BNB STORIES #3
Hey there, this is Semeli and I am glad to welcome you with another episode for the BNB STORIES series! On the previous episode we went through how to take your guest experience to the next level. Now, however, we cover how to get those guests in the first place.
So you recently finished creating a listing for your home/vacation rental. You’ve answered all the questions, added a price, included some nice photos, and even spent a few hours trying to come up with an alluring description. Now, you’re waiting…and waiting…but nothing. No reservations. Well, the good news is – you’re not alone in this! And the better news is…we know exactly what the problems are.
Listing your house on multiple platforms has become quite an attractive business idea. You create your account, upload photos, write a description and think you’re done. But that’s not what it takes to create a successful listing.
Luckily, getting top results is easy if you understand the website algorithms better. It is simple once you know how to use actionable techniques to optimize listings for the website’s internal search engine.
Here are 8 reasons you are not getting reservations and tips on how to win more bookings:
1) Your Calendar is Not Up To Date
Calendar availability (or lack of it) is one of the major roadblocks to getting reservations. Whether you added your listing just yesterday or a year ago, you need to keep the calendar as clear and updated as possible.
Think of it this way – if your calendar is mostly blocked for the next two months, the search engine algorithms will be against you. This means the chance of getting bookings decreases significantly. It’s not all about algorithms either – you’re more likely to attract reservations if you have dates available! No rocket science there!
How does the algorithm work? Here’s a quick, non-technical explanation of how calendar bookings affect your search engine ranking. Algorithms generally tag hosts who update their calendars as regularly as possible. So the more active you are, the higher you rank, and the more inquiries you will get. If your calendar is not updated regularly or does not have free dates for the next two months, the algorithm will de-prioritize your listing.
Here’s what you need to do: If your calendar is already accurate and you’re still not getting reservations, don’t panic. Block out dates, then immediately free them up again to stay active. Daily updates can increase booking likelihood by as much as 70%. If it seems like too much work for you, you can automate that feature.
Top tip: Turn on Instant Booking now. This is essential for getting more bookings on Airbnb specifically. It maximizes the chances of getting a direct booking and will minimize the traveler’s purchasing decision. This also increases the chance of the guest clicking on your property. The more clicks you get, the higher you rank on the system!
2) Your Prices Are Too High
It doesn’t take an expert to figure out that if prices are too high, you won’t be getting enough reservations (or any at all!). We get it. Managing a house is challenging, and expenses pile up quickly. That’s why we recommend changing your prices regularly.
Keep up with the competition and change your prices depending on holidays, peak times and certain months. This ensures your potential guests can’t snag better deals somewhere else. On the other hand, don’t set the price too low. This might scare guests off, as they’ll think something is wrong with your property.
3) Your Minimum Stay Policy Is Too Strict
If you’re still starting out, try to avoid short minimum stays. One night at first is actually enough. This highlights how flexible your bookings are and will win you a few extra bookings; and more reviews. The more search filters you bypass, the more frequently your listing will appear in the search results.
4) Your Pictures Are Not Eye-Catching Enough
Pictures sell. There is no doubt about it. If your pictures are awful, you won’t be getting reservations or even clicks to your property. Specifically, when there are little or no reviews at first, travelers rely solely on pictures of the listing.
The pictures can either make or break a booking. Some websites like Airbnb offer photography services, so you’ve got no excuses for the poor quality, blurry or unprofessional pictures! Photography is one of the most common mistakes made by hosts and a dimly lit photo will result in zero inquiries.
How does it work? After the traveler inputs their preferences, the search yields hundreds of different results. What makes them want to explore your property? Three things: Pictures, price, and title.
If your thumbnail photo isn’t attractive, you won’t be getting a click-through to your listing. You will simply be ignored by the algorithm.
Here are some things you can do for competitive pictures:
- The first photo is pretty much your holy grail. It needs to make your listing look incredible. If it isn’t amazing, forget about click-throughs.
- It’s important to include pictures which are vibrant, colorful, shot in HQ, and compelling enough.
- Hire a professional photographer. It’s a small investment for great rewards.
- Lighting can make or break your photoshoot. Take pictures of your listing in daylight, preferably on a sunny day (Apologies to anyone in the UK!).
- Use angles that make your house look bigger.
- Take pictures of the surrounding area and attractions nearby.
- Remove any clutter and make sure the house is clean and tidy.
- Don’t remove too much clutter. The main reason people choose websites like Airbnb and HomeAway is the fact that they want to go to a place that feels like a home, not a hotel. If you have items in your house that make it cozy and homely – keep them!
5) You Don’t Have Any Reviews
Reviews are extremely important. We understand this might be difficult for people who have only just added their listings or have not had bookings yet. If you have had bookings, however, don’t be shy to ask guests for a review! If you follow these tips your guests will be more than happy to write a great comment.
6) Your Listing Description is Terrible
There are so many ways you can ruin your chances of getting reservations by a subpar description. Here are some common description mistakes hosts make:
You need to have a way with words. Instead of “Home in the center”, think “Spacious 3-Bedroom Apartment Right In The Heart Of The City”. Instead of “Big Villa” Write “Massive 2-Floor Villa With Magnificent City Views.” Get creative and get booked!
Selling Not Telling
Instead of listing all the essential details for your property, try selling your home to that person. Incorporate emotions, advertise the top qualities of your properties and try to make them feel something while they’re reading your description.
Don’t write too much and don’t lie about anything!
We’re going to be blunt. If your description is written poorly, it’s going to look sketchy. Make sure you’ve formatted the description the right way. Stay away from big blocks of text and poor grammar. Use bullet points, small paragraphs and always provide helpful information.
Targeted Search Items
Use keywords that will push your listing higher up on your guests’ search results. Find keywords relevant to your location, notable nearby attractions or points of reference in your neighborhood.
Underselling Your Location
Location is extremely important for guests when it comes to booking. Even if your house is not in the best location, always mention what they can get out of being in that specific neighborhood.
7) You’re Not on Par with the Competition
One major mistake hosts make is to treat their prices, pictures, and descriptions like a shot in the dark. Always analyze your competition. See which houses rank the highest, and try to highlight your USP (unique selling point).
8) You are Posting Your Listing on One Booking Site
No bueno! By putting your listing on multiple websites, you increase your chance of exposure. It is a great way to reach out to a diverse audience and increase your chance of bookings.
A summary of how booking websites determine their search results:
Most websites take a lot of factors into account. While it may seem overwhelming at first, the fact is everything is 100% within your control!
- How appealing your description and pictures are.
- How competitive your price is.
- How many positive reviews you have.
- How responsive you are.
- How active you are.
- How updated your calendar is.
- What your acceptance rate is.
- How often you cancel a booking.
- Using Instant booking (Trust us!).
- How well you use referrals.
- How frequently you log in.
- How quickly you reply to reviews!
It’s easy. Algorithms thrive on data and you can control data. The more information you have on your listing and the clearer your descriptions are, the more you will understand how algorithms work and the more bookings you’ll get by ranking higher on the search results!
See you on the next episode!