117 Airbnb Tips For Investors and Hosts (2023)

We’ve compiled our favorite monster list of Airbnb tips for investors and hosts. You can take action on these right away.

Investing or hosting on Airbnb can be overwhelming at times.

But we’ve got our favorite tips for creating your listing, analyzing your potential investment, optimizing your listing, how to understand markets, and much, much more.

By the end, you’ll have our BEST actionable tips for Airbnb and short term rentals and most are tips you won’t find anywhere else.

Let’s dive in!

Our 117 Superhost and Investing Tips, Do’s, and Don’ts

1. Have friends stay as an early guests.

You can have them leave a good review and provide you candid feedback on the stay as another set of eyes.

2. Get a lawyer to look over or craft your partnership agreement.

A partnership is a lot like a marriage. You have to really know who you’re working with and everyone needs to be (literally) on the same page. But at the same time, you should consult with a lawyer and accountant to make sure the agreements both help and protect you.

3. Get a letter of intent signed before bothering looking at properties.

This applies to anyone doing a joint venture (JV) agreement. Every partner will be different. If you have someone wanting to give you the money for the investment, you have to know what they even want first. You have to have your criteria. Don’t waste time until you know what everyone wants and you get the “official handshake” of this document.

4. Offer a referral fee if a property lead closes.

Like any other affiliate program, tell everyone you’ll pay them a good chunk of money if they give you a tip on a home that will be up for sale soon and they end up selling to you. This incentivizes everyone else to keep an eye out and give you a call if they hear anything.

5. Don’t do rental arbitrage.

I’ve done it before, and it’s just far too risky with a massive downside.

6. Look at cash-on-cash returns during analysis.

With investments, my key metric is cash-on-cash. If I use $x, how much will I get back each year? This might surprise you, but I ignore cap rate entirely. I want to know how much cash I get from the cash I use. Cash lets me keep investing or pay bills or anything else.

7. Have a back up for your smart lock (just in case).

As great as they are, sometimes technology fails. This can be as simple as a hidden physical key somewhere on the property. I go over smart locks a bit later in the list.

8. Be data driven.

We use STR Insights with our members, along with AirDNA Market Minder and the Best Places To Invest report, to see market breakdowns and how the best markets and properties are doing. STR Insights is great because it breaks down performance by bedroom, shows you an STR-friendly agent in most markets, and omits from its data any property that isn’t listed at least six months out of the year.

9. Look at old data.

When analyzing, don’t just look at the recent 12 months. That’s what’s behind the AirbnBust. Look back at revenue to 2018, 2019, all the way to today. See the trend and what was happening before COVID affected the market.

10. Get a real estate friendly accountant.

There are many tax advantages to real estate. Do not miss them.

11. Use a mattress protector.

It’s a bit of insurance against spills and other damage to your mattress.

12. “Full revenue” by month 4.

As you get as many bookings as possible at the launch, it will be lower revenue. For now. But we don’t want to step over dollars to pick up pennies. You’ll be at full revenue by about month four. And if you’ve properly shown Airbnb you can convert viewers to guests, you’ll be much better off in the long run.

13. You don’t really want close neighbors.

The larger a property is, the more this suggestion applies. It’s not that you can’t own properties with close neighbors, but the farther they are away, the less likely you’ll get complaints from them. You definitely want the neighbors on your side.

14. Create equity as a backup plan.

If you’re worried about a downturn in the market, buy a fixer-upper. Creating equity and value with strategic renovations means that even if the value drops and you must sell, the value is enough to ensure you’re breaking even or better.

15. Use amenities to stand out from others in your market.

PriceLabs Market Dashboards are a great tool to see the demand for the most popular amenities in your area. And just because an amenity is rare (like a hot tub) doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic choice.

16. Don’t pick a vanity market.

We have what we call value markets and vanity markets. Maui, for example, is a vanity market. People want to own there because they want to say they have a place in Maui. For investors, it’s far better to choose a value market and then use the cash flow to pay for a Maui vacation than to barely scrape by because you overpaid and any downturn sends your zero cash flow into the negative.

17. Launch with the early discount turned on.

When you launch your property, select the option that gives the first few guests an extra discount to further encourage people to book with you despite no reviews.

