I don’t know about you but I’m a systems guy when it comes to setting and achieving business goals. I like processes that I can follow and I most definitely like checklists that allow me to clearly see what I’ve accomplished and what I need to do.
That’s why I inevitably created this Airbnb host checklist to get a full birds-eye view of exactly everything that is needed before launching a property whether it’s your first or your twentieth.
This would normally be in an excel sheet format but I’ve spelled out some points on each topic to give you a better understanding as to why it’s a necessary item. It’s also not meant to be followed 100% to the letter because some items may be out of your budget at the moment especially if you’re just starting out with your first property.
Download our free Airbnb Host Checklist here.
Business Backend & Operations
First, we’re going to start off with your backend business checklist. The reason why I’m starting with this is that it doesn’t matter if you have the best property on the block if your day to day business operations aren’t taken care of. For example, your cleaning crew not being vetted and/or given access to your property could lead to a disaster that results in bad reviews and less revenue in the long run. Or not having a proper legal entity set up could result in a legal issue down the road.
Legal Entities & Licenses
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to get your business entity set up. It’s extremely important that you form a legitimate business if you’re going to start doing Airbnb professionally. Whenever you sign contracts in your personal name you subject yourself to full legal recourse if someone ever gets hurt and comes after you. Plus having a business set up is going to help you secure more deals because many property management companies only sublease their units with corporate leases that require a business to business contract.
Once your business is set up you want to make sure that it is in good standing otherwise it’s just a useless piece of paper on your wall. You will need to make sure that all legal fees, dues, and taxes are paid in a timely manner otherwise you may lose the liability protection that your business offers. You will also want to make sure that you are up to date on any licenses that may be required in your city. Some cities require anyone operating a short term rental business to have a hotel license in order to operate their business. If this is the case for your city then it’s in your best interest to comply otherwise you may face hefty fines later on.
If you are using an additional third party insurance policy on top of the $1 Million Host Protection Insurance provided for free by Airbnb then now would also be a good time to take care of this.
Business Team & Partners
In order to make Airbnb into a business you’re going to need a team otherwise you’ll end up just creating a job. The idea here is that the properties in your portfolio will earn passive income for you and the systems and people you put in place will handle the day to day operations. This doesn’t mean you won’t have any work to do at all because as the business owner your job is to grow the business.
The first team members that you want to have in place are your core business partners. This could be anyone who you are starting this business with such as a joint venture partner or a passive investor. After this, you will want to set up a relationship with various business professionals that are needed to run any business such as your accountant, attorney, insurance agent, etc.
Now that you have your business set up and you are aligned with your core business team you will want to shift your focus to bringing on board various services that will be needed to operate your business day-to-day. The first thing on this list is your cleaning crew which will be an essential part of your daily operations. It’s important that you vet your cleaning crew with examples and references of their work history because this could literally make or break your business.
The next thing you will want on call is a handyman. You never know when something is going to break and having a handyman or two on-call could save you from a situation that will create negative reviews. Usually, it’s the responsibility of the property owner to handle repairs and improvements but you may not have time for this or you may have a deal with the owner to do them yourself. A good handyman can fix just about anything and they will work by the hour so you can contract it out as you go.
Those are the two main services you must have on your team but you may want to add some others for good measure. An additional service you might want to add is a good real estate agent. They will be able to tell you about market trends and introduce you to other professionals and investors. Also if you can’t do it yourself you may want to hire an interior designer and a professional photographer. Making your place look appealing and taking great pictures is going to help you get a lot more guests.
Now we’re going to go room to room and talk about what essential items you should have to create a great user experience for your guests. My personal philosophy is to cover all the essential items, provide some extras but keep everything sort of minimalist and simple. First I’ll be starting with the kitchen essentials and then covering some extra items to make your Airbnb stand out.
The first thing is an eating space or table with the proper amount of chairs depending on the number of allowed guests in the property. I’ve seen Airbnb listings that no eating area accommodations or ones that were way too small and this isn’t getting off to a good start. Everyone who stays in your house will need to eat at some point so you should probably accommodate that activity.
The next this is enough silverware, plates, bowls, pots, and pans. Many people will just eat out when they are traveling but not everyone does. You should have enough of these items that they could realistically cook and eat just about whatever they want. I even like the idea of providing a pizza stone so they can cook something in the oven if they choose to. You also don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on all of this stuff. If you go to the GoodWill or go onto Craigslist you can find all of this stuff for cheap and sometimes even for free. This will help you when you’re first starting out and don’t have a lot of capital that you can put into this.
After those items, you will want to make sure that you have enough cleaning supplies like trash bags, soap, sponges, etc. Sometimes people make a mess and they will clean it up but only if you provide the proper supplies. I’ve seen Airbnb’s that didn’t even have a trashcan which was extremely inconvenient.
