Founded in 2008 in San Francisco, Airbnb is the world’s best-known online marketplace for booking vacation rentals and private rooms.
Boasting over 100 million users in 191 countries worldwide, Airbnb continues to grow from strength to strength – it’s no wonder there are now more than 640,000 hosts registered on the platform!
But in a sea of hosts, how can you make sure your listings aren’t washed away?
Creating the ultimate Airbnb profile complete with perfect listings can be hard work, but it’s also extremely easy when you know how.
Designed for vacation rental owners looking to make the most of their Airbnb account, our guide will teach you much more than just the simple basics of Airbnb.
Along with tips from expert contributors, we’ll reveal what you need to do in order to create the perfect profile and listings. We’ll also help you with setting your House Rules and teach you about pricing strategies that will skyrocket your Airbnb business.
1. The First Steps
So you’ve decided you’re going to list your property on Airbnb – congratulations! But where do you begin? Before adding anything to your profile or listing, you need to think about your market and how you’re going to stand out from the crowd.
Look at the competition
Do some research and study your competition – you can use Airbnb for that! Simply search for properties with similar characteristics in your area. We’re talking same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, similar kitchen facilities and other amenities like pools or gardens. Take a look at the way your competition does things and get inspired about your own listing – this will help you ensure yours is better than the rest!
You can also use your competition’s prices to get a good idea of how to price your own property, validating your estimated rates against those of smaller and larger properties in the same region to make sure they’re suitable.
Know your target audience
When you start anything related to your vacation rental, always bear in mind your target audience: identify your ideal guests and base all your property marketing strategies around them. If your property is more suitable for a young family, don’t show pictures of college students jumping in your pool on Spring Break. Likewise, if you’re aiming for retired travelers, don’t put them off with pictures of kids’ toys all over the house!
If you’re not sure who your target market might be, the main factors that can help you identify it are your property’s location and your rental itself.
Your vacation rental neighborhood will have a lot of say in the type of visitors it attracts. Most of the time, travelers – whether business or leisure – have a reason for wanting to stay in a certain area. That might be because of a famous landmark, a tourist attraction or even an event taking place nearby.
Think about the following for your vacation rental’s location:
- Who lives in the neighborhood?
Is it a family zone, a student area or full of business people?
- What draws visitors to the area?
Is it the proximity to Disneyland, the buzzing nightlife or huge sports stadium that brings people here?
- Where is your home located?
Is it in an up-and-coming hipster destination, the financial center of the city or close to an internationally renowned event venue?
- How many hotels are nearby?
If there aren’t a lot, you could be onto something great. Your vacation rental may be one of the best options for any kind of traveler passing through your city! If there are plenty of hotels, however, it might be difficult to compete with their pricing. Always check and compare rates to other types of accommodation in your area.Your vacation rental
When you’ve defined the types of people that live in your area and the travelers that will be attracted to your neighborhood, you can deduce potential guests by thinking about your property specifically.
- What is your property type?
To use Airbnb’s terminology, are you offering an entire home, a private room or a shared room?
- What are your property’s amenities?
Do guests have access to laundry facilities? Kitchen? Swimming pool? Backyard? Off-road parking?
- How does your place compare to others nearby?
Is it the jewel of the neighborhood or somewhere you wouldn’t like to pass by in the dark?
Once you’ve answered these questions about your property and area, you’ll be able to start thinking more in detail about this target market you’ve identified. That’s not to say you’ll only attract these types of guests, but they’ll probably make up the larger part of your yearly bookings.
Dany Papineau, AirbnbSecrets
“If a host wants to generate more income with one or several of their listings, my number one tip would be about legalization and taxation.
Why? Many Airbnb hosts are simply clueless about this, while legalization and taxation are some of the very basic elements to consider for anyone wanting to build a successful short rental listing (or business).
So do your research: call your city officials, inform yourself about short-term and commercial property taxes in your area, phone your home insurer and of course, don’t forget to declare your Airbnb revenue and expenses at the end of the financial year.”
2. Creating the “Perfect” Listing
It’s not difficult to get your Airbnb listing noticed by the right viewers if you do everything to make your profile right in the first place.