18. Save money with off market properties.

This is a post all on its own. But if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves a bit, an off market property often means you can get a deal and save money on agent fees.

19. Link the photos to the rooms they’re from.

In your Airbnb listing, go to Rooms and Spaces. Inside there, you can tell Airbnb what the rooms are like and attach which photos represent each room. This elevates your photo section substantially. And because photos are the #1 reason people book, do everything you can to stand out here.

20. Ignore your star rating.

The stars are a worry of a lot of people. A much better use of your energy is setting a high bar, then hitting that high bar with every guest. If you don’t hit it, make it up to them. The stars take care of themselves.

21. Pick a design theme and run with it.

For example, you pick “The Captain” – a nautical theme. You can’t put a ship wheel in one room and then a bedroom is a random candy theme. Or if it’s blue and orange, use elements of this throughout your entire unit.

22. Put captions under every single photo.

Simple: don’t not caption a single photo. Say what they’re looking it, the amenities in the photo, or answer a question before a potential guest can ask

23. Property type #1: Turn Key.

You can buy a property that’s already an Airbnb. It has a track record and you know how it performs. You’ll pay more for this (because often people resort to a cap rate style calculation, but if you see room for improvement, it might be a great first buy. You immediately begin making money and often can “take over” existing future bookings.

24. Property type #2: Furnish and List.

While not immediate income, all that’s needed is to add your own touches and furniture. Sometimes these give other opportunities, like the ability to add a geodesic dome to increase revenue.

25. Property type #3: Fixer Upper.

We generally don’t aim for full gut-jobs (and steer our members away from those) but these are still pretty bad. That weird smell? The smell of dollars and equity, baby! You can strategically fix it up and refinance the profit back out to do it again.

26. Don’t overdo the automated messages.

Yeah, I know what I just said. But too many automated messages can have them miss key details or just feel harassed. Be informative but succinct. Why waste time say lot word, when few word do trick?

27. Get cleaners that will schedule themselves.

It is a non-negotiable for me. My cleaners must schedule themselves. I don’t have time to hand-hold a team to make sure they’re at a property.

28. One booking a day at launch.

When you launch, you should be getting about one booking somewhere on your calendar every day on average. If you go a few days without a booking in your first few weeks, immediately lower prices. You should be checking your listing every day or every other day for the first month at least to make sure of this.

29. Choose your market before doing anything else.

There’s no point daydreaming about properties on Zillow if you don’t know if the market is any good. Check for multiple things to do in the market, if the regulations are favorable, what the taxes are like, etc. Then you need to establish a property support team. Then you can start developing your criteria and looking for properties.

30. Find the right deal up front.

This creates a coasting downhill feeling versus a constant uphill battle with the property for all the years you own the property. This is also the best way to prevent your “worst case scenario” later!

31. One platform launch.

We want to optimize one first. More platforms is just an attempt at more eyeballs. But Airbnb has, by far, the most visitors. I suggest you start there, get really, really good at it. Then if you need more eyeballs, expand out. Otherwise you’re just trying to expand a broken system.

32. Get a full length mirror.

People love to check themselves out.

33. The Golden Rule.

With customer service, think: “What would I want if I were in this situation?” Don’t skimp on refunds where warranted. You can also consider sending the guests to dinner or a bottle of wine if you know it’s a special occasion and something wasn’t right. You are in the hospitality business, after all.

34. Your cover photo is by far (by far) the most important.

After the Summer 2022 update, headlines are now seen after a user clicks. Which means there aren’t many elements you can directly influence to make someone want to click on your property in the search results. The cover photo must display the thing you want to show off to guests. The thing they want the most.

35. Have multiple reasons why someone would visit your place.

If the only reason someone would visit your property is a single festival once a year, or a ski hill that only runs for 6 months a year, what happens when that one thing goes away?

36. Use pillow protectors.

You should use these for the same reason you’re using a mattress protector.

37. Use the smaller description space for punchy facts.

You only have 500 characters. The headline is the 50 characters to sell the place. The description is the 500 characters. So some expanding is allowed. “The Space” is pretty much unlimited characters and I discuss that next.

