How Airbnb Works, Hosting a Property With Airbnb


For years, you’ve been squirreling away money in your “Paris” fund and hording sick days for the trip of a lifetime.

But where to stay? Nice hotels in your favorite Parisian neighborhood — Saint-Germain-des-Prés — average more than $300 a night. That will burn through your Paris fund in days. Wouldn’t it be better to experience the real Paris by staying in the home of a real Parisian?

With Airbnb, you can rent a room, apartment, home and the occasional castle in 34,000 cities around the world directly from the people who own them. In fact, there’s a cute studio apartment in Saint-Germain-des-Prés for only $145 a night. Even better, your host, Edouard, is happy to tell you about the best patisseries, bars and art galleries within strolling distance of his studio overlooking the Luxembourg Gardens. Oui, monsieur!

People love homes. That’s why they live in them. If we wanted to live in hotels, more homes would be designed like hotels.


Hosting a Property With Airbnb

Pictures are the heart and soul of a property listing. Airbnb allows you to post up to 24 pictures of your place and will even send over a professional photographer for free in select cities. If you take your own photos, use as much natural light as possible and include shots from several different angles, including outside the home.

As part of your listing, you can include any “house rules” for prospective renters. Indicate whether or not you allow alcohol, smoking, pets or children, and whether there are “quiet hours.” You are also allowed to charge a security deposit and a cleaning fee. Airbnb lets you choose from five different cancellation policies that vary in strictness and flexibility.


Good communication is essential for booking reservations and maintaining a good rating. As a host, you are required to accept or deny a booking request within 24 hours. Your response rate is listed with your profile and hosts with bad response rates appear lower in search results.

During the booking process, it’s up to the host to vet prospective renters. Airbnb has built-in tools for verifying a renter’s identity using online social networks — plus guest reviews by other hosts — but it’s the host’s responsibility to ask questions that reveal if the renter is trustworthy and a good fit for the property.

Once the booking is confirmed and payment is made, Airbnb makes “payouts” to hosts via PayPal, direct bank deposit or check. Hosts are asked to meet the guests at the property and give a brief tour of the amenities. After the stay, hosts typically review each guest for the benefit of future hosts.

Airbnb has been wildly successful at connecting adventurous travelers with entrepreneurial property owners around the world, but some folks believe the company is basically a black market for hotel rooms. Keep reading for more on Airbnb’s legal battles.