With the advancement of technology and the ever-increasing pace at which people travel, the last decade witnessed extraordinary growth in the home-sharing industry. To the point that owning a vacation rental quickly turned into a full-scale real estate investment strategy. The business became so competitive that many hosts find themselves struggling to maintain a high occupancy rate for their properties.
Having a high occupancy rate is a must as it is one of the main determinants of your rental income, together with the nightly rate. That’s why we’ve put together this guide with 10 of the best tips to push your Airbnb occupancy rate up and maximize your return.
1. Choose a Top Location for a Short-Term Rental
Your efforts to optimize the occupancy rate of your vacation rental should start even before buying a property. The first thing to do is to research housing markets in detail and choose one which enjoys high demand from travelers – both tourists and businesspeople. Make sure that short-term rentals of non-owner occupied properties in your location of choice are legal for an unlimited number of days per year. The last thing you need as an Airbnb host is problems with the legal authorities. Buying an Airbnb property in a popular destination which allows vacation rentals is the best step to high occupancy rate in the long term.
2. Set Your Pricing According to Season
One important advantage of short-term rentals over long-term ones is that you can adjust your pricing policy on a daily basis. Listing platforms allow you to set a different price for every single night, and you can use dynamic pricing tools to help! This means that you can increase your rental rate during the high season in order to raise your rental income. At the same time, you can (and should) decrease rates in the low season to attract more hesitant travelers and beat other vacation homes around. As well as this, fill up any odd calendar spaces with an intelligent pricing strategy. This will help maintain a good Airbnb occupancy rate – even in the off season.
3. Become an Airbnb Superhost
In order to have the most successful vacation rental business, you don’t have to be just a good host, you have to be a Superhost. The Airbnb platform has specific requirements which make you qualify for the status of a Superhost, including:
- Completing at least 10 trips or 3 reservations with a total of 100 nights
- Maintaining a 50% review rate
- Having a 90% response rate
- Having no cancellations other than under extenuating circumstances
- Maintaining a 4.8 overall rating
Airbnb has developed a comprehensive system which allows the listings of Superhosts to really stand out and be more visible to guests. In addition to having a badge added to your profile and listings, you will also be featured in search results, emails and others. The Superhost badge will act as social proof and immediately send a signal to people looking for a vacation rental that you are trustworthy and that your property outperforms others around. The combined effect of all these will be an instant boost in your occupancy rate and a potential to earn 22% more in income, according to Airbnb.com themselves.
4. Make Your Amenities Stand Out
In order to compete successfully with other hosts, your vacation home should offer better amenities than theirs. Research your typical guests: are they tourists or business travelers? Are they couples or do they have kids? Do they leave early and come back late or do they spend most of the time on site? Finding answers to all these questions and more will help you figure out what furniture and amenities your most frequent guests really need. If they are business travelers, they would appreciate Italian espresso and high-speed Wi-Fi. If they have children, kid-friendly furniture will be a top priority.
Catering to the specific needs of your renters will not only make them come back again and stay longer next time, but will also prompt them to leave you a positive review which is crucially important for a high Airbnb occupancy rate.
5. Focus on Positive Reviews
The last point leads directly to the next tip for increasing your occupancy rate – namely, having positive reviews from past guests. As already mentioned above, ratings and reviews play an important role in achieving the status of an Airbnb Superhost. However, even if you are new to the vacation rental business and not a Superhost yet, having positive reviews is extremely important.
People searching through vacation home platforms are much more likely to make a reservation at a property which has been visited by many satisfied guests before them. After all, in many cases, travelers take one vacation per year, so they want to make sure that they spend it in the most pleasant way possible – without having to deal with a run-down rental or an annoying host.
The most straightforward way to get positive reviews is to make sure that your property is in order: the furniture is in a good state, the appliances are working, the towels and bed sheets are present and clean and guides for local public transportation and attractions are available. Moreover, after the end of your guests’ stay, get in touch with them one more time, make sure that everything was OK, ask if they have any feedback and politely suggest that they leave you a review. You’d be surprised how many satisfied travelers will be happy to spend a few minutes on recommending you to others.
6. Be an Active Host
It is indispensable to have access to the messages you receive from guests – current and future – at all times. Many people deciding between two or three vacation rental homes will get in touch with the hosts to ask specific questions. This is your time to show that you take your business extremely seriously and are always there for your guests. Make sure to answer all their questions in full in no more than a couple of hours. Also, though this might sound obvious, you need to be available (by email or phone) for your guests during their stay in case of an emergency.
7. Keep in Touch with Previous Guests
Once you have the contact information of your previous guests, it is a good idea to check up on them from time to time. A simple holiday card will or newsletter do the trick. The point is to show your guests that you still remember them and to remind them of yourself. In this way, next time they plan a trip, they may remember you and decide to come back. It is much easier (and more cost-effective) to retain past guests than to attract new ones in your efforts to push that occupancy rate up.
8. Furnish Your Listing with Professional Photographs
A picture is worth a thousand words – as much of a cliché as this might sound, it is absolutely true when it comes to marketing your vacation rental. No matter what words and phrases you use in your descriptions, the truth of the matter is that people will look at the photos accompanying the listing before reading through the text you wrote. This means that in the long term, it is worth spending a few hundred dollars on hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your rental which really highlight its best features. Take pictures of both the outside and the inside, as well as of every single room. Don’t forget the bathroom – guests are really attracted to clean, tidy bathrooms. Moreover, it is important to update the photos every few years or after major renovations. Having professional, up-to-date photos will definitely do magic to your Airbnb occupancy rate.
9. Prepare Your Vacation Rental for the Season
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are some of the most popular times for traveling nationwide, attracting both domestic and foreign visitors. Just as people would decorate their homes to provide the necessary atmosphere of the time of year, they’ll likely appreciate it if you decorate your short-term rental for the holidays. For less than a hundred dollars you can buy decorative items for each season which will last for years. Throw in a pie or a bottle of champagne (according to the occasion) to the mix, and you will really stand out from the competition.
Furthermore, take pictures of your holiday-decorated property and update your listing with them a few weeks before you start getting reservations for the holidays. This will help boost your occupancy rate even further in the peak season.
10. Hire a Professional Property Manager
If you own multiple vacation rentals, it might be hard to stay on top of all the emails, messages, guest requests, and properties. The same holds true if your vacation home is located out of state. In such cases, in order to take good care of your vacation rental business and to secure a high occupancy rate, it may be a good idea to hire a property manager. They are a professional who will optimize the process of renting out your property and make sure that you always have guests.
These are 10 of the top tips to make the experience of your guests unforgettable and to push your Airbnb occupancy up. Remember that being a good vacation rental host is not a one-time effort but a continuous job. You have to be devoted to maintaining your property in a good condition and to treating your guests well at all times in order to succeed in the highly competitive vacation rental business.
About the Author
Daniela Andreevska is Content Marketing Director at Mashvisor, a real estate analytics tool which helps real estate investors quickly find traditional and Airbnb investment properties. A research process that’s usually three months now can take 15 minutes.