How to master the 4 steps of the Airbnb Search Funnel

There is a lot of information out there about how to get to the top of Airbnb search and get more bookings.  Some tips are solid and can be backed by data.  Others have no scientific evidence and fall squarely in the bucket of myth.  This article will help you understand the search journey of the guest and how to optimize each step of that journey to get more bookings.
First we have to understand the concept of a search funnel.  A search funnel is a series of steps a customer (or guest) has to go through before they find and book your listing.  The wider your funnel the better.  A wide funnel means that you are losing less customers at each step and ultimately end up with more guests at the bottom of the funnel (the booking part).

The goal is to identify which step is losing the most guests and fix that step.  Appearing more in search (awareness) won’t make much of a difference if your cover image is terrible (interest).  This is what a broken funnel would look like:

Notice that a broken step 2 (interest) affects all the steps below it.  That’s why it’s important to start from the top and work down.  The Airbnb search funnel looks like this:

Step 1: Impressions

An impression is when you appear in a search result.  This does not necessarily mean that the guest saw your listing, it just means you were in the search result somewhere.  Because this is the first step in the process, it’s also the most important.  On Airbnb, you get impressions by showing up in filters.  A typical guest starts their journey by going to google and searching “Airbnb [City Name]”.  After that, they select dates and number of guests.  Then they start selecting more specific filters to whittle down the options.  Getting impressions is about appearing in as many filters as possible.  For example, listing more beds will get you seen by larger groups and reducing your nightly minimum will get you seen by people just looking for a weekend getaway.  If you don’t get an impression, you don’t get to fight in the ring so get in as many filters as possible.  Here is a list of things to consider to get more impressions:
Min night stay
Pets Allowed
Home Type
Cancellation Policy
Guest Count
Instant Book
Unique Stays (Cabins, yurts, castles, etc.)
Smoking Allowed
Host Language

Step 2: First Page Impressions

A first page impression is exactly what it sounds like.  It means you showed up on the first page of all the available search results.  This is the second most important metric because a whopping 75% of people never scroll past page 1.  Getting on page 1 is all about the QUALITY of your listing.  Think about all the quantifiable ways Airbnb has to rank one home above another.  These are things like price, star rating, number of reviews, time on site, and quality of photos.

Step 3: Clicks

Also known as a “page view” this is every time someone clicks on your listing after seeing your listing in search results.  Once you appear in someone’s search result, there aren’t many ways to distinguish your listing from the other listings.  As seen from the in red highlights below, these are things like cover image, star rating, number of reviews, title, # of beds, superhost status, and price.  When it comes to getting clicks, the cover image is usually the most important.  When picking a cover image, make sure your listing stands out and appeals to the “lizard brain”.  Meaning that your cover image should “pop” out from the rest.  In the below example, most people are much more likely to click on the image on the left because the colors stand out and there is something of interest there.  Unfortunately, picking the best cover image is more of an art than a science and it requires several rounds of A/B testing to pick the perfect one.

Step 4: Bookings

Now that you’ve gotten the guest all the way to this step, you need to convince them to book.  Chances are, if they’ve gotten this far, you are one of a handful of options they are considering.  The first thing they are likely to do is look at all of your pictures so make sure you have plenty of PROFESSIONAL images WITH CAPTIONS so they can tell exactly what they are going to get.  Nothing on your detail page is more important than your images so pay what it takes to get the best.  It will have the best return on your investment over anything else you can do for your listing page.  If you are near a beach, show them drone shots so that they can see how far of a walk it is.  Include pictures of your wifi speed, and other key amenities so that there is no doubt in their mind what they will get when they book.  People don’t like to read so add your images as if they never read the description.  The first 5 images should highlight the most important amenities in your listing.  If you have a pool for example, make sure it makes it into your top 5. 
After they look at your images, they are likely to scroll down to your reviews and start reading those.  Make sure that you are going above and beyond for your guests so that the reviews glow.  Also make sure to respond to EVERY review in a courteous and professional way so that guests can see what kind of a host you are.  Negative reviews aren’t always bad, these can play to your benefit if your response is friendly, professional, and personal.  Here is a list of other things you can do to push your guests over the booking line:
Description – hire someone to write a professional description.  Make sure the description is “scan-able” so that someone can quickly pick out the parts they are looking for (Think bullet format)
FAST response – Guests are likely to send the same question out to two or three options that they are considering.  Being the first to respond shows the guest how attentive you are and puts you first in line to get the booking.
Fees – We don’t recommend adding on lots of fees to make up for a low nightly rate.  Airbnb bakes these fees into the advertised price anyway so you won’t get any search benefit and you won’t build trust with the guest.
Cancellation Policy – Whichever cancellation policy you use, we recommend giving guests the option to pay less for a non-refundable option.
Length of Stay Discounts – It is very likely that Airbnb will start rewarding listings that offer length of stay discounts in search results (if they haven’t already).  This is a huge focus within Airbnb internally and is likely to incentivise hosts to do so.

Step 4: Bookings

Winning on Airbnb is all about knowing which step you need to improve on and making the necessary changes to keep your guests flowing through your funnel.  If you’d like to know how you’re performing, sign up for a free account with and start getting more bookings today.  Intellihost can help you know your metrics, benchmark your competition, automate your A/B testing, and get personalized recommendations from data scientists.  Winning online (and especially Airbnb) is all about using data to make decisions.  Intellihost will you give you the competitive advantage you need to succeed.