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One of the questions I get asked most often is why someone is not getting any bookings with Airbnb. They’ve tried everything, and still aren’t having any luck! I’ve made a list of my top tips for hosts that will definitely help you solve your booking woes.
So, what are my top 13 reasons you’re not getting any bookings on Airbnb? You’re…
- Using minimum night stays
- Not consider why guests would book with you
- Charging too much for extra guests
- Charging excessive fees
- Not updating your calendar
- Not having an appealing title and thumbnail
- Not pricing strategically
- Not using third party ad services
- Having a low occupancy count
- Trying to save a bad listing
- Not doing test searches
- Using the same old furniture
- Not using the right photographer
Using Minimum Night Stays
Plain and simple, using minimum night stays takes you out of searches. I hardly ever use minimum night stays in my listings, and when I do use them, I am very strategic about it.
It is hard for a lot of people to believe that simply entering a minimum stay length would remove them from so many searches. Essentially, when you place this restriction on your listing you limit your audience drastically when compared to an unrestricted option.
A good strategy to employ is turning off minimum night stays for the near future and leaving them on for more distant bookings. This allows you to still attract guests planning a vacation and others who tend to book further out.
The reason we want to keep minimum night stays off for bookings happening soon is that we want to outcompete other Airbnb hosts around us who might not be strategic enough to have altered their settings the way we have. Last-minute guests are much more likely to book one of the first appealing options that they find, and your rental with no minimum stay should be at the top of their list!
Some hosts worry about the loss of the otherwise guaranteed revenue that comes with requiring guests to book longer stays. The good news is this doesn’t have to be the case at all! Feel free to increase prices as dates draw nearer (more on this below). Guests who need quick accommodation won’t usually notice the heftier price tag.
Not Thinking About Why Guests Book With You
Put yourself in the shoes of a guest looking for accommodation in your city. Why do they need somewhere to stay? Where will this type of guest want to stay? What can you do to bridge the gap between what guests want and what your Airbnb has to offer?
Savvy hosts have already taken steps to recognize what their Airbnb offers most of their guests. Proximity to an airport means that you are usually more or less simply a place to stay, and usually not for more than one night. Guests want a comfy bed, luggage racks, and a maybe some nice blackout curtains.
Your rental might be close to a popular event such as a convention or festival. Raising or lowering prices and minimum night stays can make the difference between a guest booking with you or the hotel down the street.
Think about why they would choose you instead. How long does the “thing” that they’re coming for take? Festivals and conventions can last up to two weeks, but concerts are usually just one night. Always be sure to frequently update your description and highlight why your Airbnb is the best fit for air travelers, Event XYZ, or whatever else you cater to.
Charging Too Much for Extra Guests
There are certain situations where charging for extra guests is both necessary and fair to you as a host. However, seeing a litany of extra fees when browsing for and Airbnb can deter some guests from looking any further. If you can’t budge on cleaning, security, and other fees, then removing or lowering the extra guest charge might make a difference in your bookings.
If you haven’t had too many issues with guests abusing the rental agreement terms you’ve set by bringing in extra people, then I would recommend removing the charge altogether.
For one, a fee low enough to not deter someone from booking won’t be high enough to deter someone from bringing an extra person.
Two, if you’re really struggling with getting bookings, then getting some money from a guest who has the chance of breaking your rules is sometimes better than getting no money at all. If it does become an ongoing issue, then adjustments can be made accordingly.
Check Out Our Other Articles on Rental Recon:
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Having Excessive Fees
Similar to charging for extra guests, having cleaning and security fees can be a huge deterrent for potential guests. Airbnb advertises your set listing price in the search page very large. When guests go to book your rental and get smacked with fees totaling as much as the price of the Airbnb itself, it feels both sneaky and unfair.
Basically, fees prevent bookings and deter guests. This is doubly true for last-minute bookings. Someone clicking through to finalize their booking is basically guaranteed to exit out once they see that they’ll be paying almost double what they initially saw on the search page. Yes, the total price is listed (in much smaller font) on the search page as well, and yes, guests will still see right past it.
