Are you interested in making some extra money by renting out a spare room or perhaps your whole house or apartment?

Have you considered listing your place on Airbnb?

More than 200 million people have stayed in an Airbnb since the company was founded in 2008 and it’s not a stretch to say that the privately held company is a phenomenon. In January 2018, according to the online accommodations site, Airbnb had more than three million listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries.

And here’s a random but interesting fact: more than 1,400 of those listings were in castles. There are also yurts, buses, gypsy wagons, windmills and treehouses available to rent. Whatever sort of accommodation you’ve got available, you can probably list it at Airbnb.

It’s a great way to make some extra money, but it is work and there’s plenty to do before your first guest arrives. Here are some ways to declutter and organize your place so it’s ready for guests and to make sure your Airbnb experience is a positive one from the start.

Make Sure It’s Safe

1. Walk around the space critically and with an eye toward safety. Are there any loose steps or exposed wires? Other hazards? Get all that fixed before you advertise for your first guest.

2. Be sure there are smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers as appropriate.

3. Put a well-stocked first aid kit in the unit.

4. Leave your email and phone number in case guests need to reach you and make sure you are accessible in case there are questions or problems.

5. Include your phone number, instead of the property’s address, on the keyring you provide to guests.

Presentation is Everything

6. Clean well just before having amazing photos of your space. Make sure the pictures are taken from multiple angles, and write a great description. People won’t flock to rent your room or home if the photos are bad and the place doesn’t sound like an excellent place to be.

7. Think minimalism. Guests don’t want to live among your hanging clothes and hairbrush. Clear away everything but the basics, so it looks like, and is, a clean, roomy space for them to spread out and relax.

8. Find a place to lock away your valuables. The first way to safeguard personal items is to carefully screen potential guests (by checking references and renter profiles, if available). The next best way is to completely remove valuables such as jewelry, family photos, artwork, financial and legal papers, fine china and silver, firearms and other items that are important to you. You might put them in a safe deposit box or rent an off-site storage space. If you must leave valuable items on-property, find a way to lock them up in a dedicated closet or separate room that you can lock securely.

9. If the home doesn’t have a locking mailbox, make sure you have the post office stop your mail while guests will be staying there.

10. Consider hiring help to clean the space. It needs to be as clean, or cleaner, than a hotel room. You might add a small cleaning fee to offset the cost.

Remember the Amenities

11. Make sure there’s a comfortable bed with good pillows and high-quality sheets. Add a pillowtop mattress topper and provide extra pillows and blankets. Make that bed look and feel great. Guests who can’t sleep because of an uncomfortable bed aren’t going to leave a good review.

12. Consider putting earplugs and a small electric fan in the bedroom. Plug in a universal charging station in case guests forget theirs.

13. Does the bedroom face the morning sun? Think about whether blackout curtains would be appropriate.

14. Hang matching towels in the bathroom for a pulled-together look. Put all those extra hotel shampoos and other toiletries you gather on your own travels in a basket you leave on the bathroom counter. You might hang one-size-fits-all bathrobes in the closet.

15. Provide basic toiletries in case your visitors forget something, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap. Put out boxes of tissues.

16. A simple suitcase stand in the bedroom can be a nice touch.

17. Have extra sets of sheets and towels at the ready, so you never have a laundry crunch.

18. Anticipate what your guests will need to know and provide written instructions on how to access the Internet connection, use the television and other electronics, and operate the major appliances, heater/air conditioner, and security system. Explain about parking, what to do with the trash, smoking/party/pet rules and anything else they’ll need to know. Leave information about the neighborhood (including non-touristy restaurants and activities), local emergency numbers, and how to find the nearest hospital.

19. Have at least coffee and tea on hand and a way for guests to fix them, and stock basic condiments. Some people leave some basics in the fridge like a fresh loaf of bread and eggs.

20. Buy the amenities you’ll want to have on hand all the time in bulk. Put out bottles of water and snacks as a nice welcoming touch.

21. Make sure the garbage and recycling bins are empty and provide plenty of trash bags and dishwashing liquid. Have extra light bulbs, basic toiletries such as paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper.

22. Consider providing local books and magazines as well as menus and brochures from area hotspots.

23. Remember that plants make any space look nicer.

You can also set the tone of the stay ahead of time by corresponding with your guests before they arrive. Make sure they know how to get the keys if they will be getting in when you are not available. Add a clip to the keychain so guests can attach them to their belt or purse.

When you take the time to make your space clean, comfortable and easy for your guests to enjoy, they will sing your praises in their reviews, and your Airbnb property will do well.

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Leslie Lang