The Ultimate Guide For a More Profitable Airbnb Listing
If you are looking for a more profitable Airbnb, some fairly minor changes can make a very big difference. Improving profitability is not only a function of your pricing and listing details, but also the guest experience. Here I'm going to share some easy and actionable ways you can quickly update your Airbnb listing to maximize your revenue, booking opportunities, and guest experience - all of which will ultimately increase the overall profitability of your property.
1. Optimize pricing
Having pricing that fluctuates constantly throughout the year is critical to ensuring you have the most profitable Airbnb possible. Every city in the world has a constantly changing supply and demand for rental properties - your pricing needs to change with it. In slow months this may mean dropping your prices by 50% or more, and in busy months you may double or even triple your rate. In addition, your rates should change even by the day. A Tuesday night rate is generally going to demand a lower price than a Thursday night. And a Thursday night is going to demand less than a Friday or Saturday.
While you need to have some plan for seasonal and daily rate adjustments, you should also be trying to maximize your occupancy rate through last minute and orphan day discounts. This means if your property is still available a week out, should be discounting that rate to do everything you can to get it booked. Some revenue is better than no revenue. And if you only have a day or two available between bookings, discount that as well. Your pool of potential visitors is significantly reduced when you are looking at small gaps, so you should be adjusting the rate accordingly.
Some people prefer to handle all of the pricing manually, which is fine. But if that's the case you'll need to dedicate a few hours a week to studying the nearby market, your calendar availability, and updating rates accordingly. However, we always recommend and prefer more automated options. Automated pricing tools are generally low cost. They not only save you a ton of time, but also do a great job maximizing your revenue and occupancy rate with the right rule sets. Currently our preferred Airbnb pricing tool is Pricelabs. They have a easy to use system that can integrate with most vacation property management software systems and a lot of different customizations to ensure it fits your needs.
2. Professional photos
While phone cameras have certainly gotten way better in recent years, they still don't stand up to professional equipment. Not only that, but photographers are much better at making sure spaces are captured from the best angle and with the best lighting possible. Your listing photos are sometimes the only thing a guest looks at, often skipping the descriptions altogether if they aren't impressed with the photos. So having the best possible photos is a no brainer and makes for a much more profitable Airbnb in the long run.
Before you have a photographer come out, make sure your place is ready for him/her. This means it should be fully furnished, clean, and is set up in the best way possible. By no means would we recommend making your home look any different than it would if a guest were to arrive, but you'll want to make sure it looks as good as possible before the photographer arrives. You often pay by the hour, so making the process as clean and simple as possible will not only ensure you get great pictures, but limit your cost. Hiring a quality photographer will provide you with images that you can use for years to come, so while it may seem like an unnecessary cost now it will quickly pay for itself - a cost you only need to incur once and reap the rewards forever.
3. High converting title and photo
The listing title should capture one or two of the most exciting or valuable features of your home. Airbnb provides you with 50 characters to tell a potential guest about your homes, use as many of the characters as you can to build as much value as possible. If there is an extremely unique selling point about your home, make sure it's included here. Also, avoid using generic descriptions, you only get 50 characters so you'll want to use them wisely. Words like clean, comfortable, local, rental, are all words that can describe really ANY property in the area. Use words that clearly describe yours and sell the individual experience your property offers.
The main listing photo is equally, if not more, important than your listing title. It should not only be taken by a professional (see point 2 above), but should also capture some of the most visually appealing parts of your home. You need to use a photo that helps a guest understand what their experience will be like. Showing a picture of your beautiful front door is great, but no one will go home and tell their friends about your front door. Show a picture of something that will help potential guests visualize how much they'd enjoy staying in your home rather than someone else's. Our recommendation is generally to show living spaces, gorgeous kitchens, giant pools, balconies that overlook a beach, really anything that makes your home shine. It's different for every home, but make sure you are building value in the photo and not just showing the home.
To have a more profitable Airbnb your listing needs to stand out. The first thing guests will see while they are searching is your listing title and photo. If they aren't interested enough to click on your listing, you'll never have the opportunity to get them to book. Put some time and thought into this, it's more important than most people realize to maximize booking opportunities. Our team has a background in sales copywriting, so if you ever need a hand with setting up your listing (for titles, taking photos, descriptions, automations, and more) just send us a message.
4. Automate communication
Automating communication not only saves you an incredible amount of time, but can immediately help with your profitability. By communicating in a timely manner and in a guest-centric tone, you can avoid unnecessary cancelations while also improving the guest experience. Airbnb now offers message templates which allow you to automate your message based on various events - a tool we highly recommend all hosts use. Some of the standard messages we recommend all hosts set up in an automated way:
Booking confirmation, thanking the guest for their booking
Check in instructions sent to the guest before they arrive
House rules send to the guest the day before or the day of their arrival
A detailed property manual (more on this below)
An message sent to the guest a day or two after they've checked in to make sure they are thrilled with their stay so far
Check out instructions sent the night prior to their check out
A thank you message sent after they leave
While you can automate the majority of your communication, there are still various questions you'll need to address directly so you can't completely take your eye off the ball.
We help hosts get set up not only on Airbnb, but also VRBO and with direct bookings. There are a ton of different vacation rental management services out there, many of which have more dynamic messaging templates. Each customers needs may vary, but lately we have been using iGMS to manage our portfolio of properties. In addition to more customizable message templates it provides a variety of other benefits. A clean interface to show booking schedules for multiple properties at once, handles calendar sync across all platforms, a consolidated inbox and reporting, and more. If you are interested in our full suite of automation services, including getting set up on iGMS or another consolidated platform, please let us know.
