Advertising a vacation rental on Airbnb has become seemingly popular and increased over the years. After all, Airbnb is currently one of the biggest online platforms for short-term rentals. Being present on their site has become almost essential for hosts who want to improve their visibility and receive more bookings.
However, some people do not get the results they were expecting, which generally leads to the question: What am I doing wrong and what is stopping my potential bookings?
Understanding the most common Airbnb mistakes hosts make can help you improve your listings. When you know which mistakes to look for, you’ll be one step closer to getting more bookings!
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most common mistakes made by Airbnb hosts, from which of these you can avoid and learn from.
1. Inaccurate Listing Information
Not being upfront about your listing is the first way to get off to a bad start on Airbnb. More often than not, a misleading description that paints an inaccurate picture of your home will only come back to haunt you in the form of a negative review. You want your guests to know exactly what to expect from your Airbnb as soon as they’ve landed on your listing.
Let them know exactly how many rooms you have and describe what’s included in each one, such as bed sizes. Inform your guests on amenities, perks, facilities, and the overall benefits your rental offers.
Don’t be afraid to set some boundaries or house rules. For example, if guests are allowed to bring additional visitors or pets, if smoking is allowed, if there are any off-limit areas in the house, etc. Just keep it simple in your listing description.
2. Uploading the Wrong Pictures
According to the National Retail Federation, 67% of customers say the quality of the product image is very important for them to select and book a vacation rental. Make sure you showcase your vacation home to give your guests an idea of what to expect.
Here are some tips for taking your own pictures:
- Take pictures with high resolution: They should be at least 1024 x 683px, but if you’re not sure of the size, go for the biggest photo size in your camera settings.
- Activity and neighborhood photos: If one of the best aspects of your listing is the location, your customers are going to want to know what they could do around the area – think amazing views, beaches, theme parks, and tourist locations.
- Hide anything that looks cluttery: Do you really need to show them overflowing kitchen garbage in your photos? Show your guests how they’re going to find your place when they get there; clean and perfect!
- Get the light right: Turn on the lights or open the blinds, just make sure your place looks bright and inviting. Wait for a sunny day too!
- Create inspirational photo captions: Forget about factual captions and write a sentence that explains the experience your guests can have in your rental. E.g. instead of just naming the photo of the balcony as “Balcony”, you could say “Relax and have a glass of wine on our balcony after a long day of sightseeing”.
For a more detailed guide, check out our article on how to take professional photos in your vacation rental.
3. No Pricing Strategy in Place
Your pricing strategy has to take into consideration the demand for your listing throughout the year. Switch your prices up based on the following:
- Competition: The first thing you have to do is study your competitors; start off by searching for properties in your area that have the best reviews and are similar to your own vacation rental. Study their prices and availability and create a table to compare them and estimate the maximum annual revenue for your listing.
- Special events: Festivals, marathons, conferences… special events will potentially bring you more guests and you can charge up to 5x your average daily rate. Make sure you research special events at the beginning of the year and plan ahead. You can also increase prices a week before special events for last-minute planners – they usually have the most money to spend!
- Weekdays vs. Weekends: It’s a fact that hotels are fully aware of: guests travel more during the weekends and prices should be a bit higher to reflect this demand.
- Seasonality: Adjust your pricing based on the high or low season in your area to maximize profits throughout the year.
4. Not Taking Advantage of Guest Reviews
Airbnb is built on guest trust and the best way to build it is through their reviews. Travelers rely on others’ opinions to make the right decision for their trips. When potential guests are looking at your rental, they will always look at reviews written by people who have stayed there.
So by writing a review for each guest, you’ll get more reviews back. Not only will writing reviews build up trust for future bookers but also it will give you more exposure. Your name and profile will appear more often on the site so more people will be able to find your property. Overall, it will make you rank higher in search results
Remember that both guests and hosts need to write a review for either one to appear. Once your listing starts building up reviews, bookings will start coming in faster! It will also increase your bookings and build up your profile and reputation as a host
5. Not Communicating with Your Guests
How do you manage communication with your customers on Airbnb? Do you respond straight away? Or do you take a day or two?
From the moment guests first get in touch with you to leaving a review after their stay, every step of communication impacts their experience. The time you take to respond, the way you respond and the completeness of your answers can make a difference to your guests’ experience at your Airbnb. It’s therefore important to show your guests that you care about their experience and that they are in good hands with you.
