How to AirBnB your home over the holidays

How to AirBnB your home over the holidays

Are you going away for the holidays? How about for a weekend visit with family? You could pay for all your gift shopping simply by letting someone stay at your place while you’re away!

Where do you start? How can you quickly decide if it’s worth it and then get your bookings?

Find out if it’s worth the trouble

Becoming a host for short-term rentals isn’t difficult but its still work and you’ll want to make sure it’s worth the effort. Use some common apps to check out other people’s listings in your area. Search for a home like yours to get a feel for what you will earn per night. Keep in mind that you won’t only earn the nightly rate, you’ll also collect a cleaning fee. We recommend you check out these websites: AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway, Tripping.

Once you’ve confirmed that you’ll make enough money for your trouble, you can begin putting your ideas into action.

Confirm Short-Term Rentals are Permitted

Depending on your situation you’ll need to confirm you can rent out your home. Some cities place restrictions on short-term rentals. As well, if you own an apartment then the condominium board may have bylaws restricting rentals. Finally, if you’re renting, you’ll have to check with your landlord.

If you don’t confirm, you risk having a guest get kicked out or denied access to your home mid-stay. That would be terrible.

If you live in the City of Vancouver then you can check their licencing policies and even though other municipalities have fewer restrictions you should confirm with them since short-term rentals are a new business-model and these bylaws beginning to evolve.


Like any business, every successful vacation home rental takes planning, preparation, and good old-fashioned elbow grease. As a host, you’re not just ‘handing over the keys’, you’re also responsible for shaping their experience from making sure your listing catches their eye to their final departure. To get high ratings that allow you to charge more for your space, you’ll want to WOW them.

To help with planning, here is a quick checklist of things you’ll need:

  • Permission from the appropriate people (city, condo board, landlord, etc.)

  • An enticing description of your home

  • A professional photographer

  • Storage for some of your stuff while you’re away

  • A plan for handling keys

  • A professional cleaner

  • Supplies for the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and living area

We’ll dive into some of these in more detail and I know you’re thinking this is a lot of preparation, but a little preparation will pay you back in spades.



The least fun part is getting permission to be a host. Not only because it might involve paperwork but it may also take time. Unless your condo board or landlord has already said that short-term rentals are allowed, you’ll want to get their permission in a written email, just in case they have second thoughts.


Writing a description of your home that is enticing doesn’t need to be difficult. We recommend that you look up homes just like yours in another city and read their profiles. If you’re reading about their place and thinking it’s your dream vacation come true, then that profile is a good starting point for yours. Simply take their profile and then edit it to match your home’s description more closely including a relatable description of your neighbourhood and how convenient it is in relation to tourist attractions, nightlife, and shopping.



You want a professional photographer. Yes, it costs a bit but they can make a 1 bedroom apartment look like a luxury penthouse. Some photographers specialize in AirBnB and short-term rentals. Usually they’re the same photographers that take pictures of homes for real estate sales. One neat way to find a good photographer quickly is to brows real estate listings in your neighbourhood and talk to the real estate agent on the listing with the best photos. They’ll happily refer you to their photographer.


People don’t like to feel like they’re intruding in your life when they’re on vacation, so you’ll want to clear out the clutter and swap your more intimate photos for more generic ones. Also, you’ll want to stow or lock away all your valuables. Your guests will be wonderful people and very trustworthy but ideally you should set up your space so that trust doesn’t need to be a factor.



You need a friend or neighbour who can let your guests into the home and accept the keys at the end of the stay. Even if you plan to be available for both planned dates, plans can change so you’ll need someone who is a back-up in case, for instance, they decide to leave early.

You can also buy a remote controlled (internet connected) lock box to stow your key nearby. Finally, there are services that will store your key at a local corner store or coffee shop.


You’ll want your place professionally cleaned before your guests arrive and after their stay. They’re paying a separate charge for cleaning (sometimes up to $100) so they’ll have high expectations. A professional cleaner doesn’t have to cost a lot.


The more you think of yourself as a competitive alternative to a hotel the more you’ll be able to charge for your home. Think about hotel supplies. You know there’s clean linen, bathroom towels, shampoo and soap, and probably a packet of coffee for the coffee machine. Now you have an idea of what people are getting when they stay with other short-term rentals.

We found this great host checklist on Guesty’s blog. They provide property management software for short-term rentals their tool allows you to seamlessly distribute your listing through all major vacation rental sites including Airbnb,, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, VRBO, and Expedia.


Short-Term Rental Software Ecosystem

You can simply list you place on one platform, but if you’re going to be renting your place often because you’re a frequent traveler then you may want o take advantage of the many apps in the ecosystem designed to make renting your home simpler and more profitable. Below is a sampling of the companies in the ecosystem so you can research them.

List your place!

You should be ready to go at this point. The preparation and planning is done and you can start booking your home!

Careful. If you’re too successful you may find you make more money when you’re away on vacation than when your at home!

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