Lagos Airbnb Owners: Experiences and Challenges of Airbnbs in Nigeria
Aug 9th, 2019


It can be said that the general idea of the Airbnb platform is to motivate guests to blend into communities, belong anywhere and live like locals while travelling. I think that just like Uber is redefining the transport industry, Airbnb is doing the same in the hotel industry.

I popped my Airbnb cherry in June of 2018 in Beirut. It was a group trip I was leading and I really wanted to foster togetherness and community amongst all of us. I knew a typical hotel wouldn’t give us that home feel so I opted for either a guest house or an Airbnb. I was stunned to see how stylish the Airbnbs in Beirut were, however I was worried we were going to fall into a “what I ordered vs what I got” situation.

 

The turned Airbnb was exactly as photographed and what we ordered was what we got! It was such a stylish space owned by an architect who creatively used up cycling to design her space. Our host, Rouf, was also very warm; he recommended the best clubs and bars in Beirut and was always available to order shawarma for us at 1.00am in the morning, LOL!

In 2018, Lagos was ranked among eight fastest growing markets in the world.  Lagos-is-one-of-airbnbs-fastest-growing-markets. The growth trajectory is reflected in the increased listings of Airbnbs in the city. We asked five Airbnb owners in Lagos what inspired them to start an Airbnb and some of their experiences in running the business. Here is what they had to say:

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO SET UP AN AIRBNB?

Yejide Runsewe

Lawyer/ Founder, Travel CompanyNaija Nomads  and Casa Nomads

I was inspired by my previous experiences in Airbnbs abroad. Staying at an Airbnb allowed me the liberty to feel at home while away from home and it was then I decided I wanted people to feel this way when they got into Lagos, where I reside. I researched Airbnbs in Lagos and a lot of them where very disappointing. I made up my mind to create not just a space, but one that’s tastefully and creatively done.

Dami Adepoju

Founder Hausse Hotels

I was mostly inspired by my background in hospitality consulting. I set out to provide affordable and well-designed travel accommodation, after observing the lack of mid-scale hotel accommodation in West African cities like Lagos.

Bidemi

OwnerTastefully Designed Lagos Apartment, 1004 Estate

Being a self-acclaimed traveller, Airbnb is usually my first accommodation option. My inspiration came from the freedom and flexibility to feel at home whilst being away from home and I reckon there are a lot of people like me who would also love to experience this same feeling when they come to Lagos; some for the first time and others as repeat visitors. Also, very importantly was the fact that I had extra rooms in my apartment and figured I could make some money from being a host.

Opeyemi Tokoya

Owner: Lekki 99

I wanted to provide quality hospitable/accommodation services in Lagos (Nigeria) and Airbnb was the perfect platform to ensure this service is provided properly.

Baba Agba

Owner: Eko Black Pearl Hausse – Entire apartment

For me, I wanted better return of investment.

AVERAGE COST TO SET UP YOUR AIRBNB?

Yejide

Phew! It costs somewhere between N5-7 million setting it all up. Beds, living room furniture, inverter, paint job, windows, decor, the whole works! Honestly, it should cost way less if you are looking to just put something basic out there but I had a vision on what I wanted the space to look like. I got an artist to draw on some of the walls and these things are expensive. I also had to get a solar inverter that costs about N1.7 million.

Bidemi

I actually spent about N420,000 i.e about $1,166 on each room but I reckon people have spent less on their own listings. For me, it was important that the space looked nice and cosy so I was willing to spend a bit more to achieve this look and feel.

Opeyemi

Approximately N5 million including the cost of rent, service charge and furnishing to my taste.

Baba

I think that depends on the current state of the place. However, I’d say, N5-10 million

WHAT IS THE UNIQUE SELLING POINT OF YOUR AIRBNB? 

Yejide

The unique selling point about my apartment is definitely the beddings! I carefully took my time with our beddings because I know how important good beddings are. All our sheets are a minimum of 400 thread count, our pillows are down alternative, we use full spring mattresses and all the beds have mattress toppers. When you sleep on a bed in our apartment you’ll never want to get up, trust me!

Another unique offering is our experiences around Lagos. Being an experience curator, we decided to offer our guests tours within Lagos. We realize most people come into Lagos either for business meetings or to see friends and family. They aren’t aware of the gorgeous sites and attractions around them. So we offer tours to these places.

Bidemi

For me it is definitely the lagoon view from the bedrooms and travelers love this about my apartment + as I mentioned earlier, I went the extra mile in making sure the rooms looked inviting and aesthetically pleasing.

Dami

We are building a professional hospitality brand, as opposed to one-off short-lets.  We try to select spaces that have been thoughtfully designed and we also provide some amenities that guests expect in hotels – white sheets, adequate towels, regular housekeeping, friendly and professional customer service, and other amenities.

