AirBnb is my favorite go-to place when it comes to booking an apartment for my travel and I have always had – at least until now – an amazing experience with the program. I’ve visited countless places, cheap and not-so-cheap, stayed for just one night or an entire month and I will do it again. How will you make me book your place and not the hundreds of others available on the website? Well, you will know how to make me book your place – and others as well – by reading this free guide on how to get more bookings on your AirBnb place and make more money! It’s an EPIC article and you have to read it!
I decided to write this article after I managed to boost the booking rates of two places to numbers their owners didn’t even think were possible: I did that for two of my friends who had some really nice apartments put up for rent in great areas, but rarely got any bookings. They went from 1-2 bookings a month to having their first fully booked month (in one case and 27 days out of 31 in the other) in just a few months. Now that’s a huge boost to their earnings – and one of them jokingly said to me: “You should write a book on how to do this, man!” So here I am – not writing a book, but a complete article to share with you for free on how to get more bookings on AirBnb, make more money and get guaranteed five star reviews. The best part? It’s very easy!
1. Choose the right title to get higher ranks
One of the most important thing you have to consider is ranking as high as possible in the search results: you don’t have to worry too much if there’s not a ton of competition, but there are usually a lot of people fighting for a single traveler. So an advantage is to rank high in the AirBnb search and in order to do that, one important thing is the title.
Writing a perfect title does not only help with rankings, though: it also helps attract people. “My flat in Barcelona” is a poor title that says nothing. “Unique apartment in the heart of Barcelona” sounds a bit better. So write the titles in such a manner that they are not just catchy, but offer extremely important information, as well as the name of the city the apartment is located in (this seems to help a lot with rankings!). But DON’T lie. Don’t try to be a car salesman and advertise your listing as “in the heart of the city” if you’re 15 minutes away by tram. If you are in a poor area, focus on other things: “Big renovated apartment in Barcelona, 2 King Size beds” – this is an example of a catchy title as well because the traveler already knows that the place is big, recently renovated (so it looks nice!) and it has two huge beds as well. Always find your place’s best feature and have it in the title to attract readers.
Spending a lot of time on the title is vital because it will not only help your ranking in the search (you want to be among the first listed to increase your chances of getting booked) but it also helps you stand out and draw the traveler in. But remember: be honest, otherwise if they book and are disappointed, they will leave a bad review and that’s worse than not getting a booking at all!
2. Your description is insanely important
Probably you already know that, but let me say it again: your listing’s description is very important, too. You have the “About the listing” section where you should have no more than 3 rows of text, offering a short summary/overview of your place, highlighting even more pro’s. Something like this:
“Located near the city center, the apartment has a capacity of 4 people. Just a few minutes away from Major attraction and very close to public transportation. You have fancy shops and restaurants nearby, plus a supermarket right around the corner.”
When booking, most people want the following things: a good apartment that’s large enough for the members of the group that’s traveling, being close to supermarkets as well as bars/restaurants, have some sort of public transportation option close by if everything’s not within walking distance and maybe a major landmark to be close by. Again, you don’t have to lie at all and if your location is not that great, find again other things to turn into a bonus. If you’re far from the center and there’s nothing near by, go for “situated in a very quiet area of the city” and find something else to promote: maybe it’s a luxury place, you have new furniture, you have a great view or a nice yard, there’s a park nearby. Find something. You know your place better and you know what its strongest points are. Even more – ask all the people who stay there what they liked the most about your place. You might be surprised to find new stuff you haven’t thought about!
Next, you have to take your time and write a complete description. Give all the details you can give about the place, the goodies that you offer and equipment there, as well as everything else that you consider important. Even though you already checked stuff like number of bedrooms, beds and bathrooms, make sure to give all the information in the description again. I personally prefer descriptions that list everything by room (like living room: sofa, tv, bed, office; bedroom: king sized bed, large mirror, huge built-in closet and balcony; bathroom: nice shower and bath, toilet and washing machine, shampoo and hair gel included; kitchen: fully equipped with refrigerator, oven and microwave oven). Make sure that you list everything that you have – the more, the better and again focus on highlighting the selling points (if you have nice art or decorations, make sure to mention that as well!)
