Hosting guests for weeks at a time can be incredibly rewarding. Perhaps you have a trip of your own planned and want to make sure your space is occupied while you’re gone. Or maybe you simply want the chance to get to know your guests a bit better.
Florian and Theresa, Superhosts who share their family home in southern Germany, prefer hosting guests long-term. Here are their ten top tips for making extended stays successful:
1. When it comes to long-term bookings, many hosts are afraid of leaving their accommodation in the hands of strangers for such a long time. Firstly, we should always remember that Airbnb is based on confidence, and though accidents are rare, you should still take basic precautions: Provide all the necessary cleaning products for your guest, such as a vacuum cleaner, broom, dustpan, garbage bags, a cleaning bucket, cloths etc.
If you regularly clean while a guest is staying, you create the danger of offering a hotel-like additional service, forcing you to commercialize your rental listing. Depending on the standard of your accommodation, you could perhaps recommend a local cleaning service to your guests.
Creating beautiful, individual, tolerant and low-maintenance accommodation is an art form. In the best case scenario, you will get on so well with your guest that there won’t even be any closed doors in your accommodation. Only offer long-term bookings if you feel comfortable doing so, and please be sure to know and understand the laws relevant to you. Otherwise every stay will give you knots in your stomach.
2. If you want to open your accommodation up for long term bookings, head to “Manage Listing,” then “Availability Settings,” “Booking Settings,” and, finally, “Maximum Stay.” Set the maximum number of nights you want to allow a guest to stay in your accommodation. (I currently have this set to 3,000 nights.)
3. It’s essential to keep your calendar up to date! Think about whether you also want to rent out your accommodation while you are away, or maybe even only when you are away. Once a guest has already settled in, it may not be necessary for you to be around for them, as they will know and respect your rules and wishes. Be aware that long-term bookings are often planned far in advance—perhaps even six months ahead of time. If this is a little too restrictive for you, make sure you set how far in advance your accommodation can be booked in the “Booking window” in your calendar. (You can find this under “Availability Settings.”)
4. The price settings are of course entirely up to you. However, by controlling the price, you also control the attractiveness of your offer for long-term bookings. You may therefore think about setting a discount for long-term bookings. You can control this in “Manage Listing” under “Price settings” and “Discounts.” Put simply, you have to weigh the difference between either lots of revenue, lots of work, and potential booking gaps or less work and less revenue but a secure income.
5. Be clear about what guests require for a long-term stay. Perhaps a place to work, plenty of storage space, somewhere to keep food, and and and… if a guest inquires about staying for a long period of time, make sure that your accommodation meets their needs. If the kitchen is out of bounds for a two-day stay, it might not be a terrible inconvenience to the guest. But not being able to use it for three months can be more irritating, especially if this was not made clear in advance. Consider the obstacles your accommodation might pose to long-term bookings and share these with the guest.
If, for example, you’re renting out your study, then remember that the room will be occupied by a guest for a long time. Ensure the guest’s privacy by not constantly entering when they are in.
6. For long-term bookings, it might be necessary to expand on your House Rules. If you host a guest for three days who always cooks at 2:30 a.m., it might not bother you too much, but if it continues every night for four months, it could disturb your neighbors. Are you expecting the guest to pitch in, as a normal roommate might? Some hosts even have cleaning rotations. Besides the fact that you perhaps ought not to take any cleaning fees in this case, let your guest know about your rules before they book, and don’t assume that they have read everything.
7. Explain the restrictions of your accommodation to your guest. Perhaps you don’t want your guest to invite their fiancé to visit every other weekend or bring a visitor home unannounced. Think about whether you want your guest to be able to receive mail at your accommodation. Are they allowed to use your washing machine or is there a laundromat nearby?
8. You’ve found a nice guest and agreed on a price? Great, then now it’s time for your guest to pay. But perhaps your guest is afraid that they have to pay four months in advance? You can put them at ease. For long-term bookings, your guest doesn’t pay the entire sum in advance, “only” the first month (the first 30 days). (See this Help Center article for more details.)
Further installments are then collected monthly, meaning the next installment is not due until the end of the first month of the stay, etc.
9. Your guest has confirmed their booking, the calendar is blocked, but suddenly their plans change. Depending on the cancellation policy you use, guests may be permitted to change the booking until 30 days before arrival without the consent of the host. You must agree to any requests to change the booking made within 30 days of arrival.
10. It may happen that your guest’s plans change even during their stay and they need to cancel. If your guest had to cancel a long-term booking and leave early, it is highly likely that they will have lost a chunk of money. You can offer your guest some sort of refund in the event that you can rent out the accommodation again. Think about it — money is very karma-sensitive. 😉
If you want to get more ideas or share a few of your own, join the conversation in the Community Center.
Depending on the length of your guests’ stay, you might want to check any additional local rules that might apply to longer-term accommodation.