Now that your Airbnb rental is up and running and prepped for guests, it’s time to think about improving on your success. In part three of this series, we’ll cover how to price your Airbnb (including suggestions for dynamic pricing), how to maintain critical five-star reviews, whether you should Instant Book, and how to start an active social media presence.
But First, A Success Story
Andrea Clarkson is a seasoned Airbnb host who began with a rental in Switzerland. A few years later, she is now a Superhost, Airbnb ambassador, and even offers advice to fellow hosts on her website Mammamode.com. She shares her story below:
“I began my hosting adventure with my tiny apartment in a ski resort in Switzerland when I worked as a fashion buyer back in 2012. When we bought our Mid-century home in Washington State a few years later, I really saw the potential to turn the suite into an Airbnb! With a few small renovations, adding in a wall and french doors, we were able to create an oasis for travelers to the Palouse Area.
“I love to teach new hosts how to confidently and powerfully start their short-term rental (STR) and create the business of their dreams. Mamma Mode is for hosts to gain inspiration + spark their creative side! I started this blog to share my creative hosting ideas and help new hosts become Superhosts! When I decided years ago to start an Airbnb. I didn’t know where to start first. I kept putting it off because I felt a little intimidated by the competition. How would I open my home to strangers? Furnish the rooms? Get my listing up and running, and make everything look amazing? I wished I could have had a friend who was a host, or some professional advice to make sure I was doing everything right.
“That’s why I started my blog! I’m here as your seasoned Superhost friend, to walk you step-by-step through everything you need to know from starting up, furnishing, photography, listing description, and everything in between. With Mammamode, you’ll learn how to get to the top of the Airbnb Ranking and how to maximize your earnings, promote your Airbnb, and troubleshoot any issues.”
Pricing your Airbnb Rental
From competition and market research to determining your ideal occupancy rate, there are a few important factors to pricing your Airbnb rental:
- Research Market Prices: Researching rates in your marketplace will go long way towards pricing your rental. Andrea says, “Spend time looking at what your STR market already offers, and then find your hook. What can you offer that is unique and different? Create a clear profile of your target guests, including demographics, personality, hobbies & interests, And then design everything with that person in mind. When picking out furniture or deciding which amenities to buy, ask yourself “would this make my target guest happy?”
- Outshine the Competition: A lot of advantageous information giving you a market edge is right at your fingertips. Find out what guests are looking for by researching reviews and overall ratings. How do other accommodations in your area compare to yours? What perks are they offering — town guides? Bike to get around? Espresso machines and breakfast?
- Occupancy Rate: To maximize earnings, you need to decide on ideal occupancy rates, and determine the best rates to charge throughout the year based on those rates. Occupancy rates are simply the number of times your short-term rental is occupied throughout the year versus how often it is available — your rental likely won’t be for rent for 365 days per year (hint: Beyond’s Insights market data can give you an idea of ideal daily pricing and occupancy rates in your market). Ideally, you’ll want to beat local percentages, but begin by at least maintaining the highest price you can to keep your rental rented.
- Take advantage of dynamic pricing: “My advice is not to leave money on the table and to scale and streamline your STR business with a pricing tool. We love using Beyond for our Airbnb! You don’t want to miss out on any important booking dates such as festivals or sporting events in your area. These dates draw larger crowds, and accommodation gets booked quickly. You can easily charge double or triple your nightly price,” said Andrea.
Review Strategy for Your Airbnb
As an Airbnb host, you should always strive for five-star reviews. You can make sure that your guests are satisfied with ample preparation and communication. Airbnb asks guests for overall star ratings and then categorically breaks it down into headings like location and cleanliness. Star ratings can be broken down into:
- Five stars: Awesome/very good. I am happy and enjoyed my stay.
- Four stars: Not completely satisfied. There were issues and missed expectations.
- Three stars: Very unsatisfied. Awful stay and won’t book here again.
