Earn income from the sharing economy

Private Property South Africa
Jackie Gray-Parker

Economy biting? You can boost your income by letting out your property short-term on the budget rental market.

It’s no secret that the economy is underperforming and that living costs are on the rise. Chances are your salary isn’t keeping up and you’re beginning to look around at other ways to boost your income. Or it may be that you simply want to put more money aside for a dream home. One way which you could potentially do so is by making available your under-utilised property to travelers via an online travel rental platform.

The informal lodging trend has taken the world by storm in recent years thanks to online platforms such as Airbnb and SafariNow. Through these platforms, travellers can book unique, often more affordable accommodation than that offered by traditional hotels and B&B’s. Properties offered range from modest, single rooms which can be booked for a night all the way up to luxurious castles and villas which can be rented for months at a time.

The premise is simple. If you have a spare cottage, room or property which is sitting idle, all you need do is list it on a rental platform. Both hosts and guests are typically charged a small fee for a booking by the platform concerned. Just about anyone can rent out a property and start hosting guests within a short space of time subject to certain provisos.

Of course there are financial and safety concerns which need to be addressed if you plan on going this route. Typically, payments are facilitated by the rental platform, thereby greatly decreasing the risks to both hosts and guests. Airbnb also offers a host guarantee which covers certain damages.

From a personal safety point of view, Airbnb offers hosts the opportunity to ask potential guests some questions before they accept a booking. Airbnb guests and hosts can also view reviews and verify their identities by connecting to social networks.

Tom Williams, CEO of local e-commerce travel specialist SafariNow.com says that property owners who list their properties via such platforms can quickly start earning a passive income and truly make their assets work for them.

For those considering renting their property in this fashion, Williams recommends selecting a few online platforms and using visitor traffic as a key factor in the selection process. The next step is to find a way to stand out from the crowd and differentiate your offering he says.

Notes Williams: “For example, package your accommodation with some sort of activity, such as a whale watching weekend in Hermanus, or learning to surf in Muizenberg.”

He adds that it’s also vital to provide good photos of your property as well as a clear, detailed description.

“Put some effort into taking attractive photographs of your property and providing a good description. You can have the most beautiful holiday home to let, but if the photographs are poor and the description is dull, you will have a low success rate.”

He also recommends providing enough lead-time to ensure that your accommodation is booked for seasonal holidays. For example, according to Williams, the average lead-time varies between 10 days for spontaneous trips and 40 days for more established periods such as Easter and school holidays.

Concludes Williams: In short, it’s important to do your homework and align your property with a tried and trusted rental platform. In doing so, you will be able to ride the wave of budget travel and leverage your assets during the impending downturn.”

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