38. Fully stock your kitchen.

Does your kitchen have enough items to be able to cook a spaghetti bolognese dinner? Kidding, sort of. Get all types of pots, pans, dinnerware, and utensils that you’d put in any normal kitchen.

39. Post on craigslist/Kijiji.

This is for finding off market properties. Because you can post for free, you can make and leave up posts offering to buy homes.

40. Use long term rental as a backup plan.

For me, this is an absolute last resort. I always plan to invest in short term rentals, but many investors like running the numbers as a LTR as well to make sure it could work.

41. Use mid term rental as a backup plan.

Again, I aim for markets that I know will be great as a short term rental for years and years, but it’s nice to confirm that in a catastrophic government crack-down of some kind (or a highly seasonal market) I can go month-to-month or quarterly with a renter.

42. Find an investor-friendly real estate agent.

Unless you’re an agent yourself, you simply must have an agent that understands what it means to be an investor. We have different wants and goals than a typical home buyer.

43. Don’t design from one place.

If you only buy from IKEA, it’ll look like an IKEA showroom.

44. Get good quality pillows.

These can be key to a great review from the guest.

45. Look up the actual government document for the regulations.

Don’t just take the word of a clerk or worse yet, an agent. Get the actual, physical words in your hand and read them.

46. Make sure your cleaners do laundry.

When vetting cleaning companies, I always make sure they do laundry. Some don’t. You don’t want those for your short term rental turnovers.

47. Buy a larger property.

Revenue numbers by bedroom.

The cost increase to go from 3 to 4 bedrooms, for example, is outpaced by the revenue increase you get going from 3 to 4 bedrooms. In other words, with more people able to fit into one property, they begin to split the cost, allowing for higher ADRs.

48. Put money aside to start a maintenance fund.

You never want to be caught out during low season with low cash flow and need to repair something big. Save your cash, period.

49. Don’t forget the beer and wine opener.

And get a back up because they always go missing. Like seriously. Who steals a beer opener?

50. Use automated messages.

You ensure the complete details always reach them exactly when they need to. And your input isn’t required.

51. 50+ photos is better.

Keep an eye out for some upcoming data we’re working on collecting, but in general, you can’t add too many photos.

52. Create a property-specific social media profile.

Travel and destination Instagram pages are wildly popular. Similar to an email list, having a following allows you to market to guests outside of your OTA platform (Airbnb, Vrbo, etc).

53. Artificial plants > real plants.

Otherwise it’s just one more thing your cleaning team/guest has to remember to do. And a dying plant doesn’t do a lot for the mood of the place.

54. Collect email addresses.

Hostfully guestbooks allow you to require an email address to view, which is nice. But StayFi adds an email address sign up to your wifi, just like at most hotels or businesses. This allows you to re-market to your guests and opens the possibility of direct marketing as your business grows.

55. Don’t be stingy with toilet paper.

Your cleaning team can see how many guests are coming up. Obviously you can’t supply an unlimited amount, but one or two rolls per person as a starting point goes a long way.

56. Do not accept negative cash flow.

Real estate investments should pay for themselves. You spent time and energy on the listing and you should get paid for it.

57. Short term rentals are seasonal.

Seasonality of Seneca, SC, courtesy of AirDNA.co

When you do your analysis, it has to be for a full year. Because income varies, short term rental ROI calculations are for a full 12 month cycle.

58. Get 3 of each type of person.

When you need renovation bids, get three. When talking to plumbers, find three. Electricians, landscapers, etc etc etc.

59. No candles.

As nice as they are, do not put them in your short term rental. They are fire hazards.

60. Fill out all amenities for your listing.

Don’t just check the ones you have. Also say “no” the ones you don’t. And don’t forget to add any further details for each amenity. Some have places to clarify. For example, if there’s a fireplace, even mention if or how much wood is included.

61. Expect 6 months to buy your first property.

This is about the average that we’ve seen. It’s the reason why each investor in BNB Inner Circle gets a personal Success Managers to help guide them through their own investing plan over that six months.

62. Look at the 2 hour circle.

Speaking of rural markets, take a peek at ones within a two hour drive of a large metro or multiple mid-sized markets. When residents of that city want to get away but they don’t want to fly, they’ll pick a location they can drive to within an hour or two. That’s a very large potential guest population.

