Unique home listings a key to unlocking extra Airbnb cash

Airbnb listings in NZ
Do you have a spare yellow submarine? If so, you could make a fortune. Photo credit: Supplied / Airbnb

Kiwis looking to make a bit of extra cash by renting out their properties could maximise their returns by having a unique home, research has revealed.

Airbnb, which operates in Aotearoa alongside the likes of Bookabach, Bachcare and Expedia, says the market for one-of-a-kind stays - like domes, windmills, lighthouses and trains - have increased by nearly 50 percent globally in the last two years.

That's allowed Kiwis with unique listings to earn over $12.5 million in 2021 alone, the company said.

Airbnb launched its new feature Categories in May, in a bid to make it easier to search for unique listings - including an 'OMG! Category' with the weirdest homes available.

In Aotearoa that includes the likes of The Boot house in Nelson, the Hobbit-like 'Lake End' retreat in Taranaki and the Yellow Submarine in Marton.

While treehouses and barns are popular, it's tiny homes that are booked the most by Airbnb customers, with more than 2.5 million nights booked in tiny homes in 2021 across the globe.

Of course New Zealand likes to do things a little differently, with farm stays here beating out tiny homes for the number one spot.

Tiny homes don't necessarily mean tiny returns though. Around the world they collectively earned their hosts a total of more than US$195 million in 2021 - the top grossing unique space type. 

A deeper dive on unique hosts reveals that many are over 50 and most are women. In Aotearoa more than half of all unique listing hosts were aged 50-plus, and more than seven in 10 were women

By contrast, guests booking unique stays skew to the younger end with more than eight in 10 guests booking unique stays aged under 50 in Aotearoa, though still mainly women.

The result? Unique stays average 4.8-star reviews, globally – with shepherd's huts, barns and trains receiving the best average reviews.

And they generally provide an excellent introduction to hosting, with nearly half of unique stays around the world serving as their host's first listing.

The most wishlisted unique homes around the world are:

  • The Georgia Treehouse with hot tub (East Point, Georgia, United States)
  • The Mushroom Dome Retreat & LAND of Paradise Suite (Aptos, California, United States)
  • Redwood Treehouse Santa Cruz Mtns. (Watsonville, California, United States)
  • Trullo aromatic green (Ostuni, Apúlia, Italy)
  • Historic Tower with Views of the Lake and Countryside (Tuoro sul Trasimeno, Umbria, Italy)
  • Luxurious stone villa in Crete (Chania, Kriti, Greece)
  • Rainforest Tree House with Hot Springs (San Carlos, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica)
  • DreamCaught Treehouses - Treehouse (Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai, Thailand)
  • Live like a King in my Castle (Galway, Ireland)
  • Holiday in Prussian village church (Havelsee, Brandenburg, Germany).