Apart from running a full service creative and marketing agency, I also like property and travel. A lot. Which is why since 2013, I’ve not only stayed at a lot of Airbnb’s (which I personally prefer over hotels and motels), I’ve also hosted people at multiple properties too.
Along the way, I’ve learnt a few things which I thought I’d share, in case you or someone you know is thinking of launching their own Airbnb listing. I’ve leveraged quite a few of these tricks myself which can up your bookings and secure you great reviews, edging you as quickly as possible to the all important ‘Super Host’ status.
But first, why strive for Super Host status?
Super Host status is important because the moment you become one, your listings will display more prominently (it’s an algorithm thing). Your guests are more likely to convert when they see a Superhost badge on your host profile and each of your listings, immediately feel more trust and confidence in you as a host, thus your revenue from Airbnb is likely to increase.
To qualify for an Airbnb Super Host badge, you must:
- Host at least 10 trips, or have 3 reservations that total at least 100 nights.
- Maintain a 90% response rate or higher.
Easy right? Let’s get started.
PHASE 1: MARKET RESEARCH
Just as is my approach to marketing in general, when it comes to listing or marketing your Airbnb listing, I recommend starting the process with some research.
1) Research directly on the platform you intend to list – The simplest way to research is to pull up Airbnb on your phone or desktop and punch in the town, or even better the suburb you are looking at creating an Airbnb listing for, and see what is available.
Notice the style of the property, the price they are charging and the features. Which listings stand out for you? Make notes of good things you see, that you would enjoy yourself and keep these on hand for future reference.
2) Use professional software such as AirDNA – AirDNA is a data software company that provides short-term rental intelligence. Their global servers collect the reservation data for every listing on both Airbnb and Vrbo (another place you can list holiday homes). From daily calendar pricing to cancellation policies and booking lead time, they aggregate and process the data for 10 million plus properties in over 120,000 international markets by “scraping” (or extracting) data using a host of servers. The process is 100% legal, and their relationships with these booking platforms are strong and mutual.
AirDNA subscriptions cost around $25AUD per location/per month. By using this software before I launched my listings, I was able to gain insights on my competition, and know exactly what average nightly rates they enjoy, and also what level of vacancies, among many other useful stats for my research phase.
PHASE 2: INVEST IN IMAGES
They say a picture paints a thousand words but in the case of an Airbnb listing, a good picture paints a thousand views, helps to imagine hundreds of experiences and even better, leads to bookings. According to Airbnb, hosts with professional photos generally see up to 20% increase in earnings and up to 20% more bookings.
Securing quality images of your property doesn’t need to be complicated.
1) Space not ready for photos yet? Get creative!
I lifted the realestate.com.au images of the exterior of the property from when we bought it and added this to my listing, with a range of lifestyle shots of the area, this helped me in the early days of getting a property listing ready.
I then turned to personal photos of myself standing by the Bundaberg Rum bottle, my partner at the Kalkie Moon Distillery, my daughter walking on Lady Musgrave Island and my niece snorkelling at the reef along with a bunch of general tourism shots of turtles, and beaches from the region to further populate the listing, and to give prospective guests a taste of what experiences they could enjoy in the region if they stayed at my listing.
Here are some examples of my real estate and lifestyle images to show you what I mean. These images saw us SECURE BOOKINGS WITHIN 1 DAY! Amazing huh? it’s certainly worth a try if the options below are not available to you.
2) Take images yourself – Set up and style the space you intend to list, and take lots of photos. LANDSCAPE is the best orientation to take your images for listing on Airbnb, however you will need some VERTICAL images also (or even video) if you wish to promote your listing on social channels. Regular Airbnb users will want to see your property from all angles with all the inventory and features. Take pictures of each room including toilet and bathrooms showing all amenities, and then take pictures of everything else they can expect from their stay- even the inside of cupboards and drawers showing them how well equipped the unit is and the quality of the cutlery and linens (even if only from Kmart or Spotlight!)
Here are some examples of my non professional images from a recent fit out of a unit in Bundaberg:
3) Get professional images from a professional photographer – If you have a friend who is a photographer, perhaps offer them a free stay at your accommodation in exchange for their services or pay them or another recommended photographer. https://www.thecreativecollective.com.au/social-media-photography-videography-packages/
Ask yourself how much a booking is worth to you, the money you spend will likely return itself in bookings. A good photographer will know all the tricks but ensure they get images with; people in them, and with ‘props’ such as newspapers, hot coffee, croissants, orange juice, fluffy slippers, wearing robes and anything else that will represent the homely vibe you are trying to convey. Help the user to imagine themselves on holidays in the home you are listing.
Here are some examples of some professional images from another unit we have in Bundaberg to compare the quality of image:
4) Get Airbnb to take photos: Don’t know a photographer? Get Airbnb to find a professional to capture your space in its best light to help your listing stand out. New listing photos are easy, affordable, and can be paid for out of future earnings. There’s no upfront cost. A freelance photographer will take 2–3 images per room and after the photo shoot, a team of professional editors will enhance their quality. On average, the new images are uploaded to your listing page within one week of the photo shoot. The number of images received is based on the size of your property and none of your previous content will be removed. See: https://www.airbnb.com.au/d/pro-photography for more.