63. Use white bed linens.

White bleaches and colors fade. And people often associate white with cleanliness.

64. Get short term rental insurance.

Regular home owners insurance isn’t enough, and some policies even exclude covering guests or tenants. Airbnb offers coverage, but only if the guest is at the property. You want the coverage.

65. Heavily consider if reno is for you at first.

For a first property, we often suggest our members buy turn-key or nearly turn-key. There’s already a lot happening, do you want to add a full gut-job renovation to this? Consider how your job (active income stream, if it’s not in real estate) and your family will be affected by a months long renovation project.

66. Use “The Space” description.

For us, this isn’t the time to tell a story. What’s more valuable is to list your rooms and what’s in them with simple headings and bullet points. The entire goal? Let potential guests find answers to their questions as quickly as possible.

67. Guest type #1: Business traveler.

These guests frequent urban centers with offices and companies around. Usually a replacement for a hotel, so studio or 1 BR places are for them. If you want to cater to them, it’s all location within the city.

68. Guest type #2: Vacationer.

My personal favorite type of guest, and the guests I aim for with all my listings. Think Florida where people visit once a year or outside of a big national park. But it’s not all roses: it’s rarer to find a home for these guests that can also double as a long term rental if things go south.

69. Guest type #3: Tourist.

These are generally a big international market like LA or NYC. They can be 1 BR for couples or 3-4 BR for a family. Appreciation can be good, but I always see that as the cherry on top. And plan B can be making this a business traveler listing. The downside to aiming at guests like this is another 2020 happening and city travel going to zero.

70. Get a smart (Nest) thermostat.

Guests don’t care about your utility bills. A smart thermostat is one of my favorite pieces of tech. It readjusts the heat or A/C to a more normal range with rules you set. That way, the heat or A/C isn’t out of whack for however many days the place sits empty, running up your bill.

71. Don’t forget about long term property maintenance.

I have a handyman visit the property once a week when the cleaner does. He fixes or does anything that needs doing. This has helped my long term maintenance by not letting things build up. He can fix 80% of things. For everything else, we call in someone else.

72. Splurge on “high touch” items – couch, mattress, linens etc.

I don’t mean splurge and make it unnecessarily fancy – I mean find a nice combination of affordability, comfort, and durability. Look for high performance fabrics with your couch and chairs.

73. Don’t buy local.

It’s extremely rare that the perfect short term rental is next door. Or on your street. Or in your town. Or even in your state. Invest far away and force yourself to build systems and hire people to help you run it. Unless you want to spend all your time doing the work, my guess is that’s now why you’re an investor.

74. Use a smart lock.

A lot of hosts still use a lock box or electric lock that requires manual code changes. This is extra effort and a safety risk. Smart locks like the August lock sync to your wifi and Airbnb. They allow for automatic code switches that are only good for each guest, and only during the time they’re there.

75. Consider influencer marketing.

These days, some influencers have lots of, well, influence over their audience. You’ll want to make sure their audience is engaged and human, but also that their audience are the type that love to travel and visit new places.

76. Don’t lie to yourself.

Decide in advance if you’re investing or buying for personal use. So many investors will say they’re investing, but then things go south. They soothe themselves by saying, “Oh it’s okay, we’re using it for ourselves too.” Don’t do that. If you’re after an investment, make it an investment.

77. Your cleaners are your eyes and ears.

They’re frequently in every nook and cranny; have them alert you any time they see anything off.

78. Focus more on mitigating risk and less on daydreaming about the upside.

Think about the profit you can make as a bonus. Instead, focus on not losing money through non-strategic renovation choices or emotion-based property purchases.

79. Get a portfolio manager.

After a few properties, consider an extra “layer” between you and your teams. This person will be like a coordinator of all the different teams, work that needs done, and issues that come up. Then, you just meet with this person once or twice a week to stay up-to-date.

80. Visit the property during the final cleaning.

Because the photos are SO important, consider being there as the final cleaning wraps up and before the photos are taken. Ensure everything is thought of and your photographer gets everything just as you want it.

81. Put yourself in your guests shoes.

Before you launch and somewhat regularly after that, visit the property as if you were a guest. Check in, put your stuff away, and explore. Pretend you don’t know how anything works. Is the guestbook clear enough? Could you find the place with your directions? Is there anything you can get into that you shouldn’t be able to?