In this section, we’re going to uncover the most essential components you need in order to create the “perfect” Airbnb listing.
Make sure you have an updated calendar
Even when everything else on your profile is faultless, if you don’t have an updated calendar, it’s going to be very hard to attract visitors to your home.
Keeping your calendar up-to-date with new bookings not only shows that you’re on the ball with your vacation rental, but can also increase your chances of receiving more reservation requests.
Another reason for keeping your calendar updated is due to Airbnb’s rules around declining requests. If you reject an excessive number of requests because your calendar wasn’t up to the minute, not only can it be discouraging for the traveler, but it can also cause your listing to be temporarily deactivated.
Avoid this altogether by:
- Frequently refreshing your calendar availability
- Synchronizing your calendars with iCal
- Utilizing a channel manager if you list your property elsewhere or have your own website
- Blocking out preparation time between bookings
- Setting minimum or maximum stay lengths and you’ll be sure to only receive suitable requests that fit the bill.
Use an eyecatching title
Grab your potential guests’ eyes from the get-go with an interesting title which describes your offerings.
These four top tips will help you write a great title in no time:
1. Target your title to your key market
Attract your ideal travelers by giving them what they want – think back to the target audience task, what did you find out about your “perfect” guest?
For example, if you’re looking to attract younger visitors who like to go out partying, mention how close you are to the bar district or famous nightclubs. Equally, if your home is family friendly, be sure to let your guests know.
2. Don’t just describe your unit
A title like “One Bedroom Apartment” doesn’t give much away for your guests, nor does it excite them to click on your listing of the hundreds of others available. So, put something descriptive in the title to make it stand out from the crowd.
Let’s face it, are your guests more likely to click on “One Bedroom Apartment” or “Designer One Bedroom Apartment on Fifth Avenue”?
3. Don’t include unnecessary location information
Remember that your guests already have a vague location in mind, or they wouldn’t have come across your Airbnb listing in the first place. For that reason, it’s much more effective to put something specific about your precise location, rather than just a generic area of the city.
Are you near a big sports center? What about a famous landmark? Choose whichever has the greatest appeal and use this to your advantage to convince searchers that your home is their best option.
4. Change it up sometimes
You don’t have to keep your title the same forever – far from it! An updated title that boasts local event information can get a lot more viewers clicking through to your listing and converting. As long as you know when and why guests will be visiting the area, you can make the most of this and update your title accordingly.
Why not carry out a test to see what works best for your property? Try switching up your title with different inviting tips, like “walking distance to Madison Square Garden” to appeal to out-of-town Knicks fans, or “a few blocks from Rockefeller Center” to grab tourists’ attention. Keep each title on your Airbnb listing for a couple of weeks at a time, and record the results to see which one brings you the most bookings!
Write a great description
Your Airbnb listing description has the potential to change the way guests think about your home
– whether that’s for better or worse! There are loads of ways you can get ahead of the game and create stellar descriptions to draw in more bookings, here are six of our favorites:
1. Appeal to your audience
The main task at hand here is to use vocabulary that will convince the right guests to book your place, so before you even begin planning to write your Airbnb description, think carefully about who your target audience is.
Depending on whether your audience is millennials, young families or retired couples, your content will require different language choices.
Start by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about what details would really entice you to stay. Is it the quirky poolside cabana or the child-friendly picnic area in the backyard? Never lose focus of who you’re aiming to attract.
Alexander Limpert, GuestReady
“Make sure you manage expectations. Everything you put on your listing, including pictures, description, and price will create expectations with your guests. If you can meet or beat these expectations when guests stay at your place you will get good reviews, but if you can’t, guests will be disappointed. While you should try to bring out the positive sides of your listing to make it stand out from the crowd, it is important to keep it accurate so guests know what to expect.”
2. Establish your tone
Airbnb tells us to write how we talk so that’s what you should do, too. Many owners make the mistake of thinking that professional means formal when it comes to writing. But think about it: your Airbnb listing is the first point of contact potential bookers have with your vacation rental, so conveying your personality as a host is a must. It can easily be achieved through the tone of your writing.
Try to write your Airbnb descriptions as though you’re describing your property to a friend – you’ll capture an informal yet excited tone that will draw your reader in. Just be sure to keep it consistent throughout.