Finally, when it comes to images, make sure you take the time to write a good descriptive caption on each image you upload. For instance on a boring washing machine, write finer details such as ‘this 9.5kg Haier washing machine is a front loader and near new’ just so people who are coming with a busy family, for work or a function know there is a reliable washing machine to do decent size loads in on their holiday.
PHASE 3: WORDSMITH YOUR LISTING
Airbnb has a great interface and will guide you through the process of setting up your listing, with many prompts along the way of what you need to write, and giving examples of what you could include.
1) Where possible, prepare your listing on a desktop. There are more features and functionality available on the desktop version than on mobile (though it is possible to go live with a listing on your phone) and generally it is easier to see what you are doing and how the listing is coming together.
2) Titillating Title – Leaning on the information gathered from Phase 1, consider what catchy words you can include to get your potential customers choosing to click on your listing from a long list of options. Include keywords where possible which will help connect the right people to your place.
3) Detailed description – Getting the key information across in your listing in line within the prescribed word count is a special skill. I’ve always had a way with words, but I know that’s not everybody’s super power. If it’s not yours, feel free to enlist some help by calling on a friend or family member who has the writing skills and can come up with the right words for the right sections of your Airbnb listing. Be as thorough as possible, answering every question asked of you.
PHASE 4: DECIDE ON YOUR PRICING
Pricing can be one of the more difficult things to work out when starting a new business, but thanks to Airbnb it’s quite easy. I’m a fan of their ‘Smart Pricing’ feature and always switch this on, then regularly check what the market is doing and what they recommend my minimum and maximum price will be. Make sure these prices cover your own costs.
It is common to offer a weekly and monthly discount, and you can also add a discount for other duration stays if you wish. I use the following formula
- Weekly discount – 5%
- Monthly discount – 15%
- Add a discount for other stays – 2 weeks: 10%
You also have the option of additional fees such as cleaner (recommended to place a fee here and to similarly match it with what others in the area are charging) additional guests, and linen fees etc. Personally I don’t like adding extra in here, as I think this can be off putting to the user who is seriously considering your listing. It can be frustrating to browse to a budget only to be hit with a bunch of additional charges when they go to book. Better to incorporate these in your nightly cost.
PHASE 5: ENLIST YOUR TEAM
Though you don’t have to, it is possible to add ‘co-hosts’ on your Airbnb listing who will receive all the same notifications for the listings that you do. This is a good idea in my experience. I add my cleaner who uses this feature to manage her time, what she needs to turnover a property and when the next one is due and my partner, just as a backup in case I am unable to liaise with a guest.
Life is busy and unexpected things crop up, so it’s good to have other people who can kick in and help.
PHASE 6: PUBLISH & MARKET YOUR LISTING
Get it out there! The next step is really just to publish your listing, wait for the enquiries and bookings and start hosting! Personally to kick any new listing along, I will share it on my personal social media networks to friends and family, and then I will strategically join Facebook groups where I think my target audience will hang out.
I’ve found some interesting niches with train drivers, snorkelling and diving enthusiasts, given the proximity of one of our properties to the Great Barrier Reef, and families who come to the area for sports carnivals as some examples.
Share the listing, with your link and hopefully by getting a few early views you will kick start your listings algorithm.
Don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to social media and marketing? The Creative Collective are an Airbnb marketing agency and can help you establish social media pages and provide training and consultancy to help you promote your listing.
PHASE 7: AUTOMATE YOUR MESSAGES
A little known feature that effectively puts your listing on auto-pilot and saves A HEAP of work in terms of communication, is the ability to automate your messages. To create a scheduled message on Airbnb:
- Go to your hosting Inbox.
- Open the left folder menu.
- Select Scheduled Messages.
- Click or tap + New Message.
- Enter a name to identify this template (this won’t be shown to guests).
- Type your message and insert any shortcodes (ex: Guest’s first name) to customise the message.
Common use cases for scheduled messaging and shortcodes (indicated in bold) include:
Sending a thank you message shortly after booking
- Dear guest first name, thank you for confirming your reservation
- I am excited to welcome you on check-in date on or after our check-in time, which is check-in time
- As a reminder, here are our house rules: house rules
Sending a check-in reminder a couple days before the trip starts
- The listing is at address and here are the directions: directions
- The wifi network is called wifi name and the password is wifi password
- Let me know if you need any advice about city
Sending a checkout reminder the morning before the trip ends
- Quick reminder that checkout is tomorrow (checkout date) any time before checkout time
- As a reminder, your confirmation code is confirmation code
See this link for more: https://www.airbnb.com.au/help/article/2897
I hope this blog post has given you some good tips and inspiration towards setting up and marketing your new online accommodation listing. I certainly enjoy being a host and to be honest, find it easier than renting via a property manager (especially when you automate the messaging). The returns are pretty good, and it’s fun interacting with people from all over the world too.
Who knows, maybe you’ll host me or one of The Creative Collective team members one day! As I said at the start, we do like to travel.