So, enough about the portal I've been using to promote my short-lets. It goes without saying, airbnb and I has formed a good partnership. In the past 8 months, I have collected over RM50k and have another RM20k in further bookings. This does not include over RM100k of overlapping bookings I had to reject. But is all this worthwhile?
To be honest, lately I have found all this to be extremely tiring and the compensation is not really that fantastic. Unlike the normal 1-year or more tenancy, besides a fully-furnished property, one has to provide linen, towels and absorb utility fees. Typically, guests who book their stay on these type of home-stay arrangements tend to look for value-for-money accommodation. So, they won't pay good money like in a hotel but they will use your utilities like they are staying in a hotel. Many of my guests will have the air-conditioning on throughout their stay. As a result, my utility bill goes up 200% to 400% above the average.
On average, the occupancy for a full time short-stay property i.e. a property that I allocate fully for this purpose is 30% to 40%, never exceeded 50%... With daily rate collection about 30% to 50% higher than the usual long term tenancy and added with the need to absorb high utility charges plus provide cleaning services, my properties end up grossing 10% to 20% lower than the usual long term income.
In the early days, I was fortunate to have some really nice and friendly guests to begin with which encouraged me to dive deeper into this business. But as I went on, I came across some very undesirable people. Some were very aggressive and even rude. Then I began to wonder if this is really worth doing. The money isn't good to start with and it is also very tiring checking-in and checking-out guests and dealing with their demands.
The top most demand is WIFI. Surprisingly, some guests couldn't care less if the construction next door is noisy, the electricity got cut for half a day due to maintenance or the maid has forgotten to come in to do the cleaning. But if the Internet is down or slow, the whole world comes down, they'll call you to demand an immediate fix or a refund and they write a bad review! Once you get a bad review and especially it is about the WIFI, you see a sudden drop in bookings for the rest of the month...
But nothing prepared me for what happened last weekend. Due to a failed water pump, water polluted with high sediment contents flowed out of taps affecting the whole building of one of my properties. One of the guests decided she couldn't take it and she moved out. Then she demanded a refund from me. It is cases like this which made it so frustrating. I understand why the guest felt this way but at the same time, we charge more than 50% lower than market rate for a similar property. Certainly, we do not operate as a 5-star hotel nor do we aspire to be one. We have situations like this which is beyond our control and yet there is totally no tolerance from the guest.
Then I have a family from China who booked a 1-bedroom apartment for his family of 5. I told him that might be a bit challenging. Because I was trying to be nice, I said maybe I can upgrade them to a 2-bedroom apartment if it is available But as soon as they placed the booking, the 2-bedroom apartments all got booked up during the same period... So, I immediately wrote to him to tell him of this situation. He uttered his dismay and cancelled the booking. I was happy to authorize a full refund but unfortunately airbnb's policy is the admin fees from a cancelled booking is not refunded. Till this day he has been bugging me to pay him this admin fee.
I am giving it another 4 months to fulfill all the rest of my commitments to airbnb bookings then I'm going to close shop. We are going back to long term rentals from then on....