6 Tips for Profitable Airbnb Prefab Cabins and Houses

Guest Editor | March 2, 2021

Tiny cabins startup, Getaway, recently raised $41.7 million, bringing the business to $81 million in total funding. That’s quite a lot for a startup that rents prefab cabins at $129-$299/night. The cost per cabin? Around only $40k per Airbnb investment.

While most hospitality businesses are in survival mode during COVID, Getaway is doing quite well. According to TechCrunch, “bookings are increasing 150% year-over-year and the startup’s Outposts are operating at nearly 100% occupancy.”

Getaway prefab cabin near Dallas

You Can Do the Same with Prefab Cabins

When you read about startups that have raised so much money, you may wonder what makes them so unique. Well, in this case, the answer is: not much. And, there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing with prefab houses.

In fact, some people are already doing it. They buy prefab houses, install them in their backyard or on land they bought in the countryside, and then rent them as Airbnbs. Most charge similar night rates as Getaway, and some even more.

One of the most epic Airbnb cabins I’ve discovered is in Iceland. They charge around $500/night and their prefab model is from Manta North with a base price of around $105,000.

Tiny Prefab Cabin in Iceland by Manta North

I also saw a much smaller prefab cabin in the Catskill Mountains for about $275 a night that costs less than $10k to buy.

So, I started collecting these interesting Airbnb rentals, paired them with their prefab manufacturers, and created a database.

The database contains houses from the US, Canada, and Europe and includes a link to their website (or Airbnb listing), location, average rental price per night, prefab model, and the base price of that model.

Find the Best Location for Your Prefab Cabin Airbnb Investment with MarketMinder

Glamping startups like Getaway or Autocamp target highly competitive markets like Yosemite, Napa, etc. With MarketMinder you can play an opportunistic game and identify less mainstream vacation rental areas in the countryside that:

But what about exploring multiple markets side-by-side? If you want to see how Airbnb cabins in Upstate New York destinations like Windham and Hudson stack up against prefabs in Catskill and Saugerties, use the Market Comparison tool.

Marketing Comparison tool showing 4 markets in New York State

There are plenty of these areas where you can launch your business with prefab houses and cabins.

Airbnb listing data Cornwall, New York, in MarketMinder

Best Practices for Profitable Prefab Houses and Cabins

When creating this database, I spent hours exploring websites and researching rentals and I discovered that there are some repeating patterns you can copy.

#1 Good pictures are everything
You can find two Airbnb listings with the same prefab house but with radically different prices. They are both in a good area, the experience is similar (it’s the same prefab house), they have good reviews, but one has amazing pictures.

People are searching for unique experiences, and if you can capture that in your photos, your listing is going to be successful. Airbnb loves to promote these unique listings, so you might also be included in some of their blog posts and you will have good content for sharing on social media.

#2 Instagram is your way to get direct Airbnb bookings
Most of these listings with amazing photos start an Instagram account, and I was surprised at how many followers they have. You can grow your audience organically and then promote your website where people can make direct bookings.

#3 A-frame Airbnb cabins are hot
This is something that I observed first from all the ads you can see on Facebook and Instagram. A-frame cabins are visually appealing. And, if they perform well in ads, they will work well on your Airbnb listing, too.

Tiny prefab homes and cabins are hot on Airbnb, via Cabin Porn on Instagram

#4 Prefab cabin manufacturers enter STR business, too
I talked with a couple of manufacturers who started to rent their cabins and tiny prefab homes on Airbnb.

Their initial motivation was to create “showrooms,” as their customers wanted to try them first before making a purchase. Makes sense.

But some of these manufacturers quickly realized that the rental demand is high and they started to rent more of their cabins and treat it as a business. This way they also have better contact with customers and can gain better insight when iterating their prefab models and Airbnb tiny homes.

#5 Picturesque windows correlate with price

Pictures make prefabs pop

#6 No internet, no problem
While having an Airbnb investment property without an internet connection is considered almost unacceptable these days, prefab rentals in nature might be an exception to this most basic of amenities.

Some prefab houses are advertised as places to disconnect from city life, be closer to nature, and practice a “digital detox.”

Price Your Prefab with Smart Rates

Having an awesome prefab cabin doesn’t mean much for your revenue if you don’t price it competitively. Smart Rates suggests exactly when and by how much to update your prices to reflect factors like seasonality, events, weekdays, weekends, and other considerations.

Now, pricing your prefab has gotten even more powerful. Smart Rates is now integrated with Futurestay, enabling simpler, personalized pricing suggestions that maximize both revenue and occupancy. The power of optimized, automated pricing is in your hands with Smart Rates and Futurestay.

AirDNA Smart Rates, the best Airbnb Pricing Tool

This tool will help you pinpoint your perfect rates and play a huge role in perfecting your Airbnb cabin pricing strategy. Just enter your market, and see how prices look up to six months out — just in time for a new summer or fall Airbnb investment.

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I hope these insights were helpful. If you’re considering renting a prefab cabin or house on Airbnb, I’m curious about your progress. I write about starting hospitality businesses on my blog and share my discoveries as @faborio on Twitter.

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