Even if hosting on Airbnb or another online platform isn’t for you, check out some of these ideas for your home. If you have family and friends staying with you, these tips may help you out when you have guests at your home.  I’ll give you tips for each room of the house, and guidance for how to create an online listing and best practices for interactions with your guests.


The two most important places for your guests are the bedroom and bathroom. Here are a few things to provide for your guests, and some hints on how to clean and keep the space welcoming.

  • Bedding – You can usually find very nice sheets, for a pretty affordable price. I bought 600 thread count sheets at Costco for about $50. If you are wondering what color to get, I’d highly recommend getting white. They are easy to clean, can be washed with hot water without fading, and if you need to replace a sheet or pillow case, it is very easy to match white with white. White also is the cleanest looking color, think of every hotel, they all have white sheets. Above all, never get black sheets, and avoid any black accent pillows. The sheets fade, and faded black doesn’t look clean. Black also shows everything, every piece of dust, thread, string, lint, it is impossible to make them look completely clean. For a comforter, I was able to find a pure white duvet white comforter inside. I’d recommend a mattress cover as well, of course white, and you can easily take it off and wash when needed. For detergent, I used Oxi Clean and added a generous amount of Downy. I also misted the pillows with pillow mist from Bath and Body Works. My favorite scent was eucalyptus spearmint.
  • Pillows – If you want the set-up of the made bad to look completely professional, purchase full king size pillows, these will fill the pillow cases and make them look full, not saggy, and very sharp.
  • Closet Space – Clean out a small section of your closet for your guests to use in case they need to hang anything up while they are staying with you.
  • Nightstands – I placed a nightstand on each side of the bed and set up a lamp on each one, that I’d leave on for the guests’ arrival. Also on the nightstand, I’d place a bottle of water for each guest. Near the nightstands, I’d plug in a power cord that provided easy access to multiple outlets. Most people have a phone, tablet, and it is really convenient to be able to charge them all near your bed.
  • Dressers/Tables – Keep a drawer or two empty in a dresser or nightstand for your guests to use. For decorations on top of these pieces of furniture, keep it as simple and classy as possible. The less stuff you have on your surfaces in the bedroom, and your house, the easier it will be to dust.
  • Welcome Note – I’d place a hand written welcome note on the bed
  • Luggage Stand/Bench/Desk – find a small bench or luggage stand and set up in the room. If you have enough space for a small desk and chair, it is a great item to add.
  • Gifts – Depending on the situation, there were times that I left small gifts in the room for my guests. If I knew someone was coming for an anniversary or special event, I’d leave fresh flowers or chocolates. As a standard, I used to leave a local postcard, for me, it was from Zion National Park, in the room, and would have it pre-stamped for the guest. This was a very small gift financially but meant a lot to the guests as it allowed them to easily send home a memory to friends or family, or themselves.


Two factors should be held most important when setting up the bathroom for guests, cleanliness and readily available amenities.

For amenities, I left out shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, bar soap, q-tips, face wipes, towels, hair dryer, toilet scents, and a small kit full of extra items.

