Thursday, 10 September 2015

Guest Post - Have a Spare room or want an alternative accommodation experience. Try Airbnb, hear zimpaz's story.

Approximately a year ago, I was trawling the internet looking for ways to make a bit of extra spending money to help us in our quest of paying off our mortgage early. We had done all the usual things like cut back on our expenses and sold our old junk on ebay but I wanted something more. That’s when I found Airbnb, the online service that allows you to stay in someone else’s or rent out your spare bedroom on a short term basis to anyone in the world! This service has the potential to save you money when travelling, but also make you money when you’re at home. Airbnb manage everything in the process, from bookings to payments and there is a review system where you can rate places you have stayed or people that have stayed with you. They even insure you for up to £600k should anything bad happen.

Travelling with Airbnb is a very similar experience to booking through a comparison site. You search for the location you want to stay, the dates that you want to stay there and it presents you with a list of places that are available. Each host uploads pictures of the room and amenities and writes a description detailing everything they have to offer and the rules they would like guests to follow. Along with this is displayed all the reviews the host has received from other travelers. Different hosts have different policies on things like cancellation, pets, kids etc so it’s a good idea to thoroughly read this.

Once you find a place you like the looks of, you have to “request to book”. This is where the host can review your application and accept or deny your enquiry. This is the time when you can also ask any questions you might have for the host. I guess this is the disadvantage of travelling on Airbnb. In most cases, you cannot book instantly and It could take up to 24 hours to be approved. Once they (hopefully!) accept you, Airbnb automatically take your payment and send you all the check in details. Airbnb do not release the payment to the host until until the day after you check in. After your stay, Airbnb will email you to asking you to review the host.

Personally, I have not travelled too much with Airbnb to date, however the times that I have it has been an excellent experience. Hosts have been friendly and welcoming and it really makes the trip a lot more personal being able to interact with the locals! Money wise it can also save you some serious dosh. I have a trip to New York planned for next year, and staying in Airbnb rooms is working out at about half the price of hotels (£80-100 vs £150-200 per night).

Hosting is where the real money is to be made. In the south west of the UK, we rent our spare room and private bathroom for £30 a night, but in London and other really touristy areas you could be getting over £100 a night. Airbnb is not limited to just spare rooms either, people rent out whole apartments, houses, caravans and even tree houses! When we first started, we charged £19 a night, but that was mainly because we didn’t have any reviews on our listing. We soon bumped that up to £30, and even set higher prices when popular events come to town.

The process for hosting is the same as I mentioned above for travelling but from the opposite side of the transaction. You write your description, upload pictures, set the rules and then wait for reservation requests. Once you get one you can review the potential guest and accept or decline. After the guest stays, you simply wash the sheets and towels and prepare for the next one!

When I tell people that I host on Airbnb, I always get the same two questions...

“Isnt it weird having a stranger in your house?”

The honest answer here is no! Most people just use your house as a bed for the night and you hardly ever see them! I have met and had some really interesting conversations with some amazingly diverse people. People from all corners of the earth. America, China,  Spain, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Canada to name a few!

“What if somebody steals from you?”

I honestly think if your going to rob somebody, your not going to do it by booking to stay at their house through a website that takes your bank details and verifies your identity. Touch wood, I have never had any issues and everybody has been lovely. If worst comes to the worst, Airbnb cover you up to £600k.

So how much money could you make from Airbnb I hear you ask? Well in the last 12 months we have been hosting we have received approximately £3600 in payments. That averages about £300 a month. Obviously some months are much higher than others but it gives you an idea of the earning potential. In the UK you can earn up to £4250 a year before you have to pay tax on renting out a spare room in your house, and thats going up to £7500 in 2016.

So what are you waiting for? Using Airbnb is a double pronged attack on your finances! There is money to be saved when travelling and money to be made by hosting.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions please dont hesitate to ask them in the comments, or come and find me at my youtube channel here

Many thanks for this guest blog to zimzap who is a prolific and well respected technology reviewer.

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