My tip is to eliminate your fees and slightly increase your prices to compensate for a time. Businesses employ this strategy all the time by offering “free shipping on all items” when they have simply increased the tag price to make up for the lack of shipping fees.
Some recommend decreasing your fees to make yourself more attractive to guests. I see a few problems with this. First, they’re still seeing an increase in price when they go to book the listing. Second, a significantly lower cleaning fee, for example, is unlikely to actually cover your cleaning costs. Getting rid of the fees and raising prices also allows you to put “No extra fees!” in your description, which is a great buzz phrase.
Again, don’t be afraid to experiment and see what gets you the most bookings over time!
Not Updating Your Calendar Frequently
Wrestling with the Airbnb algorithm is something all hosts are familiar with. Thankfully, there are a few known “secrets” regarding how it works, and we can use these to our advantage.
The algorithm prioritizes hosts that are “active and responsive”. A super simple way to meet this definition is by updating your calendar frequently. There’s only so many times you can tweak and change the words in your listing, or slightly adjust pricing and fees. However, calendar updates are often overlooked and play just as big of a role in the algorithm.
To update your calendar, select Calendar on Airbnb. Then either click a single date or drag to select multiple dates at one. You can change from “Available” to “Blocked” and vice versa. Be sure to save your changes when finished!
Don’t miss out on this super simple, behind the scenes way to stay on top of the search pages all the time.
Your Title and Thumbnail Aren’t Appealing
We’ve all heard that you only have a few seconds to make a first impression. A few seconds in internet scrolling time is like an eternity, and you really only have a few fractions of a second to make someone decide to click on your listing.
For this reason, your title and thumbnail are of the utmost importance. Not only must they grab the attention of a quickly-scrolling guest, but they also contribute the largest amount to Airbnb’s SEO (search engine optimization).
SEO is important when working with any platform that incorporates a search engine, and Airbnb is definitely one of them. The words in the title determine where your listing falls in a search based on how relevant it is to the guest’s keywords and their interests. These interests are determined by a variety of factors including what guests nearby have searched for as well as events or attractions near you.
Make sure to add fun amenities to your title that make your listing stick out. You can also use professional stock photos of things in your city as free, high-quality listing photos. Bright, fun-looking photos get the most clicks, but don’t be afraid to play around and see what guests tend to click on for you.
Not Pricing Strategically
Strategic pricing is the number one way to eliminate gaps in your calendar. Hosts lose so many days in between longer stays because a lot of people don’t want to book a one-night stay with a required checkout the next night. Even if they were planning on leaving anyways, this restriction can make them decide to book elsewhere.
You should be pricing these one-night stays super competitively. Do not be afraid to drop prices as the date approaches to cinch a last-minute guest. A cheaper but full calendar is always better than an empty one!
However, don’t get scared and jump the gun just because your Airbnb hasn’t filled up yet. A great way to anticipate trends is to check out the Performance tab to see what occupancy rates are like for other hosts nearby.
If you’re consistently underperforming, it might be time to reevaluate your strategy. If you notice a spike in rates, hold out your high price for longer because there’s a higher chance you might get booked.
Not Utilizing Third Party Ad Services
Paying for advertising is not for everyone. But if your Airbnb is struggling with getting bookings, it is certainly worth a shot. Better yet, not all ads cost money!
Increasing your internet presence is a great, free way to have a better chance at getting bookings. The more places your rental appears online, the greater the chance that someone will find it.
You can cross-list on other sites such as VRBO and HomeAway, as well as on a private domain of your own. Of course, make sure all of your descriptions are SEO-heavy on every platform. If your rental has a name, for example “Shell Cottage”, capitalize on that by using this unique element across different websites.
Paid ads can also be greatly beneficial. Advertising on local travel websites and blogs can both increase your legitimacy as a business and attract a much wider variety of guests. Many towns will allow you to submit rental properties to be listed on their Chamber of Commerce website or local travel guide.
