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12 Of The Most Powerful Ways to Optimize Your AirBnB Listings

12 Of The Most Powerful Ways to Optimize Your AirBnB Listings

We have gathered together the biggest list of ways to optimize Your AirBnB Listings on the Internet. We were originally going to publish a book on how to optimize AirBnB listing, but we figured it would gain more exposure on our website. However, since we are giving this information away for free, we have affiliated with AirBnB. If you are going to make an order through AirBnB, then do it through our link.

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Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Trial And Error Testing Buys More Visitors Than Anything Else

The Good Old Scientific Method is all you need to create the best and most optimized AirBnB listings. You need to do what we did and start fiddling with your adverts every few weeks to see what improves your response rates and conversions. Become a little bit obsessed with improving your listings.

Change and alter your tactics to suit the time of year. As you are obsessively updating and changing your adverts, make a note of what time of year it is. For example, if you change your profile picture from a scenic view shot to an indoors shot, then make a note of what time of year you did it when you record your results.

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Posting Primary Pictures Of The Scenery Or Of Your Room

As mentioned earlier, the time of year may affect your promotional decisions, but there are further factors to consider. You need to decide if your primary pictures should focus on your room or the scenery. Obviously, if the view from your establishment is terrible, then you shouldn’t use it for your primary photo. However, if there is something above-average about your place, then you should consider highlighting that first. If the above-average thing is the scenery, then go for that, and if it is something else, then use that. The images below show a good example of this point.

AirBnB lead with your strongest selling point for primary image

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Consider The Story That Your Primary Picture Tells

You are not selling a room, an apartment, or a stay in a new place. You are selling a service, and you are selling an experience. The best primary photos are the ones that tell a story. The image below is a great example of a photo telling a story. Though it may not seem that way at first, the truth is that the image below was expertly set up and is highly engineered to tell a very specific story to the viewer. It took a great amount of skill and expertise to create the shot shown below, which also included picking the right day, weather conditions and even the right cloud conditions to capture the perfect scene where post-capture editing is not required.

Apartment in tuscany example showing kitchen

The image above shows a primary picture for an apartment in Tuscany. The picture is fantastic in technical terms such as how it was staged, illuminated, and captured with professional quality, but we should also consider the story it is telling.

The scene is rustic and has plenty of beige and warm-brown charm that makes the room look cozy and hospitable. The photographer took the photo from a seated position at the breakfast table, which is where the customer would sit. It is almost as if the photographer is showing you what it would be like to be sat in the room.

By expertly using of both natural light and additional artificial light, the photographer has made the room look a lot bigger than it really it. If you look at the tiles on the left, you can see the reflection of the many artificial lights that the photographer placed in order to get the right amount of light for the shot. The photographer also take great effort to show two walls while only showing one corner, which also makes the room look a lot bigger.

The rustic charm is further highlighted both by the wooden door, ceiling, and window frames, and is almost amplified by the fruit in the bowl, cheese on the table, and by the small heating stove near the door. The food on the table looks like it has been locally sourced rather than bought from a supermarket. It demonstrates the old-world and healthy feel that the area has, and shows life with a simpler and unhurried philosophy.

Finally, the door is wide open to show natural beauty outside, and sun is beaming in through the door as if to invite the user to go outside. This photograph tells a story, and that story includes all the pieces laid out. I didn’t even mention the modern objects that have been expertly hidden by the photograph so that they do not dilute the traditional-rustic story that is being told by the photograph.

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – The Visual Quality Of Your Primary Picture (Outdoors/Scenery)

Compare your scenic pictures to your competitors. Humans suffer with a pride of authorship/pride of creation syndrome that blinds us to obvious flaws in the things we create. The furniture company IKEA claimed that their success was partially due to the fact that the buyer feels pride in the things he or she assembles. It is the reason why people do not see how their screenplay sucks, or see how their paintings are cliche, or how their kids are losers. When you create something, you form a bond with it, and this bond sometimes blinds you to the flaws in your creation.

The images below show how “Not” to capture photos of scenery. Yet, the creators of these photos were so proud of themselves that they used these photos as their primary AirBnB photos. Until the flaws were pointed out, the AirBnB hosts didn’t know their photos were lowering their number of inquiries.

Poor Quality Photos Of Scenery examples

Picture (A)

The shot setup seems nice, but the image is dark and gloomy, which makes the colors seem dull. Such a shot should be taken when the sun is behind the photographer. As it is, the image almost looks cold and uninviting.

