This is a question I’ve seen posed many times in several chat rooms. As an owner and host there are definite pros & cons. Here are 3 different perspectives to this dilemma that I can think of:
- The Guest.
Have you stayed in an Air BnB? I have. They all were very nice, well managed, creative and cozy. Take our Rental in South Beach. I think it was something like 246 square feet! (It was nicely appointed, making the best use of space with a mini kitchen, queen bed and a 4 piece bathroom.) Conversely, I have heard horror stories and about scams such as there being no actual place to stay once you’ve landed at your destination. Or winding up staying in someone’s garage and having a bucket for a toilet! Yikes. Which brings us to # 2. (No pun intended).
- The Host.
There is an art to owning and operating an Air BnB. Facebook has a private group for Air BnB hosts where you can share comments and concerns. Note that it is a small business. Will you be running it? Or hiring a management company? First check the codes in your municipality. In Las Vegas the rules have tightened to where short term rentals are mostly banned (legally), especially in high rises, or the red tape to run one lawfully is beyond ridiculous. It’s not just hotels striking out against the competition but unit owners who don’t want to feel like they’re living in a hotel. Or neighbors who resent the noise and people coming and going. I have a unit in downtown Las Vegas. The City was fining us hosts $500 per night if we had a guest staying less than a month! That’s your caveat – 31 day minimal rental.
So…how to go about setting up your space to make it hospitable for future guests and profitable as a host? Continue to #3.
- The Design.
Decorating an Air BnB for yourself or someone else? How does it differ from other design? Here are some tried and true ideas, speaking from my experience and others, having operated a successful short term rental.
You will want a door handle and lock with a code you can change in between guests. Make sure to have extra batteries & a small screwdriver on hand. The host won’t have to remember any codes, they will have a key.
You are competing with hotel/motels and will want to offer comparable amenities with the exception of housekeeping and room service. You will need to supply cleaning items like vacuums, mops and cleaners (I would go eco-friendly and easy on the chemicals). If the unit has a washer/dryer you should also get a small bottle of detergent and fabric softener. Same thing with a dishwasher, you’ll want to have the appropriate soap or pods. Don’t forget a blow dryer, iron and a table top ironing board. They can be super light and hung up on the back of a door. You’ll also want a couple of fire extinguishers and a first aid kit.
No free snuggles or turn down service. Maybe chocolates on the pillows if it’s a holiday weekend and your guests are paying top dollar. I don’t offer to entertain my visitors yet I can provide books, games, and at least 1 TV depending on the size of the space. Along with ‘House Rules’ I like to leave links to local transportation and things to do relevant to the area, like my favorite places to dine and drink, entertainment etc.
Dishes, Linens, Furniture, Décor etc.
Glass is not your friend. Think like a Stager. At the back of Ashley Home Stores, they have sale items! A lot of these are melamine dishes and plastic glasses including goblets. (I would double check to make sure they are microwave safe.) You can usually pick up colored placemats for $10-20 too. It’s a great spot to find marked down decorative pillow cases, lighting and small décor at a fraction of the price. And there is always the Dollar Store for all your other kitchen needs.
White is not good for high turnover. You don’t want too light or too dark, especially carpets. You may only have time to vacuum in between guests.
Go with an inexpensive mattress & get a foam topper with a zipper cover. A comfortable bed is everything after a long day of travel. This is where you might want to spend $$ on quality sheets. Remember NOT WHITE. It’s a lot quicker to wash a duvet cover than a whole bed spread. Time is of a premium between stays. Bed, Bath and Beyond and Ikea are great places to find discount soft goods. Note also 2 twin beds can be pushed together to make a king bed. This is my in-laws favorite trick. It offers you different options for different guests. Unless local codes say otherwise, RESA member Debbie Boggs says more ‘heads in beds’ equals more profitability!
You won't want to buy expensive furniture or anything breakable. Even for a luxury property. Basically you want a high end look without the price tag. Better quality second hand can work well. Places to shop might be Corte Furniture and Hotel liquidators. If you’ve ever been in a luxury suite at a hotel you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive the furniture is. Not only is it susceptible to lots of traffic but can be easily damaged and need to be replaced. SAVE & KEEP ALL RECEIPTS for this very reason. If you’re purchasing items and billing a client, make them a nice bill of sale in case they have to file a claim with Air BnB. (Yes it happens. I’ve had my place trashed a couple of times by people with 5 Star reviews. Air BnB did take care of me financially and a receipt makes it so much easier.)
Maybe you’re going for that homey cottage look. The best way to prepare is to think of what you would want if you were staying there. (Minus a back rub.) Upcycling garage sale items can work well here. (You’ll have to make your own receipts.) And a little creativity goes along way- think cottage core and granny chic!
As previously mentioned, owning and operating a short term rental is like managing a side business. It can be quite profitable depending on where you live. I have chosen a long term tenant now who is awesome and reliable. As I’m busy with design projects, I appreciate the low maintenance and steady income. I have completely parted ways with Air BnB both as a guest and a host for several reasons. One is they're too lax. Their background checks are questionable and the whole “Give a review in private so you can tell your guest what they can do better”, leaves potential clients out there with 5 Star reviews that don’t deserve them and can beat up your space. Everyone is so afraid of getting a bad review that I found owners are afraid to speak up. I think by being truthful you’re helping other hosts and building a better community.
I've stayed in some great Air BnBs. It was a good way to gather ideas and get a host's perspective. I would love some suggestions or recommendations on other short term vacation rental companies?
If you have a property in the Las Vegas area and are thinking about turning it into a short tern rental, feel free to reach out. Especially contact me if you would like assistance with Styling it!
Staging to Sell? Styling to Stay? Contact me today ~ 702-882-4518, KerryFDecor@gmail.com