Opeyemi

Ours is our interior design. The quality and finishing, the ambiance, free SociaLiga and movie tickets, discounted rates and our quality and prompt customer service.

Baba

Our unique selling point is most definitely our location in VI and interior decor.

WHAT TYPE OF LISTING(S) DO YOU HAVE AND WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH? 

Dami

We have two and three bedroom apartment listings mostly in Victoria Island and Ikoyi, currently.  We launched with our first apartment late November 2018.

Opeyemi

It’s a 1 bedroom apartment with a living room, toilet/bath and kitchen.

Yejide

I have a three bedroom apartment in Lekki. You can either book all three rooms or two out of the three rooms.

Baba

We have a 2 bedroom apartment in VI.

Bidemi

I have 2 apartment-style listings on the platform – Private rooms in a shared apartment and I started in October 2018.

PEAK PERIODS IN TERMS OF BOOKINGS?

Yejide

I only launched my space in March however I can tell December/January is peak period as our apartment is already booked for the first half of January and some parts of December. There is also a spike during the summer months; middle of July-August and of course Easter period. Thinking about it, every time there is a public holiday in Nigeria, we get bookings around that period.

Dami Hausse

Yes, just like with most lodging establishments, there is seasonality in demand.  We opened right before Christmas which is peak season, late January through February slowed down (February was particularly slow due to elections), March picked up and business has been steady through the summer.  Things will slow down likely in November to early December, until it picks up again for the holiday.

Bidemi

It is safe to say that Mid-December to early January sees a lot of influx from people who return home for the holidays. Last year was my first ‘December’ surge experience on the platform and my place was booked the entire month.

Baba

The election period was baaad!!! Generally, the big holidays are good, the rest of the year it is business people coming in and out. The type of property really dictates what trend you experience.

MAJOR CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED IN RUNNING AN AIRBNB IN LAGOS? 

Yejide

Power problems which has thankfully been fixed now. We had to buy a new generator as well as a solar inverter so there is power at every point in time. Another has to be payment issues, Nigerian cards are not allowed on the Airbnb platform so in order to set up an Airbnb in Nigeria you need to have an international card.

Opeyemi

The cost of providing 24 hours electricity. Often times, we have to sort alternative sources which are not cost efficient at all.

Bidemi

I think till date, the biggest challenge is remittance. Airbnb is not able to send your payments to a NGN domiciled account. You need to have an international account to get paid. They really need to look into this.

Dami Hausse

One of our biggest challenge is scaling. Our business model requires owners to furnish to our standards and this can slow down on-boarding considerably.

Baba

Well we have a property management company so no stress

WHAT IS THE DEMOGRAPHY OF MOST OF YOUR GUESTS (AGE, LOCATION, NATIONALITY?)

Yejide

Nigerians home and abroad between the ages of 25-40.

Dami Hausse

Our guests lists cut across all age groups, different demographics for different seasons. Families and groups during the holidays, Single business travelers during the year. Diaspora Nigerians, Nigerians, Americans, Europeans, etc.

Bidemi

I will say typically foreigners between the ages of 26 – 35.

Opeyemi

So far we have had 5 guests who were all Nigerians, average age range is early 30s.

Baba

Most of our guests are Nigerians visiting for business.

MOST MEMORABLE GUEST EXPERIENCE?

Yejide

This was not a good experience but it was memorable. Has to be one of the times our generator was not functioning properly and our guest came in from Canada at night. He stayed in the dark for over 6 hours and we were all going crazy, trying to fix it. I was scared he was going to leave and ask for his money back but he was so gracious. He even made a joke about giving him a “Nigerian welcome”. We offered him an extra night and he promised he will be back next time he visits Nigeria.

Bidemi

There were two experiences that stood out for me. I had a guest who was at my place for 4 days and when he was leaving, he left a $100 tip and the second not as pleasant as the first was being locked out of the apartment because a guest slept off and left his key in the keyhole so I couldn’t access the apartment till the next day when he woke up. I totally understood because he had been traveling for weeks and it took a toll on him.

Dami Hausse

It wasn’t a pleasant one that I can assure you. We accepted guests from an offline agent who left the place less than desirous upon their departure.  We learned some lessons about vetting our booking sources after that.

Opeyemi

None so far honestly.

Baba

I don’t deal with guests

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AIRBNB START UP?

Yejide

Don’t be afraid to start small and scale up. I wanted to start with a bang so it took me about 6 months to make up my mind and an additional 4 months to actually set the ball rolling. Do not compromise on power, clean & fresh towels, good water, good internet and great customer service!

Dami Hausse

You must love dealing with people!

Bidemi

Simple. Be intentional about the design of the space.

Opeyemi

Attention to detail and prompt customer service.

Baba

Get a good property management company!

Have you ever tried staying in an Airbnb in Lagos, what do you think of it (them)? What do you think Airbnb owners can work on to improve their facilities? Please feel free to share.

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