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My top tips from a year as an Airbnb host

January 31, 2018, 1 Comment

One flat, one year, twelve bookings and a lot of experience. A year ago I hosted my first guest in my Airbnb flat in Bern. Since that first couple stayed, I have learnt a lot about being a host, and about being a guest, so I’ve decided to pass on my experiences of a year of Airbnb.

When my long-term tenants left, I decided to do something different, mainly so that when family and friends are staying they’d have more space and more comfort than in our spare room. In between those visits, I’d see if I could cover my costs by renting the flat out. But I wanted to do it right, because as an Airbnb user myself, I knew what I expected from a host.

From the start I tried to be clear about what was offered, so I included lots of pictures with the listing and stated precisely what was there, or not. For example, a self-contained flat with a proper kitchen, lots of space, near to shops and trams – but no lift to reach the third floor, not equipped to cope with young children, no microwave and breakfasts not provided.

I also registered as a host with the tax office, as is legally required in Bern. That means me paying the local tourist tax for every guest every night, just as hotels have to do. It’s only fair. And in return, my guests get a free pass for city transport during their stay. It’s a great deal so I’m transparent that taxes (and free passes) are included in the rate.

Despite all that I learned that some people had unrealistic expectations. One guest wanted to check in at 1am, and was annoyed there was no 24-hour reception. A couple booked and then the day before arriving, asked for a cot & bedding for their toddler. One man wanted me to make his bed every day. Such things surprised me but they were more than offset by the lovely guests who stayed, chatted, enjoyed being in Bern and left the flat clean & tidy.

So after a year of Airbnb as a guest and a host, here are my top ten tips for you:

  • Remember you’re usually staying in someone’s home so treat it with the same care and attention you would your own.
  • Sometimes things go wrong, just as they do at home, so be patient if the internet drops out or the blind gets stuck.
  • You can expect the place to be clean, tidy and suitably equipped but that doesn’t necessarily mean daily maid service or extra virgin olive oil in the kitchen.
  • It isn’t a hotel so check in and out should be arranged to suit both parties, with flexibility and honesty the key it going well.
  • If you’re not happy about something, talk to each other: maybe your guest is being too noisy or your host too controlling. So talk!
  • Ask before booking if you have specific questions, eg how quiet is it, how big is the bed, are towels provided, etc.
  • Read the reviews on the Airbnb site, both for potential hosts and potential guests. That also means being fair and honest when leaving a review.
  • Always read the small print about things like minimum length of stay or cancellation policies as it could prevent a lot of headaches later on.
  • Airbnb sometimes isn’t the cheapest option, especially for single travellers, and doesn’t usually have the same facilities as a hotel but it’s often more fun and more relaxed.
  • Most of all, enjoy the experience of meeting new people and discovering new places. After all that’s what it’s all about.

That’s it. I’m happy to be host and being a guest is (nearly) always a good experience.

Let me know what your experiences with Airbnb have been, in Switzerland or elsewhere. And maybe I’ll see you at my flat in Bern one day…

One Comment on "My top tips from a year as an Airbnb host"

  1. Expat Swede Tuesday February 6th, 2018 at 01:56 PM · Reply

    Hi Diccon,

    Thank you for an excellent blog!

    I was just wondering what you think about the new referendum proposed by the SVP regarding immigration from the EU. Your post from 2016 on “The dark side of Switzerland” created a very interesting debate and maybe you would be interested in starting another discussion regarding the ever present immigrant issue?

    I am a Swede that has lived in Switzerland for 15 year and both my kids have gone to local school here. Talking to other expats active in various international companies, I have the impression that Switzerland is already fast losing it’s attractiveness as a place to do business. The referendum in 2014 to restrict EU migration has clearly taken down investments.

    It is totally impossible to run most types of high value added business in Switzerland without employing people from other countries. The number of swiss people that get academic education is really very low. Most leave school at 16-17 years old. The ETH is a great university but only about 30% of the graduates are swiss and I guess that half of these have a non swiss background. People here are simply not that interested in higher education.

    Low corporate taxes has been the main driver for investments here but this advantage is going away. Taxes for international companies will go up significantly in most cantons soon and at the same time they are going down in many other countries, such as the US and the UK. Some EU nations, like Hungary, will be much lower that anything in Switzerland.

    That there is now yet another referendum that creates a risk that it will become more difficult to hire people from outside of Switzerland will probably create a significant exodus of international companies, in my opinion. You simply can not take the risk of investing here under these conditions.

    If this is the case, there will be dramatic effects. The property market is finished and unemployment will quickly go up. If I know the swiss, they will then find a way to blame this on the foreigners that are left and it is not that difficult to see a relatively fast spiral down. It could get ugly.

    Anyway, sorry for the off topic rant! I was just interested in what you think about this. Maybe I am just looking for somebody to tell that I am wrong……

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