The idea came up a year ago when I was enjoying a barbecue at my mums house. She has a wonderful garden and a fantastic studio which already had a kitchen and bathroom. Originally my mum built it for her work and used it as a study occasionally. However, after living there for a year it was apparent that she didn’t really use it very often.
We discussed how renting the studio out could pay for future travel plans. My mum was keen to retire, so this would be the perfect way to earn more cash. She would be able to rent it out whenever she wanted and also block off dates on the calendar so she didn’t have to host people all the time. Either way, I was there to host with her and I was more than happy to do this.
I mentioned Airbnb and I told her that she could make a living from renting it out to people wanting to visit London. My mum isn’t the most tech savvy and I was more than happy to set this up for her and run the Airbnb for her.
Fast forward to six weeks ago, she decided to go for it. The set-up was extremely easy and all it took was a description of the accommodation and the area as well as some quality photos that would attract prospective guests. Airbnb offer a photographer to come round and take photos for a small cost, although as a professional photographer I was happy to do so myself. It was really that simple and Airbnb Customer Care were there every step of the way to answer any questions I had about the process. Not that I had any..
There is even an outline for the price you should charge, although this is totally your choice as obviously it’s your property.
I did some research to see what the successful Airbnb hosts were doing to get an idea of what we should aim for. Read a few blogs on what people would want out of the experience but I used my own experience of being a customer and what I would want when I stayed with an Airbnb.
I bought a reasonably priced bed and some small furnishings from my favourite shops to make the space really homely and stylish at the same time. I filled the kitchen with everything you would need if you wanted to do a bit of cooking. I also thought it was important to leave things like milk in the fridge, cereals in the cupboard, tea and coffee, as well as fresh fruit on the table. I then visited my favourite flower shop to pick up fresh flowers. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a huge difference.
I created a Welcome Pack for the guests with a map of the area and tube maps. As well as recommendations of places to eat and drink. I also left instructions on how to change the thermostat or open out the large floor to ceiling windows.
Once I finished all the extras I made it go Live on the Airbnb site. We didn’t really know how long we were meant to wait for people to book so we kept the price just below the recommended price to charge.
It only took around a week to get the first booking. We had to block out some dates for our holidays but Jenny and Steve from California wanted to come and stay for 5 days in 3 weeks time. I couldn’t believe it when I got the confirmation and I will never forget the look of shock on my mums face that this had actually worked. I sent an email back to them, thanking them for the booking and said how excited I was as it would be my first time hosting. They were lovely and sent me their flight details so I knew when to expect them. I told them they should just jump on the bus from the airport and I was happy to walk to the bus stop to collect them when they arrived.
Can’t wait to welcome them to London. I’ll make sure to keep you all posted on what happens next…