  • Shampoo/Conditioner/Soap – there are two options that I used for these essentials. I purchased travel sized shampoo, conditioner and bar soap online and left out toiletries for the guests. I also bought unmarked glass dispensers and filled them with body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. A key to this option is the keep them full, before a new guest, refill the dispensers to make them look new and fresh. The great thing about the dispensers is that you can purchase any type of product to put in them, you don’t have to use expensive brands because the guests aren’t actually seeing the type of product.
  • Hand Soap – I’d supply liquid hand soap for guests at each sink in the house. I’d buy top brand hand soaps, but at a discount at TJMaxx. I’d also used hand soaps from Bath and Body Works but would only choose their foaming soaps as the liquid/gel hand soaps stick to the sink, and make cleaning a harder task.
  • White towels – I used only white towels for my bath towels, hand towels, and wash clothes. White is a very clean feeling color, and if you ever need to replace or add to your towel collection, any white towel will match with your current white set. White towels also don’t fade in a hot wash, ideal if you want to maintain extremely clean/fresh towels. Other colors will fade when washed with hot water, but white will not. They will also stay new looking longer. It is easy to make a white towel whiter, but very hard to make a blue towel bluer.
  • Toilet Paper – leave out extra! This would be the last thing your guest would ever want to have to ask for extra. Keep extra stocked under in cupboards, and buy a toilet paper holder that can be displayed near the toilet and keep it fully stocked.
  • Q-tip/Cotton Pads – Keep these near the sink in a jar or other container. I really like glass jars since they are see through and show what is contained.
  • Moist Face Wipes/Makeup Remover – These can be bought in bulk, and will help save your white towels. The only stains I’ve ever seen on my white washcloths are make-up. Keeping these around will give another option for make-up removal for your guests.
  • Towels – I left out hand towels, wash clothes rolled behind the sink, bath towels near the shower/tub, and bath sheets. Bath sheets are extra-large towels and were always very appreciated by guests. I also used a basket or bin to roll and store extra towels on display in the bathroom. Overall in the bathroom, I left four hand towels, six wash clothes, four bath towels, and two bath sheets. If guests were staying for an extended period of time, I’d also take used towels and replace with fresh towels mid stay.
  • Amenity Kit – Use a small bag, like a travel toiletry bag, and fill it with random amenities that a guest might need. Disposable toothbrush, small toothpaste, eye mask, feminine products, etc.
  • Hairdryer
  • Toilet Scents – I don’t really like the everyday bathroom spray scents. They seem to smell fake and like chemicals, super strong, and really just mix with any unpleasant smells. Instead, I used two products that are used directly in the toilet bowl. One is called Poo Purri, it is sprayed in the bowl before any business is done, and creates a layer and the water that traps smells under the surface. Another product, Aesop Poo Drops, is in a fancy tincture and dropped into the water before or after use. Both of these products work great, and provide a much classier option than spraying and wafting the air with spray aerosol.


In the kitchen, I had a coffee/tea station set up for my guests. I left out a coffee maker, tea pot, a variety of tea, creamer, sugars, and fresh ground coffee. I also left out a bowl of various fruits. A great thing about leaving out these items was that I used them as well, I rarely had any waste or anything that would expire because guests didn’t use it. I drank coffee every morning, tea at night, and had fruit for breakfast.

In the fridge, I left some open space on a shelf for guests to put any of their personal food items or drinks that they might be traveling with and need to store. A big selling feature or my listing was the picture of the shelf of local beer that in the fridge that I offered my guests. I had about 24 bottles of beer in the fridge, with about four bottles of six different varieties. I had many guests say they booked my Airbnb because they saw the picture of beer that I offered. At first, I was nervous to freely offer so much beer, with the fear that they’d drink it all in an entire night.  I soon realized that my guests were extremely respectful of their free supply of beer, and would usually only have a beer a day which only added a few dollars to the cost of my hosting.

For safety, post a contact list for emergency numbers on the fridge or somewhere clearly visible. Post info for local clinics, hospitals, emergency numbers, police, etc. Also, post numbers for personal contacts you might have that you may want to share with them if something out of the ordinary happens and you aren’t available. I’d leave a number for a close friend, neighbor, and/or family member. This would be someone who knows your house and you and could provide the guest with any assistance if you aren’t available. Also, make sure all fire alarms are functioning, and fire extinguishers and available and stored in obvious locations.

Near my coffee station, on the counter, I had a small chalkboard that I’d also post information. At one time, I even redid the board with each guest writing their names on the board. “Welcome Jim and Kathy” Later, I just added wifi info, and would change the message depending on the season, special event, or holiday.


When hosting, you aren’t required to offer breakfast, but I wanted to have something for my guests and I wanted to be able to indicate on my listing online that I provided breakfast. I kept the items simple, yet fitting for what types of guests and what types of activities my guests were going to be doing with their day. I left CliffBars (They have hikers on the branding) out for my guests, one per person per night. I usually displayed them in a basket in their room with water bottles.

I had a full coffee and tea station in the kitchen including a coffee maker, tea pot, creamers, a variety of sugar, fresh ground coffee, mugs, to-go cups, and an assortment of tea.

I also kept a few items in the fridge, like yogurts, and left a bowl of fruit (bananas, oranges, apples) in the kitchen near the coffee maker.

I designed the breakfast so my guests would be able to easily pack it, and could enjoy it on their way to the national parks, or save and eat while they were hiking.

The only prep I had to do was leave out the granola bars, and if I was around in the morning I would always start the coffee maker.