3. Make sure your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is unique
Your Airbnb description is the best chance you have as a business to show off exactly what makes your property a knockout, so you should focus on what your home boasts that no one else around you has.
We can’t emphasize enough that your unique selling points should be exclusive to your vacation rental, so don’t be afraid to research your competition to familiarize yourself.
There’s no need to rush your decision. Once you’ve worked out what your USPs are, weave the rest of your property description around these aspects. Guests will love that you’ve taken the time to deliberately include certain things, especially when they’re weighing up a difficult decision between a few great properties.
4. Succeed through storytelling
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s enough to attract guests with a long list of all the amenities your property offers. Instead, aim to allure viewers with a carefully composed story of what their vacation will be like at your home. Remember: they are interested in having the perfect guest experience. If you don’t show that is what they’ll get with you, they’ll look somewhere else.
So use active verbs and avoid cliché adjectives to provide the reader with the most vivid image of their stay, and pair up your story with some high-quality images that show what you are telling.
5. Keep it short and sweet
Experts predicted that by 2016, 73% of Americans would use a mobile device to research their vacation options. Bear this in mind when you’re writing your Airbnb descriptions, as this trend is only increasing. It’s best to write in short, succinct sentences that readers can quickly flick through on the mobile app.
6. Stick to specifics
It’s so easy to get carried away writing about the area as a whole because of course, you love the place! Just remember there’s no need to preach to the converted as your site visitors are already looking for a property in your city or town, so think back to what will set you apart from your competitors.
Yours isn’t going to be the only Airbnb home that’s a five-minute walk to the beach or a 10-minute drive to the mountains. But you can be the Airbnb host that knows where to spot wildlife, how great the sunset is from that spot up on the hill that tourists don’t usually know about, or who recommends the best places to eat local cuisine. Focus in on specifics and they will be your key to winning over more bookings.
7. Build your brand
If Airbnb isn’t the only place you list your rental, you can always name-drop your brand inside the description text to build your brand on the platform. This will solidify your business’ online presence, give you a link to your own site (if you have one) and make guests look up and research your vacation rental in more depth, outside of Airbnb.
Upload high-quality photos
Never lose sight of the fact that your Airbnb profile is designed with one purpose in mind: to get bookings at your vacation rental. How can you expect guests to choose your home when they can barely make out the backyard from your old, pixelated, low-quality images?
You’re selling a service, and you’re trying to sell it online, so always remember: guests won’t see your property in person before the start of their vacation. That’s why the best thing you can do is try your luck at signing up for free professional photography from Airbnb.
If it’s not available in your area, especially if you’re looking to rent out a whole property, it would be a great investment to hire a professional photographer. Not only will the photographer help to show off your property in the best light, but these quality images will also last you a long time without needing to be replaced. Plus, given that prices can start from as little as $100-$150 for one property, you’ll easily earn back the money you spend on photographs in your first bookings.
Paula Pant, AffordAnything
“My number one tip is to “microstage” every photo. Don’t just post a picture of a dining table; show a couple of wine glasses and napkins on the table. Don’t just post a picture of the kitchen; show a cutting board topped with a few pieces of cheese on the countertop. You want your potential guests to project themselves into your rental. You want them to imagine themselves enjoying the space.”
Alexander Limpert, GuestReady
“My top recommendation is to get professional pictures taken of your home. Especially the main picture that potential guests see when browsing listings needs to stand out. People are very visual when browsing listings and you need to grab their attention first before they even spend time to read more about your listing.”
Add the Instant Book button
To appeal to even more Airbnb users, add the Instant Book button to your profile. Whereas regular Airbnb bookings have to be approved by the host, this button allows guests to book your place (provided you have the right calendar availability) with instant approval.
That way, your guests’ reservation will be made free of hassle, and all that’s left for you to do is discuss check-in plans with them before their arrival.
For hosts, there are plenty of benefits of adding the Instant Book feature:
- Convenience: Auto-accept guests without having to respond to requests.
- More guest interest: Guests can filter to search for listings that allow instant booking. Instant Book listings are usually more popular as they’re easier when planning a trip.
