Having your own Airbnb listing means that you are investing in your accommodation as a business. Getting started takes time and effort to understand what works best, but you won’t see results unless you put in that effort. If you want results, take the time to optimize your Airbnb profile to the fullest extent and don’t skimp on marketing. The input that give to your listing equals the output. So wouldn’t you rather generate higher income? Here’s an overview for the top methods to optimize your Airbnb profile.
#1 Use high-quality photos
The quality of photos is often connected with how potential customers perceive the quality of a business. This is especially true for Airbnb listings. Just a few of the benefits of professional photos:
- 40% increase in earnings
- 24% more bookings
- 26% higher nightly price
Better photos means more views and more views means a higher ranking. The two go hand in hand so well that Airbnb has a free photography service to help property owners rank higher with better images. Whether you use their service or that of a professional photographer, the price to pay is miniscule compared to the earnings you will receive due to better photos.
Some tips for photos are:
- Use high contrasts so the colors stand out
- Take photos in bright light
- Write captions for all photos
- Showcase your accommodation with a variety of viewpoints
- Take photos of the surrounding area
#2 Collect good reviews
Reviews are essential for the entire travel and hospitality industry. Getting reviews, especially 5 star reviews, is one of the best ways to increase your Airbnb ranking. Airbnb allows guests to rate based on the following criteria: accuracy, communication, cleanliness, location, check in and value. The key is giving guests the appropriate incentives to leave reviews. Even if you get bad reviews (which happens to everyone at some point), use it as an opportunity to show that you care about your customer’s experience and respond publicly and in a timely manner.
Some ways to collect reviews are:
- Asking customers at check-out
- Sending follow up emails
- Incentivizing reviews through discounts and referrals
- Review your guests first
- Ask for it in the guest manual
#3 Respond quickly
Timely responses are of the utmost importance. As a host, responding a week later – or worse never – doesn’t get you on the right foot with potential customers. Take the time to reply to each customer’s message, as it will be reflected on your profile. You can access your response rate by checking the “Stats” menu of your profile then going to “Standards”. The best hosts respond to customers within an hour, because it shows that you are attentive and will provide a good customer experience. It’s highly recommended for hosts to install the Airbnb app on their phone so you can answer customer requests on the go.
All hosts should be sending at least three messages to each customer for check in, check up and check out. This shows that you’re paying attention throughout their entire experience and provides an incentive for satisfied customers to leave reviews. If you’re a host with a heavy influx of bookings, you can use message templates to streamline this process.
#4 Turn on Instant Book
The Instant Book feature on Airbnb means that customers can make their reservations without having to wait for the host’s confirmation. This helps you to fill up any leftover free periods, as well as get bookings 24/7. A large portion of Airbnb users prefer Instant Book, so if you require reservation confirmations, you’ll like lose a lot of potential customers.
#5 Research pricing
It’s important to make sure that your pricing is set appropriately: not too high, but also not too low. If your pricing is too high, of course you will be filtered out and will receive less bookings due to the negative impact on your ranking. However, it’s also possible to set your price too low. You may get more bookings, but this could bring on a big financial strain for the host, as well as convey that your listing is of poor quality to potential customers.
If you’re unsure how much your nightly price should be, Airbnb has a calculator to give you an estimate. However, it’s also important to do competitor comparisons as well as consider what types of amenities you offer when determining pricing.
#6 Keep your calendar updated
Hosts should be checking their calendars daily to ensure that nothing overlaps. The worst case scenario is that a host has to cancel a booking, which is then revealed under their profile reviews. Make sure to block off times that you are unavailable and always give yourself enough time to do thorough cleaning in between guests.
#7 Verify your contact details
When staying in someone’s home, customers want to make sure that they’ll be staying in a trustworthy place. You should have both your phone number and ID verified, as well as social media accounts. The more information you provide, the more reliable you seem as a host. You can also request references from people in your personal network to gain an extra boost in trustworthiness.
#8 Consider Airbnb ranking factors
Airbnb has over 100 factors within their algorithm that determine which listings are shown when a customer makes a search. These can be separated into 3 main categories:
- Guest needs: guest location, Wish List items, previously clicked on listings, previous trips taken
- Listing details: 5 star reviews, listing location, Instant Book or not, host response time, available amenities
- Trip details: total guests, trip length, how many days in advance of booking, maximum and minimum prices
These factors determine how your target guest is reached. In order to use this to your advantage, think like they would. Consider what types of amenities they need and what sort of description would sound interesting for them. Nowadays, wifi is an absolute must, but you can also showcase such details like that you’re located 100 meters from a bus stop or 10 minutes by foot from a popular tourist attraction.
Other factors such as having a new listing can further increase your ranking.
