used when it's a whole property that's listed.

It's quite easy to make a start - register, set the room up, take photos and then describe it. The calendar is highly configurable - takes a little while to work it out, but you can block out days, weeks or months, set individual prices for specific dates, set minimum number of nights for bookings on certain days of the week, weekly/monthly prices and so on. You could maybe start by just offering for the current month and see how you get on? Don't commit to bookings too far ahead until you're really confident as it can be very tricky to cancel a booking once it's made.

Unless you have 'instant booking' turned on, guests will have to send you a booking enquiry and then you can either accept or reject based on whether you think a guest is a good match for your listing or not.

I reject bookings for the following reason:

- guests who clearly haven't read the listing
- guests who just want a cheap room and don't 'get' the airbnb ethos
- one night bookings on days where I won't have the time to get the house turned around quickly ready for next guests
- guests who tell you absolutely nothing about themselves or have no details on their profile
- guests who ask for a discount where it's not justified in giving one

Now that I've had a few reviews I'm a little bit more picky about who I accept bookings from. It's not worth taking bookings from people who aren't a good match as the chances are you won't meet their expectations and they won't give you a good review!

Initially, your listing will be lost amongst thousands and will be fairly down search results, but there are things you can do to bump it up a bit and also make it more memorable to potential customers.

I won't waffle on any longer here, but do let me know if you need any further info, and good luck! And if you do set up a listing and you want someone to scrutinize it then just let me know smile

Nydj Sat 04-Jul-15 10:07:56

This is a fascinating thread - I would like to do it but dh would never contemplate it. He thinks I am very odd for going up to people in central who look lost and asking them if they need help - especially on the underground!

EachandEveryone Sat 04-Jul-15 10:27:44

My only worry is that I work full time shifts and I wouldn't be there to let them in. My neighbour would do it for a fiver but is that exceptable? She's bloody nosy and would love it.

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Nydj Sat 04-Jul-15 11:19:09

Central London

You could get a key safe box if you prefer or for when your neighbour may be out too.

EagleRay Sat 04-Jul-15 11:21:16

Nydj - I don't think I ever asked DP, but he works away a lot so isn't overly affected by it. I do have to remember to brief him though on who is staying when he comes home, plus remind him to keep bathroom clean, not swear etc. And I have to admit that by doing Airbnb, I am acting out some sort of dream where I would run a little hotel and furnish the rooms just so and help the tourists find nice things to do while they're here. It's great when you get someone come to stay with the intention of doing very mainstream tourist stuff from their guidebook, and then they end up going an visiting my allotment instead and really enjoying themselves!

EachandEveryone - if you work shifts, does that mean the same hours each day? It would be totally acceptable to get a neighbour to do it - just bear in mind that guests often don't turn up when they say they're going to! You just need to make sure that you communicate this clearly to the guest, so that they know who will be letting them in. You could also provide an information sheet so that they have all the info they need on arrival.

I ask for an arrival time a day or two in advance (if they haven't already told me when booking) and am generally quite flexible. What I really loathe though is waiting in and guest turns up 3 hours late! Thankfully most are ok though, and those who understand what Airbnb is about are careful to protect their reputations and so don't mess you about (feedback after the stay is a two way process!)

EagleRay Sat 04-Jul-15 11:23:16

Nydj - my friend who rents out an entire house uses a keysafe box as she lives some considerable distance away and can't be there to greet the guests. I think it gets a bit more complicated though with apartments and communal areas, and also if you are renting.

Bloodyhell11 Sat 04-Jul-15 11:36:21

Hi Eagle,
I have just started using Airbnb as a host and am having trouble with getting to grips with the prices. Can you give me do me some advice as to how to set up modular pricing?
I've looked on Airbnb site and can't suss it out!

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Sat 04-Jul-15 11:41:06

I do it, it's great. I get less than I would from a flatmate but enough to make the place affordable. It's work as in changing the beds and cleaning the room, sometimes same day changeover but I have tough wood never had a bad experience. I set it so people need to have sent their id to book with me so I feel safer.

EachandEveryone Sat 04-Jul-15 11:56:27

I notice the listings have check in/out times but I can't see where to add my own. Some people have 1900 checking in and 11am checking out!

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EagleRay Sat 04-Jul-15 12:45:11

Check in/out times - go to Terms section and set it there. You can also set your Cancellation Policy here too - best to be as flexible as possible for a new listing.

Setting prices - go to Pricing section and you can set the following:

Base price - I set this for a single person - mine is £55

Long term prices - I have a weekly one too which displays when guests book for 7 days or more. However, I often reduce prices for bookings of more than two days as well - this is normally agreed during conversations with the guest when they enquire and either I send them a special offer if they are just enquiring or if they have completed a reservation I then go in and amend the booking to reduce the price.

Additional Pricing Options - I charge £10 more for additional guests so then a booking for two people becomes £65. This has the advantage of a lower price appearing when people are just browsing listings as the base price for my room is £55. It also makes it more attractive for solo travellers. I also use the Weekend Pricing option here too and charge an extra £5 for Friday and Saturday nights. So a booking on a Thursday and Friday night for 3 people would be priced as follows:

Thursday - £55 basic price + £20 for additional guests
Friday - £60 basic price + £20 for additional guests

The next thing to do once you've set up your pricing as above is to go to the Calendar itself and there's several things you can do here:

Click on dates and block out specific dates where you don't want guests. You can add a note too to remind yourself why you blocked it!

Click on specific dates and change the base price for those dates. This is useful for example if a weekend is looming and you don't yet have a booking - I've lowered the base price by £10 for some dates in order to tempt in some last minute bookings.

Go to the top of the Calendar and on the right you will see a Settings link - click on that and you can set some rules up about same day requests etc. You can also click on Add A Requirement and customise the calendar further, eg bookings on Friday or Saturday require a 2 night stay, or all bookings in August must be for 3 nights or longer etc.

Setting prices and customising the calendar can be fiddly so best to keep it simple at first and just be aware that you can add extra rules and prices later when you are up to speed.

One of the advantages of fiddling with the calendar on regular basis is that it's one of the things that helps push your listing up the search results :-)

EachandEveryone Sat 04-Jul-15 13:08:06

Thanks for that. Do you have a breakfast cupboard they can help themselves to?

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EhricLovesTheBhrothers Sat 04-Jul-15 13:17:32

I leave a tray with bread and spreads next to the toaster, and another with tea and coffee, mugs etc next to the kettle.

EagleRay Sat 04-Jul-15 13:21:26

I keep a huge tray in the kitchen on the worktop with help yourself breakfast items on it, then leave crockery on the kitchen table. First thing in the morning, I get the fresh coffee, butter, milk, juice and yoghurt out of the fridge.

You can offer as much or as little as you like, or nothing at all! Just be very clear in your listing what's on offer.

I try to offer as much choice as possible for guests but gave had to be rather canny in order not to have much food wastage

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