By Rowan Clifford
Author of Airbn’b’Smart and Smartbnb user
You’ve done the hard part, you’ve built yourself a tidy listing (or a few!) on Airbnb…
The bookings are trickling in, but you want more bookings and more money. We always want more, that’s just human nature.
But are you just a ‘leaf in the wind’ at the whim of Airbnb’s search algorithm, with zero control over how many bookings you get?
Or, is there anything you can do to positively impact the number of bookings you get and increase your occupancy rate?
As it turns out, there‘s a whole lot you can do to maximize your occupancy on Airbnb, and most of them won’t cost you a dime!
Let me show you how.
1. Reduce your minimum nightly stay
Before Airbnb came along, it was common for holiday homes to be rented exclusively for a minimum of 7 days.
It made a lot of sense, because it maximized the profits for the host, and minimized the workload.
But things have changed a lot since then.
Now, people don’t want to be restricted to week-long rentals, and they expect to be allowed the flexibility to stay at a place just for a night or two.
So, to put your listing in front of as many eyes as possible and to appeal to as many potential guests as possible, reduce your minimum nightly stay to as low of a threshold as you can accommodate.
By reducing your minimum stay, your listing will appear in more searches, and you’ll get more bookings as a result.
2. Optimize your prices
The price you charge per night has, by far, the biggest effect on your occupancy rate, above all other factors combined.
The mistake many hosts make is taking the “set it and forget it” approach, by rolling with as little as four pricing variations for the entire year. That can be a costly mistake.
To increase your occupancy, you must optimize your prices to be competitive for every date range throughout the year.
If the idea of optimizing your pricing sounds like too much hard work, it is possible to automate the process using online tools. It’s definitely worth some consideration.
3. Make your amenities stand out
If everyone around you is offering just the basic amenities, why not try and stand out from the pack by making your amenities “above average”?
Rather than just providing a filter coffee option, how about an espresso machine? Or, rather than just broadband, how about superfast fiber-optic instead? – The latter can be a great boon for business visitors!
When it comes to a tight decision between two listings, having amenities that stand out and make an impact could be the difference between getting booked or being left high and dry.
4. Give special offers
In some circumstances, you may find yourself with a guest who’s openly toying between two different listings.
This is the perfect time to send a special offer.
Granted, you won’t make as much as you potentially could have, but if it’s a super last minute booking, it’s a great way of getting your hustle on, and securing the reservation.
Here’s how to send a special offer:
- Go to Inbox on airbnb.com
- Open the message from the guest you want to send a special offer to
- Click Send special offer
- On the left side of the page, in the Subtotal field, enter the price you’d like to offer your guest for their stay (be sure to include your additional guest fee in this subtotal as well as cleaning fees, pet fees, or any other fees you’ve agreed upon)
- Click Send special offer
5. Offer special discounts after checkout
Here’s a little strategy that works well for many hosts…
After your guests have checked out, why not offer them a special discount offer if they choose to return?
Not only does it show goodwill, but it‘s also much easier to convert a pre-existing customer that already knows what to expect.
Do this regularly, and you should see an uptick in your occupancy rates over time.
6. Upsell free nights
If you have a guest in your property and there are spare nights available after their checkout dates, offer those nights as a special offer to your guests.
Many guests will jump at the chance to extend their trip, and you’ll have booked yourself an otherwise vacant night.
Win-win all around.
This process can be done manually, of course (but it’s a bit of a drag), or if you’re a Smartbnb user, the whole process can be automated. Pretty neat, eh?
7. Open single nights between bookings
If your minimum booking length is set to anything other than one night, then you’ll often find yourself with random unbookable single nights in between bookings.
Those otherwise guaranteed vacant nights can be opened up by manually going into your Airbnb dashboard and changing the availability for that specific night.
If you keep on top of them, you’ll book many nights throughout the year that would’ve otherwise been dormant.
It’s a great hack for increasing your occupancy.
Here’s how to open single nights between bookings on Airbnb:
- Go to Your listings on airbnb.com and select a listing.
- Click Manage listing.
- Click availability at the top of the page.
- Next to Trip length, click Edit.
- Enter the minimum and maximum night requirements.
- Click Customize by day of the week to create custom rules for each day of the week.
- Click Add a custom rule for seasons or specific dates.
