Optimise your Airbnb - 5 Pro Tips You Didn't Know

August 8, 2019

As an Account Manager at Houst - the world's largest Airbnb management company - I know a thing or two about optimising your listing.

There's plenty of blogs out there suggesting you throw a rug here, leave a plant pot there, and ensure you keep the tea bags topped up. That's important, but certain tips only reveal themselves with experience.

1. Don't turn off 'Instant Book'.

Instant Book. Sounds scary, doesn't it? Up there with 'Golden Goal'.

It isn't.

Airbnb simply wants to make it as easy and quick as possible for guests to book their stay (before they lose interest or change their mind). So they promote properties with Instant Book turned on, and relegate those that don't.

A search for Airbnb listings in Cape Town showed that:

  • A huge 62.4% of the first page results had Instant Book on.
  • Just 39.6% of the second page had Instant Book on.

The Instant Book properties were being pushed forward.

Now here's the secret. You can cancel all Instant Book reservations penalty-free up to and including the day of check-in.  When cancelling online you must select 'I am uncomfortable with the reservation' as your reason. Any other selection will result in a penalty.

Airbnb cancellation instant book
With great power comes great responsibility...

Likewise, if phoning Airbnb, the magic words are "I am uncomfortable". Stand your ground, know your rights, and be safe in the knowledge that you do have complete control over the guests you welcome!

2. Change your property location.

Wait, what?

Okay, so whilst you can't actually uproot your house and plant it outside London Eye you can make your Airbnb location more attractive.

airbnb adjust location pin
Looks about right.

Airbnb does not show a guest your specific location until they've booked. It would be a little risky if they did - anyone could know when the property was empty. Instead, during set-up, you'll be asked to set an approximate location of your home.

You can use this tool to nudge your home slightly further towards that trendy high street or tourist hotspot. Don't go mad though - its important to set guest expectations too!

3. Not all amenities are born equal.

Selecting certain property features boosts the visibility of your listing. You'll also be automatically included as part of Airbnb's 'Work Collection' - that is, Airbnb for business travellers.

This is a growing market on Airbnb. It now accounts for over 15% of all Airbnb stays!

Here is a list of exactly what you'll need:

  • Iron
  • Laptop-friendly workspace
  • Hangers
  • Hair dryer
  • ‘Essentials’ (toilet paper, soap, towels, bed linens, and pillows)
  • Internet and WiFi (they are separate amenities on Airbnb!)
  • Shampoo
  • 24-hour self check-in (a key lockbox, keypad, smartlock, or by getting the key or access from a concierge)
  • Smoke detector
  • Carbon monoxide detector — they're £12 and our data shows a 7.5% uplift in occupancy for those with one installed!
  • TV
airbnb work collection business
A whole new world...

Remember, you don't need to spend a fortune on any of the above.

4. Fill out your  life  host story.

Guests like to know they're renting off a real person.

Airbnb started out as a way for people to share their sofa with passing travellers. It's fair to say things have moved on, but the platform still has a focus on the personal, human element.

So it's definitely worth filling out your profile. You'll need to:

  1. Upload a profile picture featuring you! Put a face to the name. Avoid a generic picture of Big Ben or Sydney Opera House.
  2. Under 'About Me', write a little about why you're hosting. It doesn't need to be your life story though. Airbnb suggests you enter your 'Life Motto' but we aren't all from California so feel free to ignore their advice.
  3. Add the languages you speak. Even if you're French is a little, ahem,
    élémentaire its worth putting on!
  4. Upload as many forms of ID as you can, as well as your phone number and email address. Think about it - you want to know who is staying in your home, and guests would like a similar peace of mind!
profile photo airbnb
Have we met before?

5. You've got 5 seconds to sell your listing.

Being able to sell your Airbnb to a potential guest quickly is vital. Guests spend an average of just five seconds looking at a listing before returning to the search results.

Ensure the picture which best shows off your space is the cover photo. This is the photo guests will see alongside rival listings.

Once a guest clicks through to your page they will be presented with four more photos. This will be the first four, in order, that you arranged on the 'Edit Photos' screen.

Don't show off your living room four times. Select a bedroom (or two), a kitchen, and maybe even a bathroom. It should be your home at a glance.

good listing airbnb
bad listing airbnb
Not so good!

With luck, you might get longer than five seconds.

Feels too much like hard-work? Let Houst take care of it for you - we'll build your listing, find your guests, and clean your home. Find out how much you could earn with our price calculator.

These five tips were inspired by a longer article written by my colleague Jonny. His excellent, detailed tips (all 19 of them!) can be found here.

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