Is Airbnb a channel that’s still missing from your vacation rental marketing mix? Whatever has been keeping you from getting listed on it, now’s the time to reconsider.
Airbnb is undoubtedly one of the lucrative vacation rental websites, attracting millions of visitors from all over the world every single day. Its popularity hasn’t waned as a result of the pandemic: if anything, it has increased.
Add to that the success of Airbnb’s long-awaited IPO, and you’re looking at a solid company and one of the most promising channels to advertise your vacation rentals. So what are you waiting for?
In today’s article, we’ll help you get going by blueprinting how to build a successful Airbnb marketing strategy.
You’ll learn how to distribute your Airbnb listings using a channel manager, how to optimise your properties to attract the maximum number of bookings and how to build a pricing strategy to increase your revenue. Let’s get started.
Why should you get listed on Airbnb now?
There are a number of reasons why now is a great time to get listed on Airbnb. Here are just a few, based on Rentals United’s and Airbnb’s internal data:
- The average booking value was €900, which is a year-on-year increase of about €105. This means that property managers who advertise on Airbnb have the chance to attract high-value bookings.
- 40% of nights were part of bookings made for periods of longer than a week. Consequently, Airbnb listings have the potential to attract bookings for longer stays – which have been rising in popularity as a result of the pandemic.
- The number of early-bird bookings made on Airbnb has increased in the past three months. Travellers are already booking stays for next summer, indicating an increase in travel confidence.
- Airbnb has a wide range of pandemic-related features that guests find appealing, from safety and hygiene amenities to flexible cancellation policies and pricing models for longer stays. Rentals United supports all of these – what’s more, we allow you to create your Airbnb listings within minutes using your property data in RU, with very little manual work.
That should be enough to convince you that if you’re not advertising on Airbnb yet, you’re missing out.
Now, let’s move on to the 5 key components of building a successful Airbnb marketing strategy.
The 5 elements of an effective Airbnb marketing strategy
1. Use an Airbnb-approved channel manager
As a professional property manager, it’s crucial to use a channel manager that Airbnb has named a Preferred Software Partner.
This indicates that the channel manager is a trusted technology provider that meets Airbnb’s highest standards and has superior synchronisation capabilities. As a result, working with such a provider is key to getting the best results from your Airbnb marketing strategy.
The benefits of using an Airbnb-certified channel manager include:
- Frequently updated API connections that allow you to take advantage of Airbnb’s latest features and tools as soon as they’re released. This includes covid-related updates like new amenities, pricing schemes and cancellation policies.
- Priority customer support to help you solve issues faster than anyone else.
- Ongoing training to help you optimise your listings and improve your conversions on Airbnb.
Rentals United is one of the few channel managers Airbnb has named a Preferred Software Partner in 2021. Our industry-leading two-way connection allows you to sync your rates, availability and property info without ever having to worry about double bookings.
Furthermore, we allow property managers who can’t accept Instant Bookings to manage their Airbnb listings on a Request to Book basis**. We’re proud to be among the few channel managers that offer this level of flexibility, thanks to our close relationship with Airbnb.
2. Health-check your Airbnb listings
If you’ve been managing vacation rentals for a while, you probably know how to put together a compelling listing. You’re most likely aware that OTAs like Airbnb have minimum content requirements that you need to meet (for example, regarding the size of images). We won’t bore you with any of that.
However, what we would like to point out is the importance of checking whether your listings are actually displaying on your connected channels the way you want them to.
Sometimes, what can happen is that everything looks fine on the backend (in your PMS and your channel manager), but something’s broken on the frontend (on Airbnb). When there’s a discrepancy between what you’re seeing and what your guests are seeing, there’s a chance you’re not putting your best foot forward, and you could be missing out on bookings.
So, as soon as you’ve connected your channel manager to Airbnb and your listings have gone live, the first thing you should do is a health check. Now, you could do this manually, but it would take hours out of your day. A better solution is to use RU Data Studio Property Health Cards, a tool we developed to help you perform health checks efficiently.
Property Health Cards will give you invaluable listing data at a glance, such as:
- What percentage the markup is set at for specific channels like Airbnb.
- How many photos are being pushed and what your main photo/thumbnail is.
- Whether your listing is missing any top-converting amenities and much more.
Regular health checks should become an integral part of your Airbnb marketing strategy as they can help you optimise your listings to the last detail.
3. Get your Airbnb pricing right
Once you’ve got the right software to distribute your properties and have health-checked your listings, the next thing you need to figure out is your Airbnb pricing strategy.
Distribution should always go hand-in-hand with revenue management: otherwise, you could be presenting the most beautifully-put-together listing, it won’t convert.
Here are our top tips for pricing your Airbnb properties:
- Use a dynamic pricing tool. Platforms like Beyond Pricing, PriceLabs and Wheelhouse help you find the best nightly rate for your rentals every single day based on historical and real-time market data. Plus, they integrate with channel managers like Rentals United, so it’s easy to automatically push the dynamic rates to Airbnb.
