Have Airbnb Bookings Slowed Down?
For a lot of host things are kind of slow right now. I’m your host, John Kenario, and welcome to another episode of Vacation Rental and Airbnb Mastery. Today I want to talk to you about optimizing your Airbnb listing and gaming the algorithm a little bit so you could get your listing in front of more potential bookers Airbnb. Their algorithm is like anything else, and you can learn how to optimize your listing so that you stand out. So on this episode, I’ll talk to you about a couple of cool ways that you can make a few tweaks and get a lot more eyes on your property.
Doing well on the airbnb algorithm takes work and constant improvement
So the algorithm, if you’re new to Airbnb, you’re wondering why you’re appearing so low on search, right? It, it could be a mystery sometimes, like you just list your place and no one’s finding you, no one’s giving you any bookings, but maybe there’s a couple things that you can tweak, a few minor little changes that will make a world of difference. I knew an owner once, his name was Todd, and Todd just bought a property, thought he was gonna make a lots and lots of money doing the short-term rental thing. He sat down and did his Airbnb listing in about 45 minutes and didn’t change one thing for months, and then he was wondering why his results were so poor. Then I know another host name is Amanda, and she’s constantly tweaking her listing all the time, always looking for ways to improve it, always looking for ways to make it better, and she is a super host and she has 121 reviews on her property.
Keywords are key to ranking higher in search results on Airbnb and Google.
The big difference here is the amount of effort. The amount of effort you have to actually put in. You need to constantly be dedicated to improving yourself and your business. That means learning new things and applying them. If you just learn and don’t apply it, you won’t see any changes. So how can you do what Amanda did? Well, here’s how Google search and Airbnb search by extension is all about keywords. Keywords, words that people type to ask a question or to find something or to do a transaction, people type words. And sometimes they’re not spelled right, they’re spelled more in layman’s terms. So you need to actually write out your title, your headline and description in a way that a human being would actually find it. I know words like Oasis and getaway and stuff like that. It’s sexy, right? But people don’t type. I’m looking for an eight bedroom oasis on Google or anywhere else for that matter.
Be selective and descriptive with your keywords to do well in Airbnb search.
So the words you use, words matter, and they matter a lot. It’s a difference between getting a lot of bookings and earning a lot of income and not earning anything at all, because if no one finds you, no one discovers you. The words that you put weren’t helping you, even though they sound nice, like enchanted. Enchanted adds a little faz, but no one’s typing. I want an enchanted for a bedroom. They’re just not typing it. So I’m not saying not to use descriptive adjectives, but you do need to have some keyword rich content in that title and in the description, it’s so important. A tried and true formula I’ve seen work time and time again is call
Include the property type in the title and description.
Out the type of property. So for example, if it’s a cabin and you’re by Breckenridge, right? You can say cozy cabin minutes from Breck, right? That that will have a few keywords, the location it has, the type of unit it is, and it’s minutes from where they’re trying to go. So it serves two purposes or more than two actually. It lets people know what to expect, it fits their needs, and it’s the type of property that they would like to stay in. So don’t try to overthink it. Location or what you’re close to, like Beachfront, Mountain, National Park, Amusement Park, wherever you are, use that to your advantage in the title. And also try to type like the type of property they’re going to, like, if it’s a cabin, if it’s a, if it’s a condo, you can put that in the description as well, because people type on Google, those types of things like condo beachfront, Miami, that’s something that people type and you have more of a chance to appear in search organically.
Include any special places or attractions your vacation rental is close to
If you use keyword rich content just like that, include the most important information in the title and the description because that’s metadata and it’s going to be picked up by all the search engines when they decide who’s going to rank higher. So make sure it’s in the title and description. Also, once you’re typing out the description, always include what’s close to you. Anything that’s interesting, if there’s a lake to go fishing or kayaking. If, if you’re by the mountains, a national park, a state park, if you’re by um, Louisiana, you’re in New Orleans and you’re by the French Quarter, but that if you’re in Orlando and you’re by Disney best, be believe that should be in there, right? So in the description, you want to spell out what is close to you and why that’s important. Also, don’t just list it. Don’t just say it, describe it.
