How To Profit From Airbnb in Smaller, Non-Tourist Cities

Olivia Elsher

Sep 25, 2020

Feature How To Profit From Airbnb in Smaller, Non-Tourist Cities-min

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So you don’t live in New York, San Francisco or Miami. Your hometown isn’t a major tourist destination that draws visitors year-round. Does that mean you can’t profit from Airbnb in smaller, non-tourist cities? Is your spare room doomed to be empty, with nothing to show for your venture into short-term rentals?

Of course not!

Though living in an area with high traffic boosts bookings for an Airbnb, it isn’t a make-or-break factor. People just like you have earned a healthy income from hosting visitors, even in less popular areas. It comes down to your willingness to learn and capitalize on your region’s advantages.

Here are some strategies to rake in additional guests so you don’t get stuck with an empty room and no revenue.

Non-Tourist Cities That Do Surprisingly Well Profiting From Airbnb

You can glean profit from Airbnb for any number of reasons. Even if you aren’t in a tourist hotspot, you might find proximity to different landmarks will earn you bookings.

Data from Mashvisor indicates that some of the top performing locations (in terms of property cap rates) include cities like Traverse City, Mich., Ithaca, N.Y. and Portsmouth, Va. Experts recommend investing in properties with a potential Airbnb cap rate above 8% — and these cities either exceed or come close to reaching that figure. Portsmouth, VA has a cap rate of 9.7%, for example, while Traverse City has a still-impressive rate of 7.3%. That’s a tall order for a location that isn’t a major urban center.

These locations aren’t exactly known for being tourist attractons, but they still enjoy a relatively high Airbnb occupancy rate — at 65 percent, 60 percent and 57 percent, respectively. Why? They’re close to other areas of potential interest to Airbnb guests.

Traverse City offers a variety of cultural events, and Ithaca boasts both Cornell University and Ithaca College. Parents visiting from out of town will likely be looking for a place to spend the night, and hotel reservations can be a tricky proposition come graduation time. Airbnb offers an alternative that’s less expensive and more convenient.

Portsmouth is home to a naval shipyard, a feature that could draw a certain kind of person to visit. Just because your town isn’t within walking distance of the Empire State Building or the Golden Gate Bridge doesn’t mean it’s devoid of value.

How Can You Grow Your Airbnb Profits?

Find that value and accentuate it!

Maybe you happen to live in one of these small cities. Maybe you’re still not convinced there’s a market for your Airbnb. Now is the time to do a little research into your own non-tourist city to see what you can build from.

No place has everything, but every city has something. Your mission is to find what makes your area special and drive that point home. Stressing your unique selling proposition is a smart way to generate interest in your location. It can also help you determine what the busiest times of the year may be, so you’re prepared to put in the extra time to keep your spare room or entire Airbnb offering top-notch.

Offer the Best Experience Possible

You may have fewer guests booking your home, but that doesn’t mean you have less opportunity to make a good impression. Even in a non-tourist destination, how much you can profit from Airbnb hinges on your business’ reviews. And there are plenty of techniques for securing positive ones.

You’re responsible for your guests’ experience, from the moment they walk through the door until the moment they leave. Their comfort is your top priority, so be sure to provide every amenity possible. Go one step beyond the extra mile.

Consider including these as part of your Airbnb package:

  1. Chargers for every model of smartphone device
  2. A comprehensive list of attractions in the area
  3. Fresh toiletries in their private bathroom
  4. A complimentary bottle of wine
  5. Hypoallergenic beds, bedding and pillows

When a guest leaves their final review for your accommodations, the difference between four and five stars may fall on something you might otherwise regard as unnecessary or unimportant. But the fine details are what distinguish you from other hosts, particularly in a competitive market.

Personal presentation is also essential to running a profitable Airbnb. Guests won’t want to stay overnight in an unfamiliar place with a stranger they deem untrustworthy, so it’s crucial the image in your profile is friendly and not off-putting. The more information you make available, the better your credibility.

Entrepreneur has an informative article full of additional tips to help you stand out from the crowd.

Cover Your Bases Online

Preparing your home for guests is only part of your responsibilities as a host. Another significant side of Airbnb is maintaining your reputation on the site itself, ensuring you rank high in their search engine. After all, if nobody can find your listing, no amount of complimentary wine will matter.

In a non-tourist destination with a high saturation of other Airbnb business owners — all competing for the same bookings — you can stand out by adhering to Airbnb’s search engine optimization best practices. Start with keywords.

If your home is in Ithaca and you notice people are attaching the keyword phrase “Cornell University” to their Airbnb searches, placing it in your descriptor text can boost your rankings. Populate your description with landmarks of interest in your area.

Another way to gain attention for your listing is to take advantage of social media. On a free platform like Instagram, you can upload pictures of your home, detail benefits and add hashtags for free exposure. Someone browsing the #Ithaca tag might notice your post and like what they see.

Profit From Airbnb in Non-Tourist Cities

Airbnb owners still find success in more rural locations, especially if you can take advantage of a local university, military base or community event. Play to your strengths, work with what you do have and provide a memorable experience your visitors will want to share with other people.

Follow the advice in this article, and you’ll see a higher return on your investment in no time at all.

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