Episode 88: Airbnb Hosting - My First Experience


Emily Wilcox is a Multi 7-Figure CEO, Money Healer, and Business Mentor. She works with women entrepreneurs to build their fempires with joy and ease.

In this episode, Emily shares her family's first experience as an Airbnb host, and how she staged her home like a pro without losing her personal touches.

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 There are people that rent Airbnb houses that don't mind just staying with your stuff. But that for me was not the vibe, and I wanted to make sure that our house was up to my standard,  would I want to stay here knowing that it was someone else's stuff? And I made the home up to that standard.

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Hello and welcome to the Em Makes Money Show. Well, I want to share with you guys about our first experience as Airbnb hosts. So you may know that over the Thanksgiving holiday, we went to Hawaii. One of our best friends went vacationed in Hawaii and then never came back. Their family moved to Oahu, and so we went to visit them for four nights and then stay four nights at Disney's Alani Resort during that time, we hosted our very first Airbnb guest in our home. So this is probably gonna bring up a million questions.

I think first and foremost is like, wait, you let other people into your house,  the house that you live in? Yes, we did. And I wanted to share the thought process behind it. I'm gonna break down all the numbers, how it went, whether would we do it again, all of that. So where I like to start is the intention.

Why did we do it? So my intention was twofold primarily, and number one was to get some experience as an Airbnb host. Our vision is to start buying properties that we will Airbnb. And so for me, if there's an easy way to start to get into the vibe of a manifestation, I like to do it.  We could buy a property now, but we feel that over the next six months, the real estate market's going to get better, and so we're not ready to buy just yet and this was a fun way to practice, so to speak.  And then number two was the intention of opening up a new money channel and receiving. So if money had been the only reason, I don't think we would have done it. I think there are, for us easier ways to make money and as with anything your first time doing it is not gonna be the most profitable. But because of the intention of really getting on the frequency of being Airbnb hosts and having Airbnb properties, that was the part that like really felt in alignment.

But I'm not gonna lie, the money was amazing too, and it was nice to feel like we're on vacation and we're making money, and most of this vacation is totally paid for. So let me tell you how it went. Number one, I think we're the right kind of people for it. Jeff and I keep a very clean house. We don't like a lot of clutter. We actually like opportunities to do a deep clean.  We're the kind of people that if we're moving, we're like, oh, cool, yay, this is an opportunity to go through every single thing that we have and release all the things that no longer serve us and get better organized. So I do think that's important.

However, there are people that rent Airbnb houses that don't mind just staying with your stuff. But that for me was not the vibe, and I wanted to make sure that our house was up to my standard,  would I want to stay here knowing that it was someone else's stuff and I made the home up to that standard? So there was a lot of cleaning and organizing that went into this, but it was stuff that really benefited us and our family as well. So again, if I were looking at it just from a pure, this is how much money and how much work I had to put into this and here's how much money I got out, no, it would not be worth it. But because there are these like cringe and ancillary benefits that tipped the scales for me. So Jeff and I are also like very process oriented.

We're the kind of people that if we go camping or if we go on the same vacation multiple times,  we'll create a packing list and we'll update it at the end of the vacation so that we know for the next time what we wanna bring, what we wanna leave behind, and we kind of enjoy that in a weird way. So also like making the list off, here are the little house projects we wanna get done, and here are the things that we'll need to do the day before a guest comes. We're just wired for that. So that piece didn't feel challenging and actually felt kind of fun for us, but I don't know that that would be the case for everyone. So there were lots of little things that we chose to do to get the home up to my standard, which we are now benefiting from. Right. So we had some handymen come out.

And just do this house was basically brand new when we moved in, not even two years ago. So it's in very good condition. But like anything,  there'll be a little chip in the paint here or a little thing there, or JJ slid a  tiny little board book. Somehow he got it slipped behind the pocket door of our master bathroom. So the pocket door could open most of the way, but it would get stuck maybe four inches from being fully open because there was a book back inside the wall in the track where it needed to go. So we had the handymen, do what it took to get that out. Now, would that have been a deal breaker for renting the space?