- Use discounts strategically. Airbnb offers a wide range of discounts and promotions that you can use to encourage guests to book. These include last-minute, early-bird and LOS discounts as well as custom promotions – and the list keeps growing as Airbnb adds new promotions to their toolkit. If you’re using software like Rentals United, you don’t even need to log into the Airbnb extranet to set up promotions – you can do it straight from the channel manager’s interface.
- The host-only fee structure. This is a simplified pricing structure that’s mandatory for all countries with the exception of the USA, Canada and Mexico (you can still choose if you want to apply it) property managers on Airbnb. It helps to attract more bookings by removing the service fee (up to 20%) from the final price displayed to guests upon checkout. It basically means that you cover the service fee for the guest. To make up for the difference, you can simply raise your nightly rate or add a markup to your rates in Rentals United.
4. Master Airbnb SEO
And now, onto another step that could make or break your Airbnb marketing strategy: implementing Airbnb SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) best practices.
This step is essential to getting the most out of your listings, as it will allow you to rank higher in Airbnb search results. Building the perfect listing is not enough – you also need to make sure that guests actually see your properties.
The Airbnb algorithm works just like any other search engine: it favours listings that meet certain requirements. While no one knows exactly what these requirements are, we do have a list of optimisation tricks that you can use to rank higher, gain more visibility and boost your conversions on Airbnb.
Here are some tips that will help you instantly rank higher on Airbnb:
- Collect reviews as fast as possible. The more reviews you have, the more likely it is you’ll rank higher in Airbnb search results. The best way to do this is by providing an excellent guest experience, leaving reviews for your guests and using a review request automation tool like Wishbox.
- Respond to every guest message within 24 hours. Airbnb prefers hosts who are always on top of their guest communication as this ensures a better experience for guests. You can use vacation rental software to schedule messages and automate some replies.
- Have competitive pricing. As discussed above, getting your prices right is crucial to getting bookings on Airbnb, and it’s an important ranking factor too. For example, if your prices are too high compared to similar rentals in your market, you may get filtered out of searches and miss out on bookings.
- Avoid rejecting bookings. If your properties are on Request to Book, it’s worth keeping your rejection rate to a minimum: otherwise, too many rejections will affect your rankings.
- Improve your click rate. The more people click on your properties after seeing them appear in search, the more likely it is that you’ll rank higher. To boost your click rate, make sure you write catchy headlines (find some actionable tips on how to do this in our vacation rental copywriting guide) and make sure the thumbnail/hero image you’ve set is showcasing the best face of your property. You can double-check this using RU Data Studio Health Cards described above.
- Reduce your minimum stay and increase your maximum stay. Being more flexible with your length of stay restrictions will allow your listing to appear in more searches.
5. Stay up-to-date on new optimisation opportunities
As the most popular vacation rental marketplace on the planet, Airbnb is always looking to:
- Improve the booking experience for guests.
- Help owners and property managers get more bookings.
As a result, Airbnb makes frequent updates to its platform and regularly releases new features to help property managers respond to changes in demand and traveller behaviours.
That’s why it’s crucial for your Airbnb marketing strategy to stay up-to-date on developments at Airbnb and implement new tools as soon as they become available.
As we’ve mentioned before, the Rentals United channel manager allows you to do this thanks to our frequently updated API connection and close relationship with Airbnb.
However, you should also make a point of learning about new tools as soon as possible so you can stay ahead of your competitors. One way to do this is simply to keep an eye out for the product update emails you receive from Airbnb.
Another is to subscribe to the Rentals United newsletter, where we routinely cover new opportunities that can help our property managers perform better on any channel, not just Airbnb.
For example, we were among the first to report on the new cleaning protocols introduced by OTAs in response to the pandemic. We also released an Airbnb optimisation webinar with advanced tactics to help you make the most out of your Airbnb listings.
Conclusion: Building the perfect Airbnb marketing strategy
We hope this article has helped you wrap your head around what it takes to build an effective Airbnb marketing strategy.
To sum up, here are 5 things to keep in mind:
- Choose a channel manager that Airbnb has selected as a Preferred Software Partner.
- Always health-check your Airbnb listings manually or using a tool like RU Data Studio Property Health Cards.
- Work out an Airbnb pricing strategy that works hand-in-hand with your distribution plan.
- Implement Airbnb SEO best practices that will help you appear in more searches and rank higher on Airbnb.
- Keep an eye out for product updates and new tools introduced by Airbnb so you can optimise your listings before your competitors.
*Rentals United is an Airbnb Preferred Software Partner. This message, including any claims or statements within, is solely from Rentals United and is not endorsed by, directly affiliated with, authorized, or sponsored by Airbnb in any way.