What is the difference between hosting a private room and an entire home?

Among the large variety of properties rented short term online, AirBnb proposes 3 home types. Entire place, Private room and Shared room. They are very different on many levels. They will be rented by different type of travelers with different mindsets and characteristics. Let’s have a look at the differences between them and illustrate them on the elements that owners can discuss on forums.

Definition

The airbnb website describes these types of home like this:

Entire place:

Guests have the whole place to themselves. This usually includes a least one bedroom, at least one bathroom, and a kitchen. The hosts must indicate in the description if they will be present in the property (ex: “Host occupies first floor of the home”)

Source: AirBnB

To give more details, an entire home is an apartment or a house where hosts will not share the living space at the same time as the guests. It can be the owners’ primary residence that they rent out when they are on holiday, or a secondary place that is furnished and dedicated to rental. It can be for short term rental full time or part time.

In the last sentence, I think that Airbnb is confusing because it gives the impression that the host can live in the same place. It creates a possible mix with what some people would qualify as a private room. In large houses where the basement or a floor can be dedicated to your guests, the limit can be unclear. The position seems to be that if there is a door that limits strictly your area and the guest area, it can be called “entire house”. This means that, if there is not a door completely separating the two living spaces, it is not an entire home. It is a private room.

The entire places are often investments bought with the goal to rent it short term in order to make profits with a high profitability. When it is a primary residence, renting it during the holiday is considered as an opportunity for the host, and not as a strategic investment, considering that he might not even be the real owner of the place.

Statistics for entire homes: 

Depending on the city, they will represent between 70% and 90% of the listings available online. They will be denser in the very touristic areas and the prices will be higher the closer they are to hot spots, especially if they have a view. They will always be more expensive than in the other types of houses.

Private room:

Guests have their own private room for sleeping. Other areas could be shared.

Source: AirBnB

A private room is a bedroom inside your home where you can host guests. They could also have access to a private bathroom or to a shared bathroom and other shared areas depending on what you propose and advertise. A private room can have a separate entry, for example a sliding glass door leading to the terrace.

If your place allows you to propose a large zone that is almost totally privatized for your guests, like a basement studio or a room with a private entrance and bathroom, it can be a difficult choice to categorize it as an entire home or a private room. The risk is that guests who thought they had an entire home are disappointed at their arrival. In that case it is better to advertize it as a private room, and the guests will be very pleased at their arrival. It is better in that sense that the other way around. the risk is to have a bad review afterwards. So, describe in the first lines of your listing profile what you have so there will be no doubt or surprise, and it will explain the higher price compared to the other private rooms in the area.

you could be scared to miss out on some bookings since people can easily search by entire place, but private entrance still isn’t a filter on airbnb.  Airbnb can’t have a proper designation for all the configuration of places that exist in the world. they have to standardize things to keep choices simple for their website users. 

If that place has no proper kitchen, use the amenities listing to say that there is “no kitchen” if you are advertising it as entire house. and if you have put a microwave and a small fridge, indicate that there is “no kitchen sink”.

In the past, Airbnb asked you to pick among ENTIRE HOUSE or PRIVATE ROOM or SHARED SPACE what was most accurate. Apparently now the platform gives the choice of “guest suite”, which is more suitable for in-law apartments and attached studios.

The host rents a private room as an opportunity to get extra income and very rarely buy the place for that purpose.

I would recommend listing this as a Private Space > Guest Suite > Studio (0 rooms)

Statistics for private rooms: 

They will represent between 30% and 10% of the listings on AirBnb, Homeaway or VRBO. They are usually equally spread all around the cities and are often half the nightly price of entire house.

Shared room:

Guests sleep in a bedroom or a common area that could be shared with others.

Source: AirBnB

A shared room describes several configurations where the guest doesn’t have a private area for himself apart from its bed. The guest can sleep in the living room of the owner without a clear separation of the space, it can sleep in the same bedroom as the owner on a different bed, or it can sleep in a dorm with other guests that he doesn’t know.

Statistics for shared rooms:

This type of home represent the small part of the market with between 0% and 5% of the listings available on the main platforms. They are usually as cheap, or cheaper, than private rooms. Exactly like for spare room, the host rents a bed as an opportunity to get extra income. It is never an idea he already had in mind when he bought the place or he would have considered having a private room.

The experience from the guest perspective: Privacy

The most obvious difference among these three types of home is privacy.

