How to make money on Airbnb

Tips to maximize your vacation rental earnings


Airbnb is one of the largest vacation rental platforms around the world. With 800 million visitors and more than 6 million active home listings (and counting), its popularity with travelers and homeowners alike is indisputable. This means there is both plenty of competition and opportunity for making money.

We’ve rounded up many of our own top techniques for driving bookings, commanding higher rates, and staying ahead of the competition. These nine tips will help you make top dollar on every booking on Airbnb, all year round.

1. Identify your target market

Consider who’s likely to book a stay at your vacation home, then aim to maximize your bookings from that audience. One way to do it: Tailor your marketing—from your listing description to your social media posts—with that audience in mind.

Your target guest can depend on home size (smaller homes are likely to attract more couples) and location (ski-in/ski-out cabins are a favorite for families and ski enthusiasts), among other factors. Your target market should also influence your decisions on how to decorate your property and which items you’ll stock it with.

2. Check out your competition

Look at the other Airbnbs you’re up against. Which are similar to yours in the area? What unique amenities do they offer? How do they decorate? How much do they charge at different times throughout the year? Most importantly—read their reviews. What do their guests like and dislike? Scoping out the competition on Airbnb is one of the smartest ways to gather intelligence on what visitors want, what they’re paying elsewhere, and how to stand out.

3. Decorate your vacation home to outperform

Design can make a massive difference on your earnings. After all, today’s guests are willing to pay more for a remarkable experience and appealing interiors versus a home filled with mismatched used furniture. According to the experts, professionally designed homes net:

  • 116% more unique views of their listing
  • 73% more revenue per available night
  • 51% more nights booked

Designing for max income takes more than pretty patterns and colors. Some tips for success include:

  • Consider who you’re designing for
  • Anticipate how guests will use your space
  • Select durable materials that can withstand multiple uses
  • Stay away from outdated trends (ahem, matching bedding sets and cheap furniture)
Living room of San Antonio, TX vacation rental

4. Offer amenities guests want

A vital key to a profitable Airbnb—knowing what travelers need, want, and are willing to pay for. Start with the essentials every modern traveler expects, like napkins, a coffee maker, fresh sheets, laundry detergent, and high-speed WiFi. Make sure you’re covering it all with our vacation rental inventory checklist.

Then, invest in extra amenities that’ll elevate your home above the competition. Base this on your location and target market. For instance, to attract more pet owners (a smart move since dog-friendly vacation homes typically earn 10–20% more) offer items like a dog bed, leash, dog towels, dog bags, and food and water bowls. Own a beach house? Add beach towels, beach toys, and beach umbrellas to your shopping list.

5. Catch their eyes with professional photography

When capturing guests’ attention on Airbnb, looks do matter. When Airbnb users search for a home, they’ll see up to 20 homes on one page—so your photography has to stand out from the rest. From there, the formula is simple: The more people look at your listing, the more bookings you’ll get. Hire a professional photographer—preferably one experienced in capturing interior design or real estate images who understands the right lighting, angles, and details that appeal to potential guests.

If you work with Vacasa to manage your home, we’ll conduct a professional photo shoot of your entire home (at no extra cost) even before you get your first booking.

6. Write a compelling description that also sets expectations

Photos grab a traveler’s attention on Airbnb. An enticing description holds it. The best vacation rental listing descriptions shine a spotlight on all the great aspects of your vacation home, but with full transparency—gaining trust, building excitement, and closing the deal. (Professionally written listing descriptions are included with Vacasa’s full-service vacation rental management.)

Some tips when writing your rental description:

  • Vividly describe the guest experience
  • Mention your vacation property’s unique traits upfront
  • Consider what visitors will want to experience in your destination

Some samples of Airbnb profiles and descriptions, written by our Vacasa copywriting team:

Modern, oceanfront cabin w/ stunning ocean views & nearby beach access!

Spacious Home w/ Private Pool & Golf Cart - 2 Blocks to Beach, Snowbirds Welcome

Cute Cottage by the Lake W/ Private Hot Tub, Firepit, Screened Porch & Fast WiFi

Modern vacation rental management

Your home is a success waiting to happen. We'll show you how.

7. Continually market for maximum exposure

Despite Airbnb’s massive audience, don’t rely on the platform to drive all of your bookings. Vacation rentals aren’t a one-and-done business. The most successful vacation home owners market their Airbnb rentals all year long to fill their calendar. Some ways to boost your vacation home’s visibility include:

When marketing gets too overwhelming, many homeowners turn to vacation rental managers to bring their homes more visibility on their behalf. Vacasa’s digital marketing strategies keep your property top-of-mind all year round, from frequent emails to social media posts to blog content promoting your vacation destinations.

8. Encourage 5-star reviews

Airbnb guests trust other guests. Having better guest reviews can make all the difference in convincing someone to book your home over another. That’s why reviews are vital for your success on the platform.

Plus, getting consistent good reviews can mean better star ratings and a higher ranking in Airbnb's search results.

Some ways to get 5-star reviews on Airbnb:

  • Make sure your home is pristine right on arrival.
  • Set honest expectations with transparent listing descriptions.
  • Check in with guests early on so you have time to fix any issues. If you work with Vacasa, our local teams and central guest service staff are on-call 24/7 to take care of your guests and mitigate any issues immediately.
  • Reply to all Airbnb reviews, especially if they are bad reviews. When you work with Vacasa, we’ll respond to guest reviews on your behalf as part of our full-service vacation rental management.
  • Ask past guests to leave a review if they haven’t already done so. You have 30 days to respond after a guest submits feedback.

At Vacasa, our dynamic pricing software (with oversight by our local market analysts) automatically adjusts your nightly rates on Airbnb based on local market conditions—all in real time. Which means, you can make top dollar on every booking.

9. Hire a vacation rental manager

Managing your own Airbnb—not to mention making the most money possible—takes work. So much work that many vacation home owners often describe it as a full-time job. After all, there are always rooms to clean, guests to assist, marketing to keep up with, repairs to make, rates to adjust, reviews to respond to, and so much more.

Full-service vacation rental property managers (such as Vacasa) take care of all those tasks for you, all with the goal of helping you earn top dollar from your property every year.

With 800 million users, Airbnb is one of the most popular vacation rental sites around the globe. The opportunity to make money on the platform is yours for the taking, but you have to be strategic on many fronts. Use these tips to help you get a leg up on your competitors and boost your rental income.

How to make money on Airbnb FAQ

The best place to make the most money on Airbnb can change year to year, depending on guest demand and many other factors. Every year, we rank our Top 25 Best Places to Buy a Vacation Home, based on the rate of return on your investment and median home sale price.

Starting an Airbnb is worth it, as they can reward you both financially and personally if managed right. The pros are numerous, including:

  • Equity appreciation
  • Tax deductions
  • Less expensive vacations
  • Rental income potential

However, running an Airbnb can also be extremely time-consuming. To make it more worthwhile without tiring yourself out, work with a vacation rental company (like Vacasa) that can take most of the management work off your plate.

Many types of properties can be successful on Airbnb, from cabins to beach homes to lake houses. Plus, many factors (besides what property you buy) go into how much you earn on the platform, including:

*Data based on homes that participated in the Vacasa Interior Design program in 2019

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California licenses
Vacasa Seasonals Inc.
California DRE #02160171

Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc.
California DRE #01523013

Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.

Data is based on searches and reservations booked April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021, unless otherwise indicated. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.