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A Complete Guide to Making Money From Lodging in the Gig Economy

Last Updated: June 20, 2019

Companies like Airbnb and VRBO make it easy for property owners to generate passive income, here's how.

Table of Contents

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Chapter 1
About the New Lodging Industry
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Chapter 2
How Much Can You Make?
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Chapter 3
Hosting Requirements
promo codes
Chapter 4
Signing Up to Host
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Chapter 5
How to Increase Earnings
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Chapter 6
Promo Codes for Home Sharing

The gig economy revolutionized nearly every aspect of our lives.

It changed the way we eat. It changed the way we get around. And it even changed the way we do errands.

One of the most revolutionary changes brought on by the gig economy is happening in the lodging and hospitality industry.

Hotels and hostels aren’t the only choices anymore. With apps like Airbnb and VRBO, travelers have a much wider range of lodging options.

You can book a night in a log cabin, a week on a houseboat, or even a month in a yurt. Depending on how much privacy you want, you can reserve a room in someone’s house (or even their couch), or an entire apartment for a night.

The perks don't just extend to travelers, it’s great for property owners too.

The sharing economy presents a new opportunity for anyone with a spare room or second home to earn extra cash. In fact, home sharing is one of the highest paying sources of passive income out there!

Chapter 1

About the New Lodging Industry

A brief look at the history, and future, of the new hospitality industry.

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When Airbnb launched in 2007, the idea seemed a bit ridiculous.

Renting out your home to travelers? Sleeping in a stranger’s bed? Who would want to do that?

Flash forward to 2019 and Airbnb is worth at least $38 billion.

But how and why did the home sharing economy get so big?

Hospitality in the Gig Economy

Airbnb started to gain traction in 2009 when the American economy was in rough shape. That year, nearly 900,00 folks lost their homes to foreclosure, and almost 9 million people were laid-off or fired.

Needless to say, extra income was hard to come by.

Although Airbnb was founded a year earlier, the recession proved to be its big opportunity.

With their platform, anyone with some extra space could rent it out to travelers. Whether it was a full apartment, a spare bedroom, or even just a couch, they could post it to the website and offer it up to renters.

Simply put, Airbnb allowed people to capitalize on their unused space.

At the time, the travel industry was experiencing a downturn. Hotels, resorts, and cruise lines fell by 74% between 2007 and 2009. Most people didn’t have the funds for vacations, and those who did were traveling cheaply.

In comparison to the hotel giants, home sharing offered comfortable places at competitive prices.

Airbnb now has several competitors:

  • VRBO: Rent an entire home (no rooms or couches).
  • HomeAway: A rental app similar to Airbnb.
  • HotelTonight: A discount hotel-booking app (for traditional hotels).

Each of these apps offers travelers a way to book non-traditional accommodations. Aside from HotelTonight, they also present a lucrative opportunity for people who want to rent their space out.

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Chapter 2

How Much Can You Make?

Find out how much money you can make by renting out your home or apartment.

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The lodging industry is one of the most lucrative gig economy jobs out there.

According to recent articles, the world’s highest-paid Airbnb host earns roughly $15 million each year. Of course, most people don’t make that much (he owns 881 properties throughout London).

But, even if you’re not a real estate mogul, you still have the chance to make a few thousand bucks by renting out an apartment or two.

Making a Profit from Your House or Apartment

On average, Airbnb hosting brings in roughly $924 per month.

That’s not bad at all, especially considering that it is very passive. However, several factors affect a host’s bottom line:

  • Quality of listing: How nice is your place?
  • Location: Is this somewhere people want to stay?
  • Rental frequency: How often do customers book it?
  • Asking price: How much do you charge?
  • Number of properties: Do you have more than one place?
  • Platform fees: What does Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway take?
  • Maintenance costs: How much money do you put back into it?

All of these factors will increase or decrease your income.

For example, if you rent out a single room in your two-bedroom apartment, don’t expect to make thousands. You aren’t likely to earn as much as someone who rents out an entire residence, even if yours is in a nicer neighborhood.

People tend to want a private place, particularly if they’re traveling in groups. So, entire houses do better than single rooms and couches. Guests usually pay more to have the house to themselves.

And remember: All three of the platforms charge a hosting fee.

For example, HomeAway’s fee is $349 per year. This allows hosts to list their property on the site. VRBO, on the other hand, charges $499 per year for the same service.

Both companies also offer a per-booking fee. If hosts don’t want to pay the annual premium, they may opt to hand over a certain percentage of their income for each booking. HomeAway’s booking percentage is 10% while VRBO’s is 8%.

Airbnb works strictly on a per-booking basis. They charge hosts 3% for every stay booked.

At the end of the day, how much you can make through home sharing depends on the quality of your property, the location, and how often it is rented out.

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Chapter 3

Hosting Requirements

In order to list your property on a home sharing service, you'll need to meet these basic requirements.

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It’s not hard to become a host. Whether you’re listing on HomeAway, VRBO, or Airbnb, most people can sign up and start booking guests within a few days.

There are more than 4 million listings worldwide on Airbnb alone, which shows you that a lot of people are approved hosts.

However, there are a few stipulations.

To sign up and become a host, you have to meet a couple of requirements

What Do I Need to Sign Up as A Host?

Rental accommodations come in all sizes, shapes, and styles. One of the reasons why customers prefer Airbnb and other platforms over hotels is that it allows them to stay in a unique property.

So, there are no style or size requirements when it comes to renting your property on an app. You can rent a single room or a whole estate.

But, there are a few basic requirements you have to meet.

For all the leading lodging companies, the requirements are as follows:

Must provide basic amenities: All rentals should be stocked with soap, toilet paper, and sheets. You also need to provide at least one pillow and towel per guest.

