How to Start an Airbnb Business

how to start an airbnb business

Airbnb operates as an online platform bridging the gap between those seeking rental accommodations and those with available spaces to let.

Catering to short-term as well as long-term renters, it presents a diverse range of property types – from a single room with shared facilities to large, luxurious homes, apartments, or even RV sites.

Airbnb offers a wide array of opportunities for renters and hosts alike, making it a compelling choice for those seeking to explore different avenues in property rentals.

No matter the size, an airbnb can be a profitable option for anyone hoping to earn extra income. You can run one, hoping to earn extra money, or run more properties and make it your full-time job in a full-time rental business.

How to Start an Airbnb Business: Step by Step

1. Decide on Your Budget

Planning your budget is a key first step when starting an Airbnb business. Whether renting or purchasing a property, it’s vital to factor in all costs, including the mortgage, homeowners’ insurance, taxes, utilities, and property maintenance.

At the same time, you’ll also need to calculate other factors, such as the cost to furnish the property, including linens and towels, and outfit the kitchen.

Evaluating potential returns based on local rental rates can provide insights into your break-even point and profitability.

Beyond the basic costs, consider setting aside a contingency fund for unexpected expenses, such as emergency repairs or periods of low occupancy. Also, factor in the costs for marketing your property, especially if you plan to use paid advertising channels.

A detailed financial plan ensures you’re prepared for both the expected and unexpected costs of running an Airbnb business.

2. Choose Your Rental Market

Identifying your target rental market is integral to your business strategy.

Depending on your property’s location and features, you might target corporate travelers seeking a comfortable home-like environment or leisure tourists drawn to local attractions.

Understanding your potential guests’ needs and preferences will guide your marketing approach and help you tailor your property to meet their expectations.

Research local market trends, peak tourist seasons, and average occupancy rates in your chosen area. Analyze the type of properties that are most in demand, whether it’s luxury homes, cozy apartments, or unique stays like cabins or treehouses.

Understanding these dynamics helps you position your Airbnb to meet market demands and maximize your occupancy rate.

3. Name Your New Airbnb Host Business

Choosing a distinctive, memorable name for your Airbnb business can help you stand out from the competition.

Rather than common names like “Mountain Retreat” or “Beach Escape,” consider adding a personal touch or incorporating unique features of your property.

For example, “Laura’s Cozy Mountain Hideout” or “Jimmy’s Beachfront Oasis” could make your property more memorable for potential guests.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

As you launch your Airbnb business, it’s vital to establish a legal business entity. Most Airbnb hosts prefer a Limited Liability Company (LLC) structure as it protects personal assets from potential business liabilities.

This can be particularly advantageous if you’re planning to manage multiple properties, allowing you to operate under a single legal entity, simplifying administrative tasks and offering additional legal protection.

5. Get Your Taxes in Order

You’ll of course pay real estate taxes, along with everyone else who owns real estate. You’ll also pay sales tax and a local occupancy tax (often called a hotel tax.

You can arrange for airbnb to collect and pay the hotel tax. You’ll have to pay the sales tax, which should be calculated monthly. You can pay sales tax monthly or quarterly.

Make sure you carefully keep track of expenses, such as the cleaning, any repairs, or replacement of aging furniture, linens, towels and kitchen supplies. If you keep track of expenses, filing taxes at the close of the year will be much less time consuming. You’ll file information about profit from your airbnb rental on a schedule C.

6. Choose a Location

The location of your Airbnb property can significantly influence its success. Potential guests typically prioritize properties in safe, quiet neighborhoods with convenient access to local attractions, amenities, and transportation.

Accessibility features, like easy parking and entry, can also be important considerations for guests when choosing a property.

Therefore, carefully selecting a location that meets these criteria can enhance your property’s appeal and occupancy rates.

how to start an airbnb beach house

7. Sort Out Permits and Licenses

Operating an Airbnb business requires complying with local regulations, including securing appropriate permits and licenses.

Areas zoned for residential use may not allow short-term rentals, and certain cities require hosts to register their rentals and obtain a business license.

Ensuring you’re operating within legal parameters can protect you from potential fines and legal issues down the line.

8. Open a Business Bank Account

As your Airbnb business grows, keeping business finances separate from personal ones becomes crucial. Opening a dedicated business bank account can simplify accounting and tax preparation.

It also provides a clearer picture of your business’s financial health by keeping all income and expenses in one place.

Remember, if your business meets certain thresholds, Airbnb will issue a 1099-K form for tax purposes.

9. Acquire Business Insurance

Insuring your property is a crucial step in setting up your Airbnb business.

You’ll need homeowners insurance to cover any damage or loss during non-rental periods, and Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance provides some coverage for accidents during a guest’s stay.

