If you're like me, you want to create an amazing experience for your guests, but you're also trying to make money and treat your Airbnb as a small business.
I want to share a list of ways that my wife and I made extra money from our Airbnb other than the booking fees. Hopefully these will work for you, or give you ideas of other ways to increase revenue.
We tried to think of our Airbnb as a location that offers value to different individuals, not just travelers on Airbnb. And the guests who are staying at our Airbnb as customers, not just guests. Given the relationship you have with your guests, you are in a position to be a trusted advisor. They are often asking you for recommendations and you have a trusted way to request and process payments (through Airbnb).
The key to all of this is to be sincere and only promote things that you believe in. The guest experience is still #1 priority, don't sacrifice that for a few extra bucks.
Here are a few that we did successfully:
1. Local Tours
Many Airbnb guests are tourists looking to experience the city. There are a range of tour companies that are looking to attract tourists that will pay you a referral fee if your guests book a tour. Many of these companies have deals with hotel concierges and will offer you the same program.
We offered several different types of tours (architectural, food, beer, neighborhood, etc.). We would receive $5-$10 for every ticket that was bought. This helped us bring in an additional $100 - $200 a month. It was little effort on our part and our guests loved it!
2. Grocery Delivery
Think of the mini bar when you go to a hotel. Guests love the convenience, and are willing to pay for it. Why not offer to stock the house with some of their favorites so they don't have to go to a store during their trip?
Create a standard list of groceries that you can have stocked for the guests prior to their arrival (or delivered once they check in). Water, breakfast foods, bread, juice, etc. Avoid alcohol, not worth the legal risks and needing to check IDs.
Keep the list manageable, you don't want to be running around trying to find obscure items (you can even buy some of these in bulk from Costco and bring them to the house, or just keep in a locked closet - water, cereal, snacks, etc).
This can be time consuming, so we would just send a grocery delivery to the house (Amazon Fresh) when we knew the guests would be there. Amazon has trial offers if you're not already a member. (Full disclosure - this is a paid affiliate link, but I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't believe in it. This is a great service that helped us leverage grocery delivery as a way to make extra money with our Airbnb)
3. Neighborhood Restaurants
We had several restaurants / shops in our neighborhood who were willing to offer discounts to our guests. Walk the neighborhood and ask, you'd be amazed at what managers would be willing to provide you.
A few of the newer / less popular places were even willing to offer us referral fees for sending people in (we printed up coupons in our guidebook to track). Some also would provide us with personal discounts when we dined there (saving money is making money)
4. In-Home Chef Experience
A popular experience in Chicago right now is having a professional chef come into your home and teach a group to make a full meal. We've done this ourselves a few times - fun way to host a dinner party
We built an affiliate agreement with one chef company so that if our guests booked this service we'd receive a 10% referral fee
This type of service does need to be booked in advance, so we would promote this to guests when we were helping them to plan their trip. If you wait until they have checked in, you'll likely not have enough time to schedule.
We found a local ticket broker who had access to all kinds of event tickets (sports, theater, music). He would contact us if he had last minute tickets that he needed to unload under face value. We would offer those to guests at face value to make our profit.
Truthfully, this was a bit labor intensive since this was always last minute. We also had to get the tickets and then deliver to the guests. Occasionally it worked out - depends if you can find a reliable broker who has discounted tickets.
6. Location Scouts
We listed our home with several location scout companies. This helped to fill weekday vacancies.
We found that production crews are often very professional and leave the Airbnb cleaner then when they arrived. They don't need to use the beds and are typically only shooting in one room.
Many location companies pay much more for the space than we'd get from a guest booking. We had student films who would pay the standard rate, but only need it for 4-6 hours. We did make the final round for a national commercial (would have paid $3k for one day).
7. Referral Discounts
When guests had great experiences at our Airbnb, we found that they would recommend us to friends. We had a website for our Airbnb and made it as easy as we could for them to find our listing and refer us (or come back as a repeat guest).
We offered discounts for guests who were referred or wanted to come back to stay with us again. We would also follow up with guests (only the good ones) who stayed for a week at a time, to see if they would want to lock in the same week next year.
Be sure to send a direct link to your Airbnb listing, so it's easy for them to find. We also added our contact info in our walking guide brochure, since the guests would take and often keep these.
8. Special Occasion Surprise
Do you know if your guests are traveling for a special reason? Anniversary, birthday, etc.
Offer to have flowers, balloons or other decorations in the house when they arrive. This is an easy way for the guest planning the trip to "surprise and delight" other members of their party and a great way for you to give a first impression as a host.
We would charge a premium for whatever we bought and add a service charge. Definitely a "premium" service and we found guests were willing to pay for it. You just need to ask if there is any special reason for their trip, just like nice restaurants do when you make a reservation.
9. Extra Cleaning
For guests who had extended stays (more than 4 days) we would offer them an additional cleaning option for a fee.
As long as you are making margin on your cleaning fees, this is an easy way to make additional revenue from the Airbnb guests.
10. Work meetings
We were fortunate and had a non-profit organization reach out to us to see if they could use our Airbnb for a 2 day work session. No one needed to stay there, but we did need to bring in folding chairs and tables to accommodate the large group.
This group told others and we had a few bookings like this. These were great guests because they only use the airbnb for a few hours each day and don't need the bedrooms (helped us reduce our cleaning costs)
We didn't actively seek this type of booking out, but if there is a way to promote your Airbnb to local small businesses that don't have conference space, this be a great additional revenue stream for your Airbnb.
11. Allow Pets
This is obviously something that you need to be comfortable with, but something that you should consider if you want to earn additional money from your Airbnb.
Many listings don't allow pets, so pet owners have less supply to choose from, by opening up to these owners, you are competing with fewer Airbnbs and therefore can charge more per night.
We added a security deposit and charged an additional $25 per night for the pet. This comes with risks, but we found it to be beneficial in the long run.
12. Host Events / Parties
This one can be a bit more risky, but can often come with the opportunity to make a lot of money.
We had several people reach out and wanted to host a get together, dinner party, post-graduation party at our house (I'm guessing a lot of you have received similar requests).
Renting space for these events is very costly for guests, so you can charge significantly more than a typical stay and it's a great deal for everyone. We did a lot of extra work on the screening and made sure we greeted the guests in person. We set strict guidelines on noise and what times they could host.
We set prices between $50 - $125 per person depending on the situation. For a group of 20, that is much cheaper than they could find in Chicago and a $1,000 night was worth the extra effort and risk for us.
13. Insurance Re-location
We had an insurance company reach out to us to relocate their client while their home was being repaired due to damages and booked a week long stay.
I talked to the agent and got our Airbnb added to their internal list of options for temporary housing for clients in duress.
We got several booking from this source, always good guests (families) and the insurance company was wiling to pay full rates. This is a great source of demand if you can make contact with these relocation companies.
Put It Into Action
The key to any of the ideas above is understanding your guests, what they need and how you can help them. If you focus is always on making the guest happy, they will buy these extras that you are offering.
We would start communicating with the guests as soon as they booked to understand why they are coming, if they have plans or need help with plans or anything else that will help us customize recommendations for them.
We also would promote offerings in the Airbnb for after they arrived. We would include the tour options in our Neighborhood Guide that we encouraged guests to take with them to help them find great places close to our Airbnb. Here are step by step instructions on how to create your own Neighborhood Guide.
Be An Airbnb Experience Host
Another option (if you have the time and desire) is to become an experience host. Here is a great video that gives some great tips: