Airbnb has amassed a pervading presence in every major city, Montreal included. Admit it, any time you need to book a room anywhere, Airbnb is the first tool that pops into your head. And it makes sense, the online room-booking service is intuitive, quick, and far more affordable than a traditional hotel.
For anyone living under a rock, or just never gets out of Montreal, Airbnb is basically an online network for travelers looking for lodging. But instead of booking rooms in a hotel, you stay in a privately owned residence, usually someone's house or apartment.
Montreal in particular has become a hub for Airbnb activity. According to Airbnb's national manager, Montreal is the most popular city for bookings in Canada, and in the world's top ten out of 34, 000 cities. To give you some tangible numbers, between 2012 and 2013, 73, 000 Airbnb guests stayed in Montreal, a figure that has steadily grown since.
So people are coming to Montreal and paying shiny dollars for rooms in Montreal apartments, which has a lot of people wondering: how can I get in on this Airbnb money?
Well, it's pretty easy, and after speaking with some successful Montreal Airbnb hosts, we're going to outline some solid strategies that can help you make more than a few dollars off Airbnb.
But What About The Government!?
The success of Airbnb hasn't gone unnoticed by the government of Quebec, and an official bill has been tabled pertaining to the regulation of online home-sharing networks. Everyone is pretty shaken up by the bill, especially seasoned Airbnb hosts, but most Montrealers won't really have to worry about much.
Specifically, the proposed bill will force Airbnb hosts to register with the province, pay a yearly fee, while also paying a tax on room rentals. Anyone who doesn't could receive a fine ranging from $2,000 to $50,000 per day, according to CTV.
But the average Airbnb host probably won't have much to worry about. Dominique Vien, Tourism Minister for Quebec, specified that the bill is targeting Airbnb hosts who frequently make bookings, effectively turning their home/apartment into a hotel.
The majority of the Airbnb hosts in the province, however, don't take tourists in all that often and so "don't meet the profile of a tourist facility.” So if you're looking for some extra cash, and not running an Airbnb business, you'll probably be totally fine.
And it's not like Quebec wants Airbnb to go away anyway. A Montreal-based study revealed that Airbnb guests spend more money, support neighborhood economies, stay longer, and effectively boost to the city's economy higher than a standard tourist. In 2014, Airbnb "contributed $54.6 million in total economic activity" within Montreal, a figure that's really hard to ignore.
So the provincial government knows there's a lot of money to be made with Airbnb, and while some regulations will likely come forward, they won't be targeted at a majority of Airbnb hosts. Besides, nothing official has been set yet, and any worry about being an Airbnb host shouldn't be in your brain.
How You Can Make Money As An Airbnb Host
Being an Airbnb host can be pretty profitable, gaining you some serious pocket change even if you don't take in tourists all that regularly. All you need to know about are a few specific strategies, which we were lucky enough to learn from successful Airbnb hosts based in Montreal. Here's what they had to share:
Reviews are everything
Think of your Airbnb profile as a restaurant on Yelp; a lot of reviews makes your place seem desirable, whereas a small number may deter tourists. So first and foremost, what you want to do is accrue a large amount of positive reviews.
To do so, try setting your listing for a cheaper price to attract more visitors. Generally, you can use Airbnb's suggested price as a guideline. Afterwards, once you get some Airbnb-clout, you can start charging more more money off fewer people. A lot of the strategies below will showcase ways in which you can get stellar reviews, too.
Get professional photos done
A quality image will showcase the beauty of your home far better than any description, so take advantage of Airbnb's photographer-service. Free of charge, Airbnb will send a professional photographer to snap photos of your place, which will also get you a "certified listing" accreditation. Be sure to coordinate with the photographer in order to get them to come when there's optimal lighting.
Keep your listing descriptions short
No one wants to read a 1,000-word essay about your apartment, so keep your listing description succinct and to the point. Provide all the basic information about your home and neighborhood, while also adding some personal touches, like nearby eateries or short comments on the local culture.
Provide a lot of information
Tourists probably don't know much about Montreal, and even less about your specific neighborhood, so help them out and provide as much information as you can. They'll love you for it. Brochures about the city go a long way, as do maps with specific places (breakfast joints, grocery stores, bars, etc.) marked down for them.
Be sure to also have more mundane information ready for your guests. Letting them know your WiFi password, where to park, when the garbage day is, and where to purchase basic amenities are super-useful for tourists, especially if they're staying for a while.
Stock up on the basics
If you're only staying a few nights in an Airbnb lodging, you probably don't want to fork out the cash for butter, coffee, or tea, just so you can enjoy breakfast. Many Airbnb tourists actually do cook (breakfast in particular) and providing them with basic cooking supplies will make their lives much easier, and get you those good reviews.
Charge a cleaning fee
You will definitely need to pick up after your guests, which could also entail doing laundry and paying for a repair of sorts. Charge a cleaning fee so you're not doing all that for free, being sure to make prospective lodgers aware via your listing description. This will also encourage people to stay longer.
Have a method for meeting guests
As an Airbnb host, you should be prepared for guests arriving at late or unusual hours. Try and have a system already worked out, and inform your incoming guests how to get into your place if you won't be around. Being able to remotely buzz people in will definitely help you out on this front, or just a specified spot where you'll be leaving a key.
Raise your prices to cover costs
Once you have some good reviews, don't feel bad about raising your fee, especially since you'll accrue more costs the longer you're a host. Over time, you'll have to replace items like sheets, toilet paper, and cooking supplies, in addition to standard fees like rent and WiFi. Be sure to adjust your price to cover all of these costs.
Higher prices can mean better guests
Another reason to raise your prices is that, in doing so, you're likely to get better-mannered and more reputable guests. One Airbnb host commented how, after raising their price, the guests they booked were more organized, clean, and respectful. It makes sense, professionals traveling on business and parents of students in the city are more likely to pay more and be more tame, in comparison to younger guests who aren't looking to pay all that much and will probably party more.
Take the time of year into account
Certain Montreal events and festivals garner a lot of attention from tourists. During these periods, people will be looking for Airbnb rentals while also being wiling to pay more for them. Big ticket times noted by Montreal Airbnb hosts include New Year's Eve, Osheaga festival, Valentine's Day, and F1 weekend in particular. One host noted that they doubled the price of their listing for that weekend, and still had tourists confirm a booking 4 months in advance.
Keep in mind there are also slower periods, specifically January to March, and November. So basically winter. You'll probably not get too many bookings during these months, and lowering your prices may be the best bet to attract the few tourists coming into the city.