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How to Start a Successful Airbnb Business in Calgary: The Comprehensive Guide

How to Start a Successful Airbnb Business in Calgary. The Comprehensive Guide.

TOP Airbnb cities in Alberta, Canada


With over 150 million users worldwide, Airbnb has truly disrupted the traditional accommodation sector. One city that’s witnessing a surge in Airbnb’s popularity is Calgary. This guide will arm you with all the information needed to start a successful Airbnb business in this dynamic city.

Read about Mastering Airbnb Payment Options for Hosts

Legalities of Starting an Airbnb in Calgary

How to Start a Successful Airbnb Business in Calgary

Research Local Laws

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In Calgary, licensed Airbnb hosts must adhere to specific bylaw regulations which vary based on the number of rooms available for rent in the property.

If You’re Renting Four Rooms or Fewer

Under the Business Licence Bylaw, hosts of short-term rentals with four rooms or fewer must guarantee basic safety standards:

  • Emergency Exits: The room you occupy should have an egress window, providing an alternative escape route in emergencies. However, multi-storied apartments, condo buildings, and lofts are exempt from this requirement due to existing fire and safety measures.
  • Occupancy Limit: No more than two adults (excluding minors) are permitted to sleep in one room.
  • Booking Limit: Hosts are restricted to accepting a single booking at a time. Nevertheless, one individual can reserve on behalf of a group.
  • Emergency Contact Information: Your host must provide emergency contact details and display them prominently.
  • Guest Record Keeping: Hosts must maintain a record of their guests’ information, including names, email addresses, and total number of guests.

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If You’re Renting Five Rooms or More

For properties offering five or more rooms for short-term rentals, the host must comply with the safety standards identified by The City’s fire safety inspection, in addition to the aforementioned requirements.

Expectations for Guests and Hosts

To maintain harmony and safety within communities, The City of Calgary has put forth bylaws addressing good neighbor relations. Here’s an overview of common issues:

  • Noise: Residents have the right not to be disturbed by excessive noise. Noise levels should be kept within permissible limits, especially between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. from Monday to Saturday, and 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. on Sundays and holidays.
  • Permitted Vehicle Parking: Some residential streets in Calgary have areas designated for permit parking only. Your host must register your license plate number with The Calgary Parking Authority if you plan on parking in these areas. Parking in areas without signage is free in residential neighborhoods.
  • Garbage and Recycling: In line with its waste and recycling program, Calgary provides residential homeowners with three separate bins for waste disposal: a black bin for garbage, a blue bin for recyclables, and a green bin for compostable material. Your host should provide access to these bins to ensure waste is properly sorted and disposed of.

Acquire Necessary Permits

Once you’ve understood the legal aspects, apply for a business license with the City of Calgary. This license allows you to operate your Airbnb legally. 

Effective February 1, 2020, the Business Licence Bylaw introduced a two-tiered licensing system for short-term rental hosts. Hosts are required to acquire a separate short-term rental business license for each property they offer.

For Tier 1 hosts who offer between 1 to 4 rooms for rent, the licensing fee stands at $100 per property.

Meanwhile, Tier 2 hosts who offer 5 or more rooms for rent are subject to a licensing fee of $172 per property. Additionally, they must pay for a fire inspection at a cost of $104 per property. Importantly, Tier 2 hosts will only be issued a business license after a satisfactory fire inspection of the rental property.

Identifying Your Target Market

Recognizing your potential customers is a vital first step in establishing any successful business. In the case of an Airbnb in Calgary, this means understanding who is likely to book your property.

In 2019, Calgary welcomed over 4 million tourists. This substantial number signifies a lucrative market for short-term rentals. However, this broad tourist base can be further segmented into different potential target markets. Identifying which one you wish to cater to can help guide your decisions regarding the property selection, location, pricing, and overall setup of your Airbnb.

  • Business Travelers: Calgary, being an economic hub, attracts a significant number of business travelers. If you aim to target this group, you might want to choose properties in proximity to business districts, offer amenities such as a reliable internet connection, a workspace, or expedited check-in and check-out processes.
  • Tourists: Tourists visit Calgary for its abundant natural beauty, cultural events, and festivals. Properties near tourist attractions or with easy access to public transportation might appeal to this group. Amenities such as local travel guides, tourist brochures, or passes for local attractions could add value to your listing.
  • Temporary Residents: There are people who may need temporary accommodation, for example, those moving to Calgary for short-term contracts or those between homes. They may prefer properties that feel homely and are located in residential neighborhoods. Having a fully equipped kitchen, comfortable living areas, and offering long-term stay discounts might be attractive for this group.

By identifying your target market, you can tailor your property to suit their needs, potentially leading to higher occupancy rates, better reviews, and ultimately, a more profitable Airbnb business.

How to Start a Successful Airbnb Business in Calgary

How to Find the Right Airbnb Property

Look for a Profitable Property

In the context of setting up an Airbnb business, finding a profitable property means identifying a property that can potentially generate a positive return on investment.