In an entire place, the level of privacy is at its maximum. The guest will be like at home, without interaction with anyone between the check-in and the checkout. There is no shared area, no reason to clean your dishes in the kitchen or to tidy the bathroom for others. You can live there the way you like as long as you respect the house rules, you don’t damage anything, and you are not a nuisance to the neighbors.

That place can be totally independent, or it can share walls with the owners place. If the rented place has a private entrance and if there is no overlap of indoor common spaces with the owner’s premises, it qualifies as an entire place.

In a private room, the privacy is constrained in between the four walls of the bedroom and the area privatized for the guests, like a private bathroom, sometime a part of the backyard or of a terrace. The owner should not go into these private areas during the stay of the guests. The rest of the apartment will be the private area of the owner and shared areas. Describe clearly these shared spaces in the description of the listing it order not to upset the guests, and to set boundaries if they complain. The owner should share the kitchen with the guests. He can decide to share the living room and other areas like a garden, a parking space, a pool. These areas are a possible meeting place where the interactions can happen on a daily basis. House rules are important here. The host can set up quiet times when the guests should not make noise and not use some noisy amenities, like a washing machine, a dryer, a mixer. A shared bathroom implies to discuss the time of use that fits to the schedule of the owner and the guests. The owner should show a clear limit of its private area, possibly lock it if he has valuable things.

In a shared room, the privacy of the guest is almost nonexistent. The owner should provide a box where the guest can lock its belongings so feel he has a secure storage place for when he is not home. To give some visual privacy, the owner should put a curtain or arrange the furniture to make a visual separation with the rest of the place.

The experience from the owner perspective:

Privacy again

Exactly like from the guest point of view, the owner perspective will very different according to the type of place.

The entire place he owns and rents out all year round will not affect his own privacy. It will just be an investment, a source of income.

If he is taking care of the logistics himself, it involves a bit of work will not be a passive income. If he outsources the check-in check out and cleaning to a property manager, it should be like a passive income. The calendar for available dates will be open full time.

If he is renting his own residence when he is away, it means that he accepts that strangers will sleep in his bed and use his private space. The privacy is affected in the limits of what he accepts the guests to use and possibly snoop in. The calendar for available dates will be open only during the owner’s time away and he should be very carefull. He must be sure of his dates.

For private room and shared room the privacy is similarly affected in the sense that it will be like living with a new roommate every other day. The good point is that he will not be bothered more than a few days if he does not get along well with the guests. The bad thing is that he will never know in advance if these guests are a good match with him and with the place he proposes. He can only trust their reviews that have been published by previous hosts, if any. The only way to leverage these reviews is to not accept instant bookings, or restrict them on certain criteria when he sets up the listing profile. The calendar for available dates will be open to fit the owner’s eagerness to rent, and he should be very carefull when he accepts to have guests in his home.

The calendar for available dates will be open full time.

The use of the amenities

A significant aspect to have in mind concerns the life expectancy of the amenities available to the guests.

In an entire place, all the equipment available is only at the disposal of the guest. If the place is rented all year long, some disfunctionment can happen and will not be fixed before a guest reports it. The guests can use some kitchen and bathroom appliance improperly and they can worn out very quickly. They will pull and push buttons harder than necessary, they will open windows or cabinet doors stronger than needed, they will leave lights on all day long. It is the situation when problems can take long to be fixed. If the owner or the property manager is slow to solve the problems. The consequences will be described in the guest reviews. This is a fact. It is not as bad as it may sound but you should buy only strong and reasonably priced equipment to avoid frustration. In the end, it can be an extra cost to the owner. It has been the root of conflict between owners and property managers.

In entire places available only when the owner are on holiday, the risk of misuse of the equipment is the same. So it is important to explain how to use everything during the check-in, to write the instructions in a guidebook and to put labels with specific information on the most fragile amenities. If you don’t, you increase the risk of frustration for the owner itself than for the guest.

In private rooms and shared rooms, the guest has access to the amenities used on a daily bases by the owner in the kitchen and the bathroom. Any problem or misuse can be taken care of immediately by the owner. You can be more carefull that things are used properly and avoid bad surprises. Though the risk still exists and the owner should detect the problems before the departure of the guests, and sometimes involve the guests’ security deposit. Make everything guestproof !

State of your walls and floor.