#9 Provide realistic expectations
Letting the customer down is the worst feeling. Promising too much or providing inaccurate information in your listing is a surefire way to ruin a guest’s experience. It’s better to underpromise and then overdeliver, which is a fantastic incentive for the guest to receive a review later. In addition to the valuable aspects you offer, it’s a good idea to actually list the flaws. You might think that this would scare people off, but it’s better to be transparent so that those who do book know what to expect and don’t end up leaving bad reviews.
#10 Don’t overlook your personal profile
In addition to verifying your information, writing a creative and fun personal profile that shows off your style is an additional way to entice bookings. Customers often choose Airbnb because it provides them a more personalized experience than a hotel, so the host is included in this package. Not to mention that a good description also improves your trustworthiness factor. It could be that this is the deciding factor between you and a competitor.
#11 Don’t forget the Wish List
The more guests that add your listing to their Wish List, the higher you will rank on Airbnb. For customers-to-be, you probably have no influence on this factor. But you can ask satisfied guests to add you there after their stay. It’s a simple action to take in addition to reviews.
#12 Keep your profile full and up to date
While this may seem to be overdoing it when you begin, there are huge benefits to filling out 100% of your listing. Not only will guests get the most accurate overview of what you’re offering, Airbnb will even rank you higher. The general rule of thumb is to include at least 12 photos of your accommodation and to add some text to each description field.
What’s more, there’s an extra incentive when you keep your profile maintained. Airbnb does notice this and can bump up your ranking when you keep your pricing, photos and descriptions updated.
#13 Write an eye-catching title
The first thing that potential guests notice about your listing is your title. Terms like “beautiful” and “great location” are highly overused and generic. Instead emphasize the unique points your listing offers such as “hot tub overlooking the ocean” or “game room for friends and family”. This also catches the attention of your target market more accurately.
#14 Add foreign languages
Of course if you speak multiple languages this is a give-in, but you can go the extra step and allow translations in your description text. Not all guests speak your language, or are fluent in English. Translating your descriptions gives those who speak other languages an additional incentive to book with you because you’ve given it the thought, as well as they simply can understand the description more accurately.
#15 Cleanliness should be a give in
Hosting an Airbnb doesn’t mean that you can slack on cleaning. Guests expect cleanliness with the same level as hotels so it’s not a place to skimp. It can be one of the top reasons that guests leave a bad review. You can get bad reviews for tiny mishaps so be sure to clean like no tomorrow after each guest.
#16 Create a guest manual
More often than not, your guests will be entirely new to your area. You can support their experience to become truly great by providing them with more information upon arrival. A guest manual is a fantastic way to do this, because you don’t need to spend hours explaining and they don’t need to spend hours taking notes. You can also conveniently list your house rules here as well as other tips for the location, such as how to buy public transit tickets and where to find the best restaurants. This all goes towards increasing the possibility of your guest leaving a good review.
#17 Keep check in as smooth as possible
A problematic check in is an easy path to a bad review. There is a section in all Airbnb listings for the steps for check in. Make this area as detailed as possible so there are no mishaps. Many Airbnbs use a lockbox or keypad for guests to check in, so include many photos and provide a thorough explanation.
#18 Become an Airbnb Superhost
Airbnb has a Superhost program that provides extra perks. It appears as a badge by your name so that customers can see it and is said to generate up to 22% more revenue than normal hosts. The Superhost badge makes your profile stand out so you appear more visible and trustworthy to potential guests. Furthermore, you also receive an extra 20% for new host referrals as well as a $100 travel coupon for each year you maintain Superhost status.
The criteria to become a Superhost are as follows:
- 4.8+ overall rating
- 10+ stays over the past year or 100 nights across at least 3 stays
- <1% cancellation rate
- 90% response rate
Airbnb monitors these factors every 3 months throughout the course of a year to maintain the Superhost status.
#19 Improve your booking conversion rate
The booking conversion rate means the percentage of customers who complete a booking after viewing a listing.This is one of the most important metrics to measure in terms of your listing’s success and should be continually monitored and optimized. This data is available in your hosting dashboard with the % rate calculated based on dividing total bookings by total views. For long-term and serious hosts, it’s highly recommended to track these in a spreadsheet.
#20 Don’t forget social media
Social media is an essential element for the entire travel and hospitality industry, and Airbnb is no exception. Hotels create a social media following around their locations with images and other interesting information, so Airbnb hosts should use this same method. Facebook and Instagram are filled with sources for travel inspiration so they are the ideal tools for skyrocketing your listing views and creating awareness for your properties. With nearly half the globe now on social media, it’s a small step that has a large impact.
#21 Consider affiliate marketing
Travel influencers on social media are another great way to boost your reputation. Popular Airbnbs are often backed by their reputable guests. Instagram in particular caters to influencers and their followers who monitor their purchasing choices closely. You can create agreements with travel influencers to include affiliate marketing links (backlinks to your listings) both on influencer social media and blogs. This provides access to target markets that would be hard to reach otherwise, as well as gives you extra brand awareness and boosted reputation with the influencer’s confirmation that it’s a good idea to book with you.
#22 Avoid limitation filters
Sometimes there are points that simply can’t be avoided due to your private circumstances, but adding limitations to your description deters potential bookings and can negatively affect your ranking. Limitations could be for example:
- Minimum & maximum night stays
- No Instant Book option
- A strict cancellation policy
- Too few amenities
- Not accepting infants, pets or other guest types
While one night stays are not always ideal for hosts, Airbnb can use this as a factor to reward other properties with a better ranking than yours. Overall, time and experimentation will reveal what is the best strategy for you regarding the balance between bookings and your own capabilities as host.
#23 Long stay discounts
Airbnb includes an option for hosts to offer discounts at a minimum of 7 days. Weekly discounts apply for 7-27 days and a stay of 28+ days receives a monthly discount. Discounts incentivize longer reservations, as well as that the turn over is easier for you as a host. There is less cleaning and less work preparing for and getting a new guest settled and accommodated with the area.
There is no correct answer for what exactly your discount should be. This again comes with time and testing to see what discounts get you the best booking conversion rate. Generally speaking, weekly discounts should be less than monthly discounts to encourage longer stays.
#24 Bulk up on amenities
The more amenities you can offer your guests, the more appealing your listing will be. Adding amenities increases your chance of ranking when a guest uses a filter merely because your listing contains that amenity. So basically, the more the merrier!
Of course it’s not possible to have everything, but every Airbnb listing should have at minimum these essential items:
- Toilet paper
- Hand & body soap
- Bed linens
Not having these elements may mean that you can lessen your nightly price, but that also caters to a target market that’s willing to pay less. Adding more amenities helps you appeal to a target market with higher budgets per night, which in turn generates more income for you.
Additional elements to include that will boost your ranking could be:
- Coat hangers
- Hair dryer
- Free wifi
- First aid kit
- Washer & dryer
- 24 hour check in
- Free parking (or at least nearby)
- Private bathrooms
- Pool/hot tub/sauna/gym
- Discounts on local tours & activities
- Smoking allowed
- Pets allowed
- Breakfast included
- Desk area
- Beach front/access to swimming area
#25 Use the Social Connections feature
Airbnb introduced a new feature known as Social Connections, which shows your connections to others based on your Facebook privacy settings. Furthermore, your Facebook username, profile photo, as well as your own Airbnb activity as a guest are shown. This can be turned on and off at any point, as well as used to generate references. It’s also easy to refer your friends who aren’t on Airbnb yet to earn travel credits.
The purpose of Social Connections is to increase bookings among your own social circles. Combining this with social media marketing on Facebook is a great way to change followers into actual guests with reservations.
#26 Look into the Work Collection
Another unique feature that Airbnb introduced is the Work Collection in an effort to appeal to employees on business trips. When a user does a search, there is an option to select listings more suitable for work trips. To be added to a Work Collection on Airbnb, a listing must contain the following:
- An entire home or
- A private room with a private bath or
- A private room with an ensuite bath
- Hair dryer
- Desk space
- Self check-in
- Smoke detector
- Toilet paper
Reviews: maintain a 4.8 rating over the past 365 days with at least 5 reviews. The average check-in rating must also be at least 4.8.
Cancellations: have a Flexible or Moderate cancellation policy (Strict is not allowed).
Response rate: respond to at least 90% of booking requests.
This collection could be highly useful, because business travelers often are allowed higher budgets than the typical vacationer. They need to be comfortable and well-rested for work, so the accommodation and amenities must be at a higher value. As a result, hosts with listings in the Work Collection can often charge higher nightly rates and generate more revenue.
#27 The Family Collection can also be useful
Working on a similar premise as the Work Collection, the Family Collection is another category of listings more appropriate for families. The conditions for a listing to quality in the Family Collection are as follows:
Property type: an entire home
- Smoke detector
- Toilet paper
Reviews: maintain a 4.8 rating over the past 365 days with at least 5 total reviews, 2 of which must come from families. A family review is categorized as a review in which an infant or child was confirmed on the booking.
House rules: the accommodation must be suitable for children and infants as written per the house rules.
You can further appeal to families if you have general baby equipment, including high chairs, play items and toys. If this market is your goal, it’s worth investing in the necessary equipment for them to stay. The fact that Airbnb listings offer more individuality than hotels is a big reason why families look there for accommodation in the first place.
Furthermore, having accommodations suitable for families is valuable for getting larger scale bookings. For an entire home to be booked, there needs to be enough people interested for the pricing to make sense, so appealing to families is a way to solve this issue.