I doubt it. I would've still rented the space if the door didn't open all the way. But it's like now we get to benefit from that too. So we did a lot of that kind of stuff and we had one little maintenance kind of thing sort of go awry. So, I think the biggest question that people have is, what do you do with your stuff? So for us, we have four bedrooms and the three are for Jeff and me and then Faye and jj. And then the fourth is just a pure guest bedroom. So in the three bedrooms that are occupied, we we're going to put locks on the closets, so then we could just put, any personal belongings, all the personal bedding and stuff into the closet, lock it. And we bought luggage racks.  The rooms are really big, so there's plenty of room to put your suitcase in personal belonging, and we put out luggage racks, so they don't need access to the closet and if they really need to hang something up, the guest bedroom has a large walk-in closet that's fully available, totally clean up. But it's not like it's super easy to install a lock on a pocket door because it requires special hardware. So we actually didn't think this was gonna be that big of a deal. We found some hardware that looked very similar to the hardware that's already on the pocket doors but had a key lock. And then when the handyman was here, they discovered that the hardware that we had ordered actually wouldn't work because it was made for a thicker pocket door than what our pocket doors were. So then we were back to the drawing board and we found some different hardware where it looked like, imagine a deadbolt,  just a circle lock. So we were gonna have them install that, but it would have to go above the existing hardware. And so they came, two guys, they quoted three hours to do it, which seemed excessive. I think we were paying, I don't know, 200 bucks an hour or something like that. Maybe even just 150 an hour. We're like, okay, well if that's what it takes, go for it.

Turns out it actually took two guys, nine hours to do the one and not even do the greatest job in the world. But it was a lot of work because they had to cut the circle hole in the door. They also had to cut a spot for the receiving side, so for the lock to actually go into the part of the frame. And it just took forever. Thank God they did our closet first and not one of the kids because  that alone ended up costing almost a thousand dollars in labour. So we got our closet to lock and we were like, never mind, with the kids, we will just use a label maker, make a little label that says private, close each door and call it a day.

We weren't worried that people were gonna steal stuff. It's more just making it a nice guest experience. And then for us, obviously wanting to keep private things private and just not feel somebody could go through our stuff, but we don't have that feeling for our kids and they're younger and all that kind of stuff. So then we put stuff from our nightstands into our closets. We also locked one of the bathroom cabinets, so we put all of our stuff into one of the cabinets, and so there was plenty of drawers and cabinetry free in the master bath and then locked the rest, and that was really it. Oh, wait, no, that's not true.

What else did we do to get rid of personal belongings? We have a walk-in pantry. We locked that. So anything in the kitchen that we didn't want them to have access to or have access to our food was put in the pantry and locked. And then we locked our garage. So anything that was on my desk, trying to think what else did we bring down there?

We have an extra refrigerator and freezer in our garage, so we tried to just eat most of our food before we left, but then we moved anything from the fridge and freezer upstairs, downstairs, into the garage, and so anything that was in the garage was locked and they couldn't access that as well. But other than that, they had access to the house and we got lucky actually because we would be pretty choosy about the kind of guests that we were having, but I priced the home pretty high. I priced at 888 a night. So I don't want the kind of person that can't spend that, and we got a nice older couple. Their grandparents wanted to come down to LA for Thanksgiving to visit their two adult daughters and their grandchildren, and they wanted to have the pool and the jacuzzi so that the grandkids could swim and just have a place for everybody to be together. The man who I was speaking to during the process, had positive Airbnb reviews from more than five other hosts. So when you're a host, you get to review the guest as well, and other hosts can read that. So I felt very confident that they were going to treat our house with respect, and we put together a whole house manual and let our guests know where to find things and what to do with the house, but also just sharing a picture of our family and letting them know that this is our family home and to treat it with respect and all of that.

So that's something that I would definitely be careful about. And we put right in the listing that this is a quiet family neighbourhood, no parties, all that kind of stuff. We're not planning on doing a ton of Airbnb of this home anyway, but these are the things that we put in place. And so like I'm just sharing all of the details in case you're someone who's thinking about it too,  what all went into it?

I spent over a thousand dollars buying, new sets of bedding for all the beds. A whole second set of towels and hand towels and everything. What else? The luggage racks, and then I bought some just decorative furniture that, again benefits our home as well. So we probably put a couple of grand into it between materials and labour to get the home completely ready.

So our booking was not for the entire time that we were gone, I think they stayed four nights and we received about $3,500 for that because they also wanted to pay to have the pool heated some of the time. So 500 of that's probably just gonna go to the extra gas bill. It's not  we really profited from that. So I would say three grand would be kind of the net. So then obviously you take the two grand out of it and we made a thousand bucks. This is not that exciting, but we now have a family booked over Christmas when we're gonna be gone as well, and that one is gonna bring us  $5,600 and we don't have to invest anything more into getting that booking prepared.