In all type of house, the guests will not be as carefull as you wish they would be. After a certain amount of guests you will realize that there are marks on the walls, on the wood floor, that some new stains appeared on the carpet or on the sofa. This is normal, predictable and has to be taken into account when you set up your space. A good advice is to protect everything the most efficient way you can.

Do not spend too much money in renovation and use non-fragile and easy to wash materials.

Decoration

In entire places dedicated to full time rental, the decoration will be neutral, impersonal. It can look like an Ikea catalogue or the photo from a decoration magazine. The owner may decorate with personal things if he wants but it is not often the case.

In shared rooms and in the shared areas of private rooms, the host will have a lot of personal elements that reflect his personality and his tastes. In that case the photos will reflect the atmosphere of the place and the guests will take it into account when they book. They will select a place where they feel safe and where they can relate to its vibe.

Demografics and Money

According to different the posts published on forums, guests tend to prefer entire house than private home. If it is a general statistic, it can be explained through the scope of the guest profile.

Entire house is usually rented a higher price than private rooms because you get more privacy and space. They will be the choice of adults who prioritize privacy. They will select the level of luxury in regard with their income and propensity to spend their money.

  • A couple who wants a romantic getaway will look for privacy of a place without other people around.
  • It will also be the case for groups of young adults who are coming to your city for a special event, and are all gathering to enjoy the night out in your city. They don’t want to feel constrained not to make noise or not have their privacy. They will want a large place with many bedrooms, and possibly a pool or a nice living room where they can hang out, have a drink and share a nice meal together.
  • Families with kids will definitely prefer entire houses.

There is a wider range of guests for entire house because these guests are more diversified, and they have the money to pay for their privacy.

The private room are usually rented by students, young couple with a small budget, or travelers from a country where the income is not as high as in your own. They are also the target of backpackers and digital nomads who want more privacy and calm than in a youth hostel, contact with locals, and a reasonable price.

The share of all travelers who fit to this description seems to be smaller. Also, if they had the money to have an entire place, they would choose this type of housing. It means there is a smaller demand for private room

Shared bedroom will be rented by lonesome travelers on a very tight budget.

The mindset

Very rarely, other criteria are involved in which type of housing are booked by a guest. They can be as different as there are people booking a place online.

Interaction

Some guests have specifically wanted to stay in a home with a host, to get to know a culture that is different from theirs. In that case, I suppose that the guest would indicate that in the message he is sending to the host before confirming the reservation and validate that it is ok with him.

Some don’t want any interaction, and if they don’t have the income to get an entire place, they don’t want to have to go through the host’s house and share spaces like the bathroom. In that case they would be very picky on the private room.  

Eagerness for the location

The entire spaces dedicated full year to rental will be more concentrated in the hot spots, in the touristic areas. This is a consequence of the fact that guests don’t want to worry about commuting time. The owners see it as an opportunity to charge higher prices. It also means for the owners that their place will cost more to buy, so he might have to calculate the rentability correctly. This is the supply and demand.

we you look at maps on the rental platforms, the entire places rented for just a few weeks per year, the private rooms and the shared rooms, are more widely spread on the different neighborhoods of cities. Though their night price is usually reasonable, the guests who rent them will accept not to be located on the hot spots in order to save money. To compensate the location, some guests like digital nomads, balance this choice with the opportunity to stay there longer to visit the area.

Different types of problems.

From the experience of host who propose both type of places, it seems that in entire houses there are more problems than in private room. The owners usually complain about house rules breach relating to noise, bad conditions and smoke smells. The guests don’t respect the space as well as when it is shared with the owner. The presence of owners in a house is like a continuous surveillance, which makes a big difference.

Absent minded guests might make small accidents with your personal things in the shared areas of your private room. they can be clumsy and unfamiliar with the amenities that don’t have this shape in their countries.

In entire places and private room, the wall paint and the floors can show marks and wear out faster than usual. It is due to the constant suitcases that are opened and closed with no special care.

Conclusion

  • There will always be a share of good and bad experiences, no matter which type of rental you propose,  if you know the risks you can act and diminish the scope of the risks.
  • If you rent a private room : it is important that you enjoy the interactions with your guests. I’ve learned a lot about other countries and cultures, it’s an amazing opportunity.
  • Guests don’t read correctly the descriptions. If your place has an unusual configuration in between entire place and private room you might get guests who get confused because they didn’t read properly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *