How To: Optimize an Airbnb Listing

So your client already has an Airbnb listing, great! But it doesn’t mean that its ready to go. Even with experienced Airbnb renters you will find little missing pieces to tweak. In fact, in the example I am using today, my new client has been hosting on Airbnb for over 2 years and this is his second property and yet, when I looked at the pricing for June, which is one of Boulder’s highest months, and still months away, it was bargain basement level. A shocker. Gotta edit that right away!

 

Calendar - Look at the pricing, if you don’t know the area at all look you can enter the address in Airbnb and search pricing with specific dates, you can also compare it with hotels in the area. A month or more out you can put the pricing up higher, 3 months out, I will put the price just a smidge higher than I actually think I can get, just in case. I usually open the calendar up to 6 months in advance, a year in advance can sometimes become a lot to handle, but it’s a personal preference. I adjust pricing a few times a week, of course there are pricing softwares that can help you out with this but I am a bit of a control freak tinkerer, so I currently do it myself. I start lowering the pricing as the date nears and sometimes the last minute prices are a steal. I personally prefer to have it rented than just have the home sit empty. Personal preference.

 

Availability Settings

-Advance Notice: I always have my places cleaned upon check out, so we don’t need advance notice, places are always ready to go. This setting is same day until 10pm. With 0 prep time needed, this helps us land last minute bookings that fill in the schedule.

-Booking Window - 6 months. I find that 1 year is a lot of months to continually stay on top of and edit. Sometimes I won’t hear about a special event that far in advance and end up booking dates for too cheap. 6 months works perfectly.

-Minimum stay - 1 night. This one people go back and forth on. I like 1 day, especially for condos because those guests are paying the highest rate, barely leave a mess and fill in awkward days in the calendar. This can also leave you open for weird sex one nighters, but you should be able to see what a guests intentions are in their messages. For homes, I usually do 2 nights min.

-Sync Calendars - I am actually embarrassed that it took me so long to find this blessed little feature. I believe I was 3 years into juggling Homeaway/VRBO and Airbnb schedules when I realized automation was a possibility. Do it! It’s a life saver and really the only way to go.

 

 

Pricing Settings

-Unfortunately “Smart Pricing” with Airbnb is still not the best. I find the prices are always too low. Occasionally I will look at their suggestions for the current month in the low season, but I never turn the setting on.

-Discounts: Usually I put weekly at 15% and monthly at 30% and yet if someone has the gumption to ask for an additional discount, I usually reward them with working with them if we can find a good middle ground. I’d rather close the deal than turn them away.

- Extra Charges: Cleaning fee: I set the cleaning fee at $5 more than the usual cost to cover cleaning supplies and the rare expensive/extensive clean that I have to dig into my pockets for. I charge $5 per person (per night) after 1 person to incentivise business and solo travelers, also it helps with the fact that more people equal more wear and tear. Some people don’t like this format, but it’s a new thing I’m trying out. So far I’m a fan. Security Deposit: I am beginning to set these a little higher, I like around $200-250 for condos, $300+for homes. This is the money that is really easy to access if there is any damage to cover, anything above and beyond can be tricky to get out of Airbnb. Damage is rare, but does happen, protect yourself as a host. Weekend Pricing: I don’t use this setting as it locks in a price for all the months open and I do pricing on a sliding scale based on how far away the date is.

 

Booking

-Turn on Instant Book. I know, I know people always say they want to monitor guests closely, but with Instant book you get way more bookings and they have a fun little clause that allows you to cancel any guest penalty free within 24 hours. Make sure to have guests require verification, require positive reviews and add any rules for them to agree to that are important to you.

 

Check-In

- For 1 bedrooms I usually make is check in 2pm, check out 11am, for anything larger check in is 3pm. I set up every home with keyless entry or lockboxs so they have 24 hour access. No one wants to meet a guest at 11pm, it just doesn’t need to happen unless you have a very luxurious or complicated home.

Self Check in: Put the code and use details of any fancy locking system you might have in this box here. I also have it detailed in the house manual.

 

Cancellation

-If you have a new home and no reviews you gotta set this on flexible. Once you have a good set of reviews, you can bring it up to moderate. I usually leave it there but strict can work on excellent / high demand properties too.

 

Basics

-Electronic house manual goes here. I love this feature. Guests receive instantly upon booking and have everything they need at their fingertips. I suggest sending them there before check in for a briefing. I also suggest writing in a bullet point style as opposed to paragraph, so they actually take in the info. Most people do the quick browse. You can leave a more detailed version in a coffee table binder in the home.

-Wifi: Yes I have this written in the house manual but I also add it to the following section for easy access.

-Property type, rooms and bed descriptions is self explanatory and really important to fill out. All these details are helpful to keep guest questions down. The ad is your first line of defense, you don’t want to spend time with a lot of back and forth conversation if you can help it.

 

Description

-Let your place shine. Here is the place to really brag. Guests like details. Talk up the amenities don’t be afraid to get detailed: TV size, bed sizes, special appliances, etc.

-It’s important to note here if you normally have a pet living with you, just for guests with allergies.

-Don't be afraid to be transparent, it can be helpful to also clearly state what people may not like about the listing as well in order to attract the right guests for you and get the best reviews. For example: "Guests love our our proximity to all the downtown happenings. This listing may not be for you if you are a light sleeper. "

 

Location

-For the most part the map is pretty accurate but make sure the pin is in the right spot.

-License number is important if your town has these regulations in place for short-term rentals. You don’t want to mess with the city officials.

 

Amenities

-This section changes frequently on airbnb, they recently just added a bunch of infant-specific amenities. Check all the boxes that apply.

 

Photos

-Take photos from all 4 corners of the room (corner shots look better than straight on for homes) with some close ups of art and interesting pieces / amenities. Of course you won’t put all the photos up but some of the best listings have 40 pics. Make sure to have a pic of the outside, yard, landscaping and any extras like the gym / pool. Take photos during the day, although I close the blinds and turn on the lights, and edit them to make sure they are sharp with good lighting. Airbnb offers free photography in some areas and yet it can take up to 2 weeks to get the person to your home so do your best with phone photos unless you have a better camera, until you can get that photographer over.

 

Home Safety:

-Add all the features available in your home

 

Business Travel:

-Making a home business traveler ready is a great new badge to put on your ad. Make sure to provide all the necessary items.

 

Guidebook:

-The jury is out on this, and I highly doubt that any guests actually review the guidebook but I do have a sneaking suspicion that it makes your listing show up higher in the search. I’d say it’s worth the time to fill it out.

 

Co-Hosts:

This is where you send yourself an invite to be a co-host if that is the arrangement you have with the homeowner. Here you can designate a percentage you are paid and send the cleaning fees to yourself if you are responsible for paying the cleaners out. It is unclear how many properties Co-Hosts are only allowed to be responsible for (it used to be 3). If you have more properties then the system lets you link to, you can go into the account under payout preferences and add your bank and tax information. It allows you to designate the percentage you get paid out for hospitality management.


Unfortunately Airbnb does not always make a habit of notifying hosst when they add new features to the listings, so it’s a good practice to get familiar with the listing format and possibly check in (click through all the pages) every few months to see if they have added anything new. Happy Hosting!