Elevate Your Customer Experience with Us        Call/ WhatsApp: +27 82 765 9238      Email: training@hospitalitycourses.co.za

How to Turn/ Formalize Your Airbnb to a Proper Guest House

Are you an Airbnb Host and wish to turn or formalize your property into a Guest House? Then this article is for you.


Over the past couple of years, a new phenomenon took the hospitality industry by storm! Airbnb posed a new threat to the traditional hotels and let’s face it, Airbnb disrupted the training hotel industry and operators had to act quick to overcome this big threat.


Are you running an Airbnb and would like to turn or formalize it into a proper guest house? Then this article is for you. 


What is Airbnb and how is it different to a guest house or traditional hotel?


When Airbnb was launched, it basically started with letting out your spare bedroom at your home. In 2007, 2 hosts welcomed 3 guests to their San Francisco home, and has since grown to over 4 million hosts who have accommodated over 1.5 billion guests from across the globe. In simple terms, what makes Airbnb different is that it is an informal accommodation service while a guest house or hotel is formalized and operates under strict regulations.


Since launching, Airbnb has grown from being just a spare room letting business to letting out apartments, cottages, villas, whole houses and many more. If you would like to know in detail, the difference between Airbnb and B&B or Guest house, visit this website here. So what happened? Traditions B&Bs, Guest Houses and Boutique Hotels joined Airbnb! Yes, it is not uncommon nowadays to fine a lot of guest houses listed on Airbnb.


So, what to do if you would like to formalize your Airbnb to a Guest House?

Many Airbnb hosts are scared to turn their properties into guests houses merely because of stricter regulations, but let's face it, Airbnb has it's own set of challenges. Take for example, during the lockdown, when some accommodation businesses were allowed to operate, strict rules were put on Airbnbs to not operate yet.


Depending on the kind of Airbnb, you may want to consider formalizing it for the various reasons listed below:

  • Airbnb is merely a platform that allows you to let your space out. If the company can crash, you will be left with no business.
  • The authorities do not recognize you as a business. As such, you cannot even put up signage and billboards for your Airbnb.
  • Because you are not a formalized business, you run the risk of accommodating unscrupulous and dodgy characters. I have seen horror stories from Airbnb hosts.
  • You cannot be graded by the tourism bodies, so you only rely on guests’ reviews to benchmark your property against your competitors.
  • You have to rely on the platform and pay a lot of commission from bookings generated.
  • Your income is not consistent and the competition is very high.
  • Some guests just don’t care. They will break or damage your property.
  • Airbnb is more guest-centric than host-centric. This means if they often take the guest's side in a dispute and make you as the host provide much proof and documentation befoe helping you with a resolution or relief.
  • Cleaning your property can be detious. If you hired a cleaning company, they have a different objective to yours. While you want your property to be cleaned properly, they are more concerned with cleaning fast and getting to the next job.
  • Guests break your rules. E.g. partying/ curfew, smoking, not parking in designated areas, etc. They can also irritate your neighbours. 
  • Bad guest reviews can break your business easily and quickly.


This article is for current Airbnb hosts who are operating from a house or a villa and wish to formalize it to a B&B, guest house or boutique hotel. If you are operating from an apartment, then this may not not work for you.


In South Africa, Airbnb hosts and business owbers who want to run their residential property and run a formal accommodation business, whether a B&B, Guest House, Boutique Hotel or Lodge, need to apply for a permit in terms of Section 61 of the public health by-law. This permit will only be issued when the establishment has complied with the requirements as loutlined in Section 62 of Chapter 10 or the by-law. I have covered in detail legal requirements to run a guest house in another article.

The requirements to be complied with include providing:

  1. You will need to get consent from your municipality and/ or estate owners to convert your residential house into a B&B, Guest House or Boutique Hotel. The municipality will have to consent/ re-zone your property.
  2. Plans have to approved by the Development Management Department.
  3. You have to get a fire clearance certificate – from the fire department.
  4. You have to get public health permit – from Environmental health.
  5. You have to get Certificate of Acceptability – from Environmental health.
  6. You have to get a business license – from Environmental health.
  7. You have to get a liquor license (if you wish to sell alcohol).
  8. You will attract a different kind of clientelle. 


Other licenses may include TV license and others, depending on what you will offer.


What are the advantages of turning your Airbnb to a Guest House?

Well, there are many advantages by I will mention a few below:

  • The fact that your business is formalized means that you can proud to build a legacy for yourself and family.
  • You can proudly put up signs and advertise your guest house.
  • You can take bookings directly without overly relying on booking sites and paying them commission fees.
  • You can still run your guest house on Airbnb, booking.com and other platforms to make extra income.
  • You can join local tourism agencies and they will recognize you.
  • Owning a guest house is long term, unlike Airbnb which can be unpredictable.
  • You can personalize your service to your guests.


Do you need to study if you want to manage your own B&B, Guest House or Boutique Hotel?


Yes, it if advisable to do a course where you will learn to manage your B&B, Guest House or Boutique Hotel professionally. We are running a guest house management distance learning course which is packed with information to help you. The course takes 3 – 6 months to complete and you study in the comfort of your own space. We look forward to enrolling you.



Are you currently running an Airbnb? Where are you based? Are you planning to formalize it in the future? Please leave us a comment or drop us an email on training@hospitalitycourses.co.za or call Sam on +27 82 765 9238