82. Use a digital guestbook like Hostfully.

I mentioned it elsewhere in this list, but it deserves its own spot. If you grow to 5, 10, or 20 properties, updating a single digital guestbook that you link our is easier than updating multiple physical in-unit guestbooks. Plus, after COVID, not many people wanted those anymore anyway.

83. Do not do set-it-and-forget-it pricing.

Hotel prices aren’t the same year ’round, so why would yours be? Manage your prices based on occupancy targets month-to-month as the dates approach. Or if you can’t, try something like PriceLabs for automation options.

84. Make your property four seasons.

Hot tub and sauna at an Airbnb.

If your market is highly seasonal, what keeps people away during the low season? Figure that out and add amenities to “solve” it. Just like how downturns don’t affect all listings equally, neither does low season. The top properties are still getting booked. For example, in a cold market, add a hot tub, a movie projector, and other things to do inside. If someone wants to book during low season, those amenities make you much more likely to be picked.

85. Get a fire extinguisher.

Label the location and let them know in the guidebook, too.

86. Analyze for a worst case scenario.

The best case is fun but of no use. Only invest if you can stomach the possibility of the worst case.

87. Get 2 sets of bed linens per bed.

Stuff happens. Always have backups of things most likely to get damaged.

88. Get an inspection during your walkthrough.

I did this on my last property. I knew the numbers would work, so I had my agent there giving me a video walkthrough while my inspector did a complete check. I knew I could make a strong offer right then and there, depending on what he found or didn’t find.

89. ROI isn’t everything.

Well I mean it is, but let’s say your analysis is showing 25% cash on cash. If it’s from a total cash revenue that’s very low (for example, low purchase price and low revenue), from an “absolute dollars” perspective, it likely won’t be worth your while.

90. Don’t waste time on sales for cheaper items.

While you might save $200 total buying from Facebook marketplace sales, you’re spending WAY too much time coordinating, hunting, and driving around to save $5 on curtains. Some bigger items this might be beneficial, but just order what you need and be done with it. Your time is valuable too.

91. Use a strict cancellation policy.

The flexibility of COVID is over. Move to a strict cancellation rule again and let travel insurance take care of the guest. You never want to have someone block a lot of days, only to have them bail last minute. They get their refund and leave your calendar blank.

92. Rural markets have traditionally had the best ROI.

Similar to the idea of vanity markets, cities are also just more expensive per square foot than rural homes. So with the right rural market, you can buy a bigger home with the same amount of money. During COVID, everyone was escaping the cities and rural markets were a huge draw.

93. Use property management software.

I prefer and recommend Hostaway. It’s a little pricier, but it allows me to automate my business (such as messages to guests and my teams). I can hook up multiple properties and manage them all from one location.

94. Set criteria.

Decide in advance the types of properties you want. Create the limits and stick to them. Stay disciplined and don’t get emotionally involved. If a property suddenly goes outside of your criteria, drop it.

95. Use black out curtains.

You never know the guests’ plans or schedule. If they need them, they’ll appreciate them.

96. Have 2 back up cleaners.

Your cleaning team is THE team that can make or break your business. If your main team can’t make a turnover, you need to be ready.

97. You can add a geodesic dome.

10 square meter geodesic dome with queen sized bed inside.

You can add one to most properties (pay attention to any permitting required) for a cool and unique “extra bedroom” if your property supports it. All the media and influencer coverage I’ve received specifically mention the dome as the attracting feature.

98. Consider the cleaning/maintenance with amenities.

Here I’m specifically talking about how you’ll deal with amenities you pick going forward. For example, I picked Hypedome for my geodesic dome. I didn’t want a canvas covering on my dome because they get dingy, brown, and gross. The mirrored outside is phenomenal and gorgeous and easier to maintain.

99. Max of 5 people per full bath.

Could you imagine being the 14th person in a one bathroom home? Sure, that is obviously an exaggeration. But there is a line. And our line is five people per full bathroom (shower). If you have “plenty” of bathroom, consider a dome as a unique bedroom. If you have 4 bedrooms but 1 bathroom, I’d pass unless you can afford adding a full bath somewhere.

