The stakes are high.
Every click, every view, every inquiry matters.
No, we’re not talking about the latest viral TikTok. We’re speaking of the challenge hosts face every time they think about how to improve their vacation rental listings.
For vacation rental managers, ensuring your property is attractive and resonates with potential guests at the right time and at the right price is the golden ticket to success.
Sometimes, crafting that magnetic listing feels like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This is why we’ve pieced together the ultimate guide for listing optimization on Airbnb below to help you succeed as a host.
Are you ready to boost your bookings and elevate your revenue? Let’s explore the ten most important optimization tenets.
Table of Contents
- Thou shalt monitor your listing performance regularly
- Thou shalt show up in as many filters as possible
- Thou shalt price dynamically and competitively
- Thou shalt isolate your booking bottleneck
- Thou shalt have professional photography
- Thou shalt remove additional guest fees
- Thou shalt not have required guest messages
- Thou shalt offer Instant Book
- Thou shalt regularly test and track changes
- Thou shalt use data not myths to optimize your listing
1. Thou Shalt Monitor Your Listing Performance Regularly
How do you know if your listing is underperforming? Do you know if it’s getting booked at the same rate as your competition? Do you know what your nightly rate is like compared to other similar listings?
The first step in optimizing your listing is to discover how your listings are already doing. You need to do an audit and understand whether or not you’re making as much money as you can. Here’s how we recommend you start:
- Sign up for a dynamic pricing software like PriceLabs. A dynamic pricing software will give you all the most important pricing information required to understand how and where you are losing money and bookings because of price. It will also help you maximize each day’s revenue by dynamically raising or lowering prices compared to competitors.
- Sign up for a listing optimization software like IntelliHost. This software will give you all the important marketing metrics to monitor your overall performance. This includes Impressions, First Page Impression Rate, Click Rate, and Book Rate, all compared to your close competition. It also automatically tracks your listing changes and measures each change’s impact so you can see exactly how they impact your revenue and give you the information required to start optimizing each property.
With a dynamic pricing tool and booking funnel software, you will be able to see your exact performance on Airbnb compared to competition and what you need to do to book more and make more.
2. Thou Shalt Show Up in as Many Filters as Possible
By showing up in as many filters as possible, your listing will also receive as many impressions as it can. An impression is registered each time your listing pops up in a search result.
While this doesn’t guarantee that a guest actually laid eyes on your listing, it signifies your presence in the search results, marking the crucial first step in the guest’s journey (could appear anywhere from page 15, all the way to page 1).
The journey typically kicks off with a potential guest hitting up Google with a search query like “Airbnb [City Name]”. Following this, they’ll hop onto Airbnb, plug in their travel dates and the number of guests.
Now, the fine-tuning begins as they start applying more specific filters to narrow down their options. This is where the magic of impressions comes into play.
On Airbnb, impressions are garnered by appearing in as many filters as possible. The more filters your listing appears in, the higher the likelihood of catching a potential guest’s eye.
Here’s a checklist of possible filters you could try fitting under to ramp up your impressions:
- Min night stay
- Pets Allowed
- Home Type
- Cancellation Policy
- Guest Count
- Instant Book
- Unique Stays (Cabins, yurts, castles, etc.)
- Smoking Allowed
- Host Language
3. Thou Shalt Price Dynamically and Competitively
Have you had a busy Airbnb over a holiday weekend but then faced many empty days during the week? Dynamic pricing could be the missing piece of your plan.
We compared listings that change prices daily (dynamic pricing) with those that only change prices for weekends and holidays. The result? Listings with daily price changes made 60% more money on average. It’s time to take control of your Airbnb pricing the way the pros do.
Understanding Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing is about changing prices based on demand. On the dates that more people want to book, prices go up; on the dates that fewer people want to book, prices go down. This way, you can have more bookings and make more money all year. But how do you start? Here are some steps to create a good dynamic pricing strategy.
1. Research Your Market & Competitors:
Before changing your prices, look at your market and closest competitors using your pricing software. See what they charge during busy and slow times.
This will help you know what prices guests expect and where you can make more money. Your pricing software should have some built-in tools for easy analysis, making it easy to have accurate comparisons.
2. Set Your Base Price:
Now, set your base price based on what you found. Software like PriceLabs can help you understand how your base price stacks up against the competition that you think is most relevant.
Once you have a competitive base price, your pricing algorithm software will get to work by dynamically pricing each day to give your listing the highest chance possible to get booked.
3. Look at Your Data & Adjust Your Prices:
Check data like how often people book, what reviews say, and past bookings to decide when and how to change prices. Tools like Pricelabs can help by changing prices automatically based on what’s happening in the market but it’s a good idea to regularly check this data to keep your pricing strategy fresh and to not miss any chances to make more money.