Living Space

My condo has a living room that I kept cozy, yet organized/clean. I decorated with plants, maps, and a few blankets/pillows on the couch.

These are a few key items that I made sure to display in the living room

  • On the coffee table, I put a couple local guidebooks. I displayed a guidebook for Zion, Bryce, Southern Utah, and a few maps of the area. I was able to get free Utah maps from the tourism bureau, and left those out and encouraged guests to take them if they needed one.
  • Blankets/pillows on the couch
  • If I had high paying guests or a busy period of time, I would buy flowers at Costco and put them in a vase on a table.
  • During a guest’s stay, I’d leave a couple of lamps on in living room. This made the living space feel inviting and helped them navigate around the house at night.
  • I collected a few brochures and menus from my favorite activities and restaurants and kept them in the living room on the table as well. One folder contained the menus/brochures of my favorite restaurants in the area, and another one had brochures for shopping and activities.
  • I’d rotate candles with the seasons to make the living space feel even more inviting.
  • Another idea for a common space in your home when you are hosting guests from all over the world is to put up a map and then place pins/stars on all of the countries/states you’d had visiting guests. After the three years, I’d hosted guests from most US states, and about 27 countries.

I had lamps, and key night lights placed throughout the rest of the house in common space. I had a night light at the bottom and top of the stairs, in the hallway, garage, living room, and in the half bath. This helped keep any area a guest needed to access illuminated for safety, and ease of mind. The more things are lit, the safer and more inviting an area feels.


I advertised and offered use of the washer and dryer to my guests. It was rare that a guest actually used them, but they were very grateful when they did have the need. I kept the room very organized with easy and clear access to laundry detergent, fabric softner, dryer sheets, iron, and ironing board. It is also helpful to include a small note on the washer and the dryer indicating the normal/usual cycle to use.

Create an Online Listing

Now that your place is ready, and you are ready to start hosting, here are a few tips for how to launch your property on to Airbnb. Learn how to create a listing, best practices for communicating with potential and current guests, and some tips for cleaning.

Create a Listing

  • When creating a listing Airbnb will walk you through all of the essential steps on their website. They system will guide you step by step as to what information you need to add, and you can save your progress and go back and complete. It’ll indicate areas that you need to complete, and areas that you might need to improve. The easiest way to sell your listing to those looking for places to stay is to have great pictures. Even if you need to hire a friend with a nice camera to come and take photos of your place, it’ll pay off in the end. Great pictures make a listing, those looking online will be mainly judging your house/room by what they can see online. When taking pictures, make sure to stage your house appropriately (clean it!) and set out things that you guests might be looking for in a property. Show pictures of things that you offer, coffee station, snacks, bed, towels, bathroom, amenities, a photo of the outside, and a photo of anything that adds character to your house; decorations, pets, cool architectural features, etc.
  • At first, you made need to lower your price to stand out to guests. Most other listings that have been on the site will have some reviews, but you’ll be new, so you’ll need to work a little hard to get those first bookings. An easy way to get your first bookings, without going to low on your price is to start hosting before any big events that might be happening in your community. These events will sell out hotel rooms, and other established Airbnb listings and will make your listing stand out. After you receive a booking, impress your guests, and you’ll start to get good reviews which will move you higher up on the property list on the website.
  • When describing your listing in words, be as honest as possible. If a guest is the right fit, they will book. The easiest way to get bad reviews is to promise something more than what is actually offered or available, or hide any perceived negative aspects about your property. These will be the first things guests will critique, if you offer all of the information up front and describe your house correctly, they’ll know what to expect, and this will increase the positive things they have to say about their stay. I had a few things that I thought would distract guests from booking, but they ended up being the main reason a lot of guests wanted to book. I made it very apparent that I had a dog, showing pictures of her on the listing, and talking about her (Lizzie) in all of the appropriate places in my description. I didn’t want guests to book not realizing there was a dog at the house, and then have a bad experience. I thought a majority of people wouldn’t want to stay because I had a pet, but a majority of people booking with me indicated that they booked because I had a dog!
  • During the registration process, you’ll be able to set all of your control features within your listing. As a host, you are in charge of your property and control everything from price, who can stay, and what days you’d like to rent. You can block days, charge more for certain day, and set house rules. You can also set booking rules for the types of guests you want, based on security and on guest profiles. You can indicate if you want a verified guest, meaning Airbnb has verified ID, or if you want a guest that has only received positive reviews from other hosts. You can also indicate what type of guest you’d like to have stay and deny any interest for guests who don’t fit in with your house/lifestyle. I didn’t allow children, or people traveling with pets to stay. I’ve also seen other hosts who only allow couples to stay, or who only allow other men or other women to stay with them. If you are living in the house that you are renting on Airbnb, you are able to choose by these demographics, because it is your home and you are there. If you have a separate rental property that is a business, and not your home, you may need to be careful with denying guest reservations based on gender or child status.


