Look. We get it. Your home is your sanctuary. Your place to be alone. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know.
So, the idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks.
But if you’re willing to give it a shot, you could make some serious extra income.
You can share a spare room — or list your entire place if you’re headed out of town. Yep. You’d basically be making money for going on vacation.
Jackee Kasandy, a 42-year-old Airbnb Superhost in Vancouver, has been listing her home since 2015. She was able to use the extra money to quit her lofty corporate job and open her own business selling fair-trade artisan products from around the world.
“Without the opportunity to be an Airbnb host, I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford my business,” she says.
If you’re starting to come around on the idea of becoming an Airbnb host, see how much money you could make by listing your place.
Vancouver is a top summer travel destination, and there’s a shortage of hosts. Between exploring Stanley Park during the spring and summer months and skiing down Grouse Mountain in the winter, there’s always a demand for space.
How Much Could Your Place in Vancouver Fetch?
Listing your place on Airbnb is simple — but it does require some creativity and strategy. The good news is you can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not committed to anything permanently.
Yep. You’re not locked in. Try hosting and see if you like it — if you’re curious, it’s worth a shot.
Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area.
We’ll walk you through the sign-up process and offer some pro tips, courtesy of Kasandy.
How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in Vancouver
One of the images Jackee Kasandy uses for her Airbnb listing. The platform offers basic photo tips, like using natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms to add perspective. Photo courtesy of Jackee Kasandy
The first step to becoming an Airbnb host in Vancouver is to get a short-term rental license.
According to Kasandy, obtaining a license is quite straightforward and nothing to stress about.
We’ll show you everything you need to know to make your place stand out from others, with some added insight from Kasandy, a small-business owner who’s been hosting guests from all over the world in her three-bedroom house in the Strathcona area of Vancouver since 2015.
Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space and Amenities
In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, like the included amenities and the number of guest your space can accommodate.
Don’t be discouraged from becoming a host if you can’t list an entire place — Airbnb welcomes all kinds of listings, which could be anything from an apartment, an extra bedroom or house to a campsite, yurt or RV, depending on your local laws.
Two of Kasandy’s three bedrooms are reserved for personal use. She makes the third bedroom available to Airbnb guests, who also have access to the rest of her house, including her laundry facilities.
Set the Scene With Photos
Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. What would you want to see in the photos of an Airbnb listing?
That’s how Kasandy approached her listing, especially for photos of the bedroom, which were taken from an angle to showcase how spacious it is (hello, luggage room!).
“Mostly, what people want to know is how their bedroom is going to look,” she says. So she focused on displaying the ease and comfort of her space. Her vivid photos capture the minimalism and rustic style of her cozy home, both internally and externally.
The platform offers some basic photo tips, which include utilizing natural light, avoiding flash and shooting in landscape mode from the corners of rooms, so you add perspective.
Think about what makes your space and your location appealing, and illustrate those elements through photos. You might also include photos of any hidden gems (a city garden, perhaps?) in your surrounding area. Kasandy lives near the famous Benny’s Market, for example, which is definitely worth noting, so don’t hesitate to include nearby tourist attractions.
Write a Description
Another of Kasandy’s Airbnb listing photos shows off her tidy, modern kitchen area. Photo courtesy of Jackee Kasandy
Once you hook people with your photos, continue to guide them through your listing with a description that highlights what makes your place unique.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what other hosts highlight. Another option? Invite some friends over and have them tell you what they think of your place to help you see it through a different lens!
Kasandy uses Airbnb when she travels, too, so keeping her guests in mind, she created a listing that answers the important questions right away.
She wrote about where her place is located and what it’s close to, what guests are permitted to access, complementary items, the kinds of interactions she’s open to and how often she’ll be present in the space.
“I just made sure to immediately feed the guests the information they needed, rather than talk about myself,” says Kasandy.
After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that.
Name Your Listing
This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space.
Kasandy’s guests rave about her tidy space and the accommodating environment she provides, and her title, “The Hotel Feel In A Private Home,” reflects that. She makes the space welcoming by having fresh snacks and fruits available and providing complimentary books and magazines. She even supplies guests with city maps and tourism brochures to make exploring Vancouver seamless, which emphasizes the hotel-feel her listing name boasts.
Set House Rules
Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, no smoking allowed, and no events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules.
Kasandy, for example, aims to preserve a clean home, so she invites her guests to clean up after themselves in common areas and in private spaces. Smoking isn’t allowed in the house, but guests are free to do so in her backyard, where her robust garden is growing.
Set up Your Calendar
Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee.
A few questions you’ll answer include:
- How often do you want to have guests?
- How much notice do you need before a guest arrives?
- When can guests check in?
- How far in advance can guests book?
- How long can guests stay?
You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you.
Price Your Space
Another photo from Kasandy’s listing shows the front of her Airbnb space.
Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, if demand spikes during the Celebration of Lights or the Vancouver International Film Festival, Airbnb will likely increase the price of your listing automatically.
You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers:
- Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements.
- Be realistic. People tend to have an inflated view of their place.
- Search other similar Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those.
When you’re starting out, you might want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in, accumulate reviews and work your way to that Superhost status, which will help increase bookings in the long run.
However, Kasandy advises not to totally undersell your listing. “It’s OK if you go over Airbnb’s recommended rate,” she explains, “because only you know how much work and money will be going into maintaining your place.”
Note Your Local Laws
You’re almost done setting up your listing! Now Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws.
In April 2018, the City of Vancouver ruled that short-term rentals (stays of less than 30 days) are only allowed in a primary residence, where the host resides for more than 180 days of the year and receives mail. Plus, a short-term rental must be licensed (and renewed annually) before it can be listed and booked.
Don’t stress, though — Kasandy says the licensing process is smooth, and you can access the application through Airbnb.
In addition to short term rental laws, you’ll also want to check with your homeowners association or landlord to make sure listing on Airbnb is permitted. Also note that using your place this way could invalidate some homeowner’s insurance, so check these policies with your provider.
Airbnb also includes liability insurance for up to $1 million, which is a great safeguard, but not a substitute, so consider setting aside extra money for damages.
As you start booking guests, you’ll want to keep tabs on expenses and revenue for tax purposes, too.
Ready to Try Hosting?
Jackee Kasandy. Photo by Kaidra Mitchell
How are you feeling? Like we said, listing your place on Airbnb is simple.
Our biggest tip? Stay up on your listing and be connected to it.
Airbnb is constantly changing its features, so keep your eyes peeled. Don’t be afraid to tweak your listing description, prices and calendar settings. Plus, Vancouver itself is constantly evolving, so stay in tune with your city.
Use Airbnb’s price calculator to get started.
For Kasandy, becoming an Airbnb host came with another reward — one she didn’t expect. She cherishes the lasting relationships she’s formed with her guests. As an immigrant herself, she says she’s loved the opportunity to help new arrivals to Vancouver.
“I’ve had guests stay with me for two or three months,” she says. “Many of them arrive on their own without knowing anyone else in the city or even the country. It’s been an amazing thing to learn about their country and to see Canada through their eyes.”
Farrah Daniel is a former editorial assistant at The Penny Hoarder.