Developing an optimized Airbnb listing is as much of an art as it is a science. There are so many factors to take into consideration especially when listing across multiple platforms like Booking.com and Expedia. Your online property listings are your digital storefront and must be expertly crafted to build a solid brand on these platforms that ranks and converts well. Below we will go through a few of the basics to getting started with building an optimized Airbnb listing.
The first part of the listing will be the ordering of your photos. Professional photos are an absolute must and everything must be staged properly on photo day. Your main photo is usually going to be your nicest photo and often times is best suited to be a wide angle shot that shows off the space and design of your place. It’s also important to get photos of your building amenities that appeal to the guest profile you’re targeting.
Guests who are browsing through properties on booking platforms have a lot of options and therefore a low attention span, so you want to use your first few photos as a ‘trailer’ of the entire place to get them engaged and then go through the rest of the photos which are meant to show your place in more detail. The ‘trailer’ usually consists of 6-12 photos that are the best shot of each area and the amenities. After these photos, put together multiple photos showing each part of the property in more detail followed by photos of the most popular local tourist activities and best restaurants. Even if these attractions are not right beside your place, in your photo captions you can mention how they are accessible via different transportation options.
In terms of your optimized Airbnb listing title, we can separate how we think about it based on whether it is a home-sharing / vacation rental (e.g. Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO) or a hotel platform (e.g. Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com). On home-sharing platforms / vacation rental platforms, most hosts will use generic listing titles like “Luxury 1 BR Condo Downtown” or “Central 3 Bedroom House”. We’ve found that the goal on these platforms should be to describe as many unique attributes in your title as possible. For example, the title ‘2 BR + 2 BATH + Parking – Lakeview Condo’ tells us not only that there are two bedrooms, but also 2 bathrooms, a free parking spot, and a view of the lake. On hotel platforms, we recommend starting your title with a brand (e.g. Pinewood Suites (check local copyrights for the brand you choose). If it’s a 2 bedroom or bigger include that as a sub-brand (e.g. Pinewood Suites – 2 BDRM Condo Loft) to stand out from hotel rooms with less space. As a studio or one bedroom, you can either describe the suite as a sub-brand (e.g. Pinewood Suites – Executive Studio) or the neighborhood (e.g. Pinewood Suites – Waterfront District). Too many Airbnb hosts treat Booking.com or Expedia as if it’s the same audience and their rankings suffer because of it.
Once you have your photos ordered and title ready, the next step is your marketing copy. On your Airbnb and HomeAway listings, you need to aim to answer all of your guest questions in a concise and friendly manner. These questions can include topics such as whether sheets / toiletries / towels are included (yes), additional parking options. For our clients we take care all of this, but if you are managing your property on your own think of everything your potential guests could ask. Make it clear on your listing that if they have any questions or concerns at any point during their stay you will do everything you can to respond and assist in an immediate manner. On hotel platforms keep your marketing copy short and focused on attributes most hotels don’t offer (e.g. kitchen, laundry, parking, etc.). Also hotel guests are extremely location sensitive and value condo amenities such a fitness centers, so if you have these things going for your property be sure to mention them.
Building an optimized Airbnb listing is a one time effort and when done properly can significantly increase your short term rental income. Other listing development decisions that need to be made include advanced rule sets and availability settings. Take the time to do it right from the beginning and watch your efforts pay off!