With more than six million active listings on Airbnb, getting eyes on your properties and turning views into bookings can feel like a full-time job. Add on the challenges of last-minute cancellations, missed cleans, and difficult guests, and you’re working overtime.
If your Airbnb lies empty too often, you’re not only losing money but also opportunities to get good reviews and improve your ranking on the platform. Listings with low views and bookings show up less in Airbnb search results, resulting in a vicious cycle of even fewer views and bookings.
But it is possible to turn it around. With a few tweaks and trusted strategies, you can maximize occupancy rates, increase your revenue, and grow your business—without piling on expenses or adding hours to your workload.
We’re here to explain:
- 9 reasons you’re not getting more bookings on Airbnb
- 6 strategies to bring in more bookings from Airbnb
- 3 other ways to boost bookings for your vacation rental outside of Airbnb
Plus, we show you how using automated Airbnb management software can help you bring in more reservations while saving you time.
9 reasons you’re not getting more bookings on Airbnb
Before we dig into strategies to get more reservations, here are some factors that could currently be impacting your Airbnb booking rate:
- You don’t respond to potential guest inquiries quickly enough
Guests typically message more than one property host. If you’re slow to respond to their messages or questions, they may feel you’re not trustworthy, helpful, or responsive, and go with an alternative. See our tips on fast, automated messaging below to fix this.
- You’re not able to engage guests pre-stay
Guests want to feel they can trust you to give them a great stay, and they want to feel excited and reassured about their booking. If your responses are cold, clinical, or unhelpful, they’ll likely choose another option. We look at how automated messages and digital guidebooks help.
- You’re using fixed pricing that doesn’t change with demand
The most successful Airbnbs use smart pricing to ensure their rates are competitive year-round. To fix this, implement an automated rates strategy using Airbnb pricing tools. We share our favorite picks.
- Your listings aren’t detailed enough
Good listing descriptions strike a balance between being easy to read and offering enough information to hook the guest. Without enough detail, potential guests can’t tell whether your property is right for them and may go elsewhere. See our tips on what information to share.
- Your listings aren’t attention-grabbing enough
People scroll through hundreds of listings when researching Airbnb options, and they won’t click on yours if the headline or photos are generic. So see our advice on how to optimize your listings for the best results.
- Your listings aren’t targeted to your ideal guest
Follow one of the golden rules of marketing: If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one. If you don’t optimize your listings for your ideal guest (e.g. young families or digital nomads), your properties might not stand out and draw people in.
- You don’t regularly update your listings
Even the most beautiful summer garden photos won’t sell your property for midwinter stays. And deals for Christmas won’t appeal to people looking for summer breaks. We discuss tips on how to keep your listings relevant.
- You’re not getting enough five-star reviews
Reviews make or break whether guests book, and listings without reviews are often overlooked. Highly-rated listings also appear higher in search results, so strong review management is essential.
- You’re too reliant on Airbnb and need to market on more channels
If you rely solely on Airbnb, you’re dependent on the Airbnb algorithm and search results. Instead, follow our suggestions for diversifying across channels and managing all your reservation calendars effectively.
6 top strategies to get more bookings on Airbnb
Here we look at how to attract your ideal guest so you can increase occupancy and generate more revenue.
1. Automate guest messaging for fast response times and personalization
Fast responses to guests—whether they’re inquiring for the first time or midway through their stay—are crucial to building trust and demonstrating your professionalism and hospitality.
So use templates to automate your Airbnb messaging to ensure you send guests all the information they need without having to hover by your phone at all hours of the day.
With Airbnb management software like Hostfully, you can automatically send a message in response to a trigger via SMS, email, or the Airbnb app, meaning you’ll no longer spend hours manually typing responses.
The Hostfully Unified Inbox also makes it easier to monitor messaging coming in from all sources, as it shows email, SMS, and booking channel messages in a single place. This reduces the chance of you missing an urgent question and lets you quickly send a response from wherever you are.
