How Do I Increase Airbnb Bookings – I’m Not Getting Enough Guests?


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I’m not sure I’m quite a veteran in the game just yet, but I’ve been a landlord for over a decade now and I’ve certainly picked up my fair share of battle wounds, and taken note of some trade paradigms.

When a fellow landlord (or Airbnb “host”) frustratingly tells me they’re struggling to maintain a high occupancy rate for their short-let/Airbnb endeavours, it’s typically always because one of the same several reasons!

Why aren’t you getting enough Airbnb bookings? It’s probably because of the following reasons…

Why landlords struggle with bookings on Airbnb!

Actually, the following reasons aren’t just the kryptonite to short-lets/Airbnb, it’s true for every type of rental scenario, including traditional long-term tenancies.

  • Price – your asking price isn’t competitive, and more importantly, the local competition is providing a lot more value! So do your research on the competition to see how you stack up. Be competitive.

    From my experience, I’ve never found the following to be untrue: being cheaper with a higher occupancy rate is more profitable than being more expensive with a high vacancy rate.

  • Supply/Demand – there’s an oversupply of properties in your local area. If that’s the case, there’s actually very little you can do about it. If the demands not there, it’s not there. However, in order to snatch the very limited custom that does pop up once in a blue moon, you’d better be wise to ensure you nail all the other points in this list.
  • Photography – I’m always left in utter disbelief when landlords try and ‘sell’ their product with gloomy, lop-sided and poorly staged imagery, that’s often taken on a smartphone!

    I’m a huge fan of smartphones. They have made my life infinitely easier in this digital world, however, I know their limitations, and I sure as hell know they can’t compensate for someone that has nervy hands and zero grasp of composition!

    Using crisp high-resolution professional photography is essential when marketing property on websites like Airbnb. It’s the best and most effective way of grabbing attention! FYI, they’re not expensive either, you can order a professional property photographer for £85, and you’ll probably make your money back ten-fold… sharpish!

  • Condition – poor decor, unsavoury odours, general uncleanliness, and cheap and ghastly fittings.

    Thanks to Airbnb, competition for short-term lettings has become fierce, so there’s not a lack of dazzling options, especially in popular holiday destinations! If you’re offering sub-par mouldy dog-turd, then you really shouldn’t be surprised if the punters turn their cheek the other way – and face all the other non-mouldy options.

    The problem with landlords (and people in general, actually) is that we all have different standards, so then issues like ‘condition’, ‘style’ and ‘taste’ all become subjective!

    I’ve seen so many landlords provide absolute filthy cesspits for accommodation – conditions I wouldn’t even subject to my worst enemy during the medieval times – but they swear blind they’re providing impeccable standards. Needless to say, that means they’re left scratching their asses and mystified when they either receive no applicants or the lowest of the low quality applicants.

    If you’re struggling to get Airbnb bookings, your piss-poor taste could be the problem. Now, if that plays true, it will be a bloody tough pill to swallow, but believe me, being liberated from ignorance can be a beautiful thang.

    Ask a couple of impartial and varying friends to look at your advert in order to receive some feedback. It’s probably best to ask your most honest and outspoken of peers, because heading straight for the echo-chamber and approaching the “Yes men” will be a pointless exercise.

  • Amenities – Short-term lets and properties on Airbnb are expected to be stacked with useful, useless and quirky amenities, all to enhance the appeal.

    Again, look through the competition and see what they’re offering (e.g. kitchen with all the utensils, wireless internet, bathroom essentials, iron, hair dryer etc.) and be competitive, if not better.

How about looking beyond Airbnb?

Of course, I always recommend landlords to list on Airbnb to maximise bookings, but what many hosts don’t do is utilise the many other awesome platforms that can also generate a regular stream of bookings! Airbnb might be the most popular short-stay booking platform on the block, but by no means are they the only effective option.

Along with using Airbnb, it’s worth using some of the other competing platforms in tangent to maximise bookings, especially since you typically only pay commission on a confirmed booking (i.e. you’re not paying more or less to advertise on multiple platforms)! It’s a win-win.

Below are a couple of noteworthy options which you may want to consider listing your property on…

MarketplaceAvg PriceAdvertisesNotes
Price
3%
per booking
Advertises

  • Single rooms
  • Entire property
Notes

The most popular marketplace for holiday-lets

Surely, no intro required! Airbnb is the most popular holiday-let marketplace in the world.

If any landlord wants to maximise their chances of filling those voids, Airbnb is a must!

More Info
Price
3%
per booking
Advertises

  • Entire property
Notes

World’s largest travel community!

TripAdvisor (“world’s largest travel community”) receives masses of exposure, and while a lot of it is on its ‘reviewing’ platform (which I’m sure we’ll all used at one point), its short-let/holiday rental area is also an active community. But perhaps the most appealing reason to use TripAdvisor to boost your bookings is the fact that TripAdvisor automatically posts its listings on its sister website FlipKey, which in itself is very successful for specifically holiday rentals. That’s a whole lot of exposure!

Note: unlike Airbnb, TripAdvisor doesn’t offer shared rooms with live-in landlords/hosts, it only advertises private rooms or whole properties.

More Info
Price
3%
per booking
Advertises

  • Single rooms
Notes

Hosted experience

Homestay is a “hosted experience”, which means the landlord/host stays in the property with the guest, so they can provide a genuine and local experience. That does mean it’s a hands-on experience for the landlord.

If hosting and being the local expert is your calling, stick your property on their website!

More Info
Price
6-12%
per booking
Advertises

  • Single rooms
  • Entire property
Notes

Holiday/vacation rentals

Homeaway specifically targets holiday/vacation rentals, although I’ve seen properties in their inventory which are located all over the UK, many of which aren’t your typical holiday destinations!

It’s a pretty popular website, serving 190 countries and millions of travellers.

More Info
Price
6-12%
per booking
Advertises

  • Single rooms
  • Entire property
Notes

Large holiday/vacation properties for families & groups

VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) is part of the HomeAway group, the world’s leading online marketplace for vacation/holiday rentals. It is very similar to its sister site HomeAway- the main difference is the properties on VRBO are bigger and have gardens, so they’re generally better suited for families & groups.

More Info
Price
10-25%
per booking
Advertises

  • Entire property
Notes

Private homes and apartments for world-travellers!

Booking.com is up there as one of the most popular hotel booking websites on the planet. But what you may not have realised is that Booking.com also lists private homes and apartments for world-travellers!

Like and use booking.com already? Then you may want to use them to market your holiday rental.

More Info

Please note, I try my best to keep the information of each service up-to-date, but you should read the T&C’s from each service provider’s website for the most up-to-date information.

How about using a management company to boost occupancy and revenue?

I’ve already discussed Airbnb management services in depth, so I won’t retrace my steps… entirely.

Airbnb management companies have become extremely popular for two primary reasons:

  • They takeover the complete management of short-term lets so landlords are unshackled from the laborious graft that comes with short-lets! From marketing to meeting, greeting and checking in the guests – management companies take care of it all;
  • they maximise occupancy and go above and beyond to achieve the highest market rates, meaning landlords often achieve greater revenue even after the management fees (which is typically 12% of the rental income).

So if you haven’t looked into Airbnb/short-let management companies, they could be your golden ticket. However, a few restrictions do apply:

  • The only manage entire properties, so they won’t cater to live-in hosts;
  • they currently only operate in a few select major UK cities e.g. London, Manchester, Edinburgh etc.

More details on the best airbnb / short-let management companies.

Do you have any tips or tricks to increase Airbnb bookings?

I’d love to hear your experiences, particularly if you managed to increase your occupancy rate. What worked best for you?

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