4. Thou Shalt Isolate Your Booking Bottleneck
Unlocking more bookings on Airbnb often feels like solving a complex puzzle. However, the process becomes simpler when you break it down and tackle one piece at a time.
This is where mastering the art of isolating your issue comes into play. By understanding the Airbnb search funnel and identifying where potential guests are dropping off, you can make targeted improvements to boost your bookings.
Understanding The Guest Booking Process
The Airbnb search funnel outlines the journey a guest takes from initially searching for a place to stay to finally booking your listing. The funnel comprises four main steps: Impressions, First Page Impressions, Clicks (Page Views), and Bookings.
A hiccup at any of these steps could lead to lost booking opportunities. For instance, great visibility in search results (Impressions) won’t matter much if your cover image isn’t appealing enough to entice clicks (Page Views).
Identifying the Broken Step
It’s crucial to identify which step of the funnel is causing the most drop-offs. A common issue might be that guests are seeing your listing on the first page, but not proceeding to click through.
This indicates a problem in the middle of your funnel – the click-through stage. Perhaps your listing lacks an enticing cover photo, or maybe your reviews aren’t doing so hot compared to your competition.
Taking Targeted Action
Once you’ve identified the broken step, it’s time to take targeted action to mend it. Here are some strategies based on the step that needs improvement:
- Impressions: Ensure your listing shows up in as many filters as possible by providing detailed information about your property.
- First Page Impressions: Competitive pricing and a high star rating can help your listing appear on the first page of search results.
- Clicks (Page Views): An eye-catching cover image and a compelling title are crucial to entice guests to click on your listing.
- Bookings: High-quality, professional images, glowing reviews, and a well-written, scannable description can convince guests to book.
After pinpointing the areas of improvement and taking targeted actions, it’s crucial to understand the impact of these changes on your listing’s performance. This is where the Change Tracker feature from IntelliHost can be quite helpful.
This tool automatically notes any adjustments made to your listings and evaluates their effect on key metrics like impressions, click rate, and booking rate. It simplifies the process of tracking the outcomes of your modifications, providing a clear understanding of how each change influences your listing’s performance.
Instead of manually tracking or guessing the impact, the Change Tracker presents the data, aiding in informed decision-making.
By seeing the results of each change, you can better understand what works for your listing, allowing for a more data-driven approach to continuously enhance your listing’s appeal and effectiveness in attracting more bookings on Airbnb.
5. Thou Shalt Have Professional Photography
A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to getting more bookings at higher prices. The visual appeal of your listing is often the first aspect that catches a potential guest’s eye, making professional photography a crucial investment for your Airbnb listing.
Here’s a deeper dive into why professional photography is a commandment you should adhere to:
Elevated Quality: Professional photographers possess the skills and equipment to capture your property in the best light, literally and figuratively. Their expertise in composition, lighting, and editing results in high-quality images that showcase your listing in an appealing and inviting manner.
Stand Out in the Crowd: With a plethora of listings available on Airbnb, having professional photos can significantly help your listing stand out amidst a sea of amateur photographs. A well-photographed listing not only grabs attention but also creates a positive first impression that lasts.
Boosted Bookings: Our data reveals a stark difference in booking rates between listings with professional photos and those without. Specifically, listings adorned with professional photos rake in a whopping 81% more revenue. The correlation is clear: better photos entice more clicks, which in turn lead to more bookings.
Justified Higher Rates: Guests perceive listings with professional photos as higher value, and are often willing to pay a bit more for what appears to be a better quality stay. The polished look conveyed through professional photos justifies a slightly higher price point, aiding in enhancing your revenue.
Finding the Right Photographer: Now that the merits of professional photography are clear, the next step is finding a skilled photographer to encapsulate the charm of your listing.
Recommendations from industry peers, online directories like Thumbtack or Craigslist, and a simple Google search for real estate photographers in your area are good starting points. Don’t shy away from requesting portfolio samples to ensure their style aligns with the ambiance you wish to portray for your listing.
Incorporating professional photography is not merely about beautifying your listing; it’s an investment with a proven return. By portraying your property in a professional and appealing light, you not only enhance its allure but significantly increase the likelihood of attracting more guests and boosting your revenue.
6. Thou Shalt Remove Additional Guest Fees
Every additional fee can act as a barrier between a potential guest and a confirmed booking. One such fee that often goes unnoticed is the additional guest fee.