2. Use digital guidebooks to engage your guests pre-stay
Guests want to feel reassured and informed before they arrive at your property, but they don’t want to have to ask you for help every five minutes. That’s where a tool like Hostfully’s Digital Guidebooks comes in.
You can share a guidebook with guests as soon as they make their reservation. Pack it full of useful details such as directions, arrival or parking instructions, and in-property manuals, like how to use the coffee machine or hot tub. You can even include photos of where to find extra linens and towels or a video on how to use the washing machine.
Hostfully’s Digital Guidebooks also include local area maps with your recommended must-see attractions or restaurants, as well as an extra section for helpful upsells, like how to rent sports equipment (see more on how to maximize upsells below).
Mention the guidebook in your listings (and show previews of it in your photos) to show guests you’re a helpful host and know the local area. This engages and reassures guests before they even book.
Plus, this reduces the risk of cancellations, as guests already trust you and can start planning their upcoming stay the moment they book.
3. Implement dynamic pricing for optimized rates
If your prices aren’t competitive in comparison to other similar properties in the area, you’ll miss out on bookings.
And even if you want to attract guests with a higher budget, you’ll still need to optimize your rates to stand out. But without specialist software to automate this process, it can be extremely technical, time-consuming, and prone to human error.
Even though Airbnb does operate basic smart pricing (which you can turn on and off), selecting the right seasonal rates throughout the year can still be a challenge. Calculating rates manually is extremely time-consuming, as it depends on a huge variety of factors, including the time of year, local events, fluctuating demand, school vacation dates, and vacation trends.
Instead, use a platform like Hostfully to connect your Airbnb listings with dynamic pricing tools. Dynamic pricing tools continually analyze millions (if not billions, according to Wheelhouse!) of data points to optimize your Airbnb pricing strategy and boost occupancy year-round.
Examples of great tools (all of which integrate with Hostfully) include Beyond, Nightpricer, PriceLabs, Wheelhouse, Rented, and DPGO.
|Pro-tip: Bulk edit your listings with last-minute deals and early-bird discounts
With Hostfully, it’s easy to change up the price of all your Airbnbs in one go to simplify last-minute pricing adjustments and automate discounts based on when a booking’s made. This maximizes revenue for early bookings and increases late bookings, too.
4. Create a messaging flow to ask for reviews
The more positive reviews you have, the easier you’ll find it to secure bookings.
Guests are much more likely to trust listings and hosts with high rankings, and well-reviewed Airbnb properties also show up higher in search results. Meanwhile, Airbnb Superhosts need very high ratings (an overall 4.8 out of 5-star rating) to maintain their status.
But despite the importance of reviews, many Airbnb hosts struggle to get enough of them. Airbnb prompts guests to leave ratings, but the request expires after 14 days, leaving you with nothing even if your guest had a great time.
So after they leave, reach out to make sure your guest had an excellent experience and give them a chance to report any feedback they have. But once you’ve done that, don’t be shy about asking guests to leave a review.
Boost your chances of getting reviews by including multiple requests for them in your post-stay messaging flow. It’s ok to send guests multiple reminders after they check out, and don’t be afraid to emphasize how important reviews are to your business—if they had a great stay, they’ll be happy to help.
You can even suggest amenities to mention in their review (such as the incredible view, super-fast WiFi, or detailed guidebook) to nudge them into highlighting the features you want future guests to notice.
5. Optimize your listings with updates and promotions
Getting great bookings on Airbnb starts even before the guest has clicked on your listing. To draw them in, you need to stand out among the sea of properties they’re scrolling through.
Optimize (and regularly change up) the following elements of your listing:
- Title: Strike the right balance between descriptive and eye-catching. Imagine what your guest is looking for, and use a few adjectives to paint that picture. And avoid emphasizing any obvious details.For example: ‘Bright, airy beachfront villa near great bars’ works better than ‘4-bed Florida beach house with 2 bathrooms.’
- Description: In your listing, focus on describing the practical need-to-know details. Put yourself in your guests’ position and answer all the questions they could have about the property, its location, amenities, and policies.The less that guests have to ask you for information, and the more they can see themselves in your listing, the more likely they are to book quickly.