- Two stars: Stay away, Could not be worse, Wish I could get my money back
- One star: Unlivable conditions
Not only does a constant stream of 5-star reviews make your short-term rental more desirable, but it goes a long way towards Superhost status. Airbnb regularly assesses listings, and top-performing Airbnb hosts are designated with a special Superhost badge. Qualifications include:
- Hosting at least 10 trips or three reservations that total at least 100 nights
- Maintaining a 90% response rate or higher
- Maintaining a 1% cancellation rate (1 cancellation per 100 reservations) or lower
- Maintaining a 4.8 overall rating
As you can see, the more prepared and clear you are from the get-go, the better off your guest’s experience is going to be. You need to make sure to always respond to guest requests, especially via the Airbnb app. This begins with a post-reservation welcome and does not necessarily end when a guest leaves. Social media provides a wonderful way to stay engaged, keep people up to date, and draw in new potential guests.
Making a Digital Imprint with Social Media
With 12k+ followers on @Mamma.mode on Instagram, Andrea is a social media expert. Her biggest piece of advice when it comes to showing off your Airbnb on social media:
“Think of your Airbnb as a brand. Research shows that you have about 3 seconds to captivate someone’s interest on Instagram before they move on. Therefore, when thinking of the overall branding of your Airbnb ask yourself these two questions:
- How do you want to be seen? (A cozy cabin in the woods, a cool hideaway in the desert, a modern apartment in the city…)
- What are 5 emotions you want guests to ‘feel’ about your Airbnb?
- If your Airbnb is a ‘cabin in the woods’ you want to try to highlight everything unique about that vacation experience in your feed like quietness, nature, and space. Therefore, always post with the potential guest in mind and you’ll truly promote your Airbnb on Instagram. If you make the viewer feel ’emotion’ and connect with your Airbnb there is more of a chance they will book!”
Andrea also has some specific advice for Instagram: “What works best on Instagram is making connections with your followers. When you get a new follower, start by liking a few other posts or dropping a comment. Also, remember to reply to their comments on your feed to encourage them to engage with other posts in the future. Engaging with your followers means that potential guests get to know you beyond the static Airbnb profile. If you stop and think about it, we all prefer to do business with people we know, like, and trust, don’t we? When guests see you on a social level, it’s easier for guests to remember you when they’re thinking about where to spend their next vacation.”
Instant Book Guidelines
Airbnb’s Instant Book allows people to book your place without awaiting your approval. Without Instant Book, guests have to wait for a response to allow this reservation. This is not optimal for guests, who may be accustomed to easily booking a hotel on the spot on other sites. Easy access is to your rental is important, but there are downsides to turning on Instant Book. It’s all about weighing the pros and cons and making the best decision for your business.
Instant Book Pros
- You can save time because you can book guests without having to respond to each request.
- Appear in searches from potential guests who use filters to search for Instant Book listings.
- You might appear higher up in searches, as Instant Book positively affects your response rate, a factor in Airbnb’s listing placement.
- You can reach Superhost status more easily, which requires that you maintain a 90% response rate.
Instant Book Cons
- If you are listed on a few different travel sites, Airbnb and VRBO for example, unsynced listings can lead to serious calendar conflicts. However, tools like Relay can avoid these overlaps.
- You have less control over who books your rental, and a potential guest with not-so-great reviews can book your Airbnb.
- Less control booking dates, leaving potential holes and less cash in hand.
If you decide on Instant Book, the most important Host Guideline is setting up and customizing your Instant Book settings. You can require at least one positive review before guests are allowed to book, set a certain number of advance days for booking, set a minimum trip length, etc. These settings will protect your listing from random or spam reviewers and help to keep your calendar organized.
As your Airbnb business grows, you will want to build on this progress. Along the way, Beyond will be there for you. From insights and advice on our blog to our all-in-one revenue management platform, Beyond wants to make sure that people have the tools they need to succeed in the exploding short-term rental world.
Ready to try Beyond? Create your account today and claim your free credit!