It all started with a viral social media post from an Airbnb Superhost Facebook group. In the post, the host lamented about zero occupancy in their Palm Springs Airbnb rental, asking other hosts if they noticed the same. The post went viral on Twitter, which started a buzz of discussion online. Other hosts, news sites, and even guests started weighing in with their take, most suggesting that Airbnb hosts are in trouble. Some even claimed that an Airbnb bust is upon us. However, is this really the case for the majority of short-term rental hosts?
Airbnb’s most recent earnings call paints a different picture. They reported that “Q3 was our biggest and most profitable quarter ever,” pointing to the nearly 100 million nights and experiences booked on the platform – a 25% year-over-year increase. The platform also reported that their host community continued to grow, which could explain lower occupancy levels among existing hosts due to increasing competition.
To get a sense of what is actually going on, we turned to our extensive short-term rental data and an in-house expert. While a lot of the so-called Airbnb bust stories are more anecdotal, there are some changes and trends that hosts need to keep up with.
Guest Demand for Airbnb Remains Strong While Supply Grows
Overall, we can see that there is still growing demand for Airbnb among guests, and supply is increasing at the same time. Hosts still value Airbnb as a booking channel, but a decrease in bookings for some hosts might be due to supply increases.
Percent of Reservations on Airbnb is Growing
First we looked at the distribution in the U.S. by main booking channels–Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com–and direct channels. We can see that Airbnb usage has grown over time: Of reservations arriving in November 2022, 52.9% were from Airbnb, up from 43.5% in 2020 and 51.2% in 2021. This tells us that Airbnb as a booking channel is still popular and growing among guests.
Airbnb Supply is Increasing
Next, we checked in on how the number of Airbnb rentals has grown. Supply of Airbnb rentals has continued to increase through the COVID-19 rebound, and even accelerate. Throughout 2022, supply has increased by around 8% quarter over quarter.
An Airbnb Host’s Tips for Hosts to Increase Occupancy
Now that we know that Airbnb remains a popular choice for travelers, how can hosts ensure that they are maintaining their occupancy levels as more competition sprouts up? We turned to our in-house expert Jack Reipke. As an Airbnb host himself and a Revenue Consultant at Beyond, Jack shared his best tips for Airbnb hosts to stand out from the competition and increase occupancy levels:
- Keep up with the latest Airbnb product updates: Have you heard about the latest changes coming to Airbnb’s platform? Airbnb recently announced new changes to its platform in its latest Winter Release, and in its most recent earnings call. Knowing what these changes mean for your business is critical so that you can optimize your listing on the platform.
- Evaluate your fees, especially the cleaning fee: Among the Airbnb guests weighing in on this topic on social media, many talked about the fee structure they see from hosts. Some guests are initially enticed to book by low nightly rates until they get to the checkout and see a much higher total – which many guests see as a bait-and-switch situation. Airbnb also announced new changes to how pricing is displayed, intending to have more transparent displays that show “all-in” prices. This new change means that guests are clear about the total price earlier in their booking journey. Ensuring that your fees are not too high is crucial to winning over potential guests.
- Evaluate your checkout instructions: Guests also talked online about some unexpected and numerous tasks and chores they needed to complete before checking out of an Airbnb. Coupled with Airbnb’s announcement that house rules and checkout instructions will be more visible on listings, ensure that your checkout requirements do not go overboard.
- Professional photos: It is so important to present your space in the best light to potential guests. If you spend the time to prepare your space and get it ready, don't skimp on this step as it's a major one.
- Curating an intentional space: In today's crowded market, hosts need to get more creative with their spaces and cater to different types of travelers. Think about how you can be unique, stand out, and create an environment for your guests.
- For new listings & hosts: Price low to begin, be more flexible with minimum nights, and ask for reviews! This is the best way to get started with your short-term rental. It's important to get a solid base of reviews going, so offering your space at discounted rates for minimum nights is important to get the listing off the ground and running. Then you can start increasing your minimum stay requirements and daily rates.
- Book stays for your own units and experience them: You can learn a lot by spending time in your space, gathering ideas for how to make it better. My wife and I have lived in every unit we've spun up and this has allowed us to fully immerse ourselves and create a space that we love. If you don't LOVE to stay at your place, what makes you think that others will?
- Consider a listing video: Now that Vrbo now allows a video link in your listing, I believe this is where listings will be headed. Photographers/videographers can do some pretty amazing things with video and can show your unit in a light that photos just can not.
- Make sure you are on multiple channels: More importantly, understand what channels are most popular for your area and make sure you are definitely on those.
- Get Social: Consider a hashtag or geotag for your listing and work to get others posting about your space on social media. This is a great opportunity to show off aspects of your rental that you cannot show as well on the listing page.
- Know your market with access to data and insights: Knowing your market, seasonality, and search data is more important today than ever. What is a highly searched amenity that isn't offered by many guests? What is the average night stay – and are you allowing those? Make sure you use a tool to understand this and optimize your listing based on it.
Have you tried any of these tips before to increase bookings? Take charge of your revenue management strategy for 2023 and work with Beyond – you can even see just how much your business can grow with our calculator.