100. Use Joint Ventures to grow quickly.

If you don’t have any cash, find someone who does have cash but no time. You can leverage your time and skill to do the work, and you split the profits however the two of you see fit.

101. Create a contractor master list.

Things happen in a property. You’ll need help. Create relationships with all kinds of tradespeople and keep their numbers, skills, availability, etc in a spreadsheet for quick reference.

102. Use a data driven pricing strategy.

Whether you use a manual pricing system or dynamic pricing software, pricing is no place to go with your gut.

103. Always provide some sort of air conditioning (cooling) option.

Even if you’re in Canada like me, you want them to have all the comforts in case of a heat snap. Or, if you’re in the desert, you might still provide a heat option.

104. For a “safer” short term rental investment, choose a larger, more established market.

By “safe” I mean that some smaller markets, when they grow too fast, are at risk of backlash from local residents. Sometimes we see regulations come down hard. But if there are already regulations in the area, and there are taxes, that means everyone already knows it’s a market that works for short term rentals. The downside is often these properties cost more, which means lower ROI. These markets also mean you have more data to be more sure of the revenue numbers.

105. Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy.

This is advice from Warren Buffett. If everyone is panicking about the economy, this might be a great time to grab a good deal.

106. Consider carefully the use of a dynamic pricing software.

These tools can be very powerful, or very dangerous. There’s a risk of overcomplicating the process as well as not learning the why of what its doing, which could mean significantly less revenue. You can’t just flip the switch and assume you’ll become a top property.

107. Don’t pay full price in cash.

If you have $600,000 in cash, keep financial strength by using $200,000 each on launching two great properties to take advantage of the economies of scale. Then, you can also keep $200,000 in a liquid cash position. You build wealth by letting the guests pay for your debt.

108. Consider highlighting your personality.

In the listing and host profile, talk about yourself a bit! Is it a pet friendly listing? Do you love certain hiking trails nearby? Are you a foodie with recommended local restaurants?

109. Gaming consoles are often not worth it.

Data shows a correlation between having a gaming console and lower revenue. I don’t wonder if it’s mostly that bad hosts are adding a gaming console thinking it’ll make all the difference when really it’s their photos or description or guest support (or E. All the above).

110. Consider the upkeep on any services.

For example, new hosts often like ideas like adding small chocolates to the bed. There’s nothing wrong with that, but make sure anything you start is something your team can manage well into the future. Consider all the systems required to keep that going.

111. You’re not aiming for 100% occupancy.

This one confuses a lot of people. Sometimes a market doesn’t support 100% occupancy. During high season, sure. But the idea is to maximize revenue. I could charge $1 a night to get to 100%, but that doesn’t mean I’m making money. Usually, about 65-70% is average across an entire year.

112. Pinterest can be your greatest and cheapest interior designer.

Feel free to pay for an interior designer. But with Pinterest and Canva, you can easily make a mood board with your favorite pieces. Then, find those pieces at IKEA, Amazon, etc.

113. Consider a DSCR loan.

In the US, you can get a commercial loan (DSCR = Debt Service Coverage Ratio) for an Airbnb property. Just like with other forms of real estate, they take into account the property’s ability to meet a certain ratio of money in to money out to cover, or service (pay for), the debt (mortgage, etc). It doesn’t matter your income, only that you have the down payment and costs to launch.

114. Downturns don’t affect everyone equally..

The lion’s share of revenue often goes to the top 25% of listings (they’re the ones optimizing everything) if the market goes south. Just because you got booked in 2021 when everyone else was doesn’t mean your listing is optimized. Become a top 25th percentile listing.

115. Consider a hot tub and sauna.

With very few exceptions, a hot tub is always a worthwhile investment in every market. A sauna is harder to get sometimes, but they’re also fantastic. Not everyone treats themselves to a sauna regularly, so it’s a great touch that takes your place above others. And because a hot tub is a filterable amenity, if someone is specifically looking for a hot tub, you’ll be one of the few to show up in the search.

116. Keep your automated messages “human like”.

People might assume they’re automated messages, but write them as realistically as possible.

117. Launch with the goal to get booked, not to make money.

In the beginning, your goal is to show Airbnb people will see you and book with you. This often means undercutting what you “think” it should make by about 20%.

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