Picture (B)

The scenery looks great, but the photographer is standing too far back. The photographer thought she was showing the view from the room, but that could have been better achieved if she was standing much closer to the window. Potential guests may appreciate the exterior view, but it makes the room itself appear as dark as a dungeon because of the way the photo was taken. People like the idea of sun beaming into their room, not the idea of sitting in a pit of darkness while looking out into paradise. Do not forget that you are selling the room and not just the view.

Picture (C)

People neglect to post pictures of their room/apartment for a number of reasons. However, no matter what the reason, the first impression that the viewer gets is not a good one. It is the equivalent of going on a dating site and ignoring profiles without photos. If you have no picture of your place, then people will avoid your listings. The web traffic you receive is usually from desperate people who cannot find another place, or who cannot afford your competitors’ prices.

Picture (D)

This picture is a lot like picture C because it sets a very bad impression up on the viewer’s mind. Why feature a photo that doesn’t really give any information as to the type of lodgings on offer or the quality of the room on offer? Why have half the image covered in shadow? Why couldn’t the poster find a full-sized photo? If the host is unwilling to put effort into his or her listing, then who knows how neglected his/her lodgings/rooms are.

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – The Visual Quality Of Your Primary Picture (Indoors)

The examples I gave in the previous section were primary photos. These are the photos that appear first when people are searching through listings. The images below are also primary photos, but they are photos set indoors. Here are four examples of how “Not” to capture indoor photos.

Poor Quality Photos Of Interiors examples

Picture (A)

As any estate agent will tell you, open your curtains before you take photos. This AirBnB host is losing inquires because his/her primary photo features a bedroom with the curtains closed. Also, notice the yellow tinge that the room has thanks to the curtains being closed and thanks to incorrect artificial lighting (LED lights shine with a brighter white).

Picture (B)

One wonders why somebody would lead with this sort of picture. In this article, I suggested that you lead with your strongest feature. If that is what this host is doing, then it doesn’t say much for the lodgings/apartment/room. It would be like trying to sell a car by photographing the tires. Plus, the settings on the camera are incorrectly set. For example, notice how the light is on, but it illuminates only a tiny part of the room, this is because the shutter speed is too fast.

Picture (C)

I am really glad I found this one because it stinks of self congratulation. The person who took this picture is really proud of himself (I am 90% sure a guy took this picture). The photographer is self congratulating harder than a person who starts an “I Won’t Tolerate” social media group in an attempt to show what a great person she/he is. The image looks like a teenage boy’s ideal bachelor pad. It looks like a home, which is why the photographer is so proud of himself. Trouble is…guests do not want to stay in a home, they want to stay in a hotel room or commercial lodgings. It is the clinical side of lodgings that people like. People do not want a stale environment, but it needs some degree of sterility in order to feel comfortable. Making your room look like home is a big mistake if you want paying customers.

Picture (D)

Lighting is a big deal, and photos such as this one show why. The room is almost all white, which means it is going to look glorious and heavenly if it is lit correctly. Yet, the lighting is so bad in this image that the room actually looks gray. It is gone from looking heavenly to looking gloomy.

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – What Do Your Guests Want?

Remember earlier when I said you need to experiment with your listings in order to truly optimize them? Remember how I said that the best performing AirBnB adverts are the ones where the host has become a little obsessed with improving his/her listings? You need to consider what your customer is looking for when he or she books a hotel.

Target wants and desires as well as demographics. Consider what your place has to offer, and then consider if it is truly what your target audience desires. For example, your place may be located within spitting distance of six of the most popular dive bars in your town. This is great news if you have a strong custom with bikers, but may not be a selling point if you are trying to target small families and single mothers.

Do not copy the listings that other people have added to AirBnB because their selling points may be the opposite of what your target audience are looking for. However, you should still take a look at what other hosts are writing in their AirBnB adverts because there is a chance they have thought of things that you have not. Maybe you didn’t know that your area has the cleanest tap water, or that the amusements in your area are special because they stay open longer than any other in the country. Some of their selling points may apply, just do not copy them blindly.

What Your Guests Want – The Things You Should Mention If Your Room Has Them

If you have any of these features to offer, then mention them in your AirBnB listing and try to include them in your photos where appropriate.