- Photos: Your listings live and die by their images. If you can, invest in professional photos. If not, use the best quality camera or phone possible to take high-quality photos in daylight.Include wide shots and close-ups so guests can really see your place, from every room to your high-end coffee machine. You can even stage the property by placing flowers or food on the counter to help guests truly envision themselves there.
|Pro tip: Highlight special offers or deals in your headline, descriptions, and photos too.
Don’t bury special offers or seasonal deals in your description, especially if you’re aiming to attract last-minute bookings. Stop guests’ scrolling with headlines like: ‘July 4th: 50% off beachside villa’ or ‘Pre-Christmas deal’.
This applies to photos too. For example, add winter shots and adjectives like ‘cozy’ and ‘snowy’ just ahead of Christmas-time bookings, or upload views of your pool and outdoor fire pit to attract summer guests.
6. Provide a unique guest experience with creative add-ons
Stand out by emphasizing creative touches and amenities. This shows guests you’ll offer them a memorable stay that’s truly aimed to accommodate them (without adding hours to your workload.)
Make these adjustments to your listing to make it stand to out even further:
Target a specific niche
Make sure your listings speak to your ideal guest. For example, if you’re looking to attract young families, highlight how close your place is to family-friendly restaurants. If you’re targeting digital nomads, post a screenshot of your super-fast WiFi speed test and show photos of your workspace.
Highlight curated amenities
Providing little extras that appeal to a specific type of guest and show them in your description and photos. For example, for travelers with pets include photos of your dog bowl and free treats. For honeymooning couples, leave a bottle of Champagne and show this free gift clearly in your listing.
Offer targeted upsells
Talking about your upsells in your listing shows guests they’ll have access to useful extras exactly when they might need them. For example, Hostfully Guidebooks lets you offer upsells like childcare services for families, rental sports equipment for outdoor enthusiasts, or a personal chef for luxury travelers.
3 ways to get more bookings for your vacation rental outside of Airbnb
Airbnb is undeniably an important OTA, but that doesn’t mean it should be your only way to get bookings.
1. List on multiple channels
More channels means more views on your listings and more bookings. So diversify and consider listing on Booking.com and Vrbo, as well as more niche and last-minute sites like Whimstay and Getaway GoGo.
And while listing on various OTAs is a powerful strategy, it can be logistically complicated to keep track of all your reservations. So use a platform like Hostfully, with its dedicated channel manager, to list properties on several sites at once—the tool syncs all your calendars so you can avoid double bookings.)
2. Create a direct booking website
Creating your own direct booking website lets you save big on OTA commissions and frees you from the whims of complicated algorithms and confusing search results.
Hostfully offers a direct booking site building tool, as well as the option to embed a Hostfully booking widget into your existing site. This lets you display availability, and accept bookings right on your website, as well as sync your direct booking and OTA calendars.
3. Proactively market your property
They say “build it and they will come.” But in the vacation rental world, you need to go out and bring guests in.
Harnessing social media lets you show off your listings, build authority, and direct potential guests to your website. Your marketing strategy can include showing behind-the-scenes content or sharing your local area expertise to entice people to your properties.
Another industry secret is remarketing: Collect email addresses from previous guests and use targeted email offers, as well as regular newsletters and useful tips, to boost occupancy and secure more repeat bookings.
How to get more bookings for your short-term rental: Automate, optimize, and diversify
Failing to respond quickly or engage guests, not optimizing your pricing and listings, and having few reviews can result in a vicious cycle of sparse bookings and low revenue.
But a dedicated property management platform like Hostfully can help you implement strategies to attract more Airbnb guests and fill your booking calendar. This includes tactics like:
- Automated guest messaging
- Integrated dynamic pricing
- Optimized listings
- Tailored amenities
- Excellent guest communication
Other tried-and-tested techniques that can help you boost bookings include diversifying beyond Airbnb with extra channels, building a direct booking site, and implementing online marketing.
There may be more than six million properties (and counting) on Airbnb these days, but that doesn’t mean your properties can’t rise to the top.