Finally, complete all the other fields – the more information you offer here, the better. Go straight to the point, but try to cover everything. Everything that you offer must be listed in the description. All the rules as well as all the notable things about the neighborhood and location of your place. Write it, read it and have a friend or another family member read it as well to make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything.
3. It’s photos that sell the place!
Even if you have the best title and greatest description possible, your chances of actually renting the place are way lower if your photos are crappy or not informative enough. A poor title and description with good photos will rent better that one with great details but poor pictures, so make sure that you excel here. Here’s what to do – it’s pretty easy:
– if you don’t have a good camera and you don’t know much about photography, it’s better to bring a friend who does or even hire a professional. The photos have to be the best possible
– if the rooms require it, make sure to have photos taken from multiple angles so that they show everything you have to offer
– focus on centering on the selling points: if you have a nice couch or a nicely decorated area, make sure to take a photo of that alone. It’s the details that make a listing unforgettable and “must have” so make sure that not only you have those things, but also show them to potential guests.
– if possible, edit the images to make the colors better, the images clearer and brighter. Bright images are better than darker ones, because everybody likes bright places!
Alternately, sign up to have AirBnb send a photographer to your place for free. This not only ensures that you get high quality images, but they will also get the “verified” tag, which raises the faith potential guests have in your listing and increases bookings.
Here is an example of the same room on AirBnb – one taken by a professional photographer, and the other one taken by the owner. It’s the same room, yet the results are completely different:
Again, don’t try to lie. Don’t photoshop stuff in the photos, don’t use the best angles to show things that aren’t really there. One of the places I stayed at had the photos “smartly” made to make the place seem huge and beautiful. In reality, it was very small with areas that even a hobbit would’ve considered too short and even though the photos were of the place, they were misleading. I made sure to point that in the review and so did others after me. This also cured me of being the first to stay in a place – but that’s not the point. The point is to have beautiful photos, but keep it real. If expectations are too high and not according to the reality, your guests will feel disappointed and even if the place is great, if the photos seemed much better, they could leave a poorer review. So go for good, professional, but honest photos.
4. Check all the amenities carefully
Many people want specific things (like internet access, pool or whatever) so make sure that you check all the things that you offer: the list is not that huge and it will only take you a few minutes. But again, make sure that if you say you have it, then your guests will get that, otherwise you’re doomed!
5. Have a notebook for your travelers
People love to see that you care about their opinion, so make sure that you have a notebook where they can leave a few words on their stay and make sure you tell them about it. I love reading what others have said and write some words to the owner – and so do others. This also makes them feel that they connect with the owner and leaves an overall better impression. Also, you should e-mail them after they leave (ideally after they write their review of your place) and ask them what they loved the most and what they didn’t like about your place. Most people will answer and some will have great suggestions for things you should improve or even highlight in your listing!
6. Small gifts result in great reviews
Make your guests feel that they’re really welcome at your place and that you’re ready to go the extra mile to make them feel great. Having city guides and useful information for them is a must – you can even print on A4 papers if you don’t want to spend much, but it’s important to have something for them to help them out.
But even more important is to have small gifts for them. If they’re staying just for one night, you can leave a single small chocolate candy on their pillow. If they stay longer, leave some water/wine in the fridge, maybe some fruits, a box of candies or maybe have a small gift they can take home to remind them of the city and your place. Surprise them with small items and they will be much, much happier!
7. Communication is key
Always try to answer as fast as possible to all the people sending you a message. Be extremely polite, even if they have stupid questions and answer them all. Communication is key and some people say that quick response times also help with the rankings. But even if they don’t they matter for customer satisfaction, so make sure that you always answer quickly and give all the details that are required.
8. Start with a lower price & set the right price afterwards
If you’re just listing your place, many people will completely ignore it simply because there won’t be any reviews. If you have other properties with reviews might help a bit, but you need at least a couple of reviews on your listing ASAP. And good reviews!
In order to get that, set a lower price for your place for the next couple of months. Check out the averages or just use AirBnb’s pricing tool and set a rate not only under the average, but also close to the minimun. For example, if you rent a one bedroom place and in the same city the average price is $100 per night, but there are a ton of low-entry offers for $50 per night, set your price to $50. Don’t look at it as losing money – look at it as a way to get some great reviews and boost the price up afterwards.