However, it may be prudent to also consider additional business insurance for comprehensive coverage, including general liability and property damage.

10. Look at Properties on the Market

Scouring the property market in your chosen area is an invaluable step before launching your Airbnb business. Don’t just glance through – perform an in-depth analysis of successful listings.

Notice their popular features, aesthetic appeal, and the amenities they offer. How are they priced? What kind of reviews do they get?

All of this provides crucial data for your business.

If possible, consider touring some properties personally to gain a more tactile understanding. These insights can guide your decisions when buying or leasing properties for your Airbnb venture, setting you up for success.

11. Buy the Property

Every real estate transaction comes with associated costs that often surprise first-time buyers.

These include transfer taxes, which are levied by the state or local government each time the property changes hands. Additionally, real estate commissions – typically 5-6% of the selling price – are shared between the buyer’s and seller’s agents.

Filing fees for legal documents also add up. Don’t overlook the hefty down payment, typically 20% of the purchase price, required upfront.

Furthermore, you should budget for mortgage origination costs – fees charged by lenders to process your mortgage.

Understanding these costs aids in accurate financial planning for your Airbnb investment.

12. Create an Airbnb Business Plan

One of the best features of having your listing stand on the airbnb website is that hundreds of people will see it. You won’t have to devote a lot of time to marketing.

If you or a group of people are running the airbnb here are some more tips:

  • Describe the business structure. Who is the host, who is in charge? Who is going to respond to complaints?
  • What is the preferred customer base for the property?
  • What are the income predictions?
  • How will we receive payments?
  • What are the recurring costs (cleaning, utilities, furniture and equipment replacement).

13. Create Your Airbnb Listing

You’ll need high quality photos to make your property stand out, especially if you have special features such as a fireplace, or a panoramic view, these should be the highlights of your visual representation.

Enlisting a professional photographer is an investment that can pay dividends. A professional has a keen eye for details, knows how to use lighting to enhance aesthetics, and will capture your property in its best light, encouraging potential guests to book.

Aside from the visuals, your Airbnb listing should meticulously detail the amenities your property offers. This includes kitchen appliances like a coffee maker or air fryer, the number of bedrooms, the maximum occupancy, and policies regarding additional guests.

A comprehensive list aids guests in making an informed decision and sets clear expectations.

As digital connectivity is a non-negotiable for many guests, especially business travelers, ensure your property has high-speed internet. Without it, you risk losing a significant customer base.

Finally, your pet policy needs clear articulation. If you decide to allow pets, define the rules. This could involve asking for an additional deposit or setting a weight limit for pets.

Clear, detailed rules help avoid any misunderstandings with your guests and safeguard your property.

14. Enhance Guest Experience with Added Amenities

Consider offering added amenities to enhance the guest experience, such as a welcome basket, local guidebooks, or discounts at nearby attractions. Providing bikes for guests to explore the area or arranging partnerships with local businesses for special deals can also set your Airbnb apart.

15. Implement Smart Technology for Efficiency

Incorporate smart technology like keyless entry, smart thermostats, and Wi-Fi-connected security cameras. These technologies not only improve guest convenience and safety but also help you manage the property remotely.

16. Develop a Maintenance and Cleaning Routine

Establish a routine for regular maintenance and cleaning to ensure your property remains in top condition. Consider hiring a reliable cleaning service and schedule regular maintenance checks. This will not only improve guest satisfaction but also help in maintaining the value of your property.

17. Create a Guest Communication Plan

Develop a communication plan that includes pre-arrival instructions, a warm welcome message, and a check-out thank you note. Be available to answer any questions during their stay. Excellent communication can lead to better reviews and repeat guests.

18. Explore Dynamic Pricing Strategies

Use dynamic pricing tools to adjust your rates based on demand, seasonality, and local events. This can help maximize your revenue during peak times and ensure competitive pricing during slower periods.

19. Establish an Emergency Response Plan

Have a plan in place for emergencies, such as natural disasters, accidents, or urgent maintenance issues. This includes having a list of emergency contacts, instructions for guests, and a quick response plan to address any urgent issues.

20. Build a Strong Online Reputation

Encourage guests to leave reviews and respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional manner. A strong online reputation can significantly influence potential guests’ booking decisions.

21. Consider Expansion Opportunities

Once your initial Airbnb is successfully running, consider expanding your portfolio. This could mean adding more properties in the same area or exploring new markets. Expansion should be based on careful market research and your ability to manage additional properties.

22. Be Successful Small Business Owners of an Airbnb Business

In the world of Airbnb, customer reviews serve as a host’s report card. They are public assessments of your service, dictating your reputation in the marketplace.

As with any small business, customer feedback can make or break your standing; a single negative review has the potential to significantly impact bookings.

