When you’re looking to grow your portfolio of short-term rentals, occupancy rates are crucial. But in a competitive market, how can you make your listings stand out to boost bookings? And how can you deliver a guest experience so great it leaves a lasting impression and gets you referrals?
These are the questions we consider in this article, looking at 10 ways to improve your listing visibility, attract Airbnb guests, and deliver an exceptional experience once they book.
We also look at 3 tips for getting bookings during the off-season and explore tools that can automate the work involved so you can focus your time and energy on scaling your vacation rental business.
Consistently deliver fantastic stays and get more bookings
10 ways to get more Airbnb bookings
To generate more bookings, you need to optimize your listings and create a memorable guest experience. This not only earns you more repeat stays and referrals, but good reviews that help you achieve Superhost status, which means Airbnb will do more to promote your properties.
Here we look at strategies for improving both the guest experience and your listings.
1. Turn on Instant Book
Instant Book is a setting on Airbnb that allows guests to book your property without waiting for you to confirm if they meet your requirements (such as having ID verification). This removes friction in the booking process and helps your property stand out as a convenient place to stay.
Guests can search using a special filter to find Instant Book properties
If you’re worried about preparing your properties at short notice, use an automated scheduling solution like Breezeway.
This pulls bookings from your Airbnb listings or property management system (PMS) to auto-generate cleaning tasks. So, you’ll never miss a clean and, in the case of a last-minute booking, you won’t have to suddenly send out a flurry of messages to housekeepers to get the property ready on time.
Pro-tip: Work out how much you could save by automating task scheduling using our ROI calculator.
2. Target niche audiences
When so many properties on Airbnb look bland and generic, you can help yours stand out by targeting a specific audience. Here are a few examples:
These guests typically look to stay in properties for a few weeks or months while they work. You can attract them by creating a dedicated workspace with good lighting and comfortable seating, providing a strong internet connection (which is often a requirement for remote workers), and highlighting valued extras, like a quiet location, a cappuccino machine, and special provisions for pets.
By creating cozy corners and including special amenities like chocolates and wine, you could make your property a great location for honeymoons and romantic getaways. Be sure to pay attention to small details like the quality of your linen and the warmth of your lighting.
Growing numbers of guests are looking to stay in sustainable accommodations. And you can attract them to your properties by stocking them with eco-friendly amenities and furniture, avoiding the use of plastics, and installing solar paneling.
3. Become family-friendly
Young families are one of Airbnb’s biggest booking demographics so it pays to make your property family and kid-friendly. Here’s how you can do so:
- Incorporate safety features like childproof locks, baby gates, and electrical cover outlets.
- Partner with local babysitters using sites such as Destination Sitters and Care.com.
- Provide games like Jenga, Monopoly, and other board games.
- Take high-quality photos of play areas and gardens for your listings.
4. Introduce flexible cancellation policies
Strict cancellation policies can put guests off from booking. But if you incorporate flexibility into your Airbnb business plan, you can maximize your occupancy rates.
A tiered system works well to preserve revenue while attracting guests. For example, you could offer a fully refundable rate for cancellations up to a certain number of days before the check-in date, a partially refundable option for cancellations within a closer time frame, and a non-refundable price for those who are confident in their travel plans.
Pro-tip: You can use dynamic pricing tools to find the right rates for your properties. These take in information about factors like demand, competition, and seasonality, then automatically set a pricing strategy across your listings.
5. Reduce your minimum stay to one night
By allowing potential guests to book your property for just one night, you can attract people who are heading to events or traveling for business. To capitalize on this opportunity, follow these steps:
- Highlight your properties’ proximity to event venues in your Airbnb listings
- Provide a welcome book so guests can make the most of their brief stay
- Be responsive when it comes to communication (more on this later)
6. Use gap night messaging
Another way to maximize your occupancy rates is to upsell guests the opportunity to extend their stay. By offering a discounted rate for booking an additional night, you can make it easier to fill gaps in your calendar.
Breezeway identifies these gap night revenue opportunities for you and automatically sends a message to your guests. Then, if they want to extend their stay, your booking calendar will be automatically updated, along with the corresponding cleaning schedule.
7. Provide guests with all the key information pre-arrival
Modern guests expect to be able to navigate their stay independently and with ease. So they want access to information about directions, access details, and Wi-Fi as soon as they arrive, and they need to know that you’re available if any issues come up.
