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How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia A Guide
This comprehensive guide is designed for those aspiring to become Airbnb hosts in Colombia, offering a deep dive into 20 critical factors to consider before starting. It covers everything from understanding local regulations and market trends to optimizing your listing for maximum appeal. By following this guide, new hosts can navigate the initial stages of Airbnb hosting with confidence, ensuring they are well-prepared to create welcoming, profitable rental experiences.

How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia: A Guide

For potential Airbnb hosts in Colombia, we provide a detailed guide covering how to get started on Airbnb in Colombia with 20 aspects you should consider.

It’s hard work if you want to do it right and be in the top 20 percent of earners for your market. Being an Airbnb host in Colombia is not for everyone. Luckily, you found the articles on this website which means you want to do it right.

In this article, we look at 20 aspects you should consider to get started on Airbnb in Colombia.

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Our reliable partner, a leading real estate company, offers a wide range of services:

  • Transfer funds to Colombia
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  • Legal representation
  • Investment visa

1. Declutter And Organize

Some people seem to have a knack for this while others don’t. To do this right, start off with an empty home and add only the essentials back.

Having too much ‘stuff’ inside your home only makes it feel smaller than it is. There are other tangible benefits to have a decluttered house, including fewer guests leaving things behind.

You are going to have amazing photos (we’ll get to this) so you don’t want the guest entering your home and having the feeling that the photos are much better than reality.

If you plan to use the home on a regular basis, the only thing that changes is a special area or closet with your extra things that you remove when guests are staying there. This can also double as an extra linens/cleaning supplies closet

2. Create A Flawless Check-In Process

You’ll need to figure out a way for your guests to enter your home, easily and consistently upon every reservation. Preferably this can be done 24-hours a day with an electronic keypad or  you can use a lockbox.

Fortunately this can be easy in Colombia as many apartment building have 24×7 porterias (doorman) who can be used for checking in.

Otherwise, you can decide to personally greet each guest upon arrival. Be careful. Even though this seems service oriented, often times a guest has just been through a day of traveling and they don’t want to talk with you. There are other services out there which you can use to deliver or store keys. To find these services, search ‘for Airbnb key delivery service’.

Remember, to always have a backup option. I like having a backup lockbox somewhere nearby for emergencies. This could also be used by the cleaners, maintenance workers, or emergency personnel.

luxury apartments in colombia
luxury apartments in colombia

3. Purchase A Full Set Of Amenities And Consumables

You’ll want to purchase items that your guest will need plus some.

A frequent question and one that you may encounter is how much consumables you should provide. Some hosts provide more than enough, others provide a starter pack. Personally, I provide more than enough, but I don’t promise to restock during a month-long reservation.

None of the below items are mandatory, but I recommend getting everything from the list. There is a specific reason for everything. I’ve left off obvious items like a towel.

On the other hand, if you consciously thought about how this decision will affect your guests experience at your Airbnb (and how that will affect your review now which will affect your success later), then you’re on the right track!

Amenities

In your Airbnb, providing a range of amenities can significantly enhance the guest experience. Start with mattress and pillow protectors for hygiene and comfort, considering the diverse reasons people might stay, from parties to romantic getaways. Include ample hangers in each bedroom, a detail often forgotten but always appreciated. A full-sized iron and ironing board, along with a hair dryer, cater to everyday needs, while an international power adapter is a thoughtful touch for travelers from abroad. Keep it secure and offer it to guests as needed.

Kitchen accesories and more

In the kitchen, go beyond the basics with a complete set of amenities, including everything from strainers to can openers, especially if you’re aiming for longer-term stays. Providing laundry detergent with your washer is a small but significant convenience. Don’t forget a coffee maker and wine opener, essentials for many guests. Adding a fan, Netflix subscription, and Wi-Fi extender can make your space feel more like home. Ice trays in the freezer, filled and ready for use, are a nice touch. Lastly, offering both soft and firm pillows ensures all guests have a comfortable night’s sleep. These thoughtful inclusions can elevate your Airbnb from a simple stay to a memorable experience.

