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The Accidental Airbnb Superhost

It has been eight years now since my first property purchase. I had just started work as an external Auditor when my father insisted that I begin my wealth accumulation journey via property investment.

My maiden venture into the world of property investment thus started with a double-storey terraced house that fetched a rental yield of 4.5% per annum. It was like ticking off one of the items on my bucket list before turning 30.

My subsequent property purchase was five years later when I bought an apartment in a mature residential area at 20% below market value.

Having Bought Another Investment Property. Now What?

Following the purchase, I attended an interior design course and discovered that a properly designed and fitted out unit can fetch higher rental yields.

Hence, I took a leap of faith and fitted out the interior design for my own investment property. It was a steep learning curve covering everything from sourcing, designing, planning to contractor management.

I worked closely with a fellow Investor friend who also owns an investment property at the same development. We worked as a team and leveraged on each other’s resources and expertise.

Mid-way through the interior design undertaking, I engaged a few agents to advertise my unit for long term rental. However, most agents came back with low offers as there was no existing demand for units that were furnished with interior design since most units were rented out either bare or partially furnished.

As long term rentals did not look too optimistic, my friend suggested the option of trying out short term rentals via Airbnb. Taking his advice to heed, a few days later, a booking request was received from a couple who wanted to rent this unit coupled with my friend’s unit for their bridal entourage and outstation guests.

Although the units were not Airbnb-ready yet, we accepted the booking and had less than 48 hours to get it ready for our first Airbnb guests!

From Zero to airbnb Superhost

The demand for the unit via the Airbnb platform grew steadily over the next few months after starting off with just weekend bookings.

Eventually, weekday bookings also became popular. Soon, we had guests from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, US and the UK comprising business travellers, tourists, wedding guests, staycationers booking the unit. The unit was even booked for television commercial filming.

I reached my next milestone after six months and was awarded the coveted status of Airbnb Superhost. A Superhost must host at least 10 bookings and  not encounter any booking cancellations while having received 5-star reviews for four out of every five reviews.

The key to being a Superhost is to ensure that every guest is happy. The unit has to be clean and well-stocked with daily necessities. Amenities also have to be carefully thought out. I’ve discovered that small thoughtful gestures and efforts will help score added brownie points and a five-star review including:-

Arranging for airport transfer upon request

Providing unlimited high-speed internet to cater for the needs of business travellers

Sharing the GRAB or UBER service promo code with our guests

My Secrets to Success

I started Airbnb literally handling everything on my own – from bookings, check-ins and check-outs, housekeeping to repairs and maintenance.

As my bookings increased, I could no longer cope with the physical demands of seeing to the requests while working on my nine-to-five job.

I needed to find new ways to leverage on others while I managed the property remotely.

In other words, I needed to run my Airbnb property like a business, whereby structured processes and systems are in place. I also incorporated important business principles which include:

Understanding the target customers and delivering on promises made

Understanding the theory of demand and supply

Outsourcing low value activities

Important Lessons Learnt

Managing an Airbnb property is like running a start-up. You need to treat it like a business and not as a passive investment per se.

When opportunity knocks on your door, always say “Yes”. Then, focus on what you can achieve realistically, Take small steps to get to your goal.

Focus on the value you can deliver to your customers, and not solely concentrate on the monetary profits. Value creation always comes first. The monetary rewards will come naturally after that.

Surround yourself with people who will bring you to the next level. Don’t get bogged down by pessimistic people.

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