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Make Money From A Spare Bed

The combination of New Zealand being such a tourist-friendly country and hotel accommodation, on the whole, being so expensive has created a perfect environment for a new breed of holiday.

The good old Kiwi B&B, bach rental and homestay have long provided a great way for people to see the country – as well as for Kiwis to cash in on our wonderful backyard.

But now the advent of websites such as Airbnb and 9flats has revolutionised the way people travel – and it’s given us all a good option for making a bit of extra money out of our spare bedrooms.

The basis of these sites is that you advertise your room or rooms with them, show when they are available and how much you charge, and then wait to see if anyone wants to stay.

Airbnb was born less than eight years ago when San Francisco roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia needed help with their rent and designed a simple website to list three air mattresses (hence the “air” part of the name) for $US80 including a free home-cooked breakfast (hence the “bnb“”).

It’s now grown to be a company worth $US13 billion with more than 800,000 listings in hundreds of countries around the world – for reference, that makes it worth more than Hyatt Hotels Crop.

Of course, inviting strangers into your home isn’t for everyone, but there’s a heap of reports out there which detail success stories for those who like meeting new people or for the elderly suddenly finding themselves with more space, or even those who just want help paying the rent or the mortgage (a 2013 New York Times article reckoned “more than 50% of Airbnb hosts depend on it to pay their rent or mortgage today”.)

How Bedpost can help

When you’re deciding to make money out of an extra bed in your home there are three golden rules: be honest, be transparent, and set your own rules.

Because Airbnb has a rating system inherent in its setup, any negative feedback will impact on your business. That means that if you’re posting images of the room for rent, they must honestly reflect the standard of accommodation you’re offering.

  • Bedpost has a range of beds to suit every budget, which means you can upgrade your spare room to make more money or simply choose a budget model to convert a small storage room or sleep-out. Whatever you decide, just make sure you’re honest in how you sell it.

  • It’s important to be transparent by creating a full profile and bio – Airbnb will keep your name, phone number, address and email address secret until a guest completes the booking process, but creating an accurate profile and describing the type of bed, linen, pillows etc. is vital to keeping your feedback positive.

  • Your guests will want to be able to enjoy their sightseeing after a restful night’s sleep so it’s important that you show them exactly what steps you’ve taken to ensure their comfort. If you’ve invested in good quality pillows and a good mattress from Bedpost, tell them.

  • It’s your house so you set the rules. It’s fine to add a cleaning charge per stay, determine maximum occupancy and ground-rules around smoking etc. Bedpost has great advice to get the most out of your mattress – all of which will help you set up your spare room rules for your guests.

What you need to know

Although renting out a spare bed seems to have taken off in New Zealand – even The Herald ran this article on 10 must-see New Zealand Airbnb spots – there are a few caveats.

  • Remember it’s entirely up to you to accept a guest – if you have any reservations about someone: 1) you can read reviews of the guest, just as they can read reviews about you; 2) check references on their profile page; 3) check any social networking sites to see if you have friends in common, chances are that if you’re the type of person that’s going to rent out a bed, you might well be the type of person who would also rent a bed when you’re travelling; 4) Check whether the guest is “verified” on the site – a process which double-checks their identity.

  • Know your rights and protect your property. Airbnb offers a “host guarantee” for up to $1million in damages, not including theft, but you can still ask for a security deposit as part of your house rules. has a free insurance policy to cover around $750,000 in damages. It’s a fair idea to ask for a copy of any guest’s passport as well.

  • Of course, it goes without saying that income should be taxable – check with Inland Revenue if you’ve got any queries.

  • Invest to make money. Although there are a wide variety of rooms and beds for rent – top dollar will come from offering something solid, something clean and something comfy. If you don’t want to sleep on the bed, it’s unlikely your guests will thank you for palming it off on them. Visit Bedpost to see our wide range to suit every space and style you can think up to help turn your spare room into a business.

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