Airbnb has been busy since it opened its doors in 2008.

As we write, rumors are circling that it will soon be valued at over $20 billion, almost as much as Marriot international.

But should you get Airbnb to pay for your next Safari?

Leora Rothschild decided to try this with her house in Australia and this is what she learnt.

A luxury Safari to Africa, done with the right companies, will never be a cheap holiday for an entire family. As the Rothschild home in Australia is perfectly situated on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, only a short walk from Castaways Beach, it is an Airbnb dream come true. So, before her last family safari to Africa Leora decided to put her family home up for Airbnb rental.

Why did Leora do it?

Because a Safari for the entire family is expensive and it seemed like a great use of a resource that would otherwise simply stand empty.

Let’s pretend you are tempted

If you are a first time Airbnb host, you might want to take a moment to think beyond the practical and consider why someone would want to pay to live in a stranger’s space.

Airbnb is about more than a well-appointed hotel room. It is about tickling the imagination (whatever standout features your house has, this is the moment to play them up) and it is about fostering a sense of community and belonging.

Yes, you will have to consider having enough glasses and blackout curtains and gorgeous bathroom products, but you will have to go beyond that if you want to be successful in this venture.

Start here

  • Very, very good Airbnb’s come with Superhosts who double as star tour guides. Of course, guiding is not really an option if you are thinking of leaving your house behind while you swan off on Safari… but you might want to rope in a neighbor or leave a file with useful numbers.

  • Get rid of your own clutter… don’t forget closets and drawers that your guests may find useful and then

  • Get the cleaners in.

  • Keep things simple but go for quality where it counts. Great mattresses, sheets and towels and simple, understated quality scents can make a huge difference.

  • Stock up. Running out of toilet paper is never a good thing.

  • Make sure the kitchen is clean, functional and if you can, have a nice little welcome stash of basic staples in the fridge.

  • Manage expectations with clear house rules. People won’t be disappointed if they know all the good and the bad well in advance {more about this later}.

  • Have plumbers etc. on speed dial. You want to be able to just relax and enjoy your holiday… not be dealing with emergencies.

Things to consider

Understanding Rental Arbitrage

Deciding to rent out your house while you are on Safari changes the ordinary rental arbitrage game a little because your goal will most likely be a daily rate that will offset your safari cost. But you will still only be able to charge an average Airbnb daily rate similar to other similar units in your area.

So, if you take the average weighted Airbnb Rate

= (Weekday Rate * 5 + Weekend Rate * 2) / 7 you will be able to work out how much money you may be able to make towards your safari.

You can get a market report from a reliable data provider like AirDNA to give you a realistic expectation of how much you can expect for hosting Airbnb in your market, with your listing before investing time and money into the idea. Use Everbooked to identify your Airbnb competition. And then work with a trusted third party pricing partner such as Wheelhouse to make sure your pricing is always and automatically optimized to maximize your returns.

All of this may give you an idea of how worthwhile the exercise may be. This way it will be easier to make decisions about the amount of capital, time and risk you want to invest.

And it is going to take time and effort – especially the first time. You have to be honest about whether you have the time and flexibility to make this work.

If she ever decided to do it again what would Leora do differently?

* Get a service in to help! She was exhausted working full time, preparing for their trip AND preparing the house for the Airbnb hosting.

* Add a minimum night stay

You Can’t Eat your Cake and Have it

 * Strangers will live in your home. You need to be ok with that.

* You will not be allowed to impose your morals on your guest any more than a hotel can.

* You will have to talk to lots of people in a timely fashion. And possibly deal with their questions and what they consider emergencies etc. People expect near real-time, clear and transparent communications and smooth check-ins and check-outs

* You will have to put in the time and energy. And this is something everyone (including Leora says again and again… whatever time and effort you THINK it is going to take, DOUBLE it) You cannot be a hoarder

* You may not exaggerate

Take care of details like landlords, insurance and crotchety neighbours

Ensuring matters like noise, parking and shared spaces have been clearly dealt with in your house rules and you have had open and transparent communications with your neighbors regarding your Airbnb listing will ensure many problems never arise.

If you want to get all techy about it you can proactively monitor noise levels at your Airbnb rental with NoiseAware. 

What was the most difficult part of hosting Airbnb for Leora?

Even though her house was fine, it was really difficult leaving her precious belongings – much of which had come all the way from Africa with her. In retrospect she thinks the worry might have been more painful than the money she made.

About those House Rules

Would Leora advise YOU to do it?

50/50 Depending on how attached you are to the precious things in your home.

An Important Caveat

Rothschild Safaris adore selling Private Houses throughout all the areas where our safaris run… but as we specialize in developing countries we would not be comfortable offering Airbnb due to quite high risks to personal safety.

Images via Christelle BOURGEOISDeborah DiemJared RiceDane DeanerLiana Mikah