What started as informal swopping of homes between international travellers has turned into an international phenomenon – and it's just as popular in South Africa as elsewhere.
As well as giving travellers a welcome alternative to hotels and traditional guest houses, sites like Airbnb make it simple for home owners to generate income, by renting out extra space to guests.
The part that's not so simple? Making sure that the space you offer will attract positive Airbnb reviews, along with a constant stream of satisfied guests.
Top tips for being a successful Airbnb host
Here we outline some tips for boosting your success as an Airbnb host.
Decide who to target
When preparing a space for rental via Airbnb, consider what type of guest you'd like to attract. For instance, should you target families, business people or young, independent travellers?
Then tailor the space to suit their needs. This could mean setting up a desk for business travellers, providing a dining area for a family of four or clearing enough closet space for a couple.
Clear the clutter
One key to making guests feel at home is removing any general clutter that could get in their way. Clear out closets, pack away unnecessary items and appliances, and aim for spotlessly clean, clear kitchen counters.
Also remove items that are obviously personal, like framed photos or children's drawings. These can make guests feel like they're invading your home, rather than settling into a space where they belong and can breathe easy.
When it comes to ornaments, artwork and other personal belongings, it's fine to leave items that guests can use – such as books and board games – in place. As a rule, though, remove anything that won't be useful to guests or add visual appeal to a room.
Focus on the functional
Go beyond providing just the essentials. Put yourself in the shoes of your guests and consider everything they might want or need during a stay. Then design each room to make it as liveable as possible.
In bedrooms, provide guests with cupboard or drawer space, as well as enough free surface space for belongings such as watches, cell phones, make-up bags and jewellery.
Make sure there's enough room for guests to move around easily without knocking into furniture, and for cupboard doors to be opened easily. Also provide at least one mirror – or preferably, a full-length mirror plus a mirror over a dresser.
In the bathroom, leave the medicine cabinet empty, install a shelf or two near the sink for essentials, put up a mirror and provide towel racks or hooks. If you don't want to drill holes in the wall or door, you can opt for metal towel hangers that simply hook over the top of the door. Also make sure the shower includes a rack or holder for toiletries.
Many travellers choose to stay in an Airbnb rental because it provides them with the opportunity to cook their own meals, so ideally, you want them to feel free to use the kitchen.
In the kitchen, make sure there's enough counter space for guests to prepare food, and provide basic kitchenware, cookware and appliances, ensuring they're in reasonably new condition.
Also remember to provide space in the kitchen so guests can store their groceries. If you're renting out a room rather than an entire home, consider clearing out one cupboard and a shelf in the fridge solely for the use of your Airbnb guests.
Aesthetics: Look at spaces with an objective eye
It's hard to see a space in your home objectively – but pretend you're a newcomer and see if you can spot any potential "eye sores", from marks on the walls or mould patches on the ceiling to damaged electrical sockets, worn areas on rugs or damage to window frames. Then address each minor problem in turn.
A clean, new-looking space will always make a better impression than a worn-looking one, no matter how much you spend on "feature" items like attractive cushions or bold new paintings.
Similarly, opt for neutral wall colours and if possible, use the same paint colours in each adjoining room.
Invest in storage
Whether you want to clear clutter or store valuables securely while you're hosting Airbnb guests, consider storing items with XtraSpace.