8. Become a superhost
Having the superhost badge is a signal of trust, plus guests also have the ability to filter their search results to display only listing with superhost status.
Although being an Airbnb superhost doesn’t necessarily have a direct impact on your occupancy rate, it will help you to gauge how well you’re doing as a host, which will inadvertently have a positive impact on your occupancy rate.
9. Focus on getting good reviews
The positivity of the reviews you receive has a big impact on the number of bookings you get.
The review system is the heartbeat of Airbnb, and reviews have a huge influence over a guest’s booking decisions.
So it goes without saying that positive reviews have a huge impact on your occupancy rate.
Getting great reviews on Airbnb is part art, part science, and it’s well worth your investment.
10. Adjust your listing to reflect the season
Different seasons evoke different emotions and affect the booking habits of your guests.
Let me explain.
In the summer, guests will be searching for bright, light, colorful, vibrant listings to enjoy the warm summer weather.
However, in the winter months, guests will find places that are warm, cozy, and comfortable, more appealing.
I recommend having two separate listing descriptions and image sets to reflect seasonal variations to maximize their appeal.
Taking the time to craft seasonally adjusted listing variations can have a big impact on your occupancy over time.
11. Get professional photos
Photos make an enormous impact on the booking decisions of your potential guests.
If your images are average, with bad lighting and poor execution, you’re likely turning off a large number of people from your listing.
Although it may be a little costly at first to get professional photos, those images will pay you back handsomely over time as your occupancy rate increases.
12. Respond to guest queries instantly
Sometimes, replying quickly to guest queries can be the difference between securing a booking, or losing it to your competitors. This is especially true for last-minute bookings.
If a guest can’t get answers to their questions quickly from you, they’ll book with someone else.
Simple as that.
How do I achieve that lighting speed?
Thankfully, it is possible to automate much of that process using Smartbnb. In fact, we’ve even built an AI solution for exactly this scenario. Our system will auto-detect frequently asked questions and provide answers to your guests’ questions automatically, and…
It’s actually pretty simple to set up.
Either way, whether you automate this process or not, your response time could mean the difference between securing a booking or kissing it goodbye!
13. Turn on Instant Book
If you haven’t got instant book turned on already, stop what you’re doing right now, go into your Airbnb account and switch it on ASAP!
Not having Instant Book switched on is going to hammer your occupancy big time.
With Instant Book switched on, you’ll be visible to more searchers, with far less friction in the booking process.
14. Make your listing business-ready
There’s a growing demographic of users on Airbnb: Business people.
In fact, it’s such a growing user base that Airbnb has developed a whole new service to encourage more business travelers to use its platform.
And the best thing is, the bar for making your listing business ready is really not that high (it’s actually pretty easy).
15. Add extra sleeping options
One of the quickest ways to increase the scope of your listing and to show up in more searches is to increase the sleeping capacity of your listing.
This is easily done by adding a sofa-bed and/or pull out mattresses.
Not only can you charge extra for the extra guests, more importantly, the visibility of your listing will increase. More listing views equals more bookings.
Smartbnb will even send instructions on using the sofa bed to those guests who would actually need it.
Gone are the days of just throwing up a few average photos and a quick description and expecting to get floods of bookings rolling in.
Those were the good old days, but they’re long gone.
To maximize your occupancy rate on Airbnb and become one of those hosts that are really crushing it, you’ve got to invest a little of your time to make sure you’re competing on all fronts.
If you heed my advice and take action on all of my recommendations above, over time, you should see a significant increase in your occupancy.
And that’s what we all want, right?
The number of bookings you get on Airbnb has a direct correlation to your visibility within Airbnb’s search results. The higher you rank, the more bookings you’ll get.
Want some actionable tips on boosting your Airbnb rankings? Look no further!
The more bookings you get, the less free time you have.
You’re stuck in the old ‘time-for-money’ paradigm…
…and it sucks.
Luckily, however, there are ways (many in fact) that you can run a successful Airbnb business and even scale it up to multiple listings in a way that doesn’t impact your free time.
In the summer we want summery things. In winter we want wintery things.
Department stores have long been taking advantage of this fact as they change the entire look and feel of their stores to position themselves inline with their customers purchasing decisions.
We can learn a thing or two from these high street stores and implement them into the way we compose our Airbnb listings to further resonate with potential guests looking to book.