In your description, be descriptive! Paint a picture so the guest can ‘picture’ themselves staying in your vacation rental.
Paint a picture for your guest to get them in that emotional state of purchasing, of booking, of clicking that button saying book. Now to get them there, you need to paint a picture of what they can expect with really rich, descriptive adjectives, rich descriptive verbs. Put them in a painting and paint your place like it’s somewhere they can imagine their family and friends gathering and having a great time. And you can do that by setting the scene, by typing a few paragraphs of what’s around you, what they can expect, and why your place is so awesome. And you can do it in a storytelling fashion versus just listing things in a bulleted list. And that way you can really engage every sense, every emotion while your prospective booker is looking at your listing. For anyone listening who’s brand new to this vacation rental thing, I really suggest you look at your rates, your nightly rates.
Price your airbnb lower at first, attractive pricing will attract bookers.
It’s one of the most important ranking factors on Airbnb and vrbo. They have a preference for more affordable rentals. Why? Because they know they’ll get booked more often and they can earn their service fee more, right? So when you’re just starting out, if you offer a more attractive rate for several months, yes, you may be leaving a little bit of money on the table, but it’s all about playing that long game because the long game is who’s going to be around in the last vacation rental standing, and who’s going to be the one with the most reviews? Because reviews win the game in a good way to get some really great reviews is to deliver a great guest experience, and that includes a guest experience with value. Value doesn’t mean cheap value just means you’re competitively price to attract more bookings, rock out on it, do a great job, have your guest review you, so your review counts skyrockets after several months when you’re sitting on 20 or more reviews, you will naturally appear higher in search, and then you can command a higher premium price point because you have the track record and the reviews to support that.
Then, when you have a track record you can raise your prices. Your reviews will justify the higher nightly rate.
But I met so many friends of mine and host that start out doing this, and they think they’re a premium listing and they’re not <laugh>. It’s like there’s so many houses out there, especially in Florida. There’s houses now like Margaritaville Resort used to rent for 480 a night in ops, some of them 700 a night. I could rent that same place right now this week in October for $140 a night. So they may have paid $600,000 to close on the property, but no one cares what you paid to close on the property because the market dictates your price. You don’t dictate your price. The market does and your guests do. So the best thing to do when you’re first starting out is to offer an attractive price to get more turnover, right? Get more reviews so that you’re higher up in search, which in terms means you get more reviews and, and more guests and more bookings. But starting out, you may want to price your rental more attractively so you’re not like shooting yourself in the foot and staying empty because you’re too expensive.
Decline as few bookings as possible.
Here’s a couple more optimization tips you can use. Make sure you decline as few bookings as possible. Airbnb does not like it when you decline bookings. Um, there’s a lot of picky hosts and they’re saying, not not gonna rent to you, not gonna rent to you. That’s a bad sign as a host, like you being that picky with people like you’re renting to, I know you feel in control because it’s your house and all, but this is a public accommodation. You’re renting to the public. So, um, try to decline as few bookings as possible. If you wanna rank higher in the algorithm, it does work. So don’t decline too many unless someone’s super sketchy. Um, and then respond timely, like the response rates. We’ve talked about this on the show. Respond quickly. Like as soon as your guest messages, you try to get right back to them. Try to have the Airbnb app or a verbal app on your phone so you could give a timely response because your response rate is actually scored and it it’s taken to account when they, when they give you super host status too. Um, so you definitely want to be super responsive, not
Be responsive, your response rate on Airbnb directly impacts the search algorithm.
Just while the booking process is going on, but even during the stay and after checkout. Be responsive because it does matter. Um, requests reviews, so sometimes guests forget to review. Um, you definitely wanna request reviews when guests leave because the more reviews you get, the more great things people say about you, the more people see your property and the more bookings you get. So definitely request reviews as often as possible and then make sure that you’re always treating everyone in, in good faith and treating everyone well because maybe someone has a question about your property, but they don’t end up booking with you, but it doesn’t mean they’re not gonna book with you seven, eight months down the road. So treat everyone with kindness. It’s a golden rule, and trust me that kindness will be reciprocated and given back to you in the form of lots of bookings.
