How to Improve Your Vacation Rental Listing on Airbnb

Sari EichenblattLeave a Comment


Adding your vacation rental to a listing site used to be simple: Upload a few pictures, draft up a quick listing description, and set your rates. It didn’t require too much thought or creativity beyond making sure your headline highlighted the most important parts of your property.

But as the vacation rental industry has increased in popularity among both travelers and property owners, homeowners must put in a bit more effort to make sure their listings reach the right traveler.

Cracking the Airbnb code and figuring out how to get your listing at the top of search results is something that every user struggles with. Between setting the perfect prices, uploading beautiful seasonal pictures, eloquently describing the property itself, and getting rave reviews, homeowners have a lot on their plates.

So how do you make sure your listing on Airbnb is the best it could possibly be?

We have done thorough research and reached out to Evolve’s Marketing experts to give you the exact strategies we use to help our owners outperform other Airbnb listings in their area.

This is what we found out.

1. Respond Quickly to Guests

If you are slow to respond to guest inquiries, your listing will begin to fall towards the bottom of search results.

Hosts that respond to Airbnb messages promptly will not only get more bookings, but will gain Airbnb’s trust and continue to climb to the top of search results. If you have a smartphone, you download the Airbnb app or be sure to check your email or Airbnb account hourly to see if any new messages have come in.

If you can’t commit to responding in a timely manner, or if you get a high volume of bookings that are hard to respond to immediately, you may want to consider turning on Instant Booking. Instant Booking will allow guests to reserve your property immediately, without having to wait on the you to approve them. While Instant Booking doesn’t allow you to vet your guests, Airbnb does give you the option to put some restrictions on travelers.

For instance, with Instant Booking, the Guest must agree to your House Rules and you may even require a government-issued ID and a positive recommendation from other hosts. In addition, with Instant Booking, you may also cancel at any time – penalty free – if you don’t feel comfortable with a specific booking. With that being said, cancellations must have reasonable explanations such as unfavorable reviews for the guest in question or said guest not responding to your messages in a timely manner.

2. Request Reviews and Respond When You Get Them

Airbnb wants to be a reliable and trustworthy platform where travelers can find tried-and-true vacation rentals. Because of this, they tend to feature listings with more rave reviews over those that have bad reviews or no reviews at all.

Airbnb isn’t the only one that cares about reviews. In fact – most guests will look at reviews before they even look at the listing itself.

Reviews give proof to what you promise, and are vital to your success on Airbnb. Travelers will choose your property over a similar one if your reviews reflect positive experiences and show that you care about your guests’ stay.

That’s not to say that getting a few negative reviews here and there is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if your response to a bad review is thought-out, sympathetic, and promises change, it could actually help you get booked over a competitor.

But you don’t have to sit around and wait to see what guests say about your home. Soliciting reviews will contribute majorly to your vacation rental success by helping you build an archive of guest feedback, but it does take some extra effort. Our biggest tip for getting those reviews is by reviewing your guest first. Once they see that you gave them a review, they will likely return the favor.

In addition – we recommend including a note about reviews in a Welcome Book, or following up with your guests via phone or a handwritten letter after their stay. These types of personal touches are not only successful in leading to reviews, but also let your guests know that you are grateful for their business and care about how their stay went.

3. Be Succinct and Specific in Your Listing Description

Being successful on Airbnb means knowing your target market and making sure your listing aligns with what they’re looking for. You need to be positive you check off all amenities you have, from wifi to hot tubs, and mention unique things about your property, like its rustic charm or newly renovated bathrooms.

By using the terms that highlight the things about your property that make it most popular, you will successfully get the attention of travelers looking to book.

The listing description is made up of two parts: The headline and the description itself.

The headline is the first thing potential guests will see (besides the primary photo).

As you’ll see when searching Airbnb for properties, headlines should be short and simple. Airbnb puts a character limit on the headline, so you have to be succinct. Since the number of beds, type of property, and price-per-night are already mentioned, use the headline to highlight an additional detail that will catch travelers’ eyes. This may be something like: “Newly renovated,” “Close proximity to,” or “kid-friendly,” depending on what matches your listing best.

When it comes to your property description, include what travelers will find most important first. Think about why someone would book your property over a competitor, and mention those things in your listing. Hot tubs, pools, game rooms, and convenient locations are all details that help properties stand out and get booked.

For instance: if you have a family-sized property on the beach, say that your rental is kid friendly and right on the water. If you have a small condo in the city, you may want to mention the nightlife and proximity to restaurants or events.

4. Choose Great Pictures of Your Property

When potential guests search for a vacation rental on Airbnb, their search results show primary property photos before anything else. If you want to perform well on Airbnb, put your home’s best face forward and be very deliberate with what picture you choose.

Need help choosing your primary photo? Judge your decision based on your area and your competition. For instance, if you have an Arizona property with a pool, you’ll want to show the pool in your primary photo. If you have a spacious living area and usually house large groups of people, you’ll want that to be in your primary photo.

But regardless of the image you choose to be the face of your listing – the photography should be done by a professional photographer. Professional photographers know how to show your rental in the best light, both literally and figuratively speaking.

Pro-photos show a level of professionalism that many travelers desire, and even expect, when choosing where to stay. Many Airbnb guests are used to the professionalism and expertise of booking a hotel. Supplying professional photography, and a wide range of it, to display your property is an easy way to stand out.

Airbnb is a powerful tool for vacation rental owners. Every month, 6 million travelers visit the site to browse accommodations and book vacation rentals. It’s known as one of the leading platforms for vacation rentals today. But being successful on Airbnb takes effort.

If you follow our four tips and really take the time to respond to messages, keep your calendar updated, and make sure your description is relevant – you’ll be well on your way toward seeing better results from Airbnb.

Confused by the listing sites and wondering how you can be more successful? Evolve has helped over 7,500 homeowners across North America pack their calendars with bookings and get to the top of search results on Airbnb, TripAdvisor, VRBO, HomeAway, and more. Click here to find out what we can do for you.