While it might seem like a good idea to charge extra for larger groups, additional guest fees almost always deter guests and leads to much lower booking rates. Here’s why and how you should consider removing additional guest fees from your listing:
Understanding the Impact: Additional guest fees can significantly increase the total cost for guests, especially larger groups. This can be a deal-breaker for many, as they might find other listings with a flat rate more appealing and economical. The perception of getting a better deal elsewhere can lead to a much lower conversion rate on your listing compared to your competition.
Case in Point: Take the example of IntelliHost user, Benjamin from Lake Tahoe, California. Despite having a beautiful property and competitive metrics in most areas, his booking rate was abysmally low. After getting his custom analysis from IntelliHost, the root cause was discovered to be the additional guest fees he was charging. Once these fees were removed, his booking rates more than tripled (from .07% to .22%), illustrating the negative impact such fees can have on conversion rates.
Monitoring the Results: After making this change, keep a close eye on your booking rates and overall revenue. You might find that the increase in bookings more than compensates for the removal of the additional guest fees, leading to higher overall earnings and a more competitive listing.
7. Thou Shalt Remove Required Guest Messages
Requiring guests to message the host before booking is one of the biggest obstacles to your listing success. This step does very little, if anything to ACTUALLY vet the individuals, and just adds time and effort to a process that should be effortless to your potential guests.
In fact, one property manager and IntelliHost user, Pam, had a required guest message, and once she removed it per recommendation, her listing had a 2.5x increase in conversion rate and Pam’s revenue skyrocketed from $2,400 to $8,700 in just over two weeks.
Click HERE if you’d like to see Pam’s full case study.
Data shows a strong correlation between removal of the Pre-booking message, and the improvement of click-to-book rates
To remove the messages before checkout, perform the following steps:
- Go to your listing dashboard
- Navigate to “Policies and Rules.”
- Choose “Instant Book”
- Toggle off “Pre Booking Message.”
8. Thou Shalt Offer Instant Book
Instant booking is a feature on Airbnb that lets guests book a place without having to send a request to the host. This feature speeds up the booking process and makes it easier for guests. According to Airbnb, more than 60% of bookings are made instantly, and hosts who use this feature see an average increase of 20% in their bookings.
When instant booking is turned on, guests don’t have to wait for the host to accept their request or check availability. This makes the booking process faster and simpler. Airbnb also gives better search rankings to hosts who offer instant booking, which can lead to more visibility and bookings.
If you’re worried about who is booking your place, you can set criteria for guests who want to book instantly. For example, you can require guests to have at least one review or be ID verified.
9. Thou Shalt Regularly Test Changes
What worked wonders yesterday might not hold the same magic today. The key to staying ahead in this game is a continuous cycle of testing, learning, and optimizing. Here’s a dive into why and how you should regularly test changes on your Airbnb listing:
The Importance of Testing: The digital world is dynamic, and so are the preferences and behaviors of your potential guests. Regular testing allows you to understand what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t.
Whether it’s tweaking your listing’s title, changing the cover image, or adjusting the pricing, every change can have a significant impact on your listing’s performance.
Start with a Hypothesis: Before you dive into testing, have a clear hypothesis. For instance, if you believe that a more catchy title will garner more clicks, change the title and monitor the click-through rate. Having a hypothesis gives you a clear metric to measure the success or failure of your test.
Utilize A/B Testing: A/B testing is a powerful way to compare two versions of a single variable to see which performs better. For example, you could test two different cover images to see which one attracts more clicks.
Tools like IntelliHost offer automated change tracking features that can significantly simplify this process, providing clear insights into which changes work and which don’t.
Analyze and Learn: After each test, delve into the data to understand the impact of the changes. Did your new title bring in more clicks? Did the new pricing strategy lead to more bookings? The answers to these questions are gold mines of insights that can guide your next steps.
Implement and Iterate: Once you’ve gleaned actionable insights from a test, implement the successful changes, and don’t stop there.
Continuously look for new aspects to test and optimize. The cycle of testing and learning is endless, but it’s what will keep your listing fresh, appealing, and competitive.
10. Thou Shalt Use Data – Not Myths – To Optimize Your Listing
It’s easy to fall for common myths when trying to improve your Airbnb listing. However, it’s data that actually has the answers to better performance.
For example, you may have heard the myth that tweaking your listing by making a small change every day will boost it in the Airbnb Algorithm and get you more bookings. A study done by IntelliHost using thousands of listings actually showed that daily edits had no statistical impact on listing first page impression rate.
Once you’ve created an account, you can look at how many people view your listing in search, click on your listing, how many actually book, and what reviews you get and much more. It’s also helpful to compare your listing to others in your area to see how you stack up.
Remember, making small, data-driven changes and observing the results can lead to better understanding of what works for your listing. Over time, this approach will help you make smarter decisions and improve your bookings and revenue.