Revealed: 6 secret strategies to double your Airbnb income in 30 days.
1) Pro Multiple listing technique that short term letting companies don’t want you to know:
Most listings on Airbnb and other platforms are very generic in their descriptions, layout and the kinds of pictures that they take. This is the first mistake you’re making. To be competitive in the ever evolving highly saturated market which is short term letting you need to stand out from the other 3000 listings in your immediate area. You can do this by targeting specific kinds of travellers.
The great thing about these revenue boosting gems is that tourisms performance is not directly linked to how well the South African economy is doing. In fact the weaker the rand the better due to increased buying power of foreign currency in South Africa. Short term letting provides a fantastic backup to South Africa’s problems and allows you to offset the risk of living in a turbulent country.
Below is your breakdown on the various kinds of travellers that you can host:
As you can see from the graphic there are many different types of travellers that you can target. Your property may have the potential to cater to all of them which is ideal if you deploy the technique correctly. Try to have a minimum of two traveller categories targeted.
Now what you do to get these epic results is create more than one listing for the same property. We have our own software which takes care of linking the calendars of multiple listings on the same property but I’ll leave it up to you to pick a software that can perform this function. This is an absolute must otherwise you will end up with double bookings and a nightmare of poor reviews, cancelled stays, marked down listings, bad host ratings and furious guests.
Listen: what you need to do with these different listings is target a different travel market with each listing represented in the diagram above. Ideally this starts when you begin furnishing the property, have items and look and feel sections in the apartment that cater to each travel sector. Then document these sections in your targeted listing.
The great news is this targeting not only opens you up to higher occupancy and pricing but will also improve your reviews as the guests feel like they are getting a personalised experience rather than the generic one. When you take pictures make sure you have different pictures for each and every listing you’re going to create for same property. Focus on getting pictures that will attract the different target guests you’re aiming at in your various listings.
Get a work desk/station that’s very appealing to business travellers, make sure you have a food delivery option to their door for a quick and easy breakfast (we offer this service and it’s super easy to order), Make sure you have fast reliable WIFI, provide an automated check in with a key safe and detailed instructions of how to check-in. Business travellers prefer this due to ease of access. If your building has a pool and a gym bring it to their attention in your listing. Make sure you have a comfortable bed and if the apartment experiences noise get double glazed windows so you can promote your quiet environment conducive to working and sleeping. Mention all these things in your descriptions and have pictures of these items with descriptions on the pictures.
Within this business travel section you can have two separate listings, one targeting woman on business and one targeting men. The most important factors for female travellers are cleanliness, safety, price, service, facilities and location. Target these points in order to make your female business traveller listing stand out from the generic masses. Make sure your clean is world class and mention it in your listing along with the safety features your property has. Consider enhancing safety features so you can brag about them on the listing. Make use of your pictures to focus in on these different areas described that attract your different travel markets.
Depending on the size of your property you can then tailor your property further by adding benefits that either target groups of business people or the individual traveller on business. Look at the needs and desires of groups or individuals, if you have a house you can cater to groups if you have a studio you’re looking at individuals. Do your market research on what these different markets really look for. Ask your guests which category they fall into and then ask them specific questions on what they are looking for in a listing. All these little details that your targeted listing has will give you the edge against listings that you would have been neck and neck with.
In Cape Town leisure travel dominates the market so it’s important to take extra care of your listings which cater towards leisure travel
Couples are often looking for romantic dining experiences. You can make deals with local restaurants in the area that are highly rated and have a romantic setting where your guests receive a discount with an assigned coupon. Then advertise this in your description. Offer a concierge local tips of all the best couple things to do in the area and let them know you provide this in your listing. Advertise that you provide MCC on arrival and perhaps roses. Advertise on the listing that you can customise the experience for the guest based on their desires. Advertise that the property is staged to be romantic on arrival with dimmed lights, scented candles, Belgian chocolates etc. The sky is really the limit on this one when appealing to the traveling couple.