  • Over-sized and white bath towels
  • Plush pillows with breathable bed linen
  • A window with a view
  • A balcony with a view or that gets plenty of sun
  • Free and strong Wi-Fi
  • Bright LED lighting
  • Secure and safe access to the room
  • Pre-Installed universal chargers
  • Alarms and/or added room security
  • A shaving station and/or shaving socket
  • A secure safe where the visitor sets the code
  • Shelving and places to store things
  • Drawers and cupboards that are strong and clean
  • Cribs or cots on request at no extra charge
  • Ample and free parking
  • Affordable or high-quality restaurants nearby
  • Entertainment and/or drinking places nearby
  • Close to a place where groceries may be purchased
  • Close to the main attractions in the area
  • Public transport links nearby such as bus, tram and train stops
  • An easy to find place/room
  • Help with taxis and any translation problems where appropriate
  • Hot water and good water pressure
  • Easy to operate shower and/or high quality bathing facilities
  • Close to local events
  • A guest reward selling system or discounts based on stay frequency or time of year
  • Identical and equally priced rooms available
  • Child-friendly rooms
  • A child-friendly area
  • In house or on-premises services such as a lounge bar
  • Sizable rooms and good prices
  • Eco-efficiency or at least the lack of wasteful services, items and products
  • Notable and/or cutting-edge technology
  • The ability to instantly book online (an AirBnB feature)
  • Bulk-buy discounts, pre-order discounts, or season-related discounts
  • Privacy and/or privacy features such as gardens that are not overlooked
  • Courtyards and/or gardens and/or leisure areas
  • Clean kitchens with modern fixtures and fittings
  • Co-working spaces and/or conference areas
  • Pets allowed policies

Have I missed any? Hopefully not, but you should take a look at what other people are writing in your area. Read through what your competitors are writing about their rooms and about your area, and look at what they are including in their photos.

Just be careful as to what you do and do not include. For example, things such as mosquito nets on windows are truly lifesaving in some countries, but they may be off-putting in certain locations. For example, there are parts of Miami that are loaded with flying insects to where mosquito nets are an outright necessity. Yet, when people think of Miami, they think of hot women, sexy men, and sunny beaches. It may be a good idea to leave the mosquito nets out of your photos and your advert description, and allow them to be a nice surprise for the guests when they arrive.

Flies and insects in Miami

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Go The Extra Mile For Customers While Tactfully Asking For AirBnB Reviews

You can optimize your AirBnB listings by improving your user reviews, and some people have achieved very high and positive reviews by going the extra mile for their customers and tactfully reminding guests about their AirBnB reviews.

Go the extra mile at the very beginning and at the very end. These are the key and most memorable moments. Remember that AirBnB is going to send reminders to your guests up to 14 days after their stay, so there is no need to remind them yourself, but a very gentle reminder doesn’t hurt.

Some people say that “Not Reminding” guests about AirBnB reviews is the best way to go about it. They say that the best reviews are self-motivated. I honestly believe that this is the case, but I also know that giving people gentle reminders is a good way to improve your number of reviews you receive.

Going the extra mile often means giving your guests something they didn’t expect and/or going above and beyond the call of duty. Go online and look for the positive reviews that your competitors have received and see what they did to go the extra mile. Did they offer free use of a clean and well maintained cot/crib for a family with small children? Did they leave free passes to the local club in the guest’s rooms? Were extra perks and technology included in the price without the guests being told, such as a TV with free subscriptions to paid networks?

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Go The Extra Mile For Customers And “Do Not” Ask For A Review

I feel I have to bring this up because it is such a sticking point. Going the extra mile is what counts. Giving people more than they expected, and then doubling down and giving them even more, is often enough to help you build a very positive online reputation. There are going to be plenty of people who you treat like gold, and they will not leave a positive review, and that is okay…it is part of the service profession.

However, some people are so put-off by being asked for reviews that they will leave negative ones out of spite. They will review you like a has-been record producer talking down to a wannabe singer on a talent show. A better tactic may be to go the extra mile and never remind your guests about reviews. If they offer a review, then it will no-doubt be a good one. If they do not offer a review, then move on and keep doing what you are doing. Your guest may not review you, but by going the extra mile, you increase the chances of your repeat business and increase the chances that your guests will recommend you to other people.

Avoid This AirBnB Reviews Mistake

There are some idiots who badger and nag their guests for reviews. They ask for reviews after the vacation is over, they keep contact information, and they badger guests for reviews. I have read forums and comment sections in shock as hosts complain with words like “Unfair” and “Unreasonable” because guests didn’t leave a review.

I have spoken to landlords, hosts, and even estate agents who make similar complaints. They talk as if the guest has screwed them over. I used to remind hosts that the guest has just paid them and that hosts are working for the money and not for reviews. Over time, I have stopped arguing and let hosts piss and moan about their guests not leaving reviews because such people are in the wrong profession anyway.