Optimize your airbnb listing by making sure you have fully completed the listing.
Later, maybe when you started setting up your Airbnb VRBO listing, you left a lot of the boxes unchecked, like all the stuff in the kitchen, all of the bathroom information, you didn’t finish descriptions. So the captions, well, if you have the downtime, if it’s kind of slow for you right now, you want to definitely go into your listings and make sure everything that should be filled out is actually filled out because Airbnb takes all that data and VRBO takes all that data you actually input there. And that’s, that goes into what they rank you for. So where you rank on your algorithm is also how complete your listing is. So if there’s anything left not complete, be sure to complete it. It will help your rankings. With all this news about the cleaning fees and the service fees. People hate it. Guests are being really vocal about it right now, saying that, Hey, I’m just gonna stay at a hotel.
Consider removing your cleaning fee…
They don’t have this outrageous clean fee. Maybe it’s a good time to scrap it off your listing. Maybe it’s gonna make your price a little bit more expensive. But if you have to add $20 to your nightly rate to, to make up for the clean fee or even $40 per night, it, it is attractive Advertising yourself as a no clean fee rental. Um, you could even put that in your title if you’re not somewhere, um, that’s particularly attractive, like a beachfront and there’s no landmarks around you. You could even say that, Hey, you know, clean fee, um, no clean fee rental. I’ve seen a lot of success with host actually doing that. Um, but not having a clean fee and just baking it into your nightly rate. It, it’s just a better approach. And I feel Airbnb’s gonna somehow move to that in the future.
Airbnb guests have been complaining about high fees, reduce barriers to booking by eliminating the reason they are complaining.
Um, so you may want to think about capitalizing on the fact that people are upset with these fees and just doing away with them yourself because it may help you drum up some new bookings. Now, it’s cool to wanna game an algorithm and appear high on search. It’s good for bookings, it’s good for business, but we need to remember, we have to deliver a great guest experience because we can rank however we want in Airbnb. But once a guest gets there, if they’re not having a fun and great time, they’re never coming back and they’ll tell people that they should book elsewhere. So once they check in, everything needs to be right. The house needs to be sparkling clean, really clean, offer extra towels, extra linens, a welcome
Consider a welcome gift, go the extra mile to set a great first impression
Basket with some cookies, um, some wine. If it’s a romantic getaway, it, it goes miles and a nice handwritten thank you note left on the counter from the host. It adds a personal touch. So you want to greet your guests and make them feel important, make them feel special so that they can feel glad that they took a chance on you. And any time you’re, your guest has an issue, try to handle it as timely as possible and with grace, because the more you do that, the more you’re showing the guests how much you actually care that this is not just a dollar or transaction to you, but that you really care about their wellbeing and you want their vacation to be a great one. If you go above and beyond, you go far above their expectations by having the place fully clean and a welcome gift on arrival, and you deliver awesome guest service, trust me, you can ask for the review and not be scared.
Create a great guest experience over and over and more bookings will follow…
You’re not gonna say anything bad because you did everything you could to create the experience that was a great one. And people feel that it’s an emotion, it’s a feeling. I know when I’m taking care of, and you want your guests to know that they were taken care of so they could leave you that five star review. And the more five star reviews you get, the more people are gonna find out about you and the more money you’re gonna make with your vacation rental. I hope you found this episode helpful, and if you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, please visit vacation home help.com/podcast. In that newsletter, I’m gonna give you lots of free, valuable stuff like rental agreement templates, a sample welcome book, pricing tool, templates, anything that you need, I got it. So please subscribe and I’ll send stuff your way each and every week. If you haven’t left me a review on Apple Podcasts or iTunes, please leave me, uh, a rating or review. Let me know how I’m doing. It really helps me get the podcast in front of more owners so I can help them grow in their business as well. Please join me tomorrow for another episode of Vacation Rental and Airbnb Mastery. Take care.