4. Hire A Cleaning Team Or Purchase Cleaning Supplies

If you clean yourself, and I recommend you do so for the first couple of months, you’ll want to purchase cleaning supplies.

If you hire a cleaning team or an Airbnb property manager, you won’t have to worry about this. You’ll only want to create a space in your home to store the supplies.

The difficult part is finding and hiring a good cleaning company or property management company. But, as it relates to cleaners, ensure they have a vacation rental or hotel cleaning experience as it’s a very different job description than a traditional home cleaning. Your cleaner needs to be prompt, check for damage/theft, left behind guest items, refill consumables, deal with stains, and more.

Don’t go budget on your cleaning team. Instead, opt for the premium team.

When you do, you must give them 100 percent responsibility over the cleaning process. That means, if the guest ruins a comforter, the cleaning team must replace it. The only communication you should have with your cleaner is sending them reservation information so they know when they need to clean (which can be automated quite easily).

5. Restocking Consumables

You, your cleaner, emergency contact, or property management company will take care of this.

If you live on-site, it makes sense for you to do this, at least in the beginning.

If not, then I recommend you either have the cleaners do this (you’ll have to pay extra) or stock 3+ months worth of consumables in the house for the cleaners to replenish as part of their job. The cleaners will tell you when the supply closet gets to 20% for any item at which point you will add more to the supply close.

6. Should You Allow Events At Your Space?

Similarly to your decision as to whether or not to allow pets, it is a personal choice as to whether or not you allow events. But, before you go with the almost automatic ‘no’ response on Airbnb, consider the following.

In addition to widening the pool of available FPGs, there are other benefits. Most events are professional operations. This means they are going to be extremely careful with your stuff. They’ve done this before and have processes around making the experience as smooth as possible for you (ie replacing any moved furniture).

They will pay a higher rate and they will not sleep in your space. Many events are held mid-day. Sometimes it can be an evening event, but they never sleep in your space except in the case of some company off-sites which are not really events anyways. They are meetings.

Keep in mind that you will have additional folks in your home above your max occupancy, typically.

7. Find A Residential Professional Photographer

This is the last step after you ready your house and before you put it online. 

You can take photos with your smartphone. Most smartphones take pretty good photos so this is an option for most of us. I found this neat course that teaches you how to effectively use your camera phone to take professional looking photos.

Also, you can hire a professional interior residential photographer. In Medellin Guru, we can provide you this service.

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8. Create Your Host Profile And Optimized Airbnb Listing

First, you’ll want to create your Airbnb host profile including verifying your identity.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Airbnb now.

There’s a good reason for that. Airbnb is in the business of making it very easy for you to become a host (ie earn Airbnb money). I think they’ve done a fine job here.

After you create your listing, do NOT activate it until you are ready to accept guests or no more than 1 month away from this time. Ideally, you make your listing live 1-3 weeks before you are ready to accept your first guest. This is because, on average, most reservations are coming right around 30 days out.

9. Emergency Contact

This is like insurance. Hopefully, you will never use it, but it’s a must. An emergency contact is one person the guest can get in touch with for any urgent issue that needs to be dealt with ASAP.

This person needs to be available 24×7. It can be you, your cleaner, your trusted friend, your neighbor, anyone who meets the above criteria: available and reachable 24×7.

If you have everything figured out, which you will within the first couple months, this person will never be called except in the case of a true emergency where you’d want to know ASAP anyways, like a fire or theft.

You want to let the guest know who this person is. You also want to be clear that this person is ONLY for emergencies and that all else should be communicated through Airbnb or whatever your system becomes.

10. Understand That Guests Do Not Read

This is something you’re going to learn for yourself very quickly, but I feel if I set your expectations early, you will be less frustrated when you experience it.

Don’t do what most hosts do and repeat yourself by adding more text. Counterintuitively, this worsens the problem. Respect your guest’s attention at all times.

The way to combat these non-reading guests is to put a phrase somewhere towards the end of your listing text and request the guest to type the secret word or phrase with their initial request. For additional details, read my very first blog post.