Do not become one of those moaning bastards that I am sick of hearing and sick of reading about. If you have 100 guests over a year and only 5 leave you a review…then so be it. Do not start whinging and moaning like a baby, and do not badger your guests for reviews. Your guests paid you. Their job is done. People are not obliged to leave reviews. Most people will only leave a review if something is very bad or something is excessively (over the top) amazing. That is why you need to really go the extra mile is you want people to leave a review for you. The image below is just a sample of the sort of whiny crap I am sick of reading on forums.

Mardy AirBnB host moans about reviews like a baby

Don’t Forget To Drop Me A Review When You Get The Chance

That line comes across as a reminder, but it is written with the assumption that the guest always intended to leave a review. It is a very low-pressure way to encourage people to leave you a review, and if you use a line such as that, then it must be after you have said a bunch of positive stuff such as, “You left the place in great condition, it was great having you stay, hope to see you again, don’t forget to drop me a review when you get the chance.”

Do not forget that AirBnB is going to remind your guests to review your place once you have left your review for the guest, so there is no need to remind your guests. If they are not going to leave a review when AirBnB prompts them, then they are probably not going to leave a review when you ask them do.

The “Help Me” Method

I have seen the “Help Me” method work on things such as Trip Adviser, eBay and AirBnB. If you are new to AirBnB and you do not have many reviews, you can remind your guest that you are new and that you are trying to build up a good online reputation and that their positive review would really help you out. It seems that if you are in a vulnerable position (such as being new to AirBnB), then the Ben Franklin Effect takes place when you ask people for help and they are more likely to agree.

Always Leave A Positive Review For Guests

They Paid You Money.
They Paid You Money.
You Have More Money Now Because These People Paid You Money.

Do not leave your guests a negative or less-than-perfect review EVER!!! The only possible exception is if the guest trashes your place. It doesn’t matter if your guest accidentally messed up your work surfaces, or tore a towel, or forget to lock the door when leaving. Your price and your profits are supposed to accommodate for such things, and your insurance is supposed to do the rest if needed.

The Conspiracy Theory – I have read anecdotal evidence about hosts having their search ranking drop in AirBnB because they gave out a poor quality guest review. I have no idea if this is actually what happens, but it makes sense in a sideways sort of way. AirBnB wants paying customers to return to their website and use their services, and customers are less likely to do this if they have a profile with negative comments/reviews on it.

If you want to scare away people in the most horrible way, then leave negative reviews for guests. Anything less than a perfect review is hurtful, and there is No Chance and No Way that the guest will ever use your services again, no chance that the guest will ever refer people to you, and there is a big chance that your guest will try to take revenge on you in whatever method he or she can…such as going to other review websites and tearing you down like cheap Christmas decorations. Some people are awesome at counter-strike reviews. They will trawl every user review website they can and post horrible things about your place that will stick in the readers mind. Here are a few of my favorite lines from revenge reviews:

  • There was a cat’s paw in my pillow case
  • The room is haunted by a screaming six year old
  • Other people saw me spit out the screw they fed to me in a jacket potato
  • The owners are sexual predators who prey on tourists
  • Stank of weed and stale urine
  • Strangers kept asking to use our toilet
  • The minibar had dead cockroaches in the fruit
  • I found the remains of a broken syringe trodden into the bath mat
  • Bloodstains on the sofa and the bottom of the curtains
  • They have secret cameras in the bedroom and bathroom
  • Tried to charge me $13 for using a toilet roll in the room
  • Owner kept asking my daughter to marry him

revenge reviews that I found on Trip Advisor

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Ranking Up The AirBnB Search Engine

Make it your mission to continue improving your service and make it your mission to keep improving your AirBnB listing, and eventually you will climb up the search engine results as you receive more customers.

The image below shows the ranking factors that most people agree will help push your listings up the AirBnB search engine results page. However, it is our strong belief that the number of customers you receive will affect your ranking more than any of the factors in the list below. With that in mind, it is not surprising that the number of positive reviews you have would affect your search engine ranking because people who receive the most bookings are likely to be good at their job and are more likely to receive more reviews.

AirBnB Ranking Factors In A List

Not to labor the point, but despite the fact that most people agree on the ranking factors listed in the image above, isn’t it more likely that they are a symptom of the real cause for people ranking up the search engine? For example, if you have lots of high quality photos, a good headline, a fast response time, then isn’t it more likely that you will receive more bookings through the website and ergo will rank up the search engine results. I think most people have cause and effect mixed up. I think the only real ranking factor is how many people book to stay in your premises after booking through (or finding you) through the AirBnB website.