Once you have at least a few reviews, you can use the real price. My advice is to always ask about 10% less than what the pricing tool is recommending in order to be fully booked. Do the math: it’s better to have 30 booked days in a month at $90 than 20 at $100 (and trust me, $10 make a huge difference). Don’t forget to take the time of the year into account: high season is more expensive, while off-season is cheaper!
Finally, make sure to offer discounts for long stays: weekly and monthly deals. Again, this has to be done smartly to make sure that you maximize earnings. If you usually have you place booked for 20 days in a month and you make $2,000 (at $100 per day), you can easily offer a deal for a monthly stay at $2,300 instead of $3,000. You’re still earning more money and your guest will have a good deal and great discount as well and it’s a win-win situation.
Also, don’t hesitate to negotiate. Many will ask for lower prices – if you know how much you’re making per month, you can easily calculate if it’s worth setting the price lower or not.
9. Check in / Your Place / Check out
Now that people are coming, your job is not over. You must make sure that the place they’re visiting is as clean as possible and that all the equipment is working. It is better not to have a specific item instead of having it and it being broken: some will accept a place without a microwave, for example, but everybody will complain if there is one that’s not working!
The check in and check out processes are also extremely important: make sure that you always give your guests complete directions on how to get to your place and, if possible, meet them at the train station, airport or at least the public transportation station that they’re using to get to you (unless they come by taxi). The least you can do is make sure that you are at the place when they arrive, no matter what time it is. Be prepared for delays, because they will often happen and always greet them with a smile and be polite.
The check out is also extremely important: you should have a check out time set, but you should offer them a late check out option if possible (most likely, your place won’t be fully booked and you won’t have people coming the same day or the next day, so you should have enough time to do the cleaning). Make the check out process as simple as possible (such as them dropping the keys in a mailbox) or if you want to personally collect they keys, make sure to get there BEFORE the agreed time, by about 10 minutes. When people are planning to leave, they will always have the feeling that there’s not enough time left, so don’t put extra pressure on them by being late as well. Get there early and your guests will be happy!
10. How to communicate with guests once they’re there
Most of the guests will need some basic information and details about the place and the surroundings, as well as possible attractions in the city. It’s always a good idea to have for them a map of the city and some printed instructions regarding things nearby, how to get to different places, shops and restaurant recommendations. Also, you should be there and politely answer all the questions they might have.
Don’t try to make friends – most of the visitors, once they arrive, they want to be left alone, but some love it to meet new people and hang out with you. Try to see what type of travellers they are and respond accordingly. If they want to be left alone, do so, but if they want to spend more time with you and have you show them around, it would be best if you could help. If not, make sure that you offer all the details about everything they should know and that you’re always available to answer their questions (and do it quickly) either by phone or e-mail.
11. How to deal with unsatisfied guests
No matter how hard you try, you will be unlucky to have them – the unsatisfied guests. If you did everything by the book, they will probably only be unhappy about either the presence of some things in the apartment (maybe a painting they consider too much or something like that) or the lack of something (“What? You don’t have any extra virgin olive oil???”). In such cases, you should do your best to right the wrongs: remove the items and apologize, or bring them what they need and apologize. Be polite and keep them happy, even though their demands or reasons to be unhappy are dumb. The problem is that, as dumb as they are, they are upsetting for that particular person, who is very likely to give you a bad review because of it. So it’s better to spend a bit on that bottle of extra virgin olive oil and keep your review scores high.
If things are more serious – like too much noise for some reason, the beds are really bad or something else is happening, you should again do your best to keep them happy. Communication is key here and see what they want in order to solve this problem: if it’s a refund they want and they’re not completely crazy with their requirements (as in just starting a fight to profit – which will rarely happen), it’s better to consider them a loss but keep your profile intact. The truth is that one bad review can really bring your business down, especially if you don’t have other upcoming bookings from people who will leave good reviews.
So try to talk to people, see what they want, see what they need and fix the problems they have before they leave. It is difficult, but it has to be done. The good part, though, is that most people won’t be a pain in the behind – and if they are, make sure to leave a clear opinion about that on their profile!
I know that this ended up like a small novel, but there is a lot to consider when it comes to AirBnb hosting and even more when it comes to increasing your bookings on AirBnb and ultimately making more money. I am sure that these tips will help you a lot and hopefully you will be able to put them to great use. I sure hope they’re helpful, because it took me three days to write this guide!