So it's definitely one of those things where the first time is the least profitable and then it gets significantly more profitable as you go. But I think,  our stay of four nights at the Disney resort was around $4,000. So theoretically, had we not had the sunk cost of getting the place ready to Airbnb, the Airbnb booking for four nights pretty much covered the cost of us staying at four nights at a really nice oceanside Resort in Hawaii.  Likewise, over Christmas, we're gonna be on a Disney cruise, a five-night Disney cruise, or five days four nights, anyway, doesn't matter. Disney cruise and for all four of us, inclusive of a balcony room, I think it's 6,100, and then the Airbnb booking is like 5,600. So it mostly covers the cost of the cruise.

Obviously, there are flights and there's whatever gonna be some ancillary expenses, but we were gonna go on the vacation anyway. So it's exciting that there is this money channel opening that just in the course of, I guess eight days total or nine days total of having our house rented, brings in almost $10,000. Right? And otherwise, the house would've sat empty. So for us, we're excited about it. Again are we gonna do it a ton? No. I'm making the house available over spring break week when I think we'll be gone. I only wanna do it if we're gonna be gone anyway, and if it's a long enough chunk of time to make it worth it because it is a lot of work getting the house prepared because you have to change the bedding on all of the beds.  I have a whole checklist to follow, but getting the house in pristine condition when we live here when we've got kids here, even with house cleaners, it's a lot. We also have professional cleaners that come the day that guests check out and they take pictures of the whole place.

Let us know if there are any issues and get the whole house to reset. So that's an additional expense, but that's also basically paid for by the guests because with Airbnb you can add a cleaning fee as well. So overall, we were really happy with our first experience. We really liked the family. I had some communication with him just about a few little questions, but none of it was, a huge deal or problematic at all, and I felt like they treated our home really well.

We got home and even my husband said, well, it still feels like our place. You know, you did a really good job. I staged the place, of course,  right when we got home, just because I wanna reset the energy and make it ours. But it did feel really nice to be able to share our home with another family and know that they made memories here and that they had a really beautiful vacation.

I also just did little over-the-top touches. They wanted an early check-in. Sure. They wanted a light checkout. Sure. I sent them an edible arrangement, which if you've never heard of that, it's almost a bouquet of fruit and a lot of its chocolate dipped. That was something that an Airbnb host did for me on one of my recent retreats, and I loved it.

I felt so special and it felt really nice to receive that. So I wanted to do that as well as a host, and of course, left some little welcome gifts and stuff on the counter when they got here too. So I did all of those little touches. I know they had a fantastic time. They left us a five-star review and we enjoyed hosting them as well.

I think the same thing will happen over Christmas.  I feel really good about the family that's coming and I think it will still feel like I'm on vacation. They're gonna feel like they're on vacation. They can message me if anything comes up. That was our first experience hosting Airbnb. I think that like the full breakdown, I'm trying to think of any questions you guys would have for me and answer them.

Our plan is probably in the next six months to buy a property that we can Airbnb. Although we just talked to some people we know that are big in real estate and they were really making the case for long-term rentals. So who knows? Maybe we'll do a long-term rental instead and scrap the whole Airbnb idea. But to me, because we are Airbnb guests all the time and we use it to go on vacations, it's very easy for me to get into the mind of my ideal client. It's a little bit harder with long-term rentals because we wouldn't be doing it in Southern California. And so then I just don't know the rental market as well, so I think we'll need to do a little bit more educating of ourselves to see. But real estate is definitely one of the ways that we want to continue multiplying our wealth. And it felt really fun to open up this new money channel. So I honestly think that most people's reaction to this would be, wait, what? You let people stay in your own house? But again, that's where the intention is everything, because this was not, we wanna make a quick buck.

This really aligned with our future wealth-building vision. And because of that, it was fun and it was fun to have some practice in it and see what it felt like to actually be Airbnb hosts and to actually receive that money into the account. So if I missed anything, if you have any questions, slide into my DMs and I can cover them on a future episode. But I hope this was informative. I would be so curious to know from everyone listening if you're into real estate. If it's something that you've had on your vision board, and if you want me to continue updating you guys on this. So with that, I hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you so much as always, for tuning in, and I will talk to you soon. 

Listeners, like you, make this show what it is. So thank you for tuning in. Please subscribe, leave a review and share this show with someone you love. I always appreciate listener feedback, so feel free to slide into my DMs on Instagram at Em Makes Money as well. And if you wanna explore hiring me as your money healer and business mentor, head to emilywilcox.com to explore. Until next time, I'm sending you all the magic money vibes.


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