Keeping your guests informed and staying in touch with them is key to making the hosting experience go as smooth and positive as possible. Information will help them understand everything about your home and their stay, and to help ease any anxiety they have about using Airbnb and ultimately staying in a stranger’s home.

Guests will often message you while they are searching for a location to stay, and it is crucial to message them back answering any questions as soon as possible. Thank them for their interest, answer questions, and let them know if they room is available. At this point, the guest will be messaging other properties in the area that they may like. The sooner you can answer them the better, you’ll essentially be racing to get to the guest before other hosts do. An early reply will also let the guest know that you are an engaged host, and gives them an expectation for the prompt service you’ll provide them throughout the guest/host process.

Once they have booked, thank them for their reservation and let them know what to expect. Give a quick timeline of when they can expect more information, and let them know you are always available if they have any questions about their upcoming trip and stay at your place.

A few days before arrival, send another message giving detailed instructions about their anticipated arrival. Give them the codes to any doors, or lock boxes, information about where to park, and how to find your house. If there are any tips for directions, include these, and direct them how to enter the address in a GPS, and where to look for detailed written instructions. Also, give them detailed information about how to arrive at your home, and where their room is located and anything else that needs to communicated about the arrival process.

The day of their arrival, shoot them another quick message, and a text to welcome them. I would send a text with the code information, and address so they have them both readily available. Having the address in a text will make it easy for them to put the info into their GPS, and they won’t have to dig through messages to find the code to your house. Sending a text will also give them your phone number, in case they need to text or call for any information.

During their stay, be welcoming, but not annoying, with how much you message your guests. After the first night, I would usually send a message or text asking them if they’ve found everything in the room, and if they had any questions or needed anything. You can also send them messages to make them feel more welcome to make themselves at home. Message to remind if they coffee is ready, and where it is, or to have a beer in the fridge.

At the departure of the guest, send them a message asking if they need anything, and thanking them for their stay.

With most guests, messages can be very similar, so I created a few files template messages and used them to communicate with each guest, tweaking the template if needed. Below are a few of the templates that I had saved and used for each guest.

  • Thank you for interest message, answer any questions
  • Thank you for reservation message, give them expectations for future communication and let them know you are always available if they need anything.
  • Soon to arrive message, give details about how to get to and in the house, including code for entry.
  • Day of arrival
    • Send text with code and address, ask if they need anything
    • Send message through Airbnb asking if they have any final questions before arrival
  • First-morning message, welcome them to have coffee/breakfast, etc.
  • The farewell message, ask if they need anything upon departure, and ask for any advice/improvements.


This is one of the most exciting times for your guests, but can also be a time of a little uneasiness. They are arriving at a strangers house, and sometimes don’t know what quite to expect. By doing a few simple things, you can ensure their arrival goes off without a hitch, and they feel welcome at your place.

Before arriving, give your guests a few directions and instructions. Instead of just giving them your address, give them a little more information as well. Point out any unique specifics that they can use to identify your house, and confirm that they are in fact at the right place. Mention a feature like a decoration, or a door color, or anything that sets your place apart in the neighborhood.

For entry into the house, I always used a keyless entry lock on my front door and a pin code garage door opener. Before guests arrived, I’d email and text them the codes to both with instructions on how to use the electronic lock boxes. I’d highly recommend using a keyless entry device, and not deal with the transfer of keys unless you absolutely can’t install a keyless entry lock.

If you aren’t available when they arrive to show to their room and make them feel welcome in the house, send instructions for how to find the room, and where to find any amenities. Give as many details for anything that might surprise them, talk about your pet if you have one, and how they will be greeted by them, or if there is anything else peculiar about your house or neighborhood.