11. Create A Floor Plan

If you rent anything besides a room, I strongly suggest creating a floor plan. This perfectly sets you guest expectations. Mismanaged expectations result in negative reviews.

You have two options. The first option is free and can be created at FloorPlanner.com.

Or, you can purchase a custom, hand-drawn floor plan that matches exactly your Airbnb listing from my website. I have these on all of my listings.

12. Automate Your Messages

The reservation process, as you’ll soon find out, is consistent. That means you’ll end up saying the same things over and over again. This does not add to the guest experience, in fact, it decreases the guest experience because they have to ask you these basic questions and wait for your response.

Instead, you can fully automate this part of your hosting.

You have a few options. All Airbnb property management software like Guesty or Guestbook will have this feature available with all plans.

I use and highly recommend Smartbnb. Though it’s not a full-service PMS, if you are a host with just a few properties, this is very sufficient.

13. Should You Accept Pets?

Ultimately, this is a personal decision. But, consider the upside. Many guests travel with their pets. Not many hosts allow pets. If you’re a host who allows pets, you are widening the pool of future potential guests.

I find that listings which allow pets have a higher occupancy because of the severely restricted amount of listings that accept pets.

It is relatively easy to travel with a pet to Colombia
It is relatively easy to travel with a pet to Colombia

14. Identify Parties Before They Happen

There is an ever-present risk of guests throwing parties, or simply being loud after a night of drinking. First, you should be friends with your neighbor and let them know what you’re doing and why. Most people are ok with Airbnb, though I’ve come into contact with a few unreasonable neighbors who just seemed unwilling to cooperate. That’s when you hire the mafia to take care of them. Kidding.

Even though Airbnb rentals are no more subject to party animals than the occasional party thrown by a long term renter, you still want to minimize this risk.

Even good guests are allowed to get rowdy sometimes. But, we have a secondary line of defense for these instances. They’re called noise monitors. They record either noise in the form of decibel levels or the number of devices connected to the wifi network. Either way, they are designed to pre-emptively alert you to an impending party.

15. Create A Digital Guidebook

One of the best things you can do to increase guest satisfaction and automate your time in answering common guest questions is to create a digital guidebook. This is a webpage (preferable) or application that contains relevant information the guest needs for check-in and while at your property.

This is so important because of timing. If the guest books a month in advance, you do not want to send them check-in, wifi, and parking information upon reservation confirmation. At this point in time, the information is irrelevant.

This is doubly true if you have a really important house rule they must follow. If you tell them a month before check-in, they will forget. Instead, this should be communicated near the actual check-in date.

16. Consigning Your Spot with a Property Manager

Entrusting your property to a professional property manager ensures optimal care and management. With their expertise, your property is marketed effectively, tenants are screened rigorously, and rent collection is streamlined. Additionally, property managers handle maintenance requests promptly, ensuring your investment maintains its value.

Consigning your property to a trusted property manager offers peace of mind and frees up your time for other endeavors. Let experienced professionals handle the day-to-day operations while you enjoy the benefits of passive income and worry-free property ownership.

17. Respond To Guest Reviews

As you found this article, you’re going to be an awesome host who receives lengthy Airbnb reviews (the length of the review does affect your search rank).

But, we learned above that guests don’t read. That means they’re going to miss out on the praise from prior guests. Bummer.

Additionally, if you respond to positive reviews, then you can also respond to the negative review you will eventually receive without calling added attention to it.

18. How Many Vacation Rental Platforms Should You List On?

One. Maybe, two. It’s counterintuitive, right?

But, think about it. If you list on five vacation rental platforms, that means you need to find tools that integrate with five vacation rental platforms and you need to create five accounts and do everything five times.

What that means is you will be a mediocre host on five platforms rather than an epic host on one platform.

The argument to list on a second platform is if your area is niche. If it is a family retreat vacation, a spiritual yoga thing, a destination for chef’s, etc. then you may consider listing on the vacation rental platform that these folks use.