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Bringing A Few Of The Ideas Together

Below is a promotional picture showing a bar. According to the tips you have learned so far from this article, at what time of year would this sort of picture help sell a hotel’s or resorts services? The answer is, during events such as Mardi Gras.

Diablos Cantina bar at hotel before mardi gras

    • The bar is a big selling point for drinkers during Mardi Gras season
    • Picture quality is excellent and attractive to recreational drinkers
    • Customers want a party during Mardi Gras, and that is what the picture suggests
    • The primary picture has changed to show the bar because of the time of year
    • Standing room and open spaces tells the story of a full bar at night
    • Clean surfaces and warm colors tells the story of a safe drinking place that is welcoming


Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Promoting Your Listing On Social Media And Your Own Website

Setting up your own website is very easy these days. Most content management systems do a great deal of the work for you, and you can hone your website-building skills by watching YouTube videos. You may give your contact details to people on your website, but also link to your AirBnB website because people may feel more comfortable booking through a well-known website rather than a third-party website.

If you have Facebook and Google+, then promote your AirBnB listing through those too. You may not get much traffic, but linking to your AirBnB profile may help it rank a little higher in the Google search engine results. Plus, it may help some of your images rank higher in the Google Images search engine, which means people may also find you by accident when they are looking up images of their vacation location. Do not underestimate the power of Google Images because people want to see what their vacation location looks like before they book, and they may happen upon one of your photos from your social media profiles, from your AirBnB listing, or from your website.

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Pick A Focus Point For Your Photos

A good photographer will pick a focus point for your photos so that your viewers eye is led. Do not forget that you are telling a story when you pick a focus point. Take a look at the image below of a bra advert.

A bra advert showing focus points

It is a bra advert, so you may expect your eyes to be drawn to the bra, but they are not. Your eyes start at her face and then move down. Her beautiful face, striking red lips, frizzy hair, and the fact her arms are pointing at her head are the reasons you look at her face first. You are supposed to see how happy she is and how beautiful she is. She is looking downwards, so your eye moves down to see the bra. The aim is to have you associate the beautiful and happy woman with the bra. The hope is that you associate the happy and beautiful woman with the bra in a way that makes you buy the bra so that you (or your partner) will be happy and feel sexy when wearing it. Your photos need a focus point, and you need to remember that your photos are telling a story.

Give your AirBnB photos a focus point

Two of the images above have focus points. They draw you into the photo. They grab your attention, and then leave you to explore the photo. Two of the images do not have a focus point, which is why they do not draw you in. If you were to use eye-tracking technology on the second and fourth image, the viewers would start out looking in different places. If you used the same eye-tracking technology on people looking at the first and third image, most people would start by looking at the window in the first image and the blue pillow in the third image. That is because those images have a focus point that draws people in.

Just remember that distractions steal focus from your image. That is why professional hotels show you images of their rooms with perfectly made beds that do not have a crease in them. It is why they show you curtains that are arranged to perfection without an odd fold or crumple. If you are arranging your photos so that they have a focus point, then make sure there are no distractions to steal focus.

An AirBnB loft with distracting lights

The image above is from AirBnB and it shows a rather nice loft. However, the lights steal focus from the image, so instead of showing a spacious and post-modern loft, it has dark patches and looks cluttered. The host in this case has quite a few photos like this on his advert, and he probably cannot understand why few people book with him. In most of his photos, the lights are so distracting that they become the focus of the room and damage the entire aesthetic of the room.

Optimize Your AirBnB Listings – Final Thoughts

Take my advice from the very beginning of this article and continue working on improving your service and improving your AirBnB listing. Dedicated and frequent effort to test and retest your adverts will help ensure your adverts perform as well as they can.

Take a look at what other people are writing on their adverts and take a look at their photos. The best-performing adverts will appear first on the AirBnB results page. Take a look at them and try to figure out what techniques the other hosts are using to draw people in. Also, if they mention any selling points that apply to your listing, then add them into your advert too.

In addition, scroll down the AirBnB search engine pages and look at the adverts closer to the bottom. Have a little fun trying to figure out what these hosts are doing wrong. After you have finished laughing at your poor-performing competitors, go back and make sure you are not accidentally making the same mistakes yourself.

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About The Author

Ash The Great

After a varied career in different industries from the hospitality industry to the financial consultancy industry, Ash now spends his days working as a professional writer.

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