How to turn your property into profit with the help of these 5 Superhost tips.
Nick and Sarah Roussos-Karakaian are a husband and wife Superhost team (@nestrs) who have turned hosting into a full-time business in Columbus, Ohio. After listing their New York City basement on Airbnb in 2012, they became hooked. Since then, they’ve made it their dream job. Sarah also co-hosts the podcast "Thanks for Visiting,” a resource for experienced hosts and newcomers alike. Here, they share their knowledge and tips on how to launch an Airbnb business.
Nick and Sarah’s Tips to Launch an Airbnb Business
How it all began
Sarah: “For us, it started in Queens, New York. I was an actor. I was also bartending a lot.”
Nick: “And I was an intern with a master’s degree in architecture who was barely able to feed myself…”
Sarah: “And we both really wanted to own property but didn’t know how. One day, I saw this tiny house—it was the smallest one on the block and was expensive for us—but I was determined to find a way to get it.”
Nick: “With the right financial education, savings, and support from family, we were able to get a loan.”
Sarah: “And as all of this was all happening, I learned that my friend was listing a room in his apartment on Airbnb, which was helping him pay his rent in New York City—it was so wild to me. Not many people knew about Airbnb at the time. I told Nick about the potential for us to list our property, and he was hesitant—but I was intrigued. We jumped in and that was the beginning of it all.”
Nick: “I remember scrubbing toilets and being so happy to do so. It was paying for our mortgage so I thought: ‘Yes, this is amazing! How can we do more of this?’”
Sarah: “I was able to bring a lot of my hospitality experience working at luxury hotels—and I loved it. After four years of hosting and homeownership in NYC, we were fortunate enough to get a knock on the door from a developer who wanted to buy the place from us, furnishings and all.”
Nick: “After some soul searching, a long spreadsheet of places we could go next, and road trips around the country talking to locals, we found ourselves in Columbus, Ohio.”
Sarah: “To be able to blend design, hospitality, and real estate—and have the freedom to make our own creative choices—has been a dream come true. It’s why we’re so passionate about helping others learn how to host.”
01. Start with a mission statement
Sarah: “Before you get started, we recommend creating a mission statement for yourself. This will be your ethos and your north star, which is especially helpful during those moments when you might be uncertain about a direction or a decision. Your mission statement can help steer you in the right place. It’ll also inform how you create and craft your space.”
Nick: “When creating a mission statement, take the time to ask yourself a few questions:
Sarah: “For us, our mission is to transform spaces that transform lives. And we try to remember that in all that we do.”
02. Survey the market
Nick: “Before you jump in, it’s important to do your research and look at the competitive landscape in your area. This initial research will inform how you design, brand, and market your own space.
03. Price it for profit
Sarah: “Creating a budget, while it may not be very sexy, is super important. We recommend using a spreadsheet and categorizing your costs into three buckets:
1. Upfront costs: These are the initial investments you pour into your space before anyone experiences it, such as renovations, decor, furniture, and photography.
2. Ongoing costs: Core items consumed by the guest that will need to be replenished, including toiletries, toilet paper, paper towels, batteries, and lightbulbs.
3. Maintenance and management costs: This covers everything needed to keep your space safe, warm, and livable, including lawn, outdoor, and exterior spaces. Will you be hiring a cleaning person to help you with turnarounds or a co-host?
Add these numbers up and make sure you’re comfortable with your investment numbers and your realistic goals. If they don’t, then maybe you need to do a bit more saving upfront so you can create a space you’re proud of.”
04. Think like a guest
Sarah: “This is one of my favorite tips to share with hosts, and that’s to enlist an honest, blunt friend to stay at your space. You’re so close to it day in and day out that you might forget the things that a traveler might need—such as a toothbrush or toothpaste—or a design flaw that you’ve overlooked. A friend can help provide feedback on those pesky but important details. You don’t want a paying guest to be the one to point them out.”
Nick: “We like to include a ‘Forget something?’ basket of toiletries and items that guests may need last minute. Having a hospitality mindset has to be at the core of your business in order to succeed. It’s the reason people go to the different brand hotels they love—because they know what to expect: a space that feels like they’re the first people to ever arrive in it, the towels have been folded with care, and they know they can count on all the details such as having a phone charger next to the bedside table. You want to bring that same level of service to your guests so they want to come back again and again.”
05. Automate it
Nick: “Hosting is challenging, but it’s also a different game now than it was when Airbnb first arrived. There’s a lot more technology, tools, resources, and support to help you organize the process and make your life a little easier as a host.”
Sarah: “When hosts are starting out, we recommend doing the end-to-end process of each stay: from the initial booking message, to greeting your guests, to doing the cleaning and turnaround. Once you’ve understood the ins and outs, then you can automate it in a number of different ways, for example:
Nick: “Creating an Airbnb business takes hard work. But we really hope to show people that owning a home and doing it full-time is possible—and that there’s more than one way to do it.”
Sarah: “You know I went through a career change, and I was terrified that I would never find anything as much as I loved performing. But Airbnb has been life-changing for us. We can make our own creative choices, be our own boss—and that just makes it so much more special.”
