Inese Aleksa – AirBnB host, Photographer | Latvia

You are one of the best hosts of Airbnb in Latvia and have a status of “Super Host”. Can you please tell us how everything started with Airbnb and in general how Airbnb regulated in European countries connected with taxation?
I started working as a host recently, about 8 months ago. Before that I worked for Airbnb for several years as a freelance photographer — I photographed houses and apartments of other Hosts. This is a unique experience because due to the work of a photographer, I was able to visit many houses and apartments, communicate with interesting people of different professions that provide the guests from around the world their own unique accommodation. So, year after year, I developed a certain concept of apartment design and I tested in practice the set of my own rules concerning the guest accommodation and cleanliness maintenance, and it worked. My observance and experience as a photographer had a great role in this. But I knew people who just as quickly received Superhost status and in the aftermath retained it for years, initially having no experience in this job, but having a great desire to welcome guests, communicate and learn new things.
As for the taxation for this kind of activity, I can only say about Latvia and my own experience. I work as an “individual entrepreneur”, do accounting, submit a tax declaration every year and pay income tax of 23%. You can work on the Airbnb platform as a private individual or as a company, and depending on the amount of income, the tax rate also changes. Each country has its own tax laws and Airbnb advises you to contact the local tax authority for the consultation.
Also, you mentioned about the professional photo shooting services you and your company provide. Could you please tell us about it and about your portfolio?
Thanks to Airbnb, I became an interior photographer – they found me on social networks (then I was filming, mostly portraits and people), offered cooperation and taught interior photography in practice, sending video materials, tutorials and helping to edit photos year after year. After a couple of years, I started to receive orders from other companies: hostels, IT centers, private developers, office centers, etc. I didn’t really work on my portfolio, there is a website where some of my works are represented so that a private customer can see what he can eventually get. I receive private orders not through the website, but through personal channels. If the company is satisfied with my work, they recommend me to other companies. Latvia is a small country, here works the word of mouth principle.

What would you suggest to newcomers on Airbnb? What are the top 3 principles starter should follow?
In my opinion, the principles here are more than 3, but if I had to select only 3 top ones, then they would be the following:
1. Love to work, be ready to receive guests 7 days a week, 365 days a year, always keep in touch with your guests and assistants.
2. Don’t be afraid to face various stressful situations that require quick response and decision-making, as there will be numerous situations like this.
3. The love towards cleanliness and attention to detail. Even though I put this principle third on the list, but it can rightfully be in the first position. Guests will not return, leave good reviews and recommend you to their friends if you do not pay enough attention to purity. The details are also very important: the opportunity to use additional towels or a warm blanket, the opportunity to turn on the muted night lighting, also leave different books and maps of your country on the shelves, make sure that guests will be able to make tea or coffee in the morning, provide a wide range of shampoos and shower gels and other details that do not require large investments, but demonstrate that you care about your guests.