Beyond just sending them written instructions, make the house physically welcoming. Leave on lamps in key places, this makes your house look inviting, and also allows your guest to see where they are going, which is safer, and reduces any uncertainty. I used small lamps on tables, nightstands, and the counter, and lit them with LED bulbs to save power. Also have night lights in key locations in hallways, stairs, and bathrooms to provide illumination at night in places the guests might be walking, or visiting (late night water runs or bathroom visits.)

In addition to a well-lit house for arrival, include a few handwritten items. I’d use travel themed sticky notes to write the guests name on and put above the door that belonged to their bedroom. I’d also use a similarly themed postcard and write a little note to them and leave it on the bed. I’d include just a little welcome message, my phone number if they needed anything, and the Wi-Fi information. In the kitchen, I had a small chalkboard where I’d also write a generic welcome message, with Wi-Fi information, and any season-specific messages (Happy Holidays, Happy Summer, etc.)


The more guests you have, you’ll start to realize you spend a lot of time cleaning and resetting the rooms. To save time in the process here are a few cleaning tips:

  • Keep extras sets of towels and sheets. This will allow you to reset the room, without immediately having to do laundry. You can reset the room with an extra set of sheets and towels, and then do laundry on the used set at your convenience.
  • Only buy white towels and white bedding. This allows you to wash all items in one load of laundry, and you can easily find white replacements if you need more towels or bedding.
  • Buy and store multiple cleaning supplies throughout your house. For example, keep glass cleaning everywhere you’d need glass cleaning. Keep one in the kitchen, and in each bathroom. Keep toilet/shower cleaner in each bathroom, and cleaning/dusting rags throughout the house. This will allow you to immediately clean something without going to other locations in the house to get your supplies.
  • Get help! Even if you aren’t hosting guests, hiring someone to help you with housework might be some of the best money you ever spend.

Interaction with Guests/Local Knowledge

One of the great benefits for a guest staying in someone’s home and having a host versus staying in a hotel is the local knowledge that will come from the host. I made it a point to know everything about my community and local attractions. There were a few Utah State Parks and National Monuments in the area that I hadn’t visited, so I spent a few weekends exploring my own backyard. I wanted to know everything about Southern Utah so I could offer any advice needed to my guests. I also tried every single restaurant in the area so I knew where to go, and what was the best thing to get at each dining location. I stayed up to date on current events in the area to make sure I knew about big and exciting happenings (also good so you know when your busy dates will occur) and about anything at all that would be exciting for a guest to experience in my community; festivals, concerts, theater, etc. Even when I was at home working, I felt like I was exploring a new destination because I forced myself to get out and see what might interest my guests.

Income Tax

The money you make from Airbnb or any other hosting activity will be taxable. Airbnb will send you a 1099 every year, and you will need to claim the income. Since you are claiming the income, you can write off any expenses you’ve incurred facilitating your Airbnb. Check with your accountant or tax specialist to see what and how much you can write off. To start, save any receipt that was for a purchase for hosting (guidebooks, household improvements, cleaning supplies, breakfast items, etc.)


  • Make your space inviting, clean, and safe.
  • Be quick to reply to potential guests to ensure they book your location.
  • Research dates for busy weekend/events in your area.
  • Be authentic, don’t exaggerate or over promise anything in your description and in communication with guests.
  • Ease any fears or hesitations guests might have by providing them crucial information in a timely manner and setting any expectations for conduct in your home.
  • Be yourself, and share your personality and local knowledge with guests to ensure they have a memorable local experience.
  • Save receipts for any Airbnb-related expenses, then ask your tax specialist what you can use as write-offs.

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions, below are some lists from above that will help when preparing your home.

Shopping List

I didn’t have all of these when I started hosting, so don’t feel intimidated. I collected items and learned along the way as I gained experience about what to add and what worked for my hosting style.

  • Click the link for my complete Airbnb shopping list, Airbnb Shopping List
  • Note cards – postcards, for personalized notes to guests
  • Multiple cleaning supplies
  • Lamps
  • Makeup removal wipes (These will save your white towels from being used for this purpose!)
  • Cute sticky notes
  • Travel themed note cards
  • White sheets, white towels
  • Amenity kit items
  • Guidebooks
  • Breakfast items
  • Fresh fruit
  • This is the site I used to buy small shampoos, soaps, conditioner, lotion, etc. http://www.accentamenities.com/
  • Pamphlets, maps, and other local information