Nick: “It allows us to remain flexible and enjoy our lives a little bit more. We hope that you can find a way to launch an Airbnb business and make it yours. If you need any more advice, you can find us.”
Nick + Sarah, Nestrs
Check out the full #howtohost series here.
I provide my mobile phone number to guests but strongly encourage them to communicate on the Airbnb platform unless there's an urgent issue (which is super rare). This allows me to comply by Airbnb's rules and also allows me to have a full audit trail in case of a possible dispute and Airbnb needs to see all that has been said. I also try to automate as many messages as possible using Aviva IQ. We have a shared G0000gle spreadsheet with our cleaning crew so everyone knows which cleaning jobs are in the queue and which are assigned to them.
Excellent read with some very actionable steps that people can take to improve their listing and overall guest experience. Investing in decor is easily one of the most vital elements. Too often than not, hosts simply throw in some cheap furniture without caring if it marries together or not. Some solid info from reputable hosts.
Thank you for sharing your super tips!
We have also always provided our guests with a shopping basket and recycled shopping bags for our local market as we are plastic free in Fremantle. Our kitchen is fully equipped, we also do the beach towels, sunblock and a little box of assorted toiletries including shower caps, toothbrushes and personal hygiene products.
We leave some biscuits, all the basic groceries including salt pepper oil balsamic spices etc. In the fridge we have juice and water bottles.
As a special treat we leave a little bedside chocolate beside the bed for both guests.
We enjoy an 84% occupancy rate and we set our own rates to ensure we remain profitable. I loved that you mentioned planning for profit as that's the reason why we are all in business isn't it?
Thanks again for your tips!! Happy hosting everyone!!
Cheers from Caro's Place in Fremantle, Perth WA
Great tips. I learned a lot and have been using most of them already. Question for extended guest staying over a month what is the best to manage the cleaning process?
Oh my goodness, what a wonderful article! Thank you so much for sharing your tips, Sarah and Nick! I’ve been hosting for about 2 years on Airbnb, and I absolutely love it, and like you, try to go above and beyond for my guests. I read lots of articles with hosting tips to expand an Airbnb business, and yours is by far my favorite! It comes across that you’re so passionate about what you do, and that it’s not just a job you like, but a life you love! Here’s to lots of years of successful hosting, and fulfillment in whatever path your life’s adventure leads you on next! I’m so impressed with everything you’re doing!!!
This is hildonklarious to me. Anyone know how many hosts there are on AirBnb total? Well, whatever that number is, minus all of it except one, my listing. I am the only One selling an Experience.
Real Estate to me has always been pretty schmucktastic ever since reading The Art of The Deal in 5th grade when I was supposed to be eating paste or whatever, but hey, Donnie, I FINALLY joined the club! (:-)
Be really careful when thinking about a property's features and amenities. Sure, a trampoline might be a big draw for kid-friendly properties, but your insurance is going to go up. That's true for hot tubs, pools, tramps, and elevated patios and decks. Your insurance can go up by as much as 20-25% depending on how many of these items you have.
Also, I don't know why people continue to provide alcohol to guests. I am by no means anti-alcohol, but we are living in a world where there are populations of people who do not drink: Muslims, Mormons, people in recovery. And say you leave a bottle of wine for a guest. They drink the entire bottle then get behind the wheel of their car and plow into a telephone pole. Or into another car, or into a crowd of people.
Overreacting? Maybe. But I would rather be safe than sorry. There are so many other things you can leave for guests that demonstrate that you care about them as guests without the risk that alcohol brings. I'm waiting for the day when some well meaning host gets sued by family of the guest, or by the family whose family member got killed because you provided alcohol to a guest.
Please, I encourage everyone to think about providing alcohol to guests. It's just a bad idea.
If you want to be serious about making money, a business plan is an absolute must. Granted, no one on the planet goes "Oh, goody, I get to sit down and write a business plan." But it is an extremely helpful exercise that forces you to put down on paper what your goals are for the next 2-5 years. And once it's written, you can use that as a blueprint to plot your successes and areas for improvement.
And hosts have to realize that even if you are not in a city that's saturated with short term rental properties, GONE are the days where you can simply write a nice listing description, upload some photos, and just wait for the reservations to roll in. You HAVE to diversify, you have to if you want to make a continuous revenue stream and keep you cash positive.
That means marketing to entities that come in contact with your ideal guests. Contact area event planners and event venues if you host guests coming for weddings or special events. Contact hospitals, local companies, universities, etc. if you host people coming to town for interviews, or conferences, etc.
Put together a web site, wix.com and webs.com offers completely free (and there are no strings attached, I've been running my sites on webs.com for over 7 years and haven't paid a dime) web sites. You can either take reservations directly, or give them a link to your Airbnb listing.
Don't be afraid to use former guests, especially those who had pleasant stays and left good feedback. Offer them a discount for a return stay, offer them a finder's fee or dollar off a future stay for referrals. Ask them their opinion when you're thinking about adding an amenity (especially a pricey one) and you're not sure if it's a value add.
There are lots and lots of ways to make sure your properties occupancy rate remains high, but I"m telling you, if you put your listing up and don't do anything else, you'll do much better doing additional marketing outside of Airbnb.