Managing an Airbnb property is not without its challenges. Just like any home, things break or malfunction unexpectedly. A water heater might fail on a cold night, or a storm could knock out power, leaving your guests uncomfortable and disgruntled.

Navigating these unpredictable situations requires you to be an attentive, responsive host.

Being proactive in managing and maintaining your property can prevent many of these issues from occurring, but when they do happen, quick action and communication can turn a potential negative into a positive experience.

Balancing availability and privacy is an art. While guests appreciate prompt responses and solutions to their concerns, they also value their privacy.

Striking the right balance here is key; be there when needed, but ensure your guests feel they have their own space. Ultimately, your attentiveness and respect for boundaries will help you create a thriving Airbnb business.

Why You Should Start Your Own Airbnb Business

  • You’ll earn income. You set your price on your rental property.
  • List for free on Airbnb. Yes there will be fees, but that’s how more than one billion guests booked a place to stay.
  • It’s what guests want. Many travelers are seeking a more relaxing, home-like stay away from home.
  • The Airbnb protection. The Airbnb host guarantee covers you for up to $1 million in damages from renters.

how to start an airbnb

The Airbnb Industry in the United States

Airbnb, established in 2007, emerged as a pioneer in the sharing economy, transforming the hospitality industry. Stemming from humble beginnings, the name Airbnb derived from the air mattresses the founders initially provided guests in their living room.

Since then, the platform has evolved, offering anything from a modest room in a shared apartment to extravagant villas.

The growing trend towards a more flexible, gig-based economy contributed significantly to Airbnb’s rapid growth in the United States, making it a preferred choice for many travelers and property owners seeking alternative lodging options.

How Does Airbnb Hosting Work?

As an Airbnb host, providing a seamless, enjoyable experience for guests is paramount. This includes being accessible and communicative, whether it’s to greet guests upon arrival or provide instructions for self-check-in.

  • All payments for bookings are processed securely through Airbnb, providing ease and peace of mind for both parties.
  • As a host, maintaining clear and prompt communication, setting transparent expectations, and leaving honest guest reviews are fundamental.
  • Ensuring stringent cleanliness, particularly since the pandemic, is critical in the Airbnb business, where cleanliness and hygiene standards significantly impact guest satisfaction and booking rates.

how to start an airbnb

How to Start an Airbnb Business If You Don’t Own Property

Starting an Airbnb business without property ownership involves understanding the local regulatory landscape regarding short-term rentals and conducting in-depth market research.

Assessing local rental rates, potential competition, and occupancy trends are essential before embarking on this venture. It’s crucial to consider factors such as local zoning laws, which may restrict short-term rentals in certain areas.

Additionally, understanding the financial aspect, including potential mortgage, insurance, and utility costs, as well as furnishings and maintenance, are pivotal aspects of your business plan.

How to Start an Airbnb Business as a Property Owner

If you are fortunate enough to already own a property, the first step to starting your Airbnb journey is understanding local zoning laws.

Zoning regulations dictate what a property can and cannot be used for, which means it’s crucial to determine whether short-term rentals are permitted in your area.

It’s important to do your homework because some municipalities or homeowners associations have restrictions or outright bans on short-term rentals.

Upon confirming that short-term rentals are permissible, you’ll need to delve into the specifics of permits, licenses, and insurance.

Each city or town may have unique requirements for rental permits and licenses, and operating without these can lead to penalties. Thorough research or consultation with local government offices can help clarify these obligations.

Insurance is another essential aspect to consider. Traditional homeowner’s insurance might not cover damages or liability when your home is rented out.

Therefore, you might need to obtain additional coverage, either through Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance or through a third-party provider. Ensuring you’re appropriately covered can safeguard your assets and provide peace of mind as you begin hosting guests.

How Much does it Cost to Start an Airbnb Business?

Setting up an Airbnb operation comes with its own unique set of financial considerations, highly dependent on your current situation. If you’re already a property owner, your initiation costs will naturally be lower.

Perhaps you’re considering transforming an unused room into a cozy rental space. In such cases, the primary cost could involve minor alterations, like installing an independent entrance to ensure your guests’ privacy.

However, if you’re contemplating buying a property specifically for Airbnb, your expenses would understandably be much higher. It would entail not just the property purchase price, but potential refurbishing costs, continual expenses like mortgage repayments, insurance, and taxes.

The process requires you to conduct a detailed cost analysis to calculate the feasibility of your venture, as understanding the upfront and ongoing costs will provide clarity on the financial viability of your Airbnb business.

how to start an airbnb

Things You Should Know Before Starting an Airbnb Business

Indeed, the journey of starting your Airbnb venture is not a walk in the park, particularly during the initial phase. For instance, your preliminary set of rental rules, crafted with foresight, might need frequent adjustments.