Must accept reservations: You can’t sign up if you don’t plan on listing your place. You must accept bookings at least a few weeks each year if you want to remain on the platform.

Must respond to customers: Hosts should respond promptly to all customer inquiries. You are required to respond to reservation requests within 24 hours. If a customer reports that you failed to respond to them, you may receive a warning from the platform.

Minimal cancellations: Hosts are penalized for canceling reservations. Once a guest books their reservation, they depend on the host to house them during their trip. Platforms may ban you if you cancel on your guests.

Keep your rating up: Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO all depend on happy customers. So, you must maintain a high rating to show that you provide quality accommodations. If your rating falls too low, the platform might remove your listing.

As long as you fulfill those criteria, the platforms are happy to work with you.

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Chapter 4

Signing Up to Host

Here's how to get started as an Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway host.

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Hosting travelers is a fun way to make some extra money.

You get to meet all kinds of new people and earn income without having to do too much work.

Although it’s not necessarily passive income (you still have to maintain the house, etc), it definitely requires less effort than other gig-based jobs.

How to Become an Airbnb Host

Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway all operate differently, and they all have slightly different signup processes.

However, they are very similar. If you are approved as a host by Airbnb, you can probably also become a HomeAway host.

The only significant difference is that VRBO focuses exclusively on entire houses. They don’t let their hosts rent individual rooms.

Below, we’ll explain how to list your house or apartment on Airbnb. You can follow these instructions to sign up for the other platforms, too:

  1. Create your account - Fill out your profile and submit your photo ID. Follow the instructions as given to you by the company. Consent to the background check.
  2. Wait for approval - Airbnb runs a background check. They scan criminal databases for records of violent or sexual crime before approving applicants. The process usually takes less than 24 hours.
  3. List your property - Once your background check is complete, you can list your property. Upload some pictures and write a description of your house or apartment.
  4. Set your price - Choose your nightly rate. How much do you want to charge for your place? Look at other listings in your area and determine your rate through comparison. You can test this over time and change it later if you want.
  5. Confirm and get started - Review your listing to ensure that all info is accurate. Click “Confirm” and wait for the guests to start booking!

Before you list your site, make sure you’re ready to have guests over. You could have guests within a few hours if they find your listing right after you post it!

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Chapter 5

How to Increase Earnings

Learn tips and tricks to optimize your property listing to earn more money as a home sharing host.

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Like we said above, the average Airbnb host makes close to $1000 per month.

But, there are certainly folks who make way more than that.

How?

Well, there are a few things you can do to boost your earnings. We’ve outlined some tips below that will help you earn more money as an Airbnb or VRBO host.

How to Make More Money as a Host

A successful host takes the initiative and treats their lodging gig like a full-time job.

Here are a few things you can do to put more money in your wallet:

Be Prepared for Big Events

Concerts, sporting events, and other big occasions are huge for hosts. During an event like the Super Bowl, the demand goes up.

Raise your prices when large events are in town, and you'll earn far more than you would during other times of the year.

If it’s your only property, make sure you have somewhere else to stay. Renting out the whole place will increase its value.

Hire a Cleaner

A clean rental is essential to keeping your ratings high. No one wants to stay in a dirty apartment.

But, all of that cleaning, vacuuming, and scrubbing takes time. If this is your side gig, you may not have the bandwidth to clean up after every guest.

We recommend you hire a pro. Every time someone checks out, the cleaner will come over and pick up.

It’ll dig into your earnings a little bit, but your high rating will earn you more guests.

Promote Your Listing

Don’t just sit there and wait for people to book your place--promote it!

A few Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts let people know that you’re home is open for booking. Then, if one of your followers knows someone headed to your city, they may recommend it.

The more people who know about your listing, the better your chances are of keeping it occupied.

Take Professional Photos

To make your listing stand out, consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your home or apartment.

If you have the equipment and the know-how, you can do it yourself.

Fill your photos with natural light to highlight what makes your rental special.

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Chapter 6

Promo Codes for Home Sharing

Looking to save some money on your next property rental? Take advantage of these lodging promo codes.

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Gig workers love deals. Luckily, there are a ton of promo codes that can help you earn (and save) money in the lodging industry.

We’ve compiled a few methods you can use to save money while you travel. Hopefully, these will help put a few extra bucks in your pocket.

Airbnb Referral Program Promo Codes

You can earn free Airbnb credits by getting other people to book trips or sign up as hosts. Here’s what you do:

  1. Head to the Airbnb Invite page.
  2. Log into your account.
  3. Enter your friends’ email addresses into the box.
  4. Click “Send Invites”

If your friend opens the email, clicks the link within it, and books a trip, you’ll get $20!

Plus, they get $40 off a $75 reservation, which is a great incentive for them to sign up.

And if they become hosts themselves, you’ll get $75.

HomeAway Promo Codes

HomeAway does not offer promotion codes. But there are several ways to saves to save on HomeAway without a promo code.

Save Money on a Hotel with This HotelTonight Promo Code

If you’re in the market for a traditional hotel room, you may want to check out HotelTonight.

This app helps you find the best deals on last-minute hotel bookings. It allows hotels to post their unused and canceled rooms for a discounted rate.

Even better, you can save $25 on your first booking by using a HotelTonight promo code.

Here’s how to save:

  1. Create an account on the HotelTonight website or by downloading the HotelTonight app.
  2. Find a hotel room that you like.
  3. Upon checkout, enter the code “LIVETHENIGHT” into the Promo Code box.
  4. Click “Pay” to finish checking out.

$25 will be credited to your account!

This code only works for first-time users. If you’ve already booked a room, it won’t work for you.

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