#28 Choose rules wisely
No matter whether your guests are businesspeople, families or typical travelers, the rules you add in your listing need to make sense for that audience. While some rules are good (like no noise after 10pm or families), having too many rules could be a deterrent for potential guests. If you’re not getting a lot of bookings, it could be that too many rules is the culprit. Try to outline a few relevant rules, but not so many that the guests are overwhelmed.
If you’re worried about guests understanding the house rules, this is another reason to create a guest manual. Leave a copy in the guest’s room as well as send them a digital version before they check-in for clarification.
#29 Be an Airbnb guest yourself
As mentioned in the section on Social Connections, guests can view your Airbnb activity. If you’re an active Airbnb user, not only does this give you experience and inspiration for managing your own Airbnb, it also shows that you stand for Airbnb as a form of accommodation. Your account will appear more active and you may even experience post-travel ranking boosts.
#30 Take part in the Airbnb Forum
Airbnb has a highly active community forum with more than 850,000 members. With over 1 million posts, you can access information for basically every aspect of being an Airbnb host and user. One notable feature in the community forum is the “thumbs up” feature. In a similar manner as liking a post on Facebook, you can thumbs up posts on the community forum. Airbnb’s algorithm factors in participation on this forum and can give your ranking a boost, because they prioritize active hosts who are engaged with the Airbnb community.
#31 Promote your own website
Making your own website can seem like a hefty expenditure in terms of both time and money, but it can skyrocket your marketing results. If you’re just getting started, you can create simple websites on a platform like WordPress in just a few hours. When used in combination with Airbnb listings, your own website gives you a competitive edge because you can connect with users who don’t start their searches on Airbnb. If you rely solely on Airbnb for your bookings, you are limiting your bookings. With your own website, you can be added to other large directories like Expedia, Booking.com and Travelocity.
Furthermore, your own website allows you to heavily increase marketing efforts. In addition to social media, you can increase your affiliate marketing partnerships, use SEO and retain customers with email marketing.
#32 Email marketing
Email marketing is a form of online marketing that every business in the hospitality industry should be using. When a user makes a booking, you can add an option that allows you to send further emails for topics like discounts, seasonal promotions, partner activities and information about your location. Attaining further purchases from previous customers is much easier than new customers, and these customers are more likely to take part in referral programs and give reviews.
#33 SEO & content marketing
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and involves the process of obtaining organic traffic to your website or listings. The benefit of having your own website is that you can use content marketing (blogs in particular) to generate organic traffic to your blogs, and then add links to your accommodation listings in those blogs. Those blogs can then also be shared on social media. The key is to combine all these marketing elements into a consistent marketing strategy that gives you a presence across a wide variety of platforms.
#34 Research your competition
Particularly for new Airbnb listings, a great place to gather inspiration for where to begin is to look at your competitors. This will give you a good idea for what your listing needs to include to be successful within your region and the type of accommodation you offer. This includes viewing aspects such as:
Where are you lacking and what do you have that’s better than them? Emphasize those unique points in your descriptions so you can stand out.
#35 Vary room types and offer more beds
If you have a listing with multiple rooms, set up those rooms to work for different types of groups. When people travel together, there can be a combination of different people who want to stay in various ways, so you appeal to a wider audience when your guests have more options. Even if you have just one room, consider using twin beds versus a queen bed, because in this way you can host friends and not just couples.
#36 Ditch extra person charges
Many hosts include additional charges for extra guests. Another way to stand out from the competition is to remove this charge, or at minimum lessen it so that it doesn’t deter potential guests. Any factor that increases your chance of getting a booking is better than no booking at all due to a fee that likely doesn’t make a huge difference in pricing.
#37 Consider accepting pets
Travelling with pets is becoming more and more popular. Allowing guests to bring their pets appeals to yet another wider audience. More bookings means higher rankings, so even if you are hesitant about pets due to extra cleaning, consider instead to boost your cleaning fee, but still allow pets. Many pet owners know that their pets means extra work for the host, but more of a priority for them is to have their pet with them in the first place.
#38 Find a reliable co-host & outsource marketing
A busy and booked calendar can mean a lot of work for Airbnb hosts. Consider outsourcing some of your account management or even your marketing to another person so that customers still receive the best possible service. Marketing in particular can add a lot of hours to your already busy schedule. Outsourcing marketing can save valuable time that you need to focus instead on your guests.
#39 Be flexible with check-in and check-out times
One of the most common requests from guests is to arrive earlier or check out later. This can relieve a lot of their stress for their arrival and departure times, which means better reviews for their overall experience. Of course you as a host still need to leave time to clean between guests, but having a bit more flexibility on the check-in and check-out times ensures that your customer is satisfied. Being more lax on these issues often means more listing views, and therefore more bookings. You can also charge for this service, for example, by the hour, to lessen to distress on the part of the host.