I’m a former Airbnb employee earning up to $18,000 a month as a host

  • Daniel Ruteen is the host of one Airbnb property and the manager of five others.
  • He worked in accounting at Airbnb for three years and now charges $900 for a consulting package.
  • He also charges up to $1,100 per night for his four-bedroom penthouse in Medellín, Colombia.

This say-to-say essay is based on a conversation with 34-year-old Daniel Ruteen Airbnb Advisor and former Airbnb employee. The insider verified his Airbnb and business earnings with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I was blown away by Airbnb from the first moment I walked through the doors of its headquarters in 2013. It was like stepping into an episode of the TV show “Silicon Valley”. I had just left a job at BDO in San Francisco as an accountant, and Airbnb had a vacancy in the finance department.

It was the antithesis of what I was used to. When I was there they had a dog show, and I remember on the day of my interview, when I came in in costume and everyone was dressed casually, a staff member said he was going to have another beer and asked if his colleague would like one. At 25, I didn’t want to work anywhere else.

As an employee at Airbnb, I thought, I must be a host, so after convincing my four roommates to gift the sofa, I listed it in August 2013 for $35 a night. Airbnb is now an alternative to the hotel, but its the roots came from renting inflatable mattresses. We leaned into this vibe and gave our guests the chance to live like the locals. We even took them to bars and cafes. Our first guest was a German doctor, and we hosted people on a stopover or en route to burning man. We rented the couch for the next two years for no less than $150 a night.

In the office, I learned as much as I could about hosting. Whenever one of the departments sent an internal email asking hosts to participate in marketing or data projects, I volunteered.

While I liked the business, it became clear that I didn’t like accounting, so we parted ways in 2016

When I was still there they ran a program that paid staff $500 in credits if they introduced a host. I earned $20,000 in Airbnb credit and also built a network of hosts.

After leaving Airbnb, I went to work for a rental management company Airbnb, where I managed 75 listings. A year later, I decided to start my own Airbnb management company, Belo. But I quickly realized that if I wanted to take over 75 properties, that would mean I would have to stay in one place — and my aspirations to use my Airbnb vouchers for travel would be dampened, because it wouldn’t work as a remote control. work. I instead opted to represent five properties in Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York to keep my toes in the water, and pivoted Belo into an online consulting company for Airbnb hosts called Optimize my Airbnb.

I then started my digitalnomadic life, living in Airbnbs around the world and spending each month in a different city

To manage my five properties, I use an automated messaging system and have a cleaner and emergency contact person at each location. With the properties I support, the host will already have a cleaner for the property, and usually the host is the emergency contact. To me, an emergency is a real emergency where the owner would want to know about it anyway – a fire, serious damage, the police on the property, theft, etc.

It was scary to start my own business and not go down the usual business route, but I knew my online consultancy would work after January 2017 – five months after starting in August 2016 – when I made a turnover of $12,000.

I now offer a host of consulting packages, including Raise the hostthat’s $900 for a 30-minute phone consultation, connection to messaging and pricing, access to digital guides, and promotion of your Airbnb property on my website.

In August 2021 I decided I wanted to buy my own Airbnb property

After spending time in Medellín, Colombia, I thought it offered the best value for vacationers, from taxis to food. It is an ideal and affordable vacation destination.

When I was there looking for a potential Airbnb property, an architect I know told me about a penthouse suite he worked on, that the owner who rented it out on Airbnb was looking to sell. The owner wanted $500,000 for the four-bedroom loft overlooking the city skyline. Once I saw his rental numbers, I immediately made a cash offer funded by my savings because I could see how I could triple the income – he was making $44,000 a year in income, and I thought that I could earn between $120,000 and $160,000. I have been successful so far – in August I made an income of $18,000.

inside an Airbnb

The Belmonte Penthouse.

The Belmonte Penthouse

The first thing I did was change the rates

The previous owner charged $500 a night every night of the year. I immediately hooked it up to a smart pricing tool that changes the overnight rate depending on the season or holidays. Using this I charge between $350 and $1100 per night. It also only accepted four guests per night, and I doubled that. However, for the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth guests, I charge an additional $75 per night. I also charge visitors. The apartment has a security guard, and I check in with a concierge and my cleaner, so I always know how many people are there.

I have not done any renovations on the property. The previous owner left everything behind. The only thing the previous owner removed was a painting, so I had a local artist create some artwork to fill the space.

As with my real estate company Airbnb, I have a team on the ground. At my own property in Colombia, I have an English-speaking concierge who I connect with guests when they book and an all-star cleaner, who is super personable and cooks breakfast daily for guests.

My typical guests are middle-aged mens 20 to 40 from USA or Europe

a living wall

The living wall of the Belmonte Penthouse.

The Belmonte Penthouse

They usually arrive in a group for a bachelor party or because they want to let off steam. This is why I chose to rent a luxury penthouse apartment, as I knew my guests were coming to party and I wanted to feel like I was living the high life.

My biggest booking so far was $11,000 for 35 days, but my highest nightly rate was $1,100 for four nights over New Years weekend in 2021. I decided to hold until I get a reservation over $1,000 a night, because I know when I eventually have to sell it, I’ll be able to get a premium price. I now have an average of 95% occupancy.

The only rule I have is the visitor policy. There should be a maximum of 12 people in the apartment, but there was confusion recently when a DJ influencer from the US stayed and 27 guests arrived. I didn’t find out until the next morning, but the guest paid the extra visitor fee that I charge.

Fortunately, I had no problems with the neighbors. Since this is the penthouse and the concrete walls are four feet thick, no noise is transferred.

I have a 4.95star rating, but I’m continually looking for ways to improve my customers’ experience

a hot tub

The hot tub at the Belmonte Penthouse.

The Belmonte Penthouse

I have just started providing a small bottle of bubbles for the hot tub. Some guests liked it and used it during their stay.

However, not all add-ons are chargeable. My previous apartment host in Colombia offered free airport pickup with every booking. I stopped doing this because I realized that if the guest was waiting for the ride, it wouldn’t give me any bonus points, and if the driver was late, it might cloud their view of the experience. I now only offer it to customers if they have paid a high rate as a VIP bonus.

Although I have a guide on my Airbnb page, I also didn’t pay for someone to write flowery text for me for the “About This Space” section. Guests don’t have time to read everything. They just want to see in big dots what they are getting for the money they are paying.

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