Your Occupancy Count is Low
It is commonly believed that you can’t really make an Airbnb bigger. While this may technically be true, you can certainly increase your occupancy count without changing the physical size of the space you offer.
Buying extra beds, such as hotel-style rollaway beds, is an extremely cost effective way to ensure that your Airbnb appears in many more searches. You’ll still be able to cater to smaller parties, but now you’ll also show up in searches for larger groups of guests. The competition for bigger groups tends to be less fierce, so you’ve just increased both your booking rate and your prices!
Sleeper sofas are another way to do this, but you’re obviously more limited with these. You can’t just have a room with eight sofas in it and nowhere to walk. Rollaway beds, however, can be stored easily when not in use and can fit in tighter spaces. Since they’ll be put away during the day, your space stays free of clutter and still appeals to those who don’t need the extra beds!
Your Listing is Too Far Gone
If you’ve had a long-running listing that now seems to be unsalvageable, don’t be afraid to reset and start fresh. Deleting a listing will remove reviews and everything else attached to it, of course, but will also free you of that pecky stagnant energy that the algorithm hates.
Airbnb’s algorithm won’t know that you’ve relisted the same property as a new listing. Use this to your advantage! The interest algorithm can tank a listing that hasn’t been booked or viewed heavily recently, which can be very hard to come back from. I’m certainly not suggesting that you delete your hard-earned good reviews and reputation after a few bad months, but for tougher cases it might be the best bet.
With your new listing you’ll get the coveted month of “boost” in search. This is Airbnb’s way of giving new hosts a chance to show what they’ve got and rack up a few great reviews before they get thrown in with all the other established properties.
Use this to your advantage! Go out of your way to blow your first few guests out of the water during your boost month. You’ll get great reviews and all the algorithm inertia you need to get started on your fresh, successful new listing.
You Haven’t Test Searched Yourself
Yet another great opportunity to put yourself in your guests’ shoes, performing a test search is the best way to pinpoint your listing’s strengths and weaknesses. Search for amenities that your guests commonly look for such as proximity to downtown, airports, free breakfast, etc. If your Airbnb doesn’t show up near the top, you’re missing something!
Your title plays the biggest role in Airbnb’s SEO algorithm and should contain all major guest keywords. The first few lines of your description are the next most important thing, and they’ll also show up on Google! Check out how your listing looks there as well, and see what needs to be changed so you can highlight your strengths.
Complete your entire listing! This is another Airbnb SEO factor that a lot of people ignore. Free search algorithm points should never be missed out on.
Another thing to play around with is the number of guests someone is looking to book with. See where you fall on the search page when compared with your competition and how tweaking things changes that.
Using the Same Old Furniture
Have you been hosting for a long time? Have you changed the furniture and décor since you started hosting? A fresh look is easy to get, and you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to achieve it.
Changing out or replacing the focal pieces of a room will give it a whole new look. Be sure to look for things that appear worn or outdated and get rid of those first. Simply moving around the rest of the furniture or changing out wall art will make the place seem good as new!
Be sure to highlight how great your space looks by taking a bright, airy photo that includes a window if possible.
You Might Be Using the Wrong Photographer
If you’re worried that your photos might be doing you more harm than good, then it might be time to call in a professional photographer. They’re easy to find in your local area, and Airbnb even offers their own service!
As we’ve discussed, photos help form the first impression of your listing and all are that guests have to determine where they’ll be staying. The brighter the better! Try to have multiple photos of the same room from different views, and always show a door or a window. Check out our Airbnb photo tips article here.
How many photos can an Airbnb listing have?
There is no limit on the number of pictures that Airbnb will allow on a single listing. The real question is how many photos you should have.
At least 3 views of every room is the bare minimum in my book. Additionally, don’t forget to include photos of the outside of the building, the neighborhood, and local attractions that guests might be interested in.