Luckily, Lodgify’s property management system includes a set of automatic templates that you can use to speed up communication with your guests – and it works on Airbnb too! Any message you receive or send on Airbnb will automatically appear on your Lodgify account. Likewise, you can communicate with your Airbnb guests through your Lodgify account. All your messages are synced into one centralized platform.
6. Underestimating the Workload
One of the main mistakes made by hosts on Airbnb is underestimating the commitment, attention to detail, organization and effort required. Of course, the more properties you rent out, the more work you have. But even if you only list an apartment or a single room, there are things you definitely have to deal with.
These include cleanliness, replacing amenities e.g. toilet paper, coffee capsules, managing check-in and check-out, looking after the rental, etc.
If you underestimate the workload and don’t keep up with any of the tasks, your business will be below the standard expected by the guest. This can seriously damage the reputation of your rental and lead to negative reviews and a decline in bookings.
So it’s important to stay on top of all your tasks by being planned and organized. Make a list of everything that needs to be done between each guest turnover and prioritize the most important tasks.
7. Not Being Informed about Laws and Regulations in Your Area
With the rapid growth of Airbnb, the legal situation in many states have also become much stricter in order to regulate rentals via the platform. Especially in recent years, the law has gradually adapted to Airbnb’s growing expansion by trying to regulate its use. Some major US cities have already introduced bans on Airbnb.
But for each region and state, the rules may not be the same. One mistake that you should therefore not make under any circumstances is not to inquire about the legal regulations in the region of your rental. Find out whether you are allowed to rent at all on short notice, how many square meters can be rented to guests and what permits you to need to rent.
As regulations can vary greatly from state to state and from city to city, don’t rely on “it’s ok” just because you may have friends who have no problem renting through Airbnb in another state.
Not knowing about the legislative situation in your area regarding renting out on Airbnb can be a huge mistake for hosts. So be sure to take taxes, licenses, and laws into consideration. You don’t want to end up with a hefty fine!
8. Not Taking Any Security Measures
Of course, trust between hosts and guests alike is a fundamental part of renting through Airbnb. Nevertheless, you should take the necessary security measures to protect not only you and your property but also the well-being of your guests.
Ensuring the safety of your guests should be a top priority. Consider some of the simple measures, such as installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, providing a first aid kit and emergency phone numbers.
Even if you trust your guests, unfortunately, from time to time that travelers take advantage of this trust. The first thing you should do is to draw up a rental agreement contract and consider taking a deposit.
It’s also advisable to have house rules and hand them over to the guest to sign. The guests are obliged to abide by these rules (e.g. no smoking in the apartment, no additional visitors, etc.) It will give you more security and protection when renting out your property.
You should also avoid leaving valuable items in your apartment and implement safety measures to protect your rental against break-ins, especially when it’s unoccupied.
9. Not Having the Right Insurance
Many hosts make the mistake of not taking out insurance for their short-term rental business. If your business isn’t well protected, little can be done to resolve problems once they’ve occurred.
Whilst Airbnb does provide $1 million property damage protection for hosts, this will only cover damage to the property that was done to the guests. It will not cover damage made to the property which weren’t made by the guests, such as floods, roof leaking, or anything else. Protecting the property is the host’s responsibility.
Make sure you have taken out insurance that covers your property in case of damage, and if accidents were to happen guests. Remember that your current home insurance may not automatically cover your property for renting out to guests.
10. Relying Soley on Airbnb
The last and biggest mistake that most Airbnb hosts make is only relying on a big listing site for your rental income. Airbnb fees can be quite high in the long run; 3%(+VAT) host service fee every time a booking goes through and 6-12%(+VAT) service fees for Airbnb guests. And it’s probably going to become more expensive over the years. Try out the Airbnb calculator to see how much Airbnb is really costing you.
Vacation rental owners can cut out the middleman by becoming less reliant upon Airbnb and other big listing sites like HomeAway or VRBO, at the same time becoming more independent and diversifying their business. With the right mindset, knowledge, and tools, you can take control, generate your own direct bookings and earn more!
So how do you do it? Get started by building your own vacation rental website. Use Lodgify to create your website and you won’t have to worry about your lack of online technical skills; it’s as easy as creating your Airbnb listing! There are over 30 beautiful, modern designs to choose from, and you can personalize all of the features to suit your taste.
Learn from the most common mistakes made by other Airbnb hosts and use these mistakes to avoid making the same ones in your business. For more tips on how to increase your revenue through Airbnb, download our free guide below and get the most out of your business!