Now that you have the basic supplies you may want to add some extra items that will make your guest feel welcomed. Let’s start with the fridge and how you might want to stock it in advance. You never know what your guests will want so a little bit of everything is always a good idea. I think it’s a great idea to throw in a handful of water bottles, soft drinks, teas and some type of fruit juice. After that, you can put some snacks in the freezer like frozen pizza, frozen dinners, hot pockets, etc. It’s a good idea to get items that have a long shelf life and are sealed by the packager like bottled and canned items. This way you don’t have perishable items going to waste and costing you money. Another extra item you can provide alcoholic beverages but this is up to you.
Next, we’ll cover how you should go about setting up your bedrooms.
Your bedrooms you can make as simple or as complicated as you see fit. I’ve seen very creative and elaborate bedrooms and I’ve seen very minimalist designs both of which were successful. I prefer the minimalist design because I’m a simple guy but I also think that’s probably the best strategy for those starting out as well.
For the bedroom, I’ll give you a basic layout and then you can play around with as much or as little as you like. So obviously you’re going to have a bed or maybe even two depending on the room. The cheapest way to do this is to get a headboard and then a simple metal frame and then put them together so it looks like a bed set. After that, you will want at least a one-night stand, one lamp and possibly a chair. It’s up to you and your budget as to whether or not you want to include a dresser. Most people will just live out of their bag if it’s a short trip but it may make sense for you.
When it comes to mattresses I like the bed in a box style ones because you can just order them in the mail with everything else and then roll it out quickly. Try to find out that it is at least 10 inches and one that holds its shape over time. As for linens and sheets, it’s really up to you but I like to get something that just matches the room colors and doesn’t wrinkle as much. Airbnb requires that you have one pillow per guest and this is sufficient. Try to choose one that is firm and retains its shape over time.
Before we get into which items you should have in your bathroom I just want to emphasize the importance of cleanliness. While people like the ‘home away from home’ experience that Airbnb provides they also want the clean and spotless feel of a hotel. This is why your cleaning crew is so important because if the place is dirty people will complain to me included when I’m a guest.
With that being said let’s start with the sink area. Sticking with our minimalist theme try to keep it generally open and spacious. All you really need is a good soap container and a hand cloth. I like the idea of getting a nice refillable soap container and then restocking it with cheap soap because no one will ever know the difference. You may also want to have some extra shampoo and shower items on the sink as well in plain sight.
Under the sink or in your bathroom storage closet you will want to have cleaning supplies, extra toiletries (very important!) and extra towels. Inside of the shower, you will want to have some cheap disposable shower soap and shampoo kind of like the ones you would find in a hotel. I can’t stress the importance again of having sufficient toiletries in your property. No one notices when they have them but if there’s not enough it’s the only thing they will remember.
You may want to add some extra items as well like a nice picture on the wall or design feature on the counter to make the place look more inviting.
The living room is very situation based because of factors such as the size of the room, type of property, design, and shape of the home and location of the property. You may have a huge couch that wraps around the room or you may just have a few easy chairs around a fireplace so it all depends. However here is sort of a universal set of items that you should probably have in your living room.
A couch that also converts into a bed is a great option and a way to increase the total number of guests you can sustain which will help you not to get filtered out of searches on Airbnb. After that, you will want to get one large coffee table and put some stuff on it such as popular magazines. You may also want to add some type of small table next to the couch where you can store things. These three items will help take up a lot of space so you don’t have to buy a bunch of furniture. You can also add a lamp somewhere in the corner if it makes sense.
As for technology you will want to have some type of television. It’s better if you bolt it onto a TV stand as this takes up more space. It’s up to you what kind of television service you want to use. You can also add some type of video game console and entertainment system if your budget supports it. In the beginning, this isn’t that important but people will appreciate it.
Additional Items & Services
So the first additional service you must have in your property is good WiFi. People won’t know what to do with themselves if they don’t have internet. Imagine checking into a hotel and not having free internet. This would be a huge inconvenience and you’d probably be annoyed to say the very least so definitely provide this.
This next additional option is definitely not necessary but if your budget and property type allows for it then it’s a great add on. What I’m talking about here is smart home technology also known as home automation. The technology we have at our fingertips these days is staggering and you can completely deck out your home with cool tech that will impress your guests. And not only will these technologies make for better user experience but they can also save you money in the long run by lowering your expenses. A lot of these smart technologies are compatible with voice activation on Amazon Alexa or Google Home as well.
First, let’s start with smart thermostats. These are devices that replace your old calculator looking thermostat and replace it with a futuristic-looking device that will automatically regulate the air temperature in your home. You can control everything from your smartphone from anywhere in the world. Most of these thermostats allow you to program them to do certain things for your success as turn the temperature up or down depending on whether or not anyone is in the home. This will save you hundreds of dollars per year in your energy bill. A popular model is the Nest Thermostat.