- Search placement: Instant Book improves your response rate for your listing, which can improve its placing in search results.
- Superhost Status: Instant Book can help you to reach Superhost Status, as it requires a steady 90% response rate.
There may also be many valid reasons not to be instantly bookable, but as far as the facts go, properties with the Instant Book button do receive more bookings. So if you’ve opted against adding the button, you’ll have to ensure that you’re super quick at replying to inquiries and accepting bookings.
3. Setting House Rules
Laying down House Rules and displaying them on your listing is the best way to ensure your guests know what you expect of them. Your House Rules should outline anything that is out of bounds or not permitted in your vacation rental.
As well as displaying your House Rules online, it’s a good idea to keep a printed copy in your Airbnb, as guests are unlikely to remember all the details from their booking.
Below are some rule categories and a few ideas to consider for each:
- Extra guests
Are extra guests allowed to stay in your Airbnb? How many? Are there any measures in place for approving extra guests? Will it cost extra?
Is smoking permitted in your Airbnb? If so, where are guests allowed to smoke and where is off-limits?
Are guests allowed to eat in all areas of your home? Or are any spaces food-free zones?
- Cleaning and laundry
Where does trash go? Should guests recycle plastic, glass, cardboard and organic waste? Where are cleaning materials stored? Should they wash the dishes? Can they use the dishwasher? Can guests use the washing machine? Should they wash towels and sheets themselves?
- Gatherings or parties
Can guests invite others round for dinner, drinks or even parties? What is the maximum number of people allowed? Do they require your approval beforehand?
- Quiet hours
Are there any quiet hours for your block/street? Be considerate to your neighbors and follow any norms to avoid any disputes.
Are guests allowed to bring pets with them to your Airbnb? Is there a size limit? Will you charge any extra deposit for pets?
4. Building the Ultimate Host Profile
Everything is about the sharing economy these days: we use apps to catch a ride with strangers who are going the same way; we look after each other’s dogs when we go on vacation; we buy each other’s used clothes and, unsurprisingly, we stay in each other’s homes.
All of these services have something vital in common: users are required to have a profile, which other users will take into account when they make their decisions on whose car to jump in or whose place to rent.
Even if the rest of your Airbnb listing looks fabulous, without an awesome host profile, it’s unlikely you’ll see the bookings rolling in.
A welcoming, trust-inspiring profile can make all the difference when it comes to attracting guests to your Airbnb. How can you show that you are the perfect host for your target audience? What can you do to show potential inquirers you’re a credible host?
Have a great (and normal) photo
Few hosts will have Airbnb success without an accurate, true-to-life profile photo. But be careful which image you choose! Pictures speak a thousand words, so think about what kind of message you want to send to your interested guests with your profile image.
Though it seems like an informal marketplace, on Airbnb you are still running a business and trying to make a living, so your profile picture should reflect that. A welcoming smile in a photo is going to give off a much more friendly vibe than a professional, staged headshot you might find on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to use a photo of you doing something you love, it will communicate a bit more about your personality that potential guests can identify with.
Equally, if you’re a couple or family who is hosting on Airbnb, make sure you both (or all) appear in the profile photo. Nothing gives off as many positive emotions, sense of togetherness or comfort as an image of loved ones!
Finally, ensure your profile picture is a good quality snap that actually looks like you. Quality is important for coming across as professional, and also shows that you’ve taken time and care over choosing your image. As for actually looking like you do now, that’s very important for key handover and recognizing each other in designated meeting places upon check-in!
Scott Shatford, RentingYourPlace
“Airbnb rentals are unique but not as unique as the hosts that manage them. Guests are more inclined to book with host that have unique interest which uniquely represent the heritage and culture of a destination. High quality photos with big smilies are proven to convert better; and if you are hosting with a significant other, a picture of two people always performs better than a picture of one.”
When many guests leave their vacation planning to the last minute, they’ll expect speedy and efficient communication with Airbnb hosts. Not only will responding quickly be a great help to your guests by showing them you’re not a time-waster, but you’ll also find it can improve your chances of receiving a fast reply from guests, too.
Aim to reply to all inquiries within a few hours where possible, and never leave it more than a day to get back to someone with the answers to their questions. If you leave it too late, it’s likely the guest will have already booked with a more responsive host.
