Back to AirBnB

This weekend we had our first guests from AirBnB in a year. How did it go and will we stick with it?

I’ve written about our AirBnB experiences last year here and here and here. I had hoped that AirBnB would help us being more financially sustainable and aid our move towards FI. Last year we had a few guests but stopped due to the Little Lady coming along. Now LL is sleeping a bit better, we decided to open up our AirBnB room again to guests.

Despite having our house ready to book, we’ve only had one booking and not so many requests. Who knows why this is, I don’t know but it could be to do with:

  1. Lack of demand – we don’t live in a tourist hotspot
  2. Prices – we are not the cheapest out there and there are nice private places available for similar prices
  3. Poor AirBnB ranking – I turned off auto-book after an experience and that drops you down the rankings – unconditional acceptance of strangers is essential! I also didn’t reply to soon requests within 24 hours – a big no no
  4. Two might minimum – we decided that the amount of effort required for a stay means that we’d rather have fewer longer stays
  5. We say that it is child friendly but maybe not so many families travel AirBnB?

Molton Brown.jpgSo far, we’ve had a one night stay and we’ve received £56.88. That’s a nice bit of passive income (if you don’t count the cost of our time to clean and tidy the room/house, the inconvenience of it all, the cost of extra gas/electricity, new towels for the guests, two kitkats and fancy Molton Brown toileries (liberated from a previous stay at a 5 star hotel!

It turns out that there was a concert on by an ageing Welshman in our city at the weekend and all the hotels rooms were booked out! We were able to help some visitors who were going to a friend’s 50th birthday party. Money for old rope?

Is doing AirBnB worth it?

I read this story today about a guy in London who benefited to the tune of over £100,000 over a few years but wasn’t legally allowed to sublet his rented flat. He lost it all including the flat which he was renting. It does raise a question of how some people are able to rent for next to nothing when it would cost the rest us a fortune (one reason I’m not contemplating a move to London anytime soon).

Now, an AirBnB around Victoria is perfect for travelers, diplomats/politicians or travelling sex-workers who… service… the needs of our political class. Rent out your flat and it might become a pop up brothel! This is one of tens of thousands of AirBnBs in London and some people make a fortune out of it.

There’s a lot of debate about AirBnB: For property owners, there’s the benefit of getting money and for us anyway, it’s nice to meet your guests who may be from a different culture. They may trash your home or criticise your choice of soft furnishings – so it’s not for the thin skinned!

For travelers it can be a chance to stay local – especially since so many hotels all look the same. The prices can be lower too. The wider impacts are that since anyone can do it, it can turn whole areas of cities into AirBnB ghettos – destroying communities and permanent residents have to put up with anti-social behaviour (noise, parties…)

In some places, the potential rent from a few days AirBnB a month can exceed rent from tenants so the area is purged or hollowed out(/gentrified).  and cities like Edinburgh, Belfast, London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm are all looking at the impacts it has on the city.

Maturing of AirBnB

One thing that I see is that since the barrier to entry is low, there is a huge rise in the number (and quality) of listings. If it puts pressure on B&Bs and hotels, then hopefully it’ll drive up quality and down the prices.

If I check now for a 2 night stay for two adults and one kid in Edinburgh (first week of the festival) and there are 174 entire places to rent for £300 or less. When I look at Hotels.com I get 4 places available for £300 or less – two of which are in Livingston!

Anecdotally, friends of ours in Edinburgh have not been able to rent out there house for the festival – possibly due to distance from the centre. I think that the market is saturated and there are only so many tourist nights to go round – AirBnB doesn’t stimulate any more demand and just leads to lower costs to tourists and erosion of margins. This will lead to a shift towards professional AirBnB companies who have this as their full time job because it won’t be worth it for the average person. Would you let someone invade your privacy and tidy up for and after them for £20?

If AirBnB is changing the way cities work, then it’s a change we’ll have to live with I think. Last night the Lady and I watched Frances Ha. There’s a part where broke Frances (unwisely) spends the weekend in Paris at acquaintances pied-à-terre in Paris. The owners talk of how they live it but don’t’ get to use it much. Is there much difference between AirBnB and the rich owning pied-à-terres in Paris or Venice or wherever? Is the problem that these properties are being used or a case of as Regan said – “ If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” In some places like Leith in Edinburgh AirBnB and the wider Gentrification of the area is bemoaned! Of course, Leith is maybe one of only a few former industrial areas that are being gentrified (another being Glasgow’s hip Finnieston) – there’s still plenty of other post industrial areas of severe deprivation all over Scotland and the UK.

In Summary

We got all 5s from our host – that means a lot to us. I hope that we get a few more bookings on AirBnB. The income can help our family out financially and it makes things a bit more exciting around the house. It also teaches our kids to be respectful of visitors and I keep telling the Master that “guests get what’s best”. Hospitality is a universal human characteristic – but it’s good to learn how to do it right at a young age.

We’re off ourselves to stay in an AirBnB soon on a holiday that we have planned – staying in a spacious flat with a kitchen for two nights should make travelling with a small family that bit easier.

Thanks, GFF

If you like, here is a link to AirBnB.

If you were to sign up we’d both get cashback/money off future stays.

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