Adding your vacation rental to an online listing site used to be simple: upload a few pictures, put together a listing description, and set your rates. It didn’t require too much thought or creativity beyond making sure your headline highlighted the most important features of your property.
Now that the rental industry has seen substantial growth among both guests and property owners, homeowners must put in a bit more effort to make sure their listing reaches the right potential guests.
Cracking the Airbnb code and figuring out how to get your listing to the top of the search results is a struggle for many do-it-yourselfers. Between setting the perfect prices, uploading beautiful pictures, describing the best features of your property, and maintaining your guest reviews, homeowners have a lot to get right.
So how do you make sure your listing on Airbnb is the best it can possibly be? We’ve done the research to give you the exact strategies we use to help our owners outperform other Airbnb listings in their area.
Here are our tips on how to improve your vacation rental listing on Airbnb.
1. Respond Quickly to Guests
If you’re slow to respond to guest inquiries, your listing will begin to fall towards the bottom of search results.
Hosts that respond to Airbnb messages within 24 hours will not only get more bookings, but will gain Airbnb’s trust and continue to climb to the top of the search results. With the Airbnb app on your smartphone, you can turn on push notifications to get an alert every time you receive a new message.
Evolve has looked at response time data from our 10,000+ properties and found that a 15-minute response time is the speed at which we convert the most inquiries to bookings. So that’s the goal for our Travel Advisor team: respond to a booking inquiry within 15 minutes.
If you can’t commit to responding in a timely manner, or if you get a high volume of bookings and can’t respond to immediately, you may want to consider turning on Instant Book. Instant Book will allow guests to reserve your property immediately, without having to wait for you to approve them. While Instant Book doesn’t allow you to vet your guests, Airbnb does give you the option to put some restrictions on travelers. For example, when you use Instant Book, you can specify that the Guest must agree to your House Rules. You may even require a government-issued ID and a positive recommendation from other hosts before they’re able to book your property.
Additionally, with Instant Book, you may cancel at any time, penalty free if you don’t feel comfortable with a specific booking. However, cancellations must have reasonable explanations such as unfavorable reviews for the guest in question or unreasonable delays in guest response to your messages.
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. So 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 marketplace that cares about reviews. In fact, most guests will look at the 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 is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if your response to a bad review is thoughtful, 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 significantly contribute 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 to review your guest first. According to HomeAway, travelers are 20% more likely to give a review if an owner has reviewed them first, making it more likely that they’ll return the favor.
We also recommend including a note about reviews in a Welcome Book or following up with your guests after their stay. A personal touch such as a phone call, email, or a handwritten note can be effective ways to elicit a review and also let your guests know that you’re grateful for their business and care about their stay.
3. Be Succinct and Specific in Your Listing
Being successful on Airbnb means knowing your target market and making sure your listing aligns with guest needs. Be sure to highlight all the amenities on your property, from wifi to hot tubs, and to mention features that make your property unique, such as an expansive game room or newly renovated bathrooms.
The listing description is made up of the headline and the description. Besides the primary photo, the headline is the first thing travelers will see while searching for a vacation rental.
As you’ll see when searching Airbnb, headlines should be short and simple. Airbnb puts a character limit on the headline, so you need to be succinct. Since the number of beds, type of property, and price-per-night are mentioned elsewhere, we recommend you use the headline to highlight additional details that will capture a potential guest’s attention. Think “newly renovated,” “close proximity to,” or “kid-friendly,” depending on which works best for your listing.
Include what guests will find most important first with your property description. Think about why would someone book your property over a similar one and mention those things in your listing. Hot tubs, pools, game room, 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 your property’s proximity to restaurants or event venues.
4. Choose Great Pictures of Your Property
When travelers search for a vacation rental on Airbnb, the search results show primary property photos before anything else. If you want to perform well on Airbnb, be very deliberate about the pictures you choose to feature.
Make your decision based on your area and your competition. For instance, if you have an Arizona property with a pool, show the pool in your primary photo. If you have a spacious living area and usually host large groups of people, you’ll want that to be in your primary photo.
More than anything, 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.
In some cities, Airbnb now offers hosts the opportunity to request a professional photoshoot of their property. If professional photography is not available in your area, Airbnb does provide some additional tips on how to take great photos of your listing.
Many Airbnb guests are used to the professionalism and expertise of booking a hotel. Supplying a wide range of professional photography is an easy way to stand out and compete with other rental options.
Airbnb is a powerful tool for vacation rental owners. Every month, millions of potential guests visit the site to browse accommodations and book vacation rentals. It’s one of the leading platforms for vacation rentals today–but it takes effort to be a successful host.
Evolve can help you succeed on Airbnb
You don’t have to do it all yourself–and you don’t have to limit yourself to just Airbnb. Evolve’s lightweight vacation rental management approach gives you total marketing, booking, and customer support across all online listing sites (Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, etc.), plus the power to choose your own “home team” to clean and monitor your property.
Basically, we drive more guests to your property for maximum income, while giving you more choices with fewer rules – all for an industry-low 10% booking fee.
We’ve helped 10,000+ homeowners earn more than $500 million in rental income. And we’d love to help you.