Matt Lerner, MetroButler
“The number one focus we at MetroButler concentrate on, is our timeliness with regards to response time for our guests. When guests (and prospective guests) send messages through Airbnb’s portal, it is imperative to respond as quickly as possible. First and foremost, this increases conversion rates and leads to a better chance of locking up a booking for your property. Secondly, speedy response times actually improve search positioning within Airbnb’s property queue. Finally, a responsive and on-top-of-it host will always be seen as more dependable and more accountable. This will lead to happier reviews at the end of a reservation, and thus, more bookings in the future.”
Airbnb makes verifying all sorts of different aspects of your account super easy for hosts, so it’s a wonder why so many don’t verify their profile and identity!
Hosts can verify their profile details in a number of ways:
- Email address: Confirm that you receive email notifications and messages
- Phone number: Airbnb will share your verified phone number with your guest once a reservation is accepted
- Online ID: Connect your Airbnb profile to Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Verify with Amex, or by having pre-existing reviews
- Offline ID: During the Verified ID process, provide your government-issued ID, or answer some questions that only you would know
- Reviews: Build a reputation in the Airbnb community from your Reviews tab after completing reservations
- Verified photos: If you’re a host, Airbnb offers free professional photography in many cities
Once you’ve verified some (or all) of the above, your verifications will show on your profile.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky described verified accounts as “a necessity for the shared economy” because they provide an authentic layer of trust and security for both hosts and guests alike.
Show off your reviews
Even though other inquirers don’t know who your reviewers are, reading about what their experience was like at your Airbnb can be a decisive factor on whether to book or not.
When it comes to Airbnb reviews, both quantity and quality matter, as they can affect your search performance. Not only can you learn from your past guests but you can also use their reviews to improve your future guest experience.
Airbnb reviews are a two-way street: both hosts and guests have the chance to leave each other a review for 14 days after guests have checked out. Moreover, writing reviews for your guests are a good reminder for them to do the same, helping boost your own host ratings and win over more bookings.
The best thing about Airbnb reviews is that if your potential guests are regular Airbnb users, they are also likely to have reviews from their former hosts. That means you can check these out before accepting guests, just as they would yours as host!
Superhosts are outstanding hosts on Airbnb, they set an example for other hosts and provide each and every guest with a fantastic experience.
In order to get recognized as a Superhost, in the past year you will need to have:
- Hosted at least 10 trips
- Maintained a 90% response rate or higher
- Received a 5-star review at least 80% of the time you’ve been reviewed, as long as at least half of the guests who stayed with you left a review
- Completed each of your confirmed reservations without canceling
Doesn’t sound too complicated, right?
Then as soon as hosts have obtained Superhost status, a badge is automatically added to their listing and profile so they can easily be identified.
Superhost activity is checked four times a year by Airbnb, which makes sure that their badge is still relevant and that hosts maintain an outstanding hospitality experience for all their guests.
Once you’ve completed all of the above actions, you’ll be another step closer to having a fully optimized Airbnb profile.
… and it won’t be long until you can show off all these badges on your profile!
5. Picking Your Prices
Setting the right rate for your Airbnb isn’t just about initial profits.
Finding the sweet spot of your particular rental market can ensure that you’ll get repeat renters who will properly appreciate your property. Undershoot your market, and you’ll not only be leaving money on the table, but you’ll also be more likely to attract guests who will damage your home. Overestimate your rental fees, and you could end up with a high vacancy rate, and run the risk of having guests who are unhappy and feel overcharged.
So how do you find out how much to charge? Many first-time Airbnb hosts underestimate operating costs and are overly optimistic about potential profits. Instead of making a guesstimate based on other Airbnbs nearby, try these tips to help decide your rental rates.
Price low at the beginning
To capture a good number of initial bookings, you’ll want to start up your listing as a “cheap” offer in the area.
When it’s your first Airbnb listing, you haven’t yet built your host credibility in the Airbnb community, so it’s difficult to compete against other hosts in your area who have lots of great reviews.
But don’t keep your prices low for too long!
