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How new Airbnb hosts can boost the chances of getting bookings

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Five top tips for anyone thinking of using Airbnb to bring in some extra cash.

If you’re planning a holiday in the coming weeks or months, an easy way to make some extra cash is to list your home on lettings site Airbnb.

The popularity of the website has ballooned in recent years, with over 48,000 hosts in London alone.

This means getting your property to stand out from the crowd is crucial.

One of the main ways to secure bookings is to have as many good reviews as possible. But if you’ve never used the site before and don’t have any reviews, there are still plenty of things you can do to get people through the door.

1) Spend time on your listing

You want your listing to catch people’s eye so set some time aside to write it. Make sure it is well-written, with no spelling errors, and includes as much detail as possible including information on furnishings and fittings. If you have a Sonos music system, for example, flag this in the description.

Professional photos could give you the edge over a competing property, so it may be worth spending a bit of money hiring a photographer.

If your property is in an excellent location, such as near a concert venue or football ground, include this in the title.

2) Make sure you have Wifi

It may seem obvious but make sure your property has functioning Wifi and flag that it does in the description.

Having Wifi is essential, according to Fiona Patterson of Portico Host, an Airbnb management company.

“The majority of guests will tick ‘Wireless Internet’ as a necessity when searching for a place on Airbnb, so if your property doesn’t provide internet, it won’t show up in their search,” she says.

If you don’t have Wifi installed, try and get it sorted or consider buying a dongle.

3) Get the price right

Setting the right price is essential. If you set it too high, you’ll turn guests off – especially if you have no reviews. If you price it too low, people might think the property isn’t in good condition or in a poor location.

Search Airbnb for similar properties and see what daily rate they’re charging.

“We advise starting at a slightly lower price to capture initial bookings, then after you build up your reviews you can begin to up your price,” says Patterson.

4) Use a management service

If you want to try Airbnb but don’t have the time to sort out your listing or vet and great guests, you could consider using an Airbnb management company. There are several on the market including Portico Host, My Property Host, Airsorted and Pass the Keys.

While they all vary slightly, most of these companies will set up your property listing for you, deal with enquiries and bookings, and vet and meet and greet guests.

Using one of these sites will of course eat into your profit.

Portico Host charges 15% of the booking fee plus VAT. My Property Host, which operates in London zones 1-3, will manage your Airbnb listing for 19% plus the cleaning fee. Airsorted operating in London, Edinburgh and Dublin, charges from 12% plus VAT. And Pass the Keys, which operates in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Brighton, also charges 12% plus VAT.

These charges are on top of the 3% host service fee Airbnb takes on each reservation.

5) One extra tip for first timers – get insurance

Airbnb offers a Host Guarantee up to £600,000 at no extra cost but this doesn’t cover against cash, jewellery, collectibles or personal liabilities so it’s worth getting additional home insurance. Not all insurers will cover paying guests so it’s best to check with your insurer.

There are a couple of firms which have products specifically for Airbnb-style short-term lets such as Admiral and Belong Safe. For more information on Airbnb insurance, click here.

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