This could arise from unexpected scenarios with guests, necessitating a more flexible and adaptable rulebook.

Patience and agility are essential in navigating this terrain, as it involves not just managing the property but also various guest expectations.

Remember, every challenge faced serves as a stepping stone towards perfecting your hosting abilities.

Renting Rules and Guest Rules

Navigating homeowner’s association guidelines or your apartment complex’s rules is a must to ensure smooth operation.

It might also be necessary to set distinctive rules for your property like placing a cap on guest numbers for maintaining tranquility and order. In the case of pet-friendly accommodations, you could stipulate that “no dogs are to be left unattended” or other pet-related policies.

In addition, you’ll need to establish clear check-in and check-out schedules to facilitate seamless guest transitions.

Equally important is defining ‘quiet hours’ for respect of neighbors and maintaining a peaceful environment.


Running an Airbnb implies maintaining high standards of quality and care. Personal households might tolerate minor inconveniences like a mildly dripping bathroom sink or a small patch of worn-out carpet in the living room.

However, in the hosting business, such shortcomings could potentially taint your guests’ experience. To ensure excellent guest reviews and continued bookings, it’s crucial to stay on top of all necessary upkeep.

Regular property inspections, prompt attention to repairs, and thorough routine maintenance checks can help keep your Airbnb property in the best possible condition for your guests.

You’ll have to make sure you have smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, and that you have the correct number and proper placement. You’ll have to meet all local building code requirements and will most likely have to have an inspection before you start renting.

Many hosts – especially if they have multiple properties – hire a property management company instead of handling day to day management themselves, even though it’s an extra cost.


Setting your nightly rate and security deposit requires a strategic approach. Consider the average rates for comparable Airbnb listings in your locality for guidance.

However, remember that your price should also reflect the unique value your property offers. While it might be tempting to aim high initially, if you find that your bookings are sparse, you might be pricing yourself out of the market.

Remember, pricing is a dynamic aspect of your business. Monitor your performance, keep track of occupancy rates, and adjust your pricing model accordingly for optimal bookings.

how to start an airbnb

Is Airbnb a profitable business?

Certainly. No matter if you’re renting a single room or an entire estate, with a thorough business plan and strategic operations, profitability is achievable.

Ensure your plan accounts for all potential income and costs. By optimizing your rental income, controlling your expenditures, and providing a valuable guest experience, you can turn a good profit.

Just remember, success in Airbnb hosting is also about the experience you offer to your guests, not just the physical space.

How do I make money with Airbnb?

Indeed, as with any business venture, costs need to be deducted from the revenue to ascertain profit. Exactly how much money you can make through Airbnb greatly depends on several factors.

One key element is how effectively you manage your expenses. For instance, operating an Airbnb property in the northern or southern regions could entail significant heating or cooling costs, respectively.

Consider your property’s insulation, energy-efficient appliances, and other methods to reduce these costs.

Moreover, if you possess handyman skills or if you can spare time for housekeeping duties, you might significantly decrease maintenance and cleaning costs. However, if your time is better spent elsewhere or if complex repairs arise, outsourcing might be a necessary expense.

So, balancing the act between maximizing income and minimizing expenses will help you optimize your Airbnb profit margins.

How do I start an Airbnb business with no money?

If you already have a property, the initial investment needed to start your Airbnb business might not be overly burdensome. However, it’s essential to consider the preferences and expectations of potential renters.

Renters prioritize cleanliness and quality, so you might need to invest in enhancing certain aspects of your property.

Upgrading your kitchen with modern appliances could make your property more attractive to guests who prefer self-catering options. Investing in high-quality furnishings can make your space more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

Additionally, providing plush linens and towels can add a touch of luxury that guests appreciate. Remember, the aim is to create a homely ambiance that exceeds the usual hotel experience, and this might involve a reasonable investment to start with.

In the long run, such improvements could enhance your property’s appeal, lead to positive reviews, and ultimately boost your bookings.

Starting Your Airbnb Business: A Quick Reference Checklist

Embarking on your Airbnb journey? Here’s a handy checklist, encapsulating vital steps to help you get your business off the ground and ensure a smooth startup process.

Checklist ItemDescription
Property CheckDo you already own a suitable property or need to purchase one?
Regulations CheckHave you checked local zoning and regulations around short-term rentals?
Improvement CheckHave you assessed what enhancements your property might need?
Listing Preparation CheckHave you prepared high-quality photos and a comprehensive list of amenities for your listing?
Pricing Strategy CheckHave you set competitive per night rates and security deposit?
Responsiveness CheckAre you prepared to respond promptly to guests' needs?
Maintenance CheckAre you prepared to handle maintenance and upkeep of the property?
Profit Calculation CheckHave you calculated all costs and potential income to estimate your profit?

Image: Depositphotos

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Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.