Once you’ve built up a solid bank of reviews, then it’s time to raise your prices to match. Though it’s great to see a full calendar for the foreseeable future, this high occupancy rate can mean that your home is priced too low and you’re losing out on profits.
According to LearnAirbnb, a good rule of thumb is to raise your prices until you have between 75-90% occupancy for the next 2-4 weeks, but only 50% occupancy for 8-10 weeks out.
Change prices for weekday VS weekend
Hotels have higher weekend rates for a reason – more people go away on weekends hence the demand is higher.
That’s why you should have a clear difference in price for mid-week rates versus the weekend.
If you’re not sure where to begin, take a look at the local hotel or competitor Airbnb rates in your area and go from there to decide on your different weekend prices.
Implement seasonal prices
The difference between a highly profitable vacation rental and one that just scrapes by is usually determined by the number of off-season bookings a property can attract. Even an average Airbnb can fill the high-season weeks, but the icing on the cake comes from a calendar full of bookings throughout the “shoulder” or off-peak seasons.
There’s bound to be more demand for traveling to your area at certain times of the year, so bear this in mind when setting your prices.
Prices that are too high in the low season can damage your occupancy rate, but at the same time, if you price too low in high season you’ll be missing out on big bucks.
Airbnb Smart Pricing
Airbnb actually has a tool for hosts to use, that ensures prices automatically adapt to changes in demand.
This tool is called Smart Pricing. By turning on the Smart Pricing feature, you’ll instruct it to adjust automatically to the daily prices within your given minimum/maximum price range. These adjustments vary and are based on supply and demand in the location for selected dates, as well as your listing’s location, features, amenities, availability and booking history.
Rita Atallah, OutSwitch
“If you’re still using static prices, you definitely are not achieving your true profit potential. Pricing optimization is the key to higher rental income. Master your prices and take control of them. Decide when to push them up, and when to offer discounts. Never outsource this decision to black box algorithm.
And remember, unlike hotels and airlines, your apartment is unique. Keep that in mind when pricing your listing. Watch the competition but don’t base your absolute decision on similar properties on the market. Instead, track your own performance, and find ways to stand out so you don’t have to compete on price. Delight your guests, maintain good reviews, and offer added value that guests are willing to pay for, and you are guaranteed a high occupancy without having to discount and match your competition’s rates.”
We hope you’ve found this Airbnb host guide and the numerous nuggets of advice from our experts useful! You should now be well on your way to optimizing your Airbnb account so that you’re prepared and ready to catch your next guest’s eye.
Building a reputable Airbnb profile does require time, patience and effort, but once the glowing ratings and reviews start flowing in, your bookings are bound to increase accordingly.
Start putting our best practice tips into action today and you’ll soon see that perfecting your Airbnb profile isn’t so difficult, after all!
About the Experts
Alexander Limpert, GuestReady
Alex Limpert is co-founder and CEO of GuestReady, a global short-term and vacation rental management company which provides professional services to real estate investors, sharing-economy hosts, as well as guests.
Dany Papineau, AirbnbSecrets
Dany Papineau is the founder of Airbnbsecrets.com, an online media enterprise teaching anyone, anywhere, how to kick-start and monetize any Airbnb listing to its maximum potential, by delivering the best travel experience to any Airbnb Guest.
Matt Lerner, MetroButler
Matt Lerner is the founder and CEO of MetroButler, an Airbnb property manager and concierge service that serves the New York metro area. MetroButler helps Airbnb hosts income from their homes while they travel, taking care of booking guests, looking after the home, and everything in between.
Paula Pant, AffordAnything
Paula Pant is the founder and CEO of personal finance, real estate and lifestyle website, Affordanything.com. She is also a real estate investor who owns seven rental units and is an avid traveler herself.
Rita Atallah, Outswitch
Rita Atallah is CEO of Outswitch, a pricing and productivity tool to help managers in the vacation rental sphere optimize their prices, expand their reach, automate their workflow and maximize their revenues.
Scott Shatford, RentingYourPlace
For three years, Scott Shatford has been an Airbnb host, and he currently manages five Airbnb properties. He is the author of a bestselling eBook on how to successfully build an Airbnb enterprise, The Airbnb Expert’s Playbook – Secrets of a Six-Figure Rentalpreneur.