By creating a sequence of automated messages—including a link to a welcome book for the above information along with details about how to contact you—you can ensure guests feel confident in their stay.
With Breezeway, you can save time setting up and replying to these messages. Pre-built templates for pre-arrival, property readiness, stay satisfaction, and check-out reminders account for the full breadth of each stay.
Then you can queue messages to be sent out in bulk based on filters like check-in date, check-out date, location, amenities provided, and more. After this, you can easily respond to all your messages inside the centralized inbox.
Instantly notify all guests of an issue using Breezeway’s bulk messaging tool
8. Deliver an immaculate property
Since the great merging of the hotel and short-term rental markets, guests expect the same levels of cleanliness from an Airbnb as they do from a hotel. So, to get the positive reviews you need, you need to ensure that there isn’t a single hair in the shower or crumb on the floor.
A property care and operations platform like Breezeway allows you to stay on top of maintaining these high standards more easily. Customizable Airbnb cleaning checklists provide a comprehensive list of tasks with representative photos to illustrate quality standards visually. Then you can set up inspection tasks to gain visibility over how your team implements key practices.
Inside Breezeway, your team can upload photos so you can keep an eye on clean standards
9. Create customer delight
To get the five-star reviews that are going to set your property apart on Airbnb, you need to not only please but wow your guests. And surpassing their expectations means focusing on those small, memorable touches.
For example, why not create a welcome basket with local goods and luxurious amenities? Premium soaps from a local artisan and eggs from the farm down the road provide the unique experience that guests look for when staying in a vacation rental.
A well-stocked welcome basket creates a powerful first impression when your guests walk in the door
10. Develop a streamlined review management process
It’s important to make sure that every time a guest has a great experience, they leave a great review. This (along with a 1% cancellation rate and a 90% message response rate) will help you become an Airbnb Superhost—a status that means you’ll get boosted in search rankings, generate more exposure and credibility, and attract more bookings.
Airbnb gives guests 14 days to review their stay after staying at your property. So you should use message scheduling software such as Breezeway to send a message asking them to leave feedback as soon as possible. Here’s an example of a message you can send:
Message template for requesting a review
"Dear [Guest's Name],
Thank you for choosing our Airbnb property! We hope you enjoyed your stay.
If you have any feedback for us, we’d love to hear from you via message. We would also be grateful if you could leave us a review on Airbnb.
Log in to Airbnb.
Find your recent trip.
Click 'Write a Review' for our property.
Share your thoughts.
Safe travels! We hope to host you again soon.
How to get more Airbnb bookings in the off-season
As you scale your Airbnb business, generating bookings during the off-season becomes key to overtaking the competition and boosting your relationships with owners. Here we explore three tips for doing so.
11. Offer special discounts
Entice potential guests to choose your property during quiet periods by offering limited-time promotions or reduced rates for extended stays.
You can also show the value they'll receive by adding images to your Airbnb listings that display everything your property and the local area has to offer during the low season. For example, you could showcase peaceful parks, crowd-free marketplaces, and cozy cafes.
Take pictures of your property throughout the seasons for easy marketing opportunities
12. Collaborate with local businesses
By partnering with local businesses that have events during the off-season, you can attract extra bookings. Consider offering a discounted rate to people who book through your partner’s site and promoting their events in your listings.
13. Eliminate extra charges
During quieter times, travelers often seek budget-friendly options, and higher fees can deter them from choosing your property. For this reason, you should look to distribute your short-term rental properties across a range of online travel agencies (OTAs) so you can access lower commission fees and offer more competitive pricing.
Crafting a guest-first Airbnb marketing strategy
Staying on top of the Airbnb algorithm and attracting more bookings isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Here’s what to focus on:
- Marketing your properties toward specific audiences and demographics
- Offering discounts during off-season
- Reducing barriers to booking by optimizing your pricing and rules
- Being responsive and providing guests with all the information they need before they ask
- Adding special touches to leave a great impression
- Requesting reviews after each guest’s stay
A property care and operations platform like Breezeway reduces the work involved in ensuring an unforgettable guest experience. With messages and schedules organized automatically, you can step back and focus on identifying areas where you can make a lasting impression and grow your business.
Consistently deliver fantastic stays and get more bookings