Let’s do a little experiment. Open Airbnb in your browser and type in Cayman Islands as the location. Don’t put in any dates or adjust the number of guests: just click search. How many results came up? Chances are more than 300 homes, apartments, available rooms – and even boats - are available for rent. If you’re an Airbnb host, that’s around 299 competitors.
To gain a competitive advantage, influence your Airbnb income and maximize your profit consider: property improvements, optimizing your listing, and setting the proper prices.
Make necessary property improvements
Even if your home is perfect for you, some redecorating, decluttering and added amenities are usually necessary in order to meet the guest’s expectations. Some basic equipment recommendations to consider are: a keyless entry system to make it easy for guests to access your place, WIFI that supports streaming, a SmartTV, extra toiletries such as shampoo and soap, pantry staples such as condiments, and amenities — ranging from ironing boards to hair dryers to wine openers.
Invest in professional photography
Once your property’s upgrades are complete, invest in a professional photography shoot. Photos are your absolute most effective marketing tool. Your listing should have no less than 12 images that make potential guests feel excited at the prospect of staying in your home – not thinking “Hmmm, it looks a bit dark,” or “there’s no photo of the kitchen.” In some cases, photographers may even be willing to exchange a session for a few night’s stay!
Optimize search engine optimization (SEO) for your listing
Do you know where your listing appears in Airbnb’s search results? If you’re not on the first few pages of Airbnb’s search results, then you may have difficulties attracting inquiries. To improve your Airbnb SEO and the position of your listing in the search results: Complete each section of your listing and Airbnb profile. Keep your calendar up to date. Airbnb’s algorithm tags hosts who regularly update their calendars as both active and responsive. Active and responsive hosts are rewarded with priority seating in the search rankings. If your calendar is already accurate – you can simply block out dates in the future, then immediately free them up again (as a sort of “nudge … I’m here” to Airbnb). Encourage guests to leave positive reviews as they are the backbone of a best-selling listing and can almost guarantee more bookings and higher search rankings. Respond to guest inquiries quickly. The payoff for attentiveness goes farther than SEO optimization – it prevents your listings from downgrading. Airbnb doesn’t simply reward active hosts; it penalizes the not-so-responsive ones as well. Log in regularly. This is another angle that Airbnb’s algorithm works in order to track how available you are for the guests. In addition, search engines put more trust in something they see more than once. Promote your listing on social media and link to your Airbnb profile. Go that extra mile by creating and sharing Airbnb wish lists, too. Being added to as many wish lists as possible will improve your Airbnb search rankings.
Create a pricing strategy
If you’re not adjusting your pricing regularly based on competitive trends, seasons, hotel prices, local occupancy rates, how far out the booking is, and special events, then you’re leaving money on the table. Be mindful of pricing too high too early - if you’re new to Airbnb, consider pricing your property below the market price to capture initial bookings and build credibility with the Airbnb guest community. It’s difficult to compete against established hosts and units that have 10’s or 100’s of reviews, when you have zero. After you build up your reviews, raise your prices accordingly. While it feels nice to be fully booked for the next 6 months, your very high occupancy this far into the future could mean your property is priced too low. When creating your pricing strategy be sure to consider weekend and weekday pricing, high vs. low season -or even shoulder season pricing, and special event or conference pricing to maximize your profits and bookings throughout the year.
Sell an experience through your listing
Ideally, you must sell the experience of staying in your place through words. You have a great kitchen? Excellent. Instead of saying ‘Large kitchen with stainless steel appliances’ say, ‘Venture out to the local farmers’ market and make yourself a fresh meal in the fully equipped kitchen.’ Essentially, you want your words to put your guests in your property. Once they’ve visited it in their minds — and liked what they’ve found — they’re much more likely to send through a booking request.
If you follow these tips, you’ll have a stellar listing in no time — one that will stand proudly at the top of the search results and have an awesome power for turning lookers into bookers. If you need help creating a listing, pricing strategy, or customer response strategy feel free to drop us a line: we’re happy to help.
Brooke Meyer is the managing partner of Caymera International, a Caymanian-owned hospitality and tourism consulting and advisory firm. For more information email email@example.com or visit www.caymeragroup.com