The next thing is smart locks. Have you ever seen one of those lockboxes that real estate agents put on the doors of the homes they’re selling? Well, that is kind of the old school method of having a smart lock because if someone has the code they can gain self-access. But smart locks are a new piece of technology that comes in all kinds of different shapes, sizes, and designs. You can get padlock styles, door handles and regular deadbolt looking smart locks. These locks are able to be controlled from your smartphone so you can grant access to someone if you’re not there. This is essential for your self-check-in process if you allow it (which I advise that you do).
Smart locks also have all kinds of other features such as creating temporary passcodes, automatically locking after a certain amount of time and personalized codes (for your cleaning crew). There are many different smart locks that come in different colors, styles and price ranges.
This next item is a security measure that you may or may not need but it’s really just up to you and how much accountability you want to have of your guests. I’m talking about security cameras for the exterior of your home. Whether it’s your guests or someone else people do reckless things and this could adversely affect your property. Having video footage of something could allow you to catch a criminal or to get reimbursed for the damage.
Many security cameras today operate similarly to the smart home technology that I mentioned above which allows you to access the video feed from your smartphone. You can choose to have the video footage stored on the cloud which means no one can steal the recording. Many cameras also have an option to only record when there is motion in front of the camera. This allows you only to catch moments that something is happening and you don’t end up just recording the grass growing.
This last item on your additional items checklist is sort of a contingency option as a business owner so you can get the thing you need a quick answer you can get things to your guests quickly if you run out. What I’m talking about here is Amazon Prime Now. This is a service on Amazon that allows you to get essential items delivered to you in a couple of hours. So let’s say that you have 10 Airbnb properties located all throughout a one hundred mile radius. Let’s say that one of them runs out toiletries and you need to get them delivered very quickly so your guest isn’t inconvenienced. All you have to do is get on your Amazon prime now account and have them shipped there as quickly as possible and the problem is solved.
Amazon Prime Now is exclusively offered to Prime members so you will need to create an account with them in order to gain access to this service. This service may not be necessary for those who only have one property or are just starting out but once you have multiple properties more than 10 miles from each other it will become essential.
Airbnb House Manual
This part of the checklist is for essential items that are not physical in nature but are important to your Airbnb business nonetheless. The first thing on the list is the house manual. The house manual is basically a document that your guests will receive upon booking your home that tells them everything they could possibly need to know about staying in your property. It includes essential passwords such as the Wi-Fi password, gate codes, garage access codes, and how to gain access to the property itself.
Your house manual is not only meant to provide a valuable service to your guest but it’s also a useful tool for automating your Airbnb business. The more helpful information that you can put it into your house manual the less each guest we’ll have to contact you personally in order to figure something out. Writing a great house manual can be a daunting task if you haven’t don’t it before so I’ll make your life a lot easier. Here’s our free House Manual Template that you can download and copy into your Airbnb listing.
Listing Your Property on Airbnb
Each property that you have will be listed online with Airbnb. Each listing will have its own headline description pictures and additional information for potential guests. It’s important that you take your time when preparing for this information because this is the first thing that your potential guests are going to see. Do some research to find out what people are attracted to in your local area and include what you find in your description. Try to write a catchy headline that keeps the interest of your potential guests.
When it comes to pictures for your listing you want to do the best possible job that you can. If you can afford it then it’s best to hire out a professional photographer who can produce eye-catching Photos of your home. But if you’re just starting out this may not be in your budget so you’ll have to do it on your own. If you can try to rent a camera or to use it a high-quality DSLR if your phone doesn’t shoot in 1080p or higher. Then use a photo editing program to make your photos stand out and look higher-quality. I can’t stress how important it is to produce great pictures for each listing that you have. It’s one of the first things that people see and it can make or break you if you don’t put some effort into it.
Even More Stuff
Here’s a list of nonessential items that you may want to add to your property just to make the guest experience that much better. I believe that every little thing you do for the guest whether they consciously realize it or not is like a 1% positive improvement in their mind so the more the better. Here’s the list:
- Vacuum Cleaner
- Coat Hanger
- Shoe Rack
- Paintings, Pictures, and Decor
- Phone Chargers
- Hygiene Kit
- First Aid Kit
- Cooking Oils
- Bicycles, Scooters, Etc.
- Sporting Equipment
- Books and Magazines
- Clothing Iron
- Writing Tools
- Desk & Work Station
Here’s our Airbnb Host Checklist that you can download for free.
P.S. if you found this article useful and you want to learn how to start your own Airbnb business without making painful mistakes and losing your hard-earned money through trial and error then check out The Airbnb Empire (affiliate link), a full course on how to build an Airbnb business from scratch. And if you use the coupon code: REALEST you can get instant access to 25% off.
Over the last 10 years Jason Allen has started and operated businesses in real estate, internet marketing and eCommerce. Today Jason is an expert on Airbnb arbitrage which is a business model that allows investors to generate considerable cashflow without ever having to own a single property. When Jason isn’t growing his business interests he enjoys hiking, traveling and extreme sports. If you have any questions about Airbnb or business in general don’t hesitate to ask or check out the link in the description. Good luck!