This involves several steps:

  • Market Analysis: Analyze the current Airbnb market in Calgary. Understanding the trends, the average daily rates, the seasonal demands, and the popular locations can help you determine which properties could be profitable.
  • As an example, data from AirDNA shows that now, the average daily rate for an entire home listing in Calgary is $107. This kind of information can help you gauge the potential income from your property.
  • Property Evaluation: The value and potential profitability of a property for Airbnb rentals can depend on several factors including its location, size, the number of rooms it has, its condition, and the amenities it offers. Properties in or near popular tourist areas, such as Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park, or the Olympic Plaza, can attract a higher number of guests due to their appeal and convenience. Proximity to key landmarks, such as Calgary Tower or Stephen Avenue Walk, or essential facilities like Calgary International Airport or the city center, can also command higher rental rates due to their central locations.
  • Financial Analysis: This involves assessing the potential income against the costs. These costs can include the mortgage payments (if any), the cost of furnishing and maintaining the property, utilities, cleaning costs, Airbnb fees, and any other costs associated with running the business.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can make a more informed decision about which property to invest in for your Airbnb business, and how to price your property to both attract guests and maximize your profitability.

Prime Neighbourhoods for Airbnb Rentals in Calgary: A Comprehensive Guide for Hosts

Analyzing Real Estate Market Trends

The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) offers comprehensive market trend analysis, which can be a valuable resource when finding a profitable property.

Preparing Your Property

A 2019 survey found that 96% of guests consider cleanliness a crucial factor when choosing an Airbnb.

  • Home Improvement. Investing in home improvements can enhance your listing’s appeal. The average cost of a kitchen renovation in Calgary ranges from $13,000 to $20,000. While a significant investment, this can greatly increase your nightly rate.
  • Safety Standards. It’s mandatory for Airbnb hosts in Calgary to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on their property.
  • Adding Personal Touches. A survey revealed that 80% of guests choose Airbnb to live like a local. Personal touches like a guidebook of your favorite local spots can enhance your guests’ experience.
  • Creating Your Airbnb Listing. A study showed that listings with at least 20 photos get twice as many bookings as those with fewer images.
  • High-Quality Photos. Consider hiring a professional photographer. This typically costs between $100-$200 but can significantly boost your listing’s visibility.
  • Clear and Catchy Description. Use your description to highlight your property’s unique features. Be sure to include nearby attractions, available amenities, and any house rules.

Setting Competitive Airbnb Pricing

Price your property competitively. One way to do this is by using Airbnb’s pricing recommendations, which are based on a number of factors including location, property type, and time of year.

Airbnb Price Optimization for Vacation Rentals

Providing Excellent Customer Service

A 2017 study found that customer service is a key factor influencing Airbnb guest satisfaction. Read more about Airbnb Guest Satisfaction Secrets.

  • Communication is Key. A quick response rate can improve your ranking in Airbnb’s search algorithm, leading to more visibility and bookings. Read about Airbnb Best Communication Practices for Hosts.
  • Extra Services. Offering extra services like airport pick-up, which can cost around $50 in Calgary, can enhance your guests’ experience.
  • Dealing with Negative Reviews. Negative reviews can affect your booking rate. A professional and constructive response, however, can mitigate any potential damage.

Promoting Your Airbnb Business

Proactive promotion can increase your property’s visibility and attract more guests.

  • Social Media Marketing. With over 25 million Instagram users in Canada, social media marketing can be a powerful tool to showcase your property and attract potential guests.
  • Collaborating with Local Businesses. Partnering with local businesses, such as tour operators or restaurants, can provide your guests with unique experiences, making your listing more attractive.
  • SEO for Your Airbnb Listing. Include keywords in your listing title and description that potential guests might use when looking for accommodation in Calgary.Read more about SEO optimization by HeartHomes here

How to Start a Successful Airbnb Business in Calgary

Managing Your Airbnb Business

Effective management is the key to a successful Airbnb business.

  • Understanding Airbnb’s Algorithm. Factors like high-quality photos, quick response rate, five-star reviews, and competitive pricing can improve your ranking in Airbnb’s search algorithm.
  • Using Airbnb Property Management Software. Using property management software, such as Hosty, can help you manage bookings, communicate with guests, and handle finances more efficiently.

Calgary, Canada: The Comprehensive Guide to Airbnb Income Taxes

Potential Challenges

Running an Airbnb business comes with its own set of challenges.

  • Dealing with Difficult Guests. Create a clear set of house rules and communicate them to your guests before their stay. This can help manage expectations and prevent potential conflicts.
  • Regular Maintenance. Regular maintenance is crucial to provide a safe and comfortable experience for your guests. The average cost of home maintenance in Calgary ranges from $100 to $500 per month.
  • Handling Legal Issues. Having appropriate insurance coverage can protect you from potential liabilities. Home insurance that covers short-term rentals can cost around $1000 to $2000 per year.


Starting an Airbnb business in Calgary requires thorough research, strategic planning, and constant improvement. However, with the comprehensive information in this guide, you’re equipped to navigate the Airbnb landscape and start your own successful venture. Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight, but with perseverance, you’re on the right path.

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