If you simply want to list on another big site like booking.com, then I suggest you only open your calendar on the second platform to the next 30 days only. You don’t need a booking on an alternate platform three months out. Just use it as a sort of extra insurance for unbooked and near-term days that are increasingly less likely to be booked the closer they get.

You can also consider creating your own website. This is very individual. Only do this if you know it will be of benefit. If you are simply wondering if this would be a good idea, do not do it. Creating a website takes time and money and, most of the time, it’s not worth it.

19. How To Identify Bad Guests Before They Book

If you want to minimize your headaches then you need to quickly become an expert at spotting unworthy guests. It’s quite easy to do and comes down to two things:

Content of Message

Completion of Profile

If the profile is incomplete, you simply ask the guest to complete it and tell them why you want them to do this. An incomplete profile is one without a photo, without text, without a verified ID, etc.

We have a separate article about how to identify problem Airbnb guests before they book.

20. Consider Getting Extra Airbnb Insurance

Airbnb does have their own insurance and I’ve had many interactions with them from a $50 broken lockbox in 2013 to a $6,000 cracked marble table in 2017. All but one of the cases have been reimbursed.

As a side note, I no longer and recommend that you never submit a claim for less than $100. To nickel-and-dime your guest at the expense of your reviews is a bad idea. And, you better understand that Airbnb is around to make a profit. They keep records of all the interactions you have with the company. If you start making $50 claims every other week, you will simply be blanketed denied. Save Airbnb insurance for large claims.

Even better, consider getting third-party Airbnb insurance. I’ve researched many of the top providers and I recommend (though I have never used) Proper Insure.

Are you looking to buy or sell Real Estate in Colombia?

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Medellin Guru Real Estate Service

Our reliable partner, a leading real estate company, offers a wide range of services:

  • Transfer funds to Colombia
  • Legal analysis property background checks
  • Sales agreement
  • Deed registration
  • Legal representation
  • Investment visa

Medellin Guru’s Airbnb Series

Medellin Guru's guide to buying, selling and renting apartments and choosing a neighborhood

On the Medellin Guru website, we have a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to buying, selling, and renting apartments and choosing a neighborhood in Medellin found in several articles, including:

Buying and Selling Apartments

Renting Unfurnished Apartments:

Renting Furnished Apartments:

Choosing a Neighborhood in Medellin:

Also, we have several articles that can be used to help foreigners choose a neighborhood in Medellin:

The Bottom Line: How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia: A Guide

Although the above and the last article seem difficult, almost unmanageable, the point is that you are doing everything from the start instead of figuring it out on the way. You don’t have to do any of the above right away. You can start with low-quality photos. You can first hire a bad cleaning team, then realize you need to pay top dollar to rid yourself of the myriad of cleaning issues. I’ve done it. I’ve been a host of many properties, I’m a property manager, I’ve worked for a property management company with 70+ Airbnbs. I’ve seen it all.

It’s a bit more complicated than you thought, right? It’s like poker. You can learn to play in 5 minutes, but you can spend a lifetime improving to master the sport.

I’ve provided you with an information overload in this article. It is my hope that you will save this post and refer back to it. You do not need to take everything in at once, nor should you.

If it doesn’t immediately make sense, then wait until it does. Trying to cram extra information into your head when your brain doesn’t yet understand it’s usefulness is like trying to understand a foreign language with no practice. Your brain does not recognize the new sounds and deems it unnecessary. You forget it as soon as you heard it. No different from the information in this post. Take it slow.

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One thought on “How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia: A Guide”

    1. Originally with Airbnb the Host lived in the property with their guests.
      It was what made the Airbnb experience unique.
      Increasingly now the property is exclusively used by the guest. Oftern there is no contact with the host.

      We ran an Airbnb property in Europe for 8 years and had thousands of guests who shared our property with us and loved it.
      Equally we prefer to ‘live in’ and create a special stay for our guests.

      We would like to recrearte that experience in Colombia in a Finca in the countryside

      Does that model of AirBnB work in Colombia?

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