So, you’re listing on Airbnb and want to increase your profits?

You first need to understand how the channel works and what you must do for a successful Airbnb business. 

Here, you’ll learn about Airbnb’s origins and the benefits the channel offers property managers today. 

We’ll also show you how to set up your listing for sustainable success, which is the foundation of everything else in this course.

In lesson 1:

  • Introduction to Airbnb
  • Why should you list on Airbnb?
  • Rules and regulations
  • How it works: fees, commissions, policies, and more
  • Listing setup checklist

Introduction to Airbnb 

Airbnb was founded back in 2007 when Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia offered an “Air bed and breakfast” to attendees of the Industrial Design Conference in San Francisco. 

Fast-forward a few years, and Airbnb became a pioneer in bringing short-term rentals to the forefront of the tourism industry. The channel caused major disruption to the travel industry by taking a significant share of the market from traditional hotels.

Despite controversy in many cities where short-term rentals have been blamed for rising rent prices, in 2024, the platform is more popular than ever.

Airbnb’s Q4 2023 report shows:

  • There are 5 million + hosts on Airbnb from across the globe.
  • At the end of 2023, the channel had 7.7 million active listings.
  • Airbnb hosts earned more than $57 billion in 2023 alone. 

Source: Airbnb

Why should you list on Airbnb?

All property managers have something to gain by listing on Airbnb.

Here are a few reasons to list your properties on the channel:

  • Exposure to millions of travelers — Airbnb gives you exposure to millions of travelers from around the world. In Q4 of 2023 alone, there was a total of 99 million nights and experiences booked. 
  • Trusted platform — Established 16 years ago, Airbnb has a reputation as a trusted and reliable platform where guests can book secure stays. 
  • Suitable for all property types — Guests can book any kind of vacation rental through Airbnb. There are 7.7 million active listings around the world, including rooms in shared homes, private apartments, luxury villas, and many more property types. 
  • High-value bookings — The average booking value on Airbnb continues to grow year on year.
  • Security for hosts — Airbnb offers AirCover for Hosts to protect your property and business against guest damage and liability.

Source: Airbnb

Rules and regulations

If you’re new to Airbnb, check your local government website to find out what laws and regulations apply to vacation rentals and short-term hosting. 

It’s also important to ensure your housing contract permits you to run a hosting business.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Business Licenses: You may need to apply for and obtain a license before your Airbnb business can be operated. 
  • Building and Housing Standards: Most local governments have rules and regulations specifying construction, design, and maintenance standards for buildings, including regulations on habitability, health, and safety. 
  • Zoning Rules: Most locations have laws that set out the way you can use your home. These rules are often found in a zoning code, planning code, or city ordinances. 
  • Special Permit: Some jurisdictions may require a special permit to rent out your home. 
  • Taxes: Many jurisdictions require hosts to collect a tax for each overnight stay, and pay that tax to the city or other jurisdiction. 
  • Landlord-Tenant Laws: When hosting longer stays, you may be subject to landlord-tenant laws.

While you’ll have to do research into your own area (regulations vary state by state in the US, for example), we’ve put together some things you can do to learn about regulations that apply and ensure you comply:

  • Review Airbnb’s online repositoryThe online repository is a helpful resource where you can look up the different regulations that apply in some of the world’s largest markets.
  • Investigate your local area — Research the history of your local area and what regulations have been brought in recently – this might give an indication of potential future changes.
  • Contact Vrbo — You can read the information on Vrbo’s regulatory resources page, and enquire about regulations in different markets by reaching out to  
  • Read your local government policies —  Visit your local government website and search for information about vacation rental regulations. Understand the role of Vacation Rental Advocacy Groups.
  • Join social media groupsFacebook and LinkedIn groups are a great place to learn about regulations from hosts and industry experts. You can ask questions and stay up to date with upcoming changes. The Vacation Rental Professionals, Vacation Rental News and Information, and The Business of Short Term Rental Management are some groups we recommend!

How it works: fees, commissions, policies and more

Now, let’s go over how Airbnb works.

At the basic level – you create a free account, upload your listing, and start getting bookings.

But to set yourself up to succeed, there are some things you should know:

Commission on your bookings

Airbnb offers 2 different fee structures for stays: a split fee and a Host-only fee. 

Split fee is more common, and with this plan, Airbnb will charge hosts a service fee of 3% of the booking subtotal. The subtotal is your nightly price plus any optional fees you charge guests (for example, a cleaning fee)

With the host-only fee, the entire fee is deducted from the Host. It’s typically 14–16%, though Hosts with Super Strict cancellation policies may pay more, and fees for stays of 28 nights or more may be less.

This fee is mandatory for traditional hospitality listings–such as hotels, serviced apartments, etc., as well as software-connected hosts, which includes anyone connecting through a channel manager such as Rentals United.

Guest fees

There are different fees you can add to your listings. 

For example:

  • Cleaning fees — Cover the cost of cleaning your space after the guest’s stay.
  • Extra guest fees — A fee for each additional guest beyond a set number.
  • Pet fees — An additional charge to allow guests to bring pets in to your property
  • Security deposit — Hosts who manage their listings with API-connected software can set a security deposit.

Be realistic in what fees are right for your property. If you need to pay a cleaner for three hours every time you have a new guest, make sure your cleaning fee covers that cost as well as any cleaning products you will need.

The same goes for pets or extra guests – if extra work is required from your end, make sure you are compensated. However, be aware that guests looking to travel on a budget will take these fees into account when assessing your property. Be reasonable in what you charge.



Airbnb offers Aircover for free to all hosts. 

Aircover includes:

  • Guest ID verification to confirm guests’ identity.
  • Reservation screening, which can help detect fraudulent bookings.
  • $3M host damage protection, which may cover:
    • Damage to property or host belongings caused by guests
    • Extra cleaning fees for stains caused by guests, pet accidents
    • Smoke or odor removal
  • $1M host liability in case you are found legally responsible for guest injury or damage to guest property during their stay.

Many hosts take out extra insurance or protection plans to increase the security of their business, as Aircover does not replace personal insurance.

Listing setup checklist

At the end of lesson 1, here’s a quick summary of what to do to make sure your listing is in order:

  1. Check local laws regarding Airbnb and vacation rentals in your area with Airbnb’s online repository.
  2. If applicable, check your housing contract to confirm you can rent your property on Airbnb.
  3. Decide on any additional fees you want to charge your guests. Be realistic in how much time it will take to clean your property or set up for pets or extra guests to ensure you’re compensated for your time.
  4. Decide whether you will use Aircover or any additional insurance or protection for your property.


Now you understand how Airbnb works, and you’ve built strong foundations to base your Airbnb business on, it’s time to look at how to put that work to good use and those bookings and earnings rolling in.

Enjoyed this? Jump to the next lesson to continue your journey from Airbnb beginner to master. 

Looking to grow your Airbnb business? Our simple, 7-step course will walk you through the entire process of growing a successful and sustainable Airbnb business. Check out the full course here.