5. Sell the 'experience' your home offers
Once the viewer clicks on your amazingly awesome listing title to learn more about your home, you need to have equally awesome copy in your descriptions. All too often people simply describe the house, but the more profitable Airbnb's sell the 'experience' your home offers. Be as detailed as possible!
Below is an example of two ways someone can choose to describe the same home. Which do you think is better?
This home is located about a mile outside of the city in a very safe and quiet neighborhood. There are plenty of nearby bars and restaurants to choose from, making this the perfect location for your next vacation.
You'll love the location of this home! Being about a mile outside the city allows you to get a true local experience while still providing the convenience to be able to stroll into the city whenever you please. Guests love to relax by the heated pool in the afternoon and then take a 15 minute stroll into the city at night, checking out some of the beautiful historic homes on the way. And don't forget to say hi to the neighbors who are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Also, this neighborhood has some of the best restaurants in town! Only a few blocks away there's a little family owned restaurant that makes THE BEST food in town, and if that's not your style of food you have your choice of about 10 other restaurants all within a few blocks.
These both describe the same exact thing, but paint two very different pictures. Communicating and describing the 'experience' will get you a lot more bookings.
6. Be responsive
Being responsive can be a game changer, for potential bookings and for your guests experience. If you have a booking request or a question, get to it ASAP! The sooner you can answer their question the less time they'll have to research and find other properties. Get that opportunity booked as soon as you can.
As for the guest experience, anytime a guest has a question we generally recommend trying to get back to them within the hour. Even if they are simply thanking you for the perfect home, take a moment to go ahead and thank them back for choosing to stay with you. This adds a human element to an otherwise seemingly automated process. Being a caring person and getting back to guests as soon as you can shows that you care. This will help with the amount of 5 star reviews you get and will also prompt guests to book with you again in the future.
7. Have a detailed property manual
A detailed property manual is one of the easiest ways to improve the guest experience. No home is perfect, take some time to explain anything that may trip someone up. Even if it's everything works perfectly, put a manual together to explain where everything is kept. This makes it much easier for guests to navigate the house, and also avoids needing to answer the same questions over and over. Also, by having these provided to the guest in advance it simply shows that you care.
The most important part of the property manual is simply explaining any confusing elements of the home. If one of your windows doesn't open well, don't leave it to the guests to figure out for themselves. Tell them in advance, and provide them with a solution. So with a faulty window maybe you let them know that you left a box fan in the cabinet underneath that window to help with airflow. If the refrigerator water dispenser doesn't work let them know about the giant new filtered water container you left for them on the top shelf of the fridge. Whatever it is, document it and put it in a format you can share with the guests. This takes any 'problems' that the house might have and turns them into solutions. I can guarantee this will help your overall property rating.
8. Provide local recommendations
This is another one that can substantially improve your guest experience. Many people choose Airbnb over local hotels because they get a more authentic city experience. Help boost that experience with any personal recommendations you may have.
We always recommend our clients, and any host, make a simple and easy website for their short term rental property. Through Google you can do this for free. And they have plenty of templates that make it extremely easy to make and update your site whenever you want.
We don't recommend sharing any personal information on the website, but it's a free and easy way to provide recommendations to your guest. Airbnb also offers their own guidebook, but we prefer using an outside website. By creating and using your own website you can not only share it with your Airbnb guests, but also any guests that might book with you through other booking platforms like VRBO.
Here is an example of a simple website we recently made for one of our clients. It shares tips and tricks for getting around, personal bar and restaurant recommendations, as well as check-in and check-out rules.
9. Ask for a 5 star review
Sales 101 will teach you a pretty simple saying that holds true for Airbnb reviews: If you want something, you have to ask for it. Simply asking any guests to provide you with a 5 star review is an extremely effective way of getting more positive reviews attached to your property. Also, in that message you can provide the guest an opportunity to share any of their concerns - giving you the opportunity to potentially get ahead of a bad review before it's posted. Often times you can provide a solution, and turn what would otherwise be a three or four star review into a five.
In your request, be genuine and be kind. You are not trying to blackmail them into giving you a good review and you are not a robot. Add a personal touch, thank them again for staying with you, and let them know how much a five star review would mean to you. Explain that your Airbnb business supports your family, and how impactful five star reviews can be for future bookings. At the same time, ask the guest for feedback and see what you can do to improve the experience for future guests. This not only improves the guests perception of you, but can help with future guests as well to make sure the five star reviews keep rolling in. The more five star reviews you get the more your property will stand out from the rest - increasing profitability in the long run.
10. Become a Superhost
Becoming a Superhost is an easy way for your property to stand out, but it takes some time. However, aside from be a great host there is not really too much you need to do. Superhosts are associated with the individual host, not the property. So if you are already a Superhost and about to list another property you may already have it. However, if you are new as a host you'll need to wait a few months. Airbnb grants Superhost status every three months for any properties that meet the following criteria:
Overall rating of 4.8 stars or above
A response rate of 90% or better (responding to inquiries within 24 hours)
10 completed stays or 100 booked night over 3+ stays
Cancellation rate of less than 1.0%
If you follow all of the above steps, becoming a Superhost will naturally happen. Be a good host, care about your guests, and pay attention to details, and you'll get rewarded with a much more profitable Airbnb.
Here at Simplify STR We help improve short term rental profitability through Airbnb & VRBO listing automation, optimization, and management. We help hosts utilize all of the above tactics and more. If you are interested in learning more about the services we offer please let us know.