Again do your market research as to what families are looking for but here are some things to focus on: Providing a free cot, high chair and plastic cutlery and letting the guest know in the description will bring young families in their droves. The thing is not many places bother catering for families with young kids so you’re competing with a very small amount of listings. Advertise flexible bedding such as two singles in one of the rooms instead of a double bed. Advertise that you have a washer/dryer. If there are stairs is there a stair guard. Advertise it!
(only applicable with two bedrooms or more.) Again sounding like a stuck record do your market research! Groups like services such as a laundry service. A concierge experience catering to the groups different interests. An area where the group can all hang out and enjoy themselves like near the pool or on a balcony. Advertise that if the group is traveling for a specific event you can organise services around this such as reliable transport or advice on the best way to get to the event, the pitfalls and the amount of time needed to get to the event. If your property is spacious showcase it. Groups don’t want to be forced to be on top of each other all the time so space is a big plus.
The solo traveller
More prevalent than ever and you can set up a listing to target them! In fact people going solo in travel is up 600% between 2014 and 2019. Firstly if you have more than a two bedroom you’re probably going to be priced out of this market so this is for two beds or less. These unique creatures like to do things off the normal tourist routes so list everything like this in close proximity to your property. They will often be wanting to meet other travellers and locals so advertise descriptions and great locations. 88% of solo travellers want to go off the beaten path. 38% want to participate in adventurous activities that also get up close with nature. 53% hope to engage with locals. For the female individual traveller make a strong point about security and the cleanliness of the accommodation and then back it up with world class cleans.
Lastly make sure to mention all the positives about your listing that every class of traveller enjoys in all your targeted listings e.g. air-conditioning.
I’ve given just a few tips on what to put in each listing but the rest is up to you. Really get to know your different kind of guests, upgrade your property if you’re missing items or the look and feel your property is off. Ask guests questions and then refine each targeted listing until you’re sucking in your target market and obliterating the competition. By the way if you master this technique you can expect to add at least another 50% to the revenue your listing is generating. That’s all to your bottom line so the effect on your net earnings is amplified by much more than 50%. This is powerful stuff if you put the time and effort in.
2) The pro cheat on pricing exposed:
Dynamic pricing is continuously adjusting the price of something based on supply and demand. This can be applied in a variety of situations and can be highly effective when used to price vacation rental properties. We have our own algorithm that takes care of this for us however there are plenty of pricing tools that offer a similar service. One I’ve had personal experience using is beyond pricing. Most people are only adjusting pricing weekly or monthly. If you’re doing this you’re missing out on one of the biggest advantages of short term letting. That is capitalising on the daily fluctuations by raising your price where you can and then dropping it where necessary to attain good occupancy. This ensures you are maximising your revenue. If you’re adjusting your price on your own and only once a week you really are taking a stab in the dark and leaving money on the table. Dynamic pricing aims to solve these issues. Through analysis of real-time market data, dynamic pricing algorithms raise and lower rental rates in response to supply and demand. Beyond pricing will charge you 1% of the revenue you’re generating, when you compare this to a 25% increase in revenue we experienced it really is a no brainer. I have no commercial interest in beyond pricing.
3) The number 1 way to increase your revenue:
Before concentrating on any other way to increase your revenue you should first master attracting great reviews to your listings. The rest of these methods to increase revenue leverage off good reviews so without solid reviews everything else you do is in vein. Airbnb and other platforms give your listing more exposure when your listing has lots of good reviews. Not only is this a factor but guests viewing your listing know that it’s a great experience and therefore the conversion rate of those viewing your listing is much higher.
All other variables being equal:
4.9 star out of five: seen by 300 guests per month->conversion rate of 5% = 15 bookings
4.4 star out of five: seen by 160 guests per month->conversion rate of 1.2% = 1,92 bookings
Above illustrates the difference in the final results, essentially the 4.9 star can raise prices significantly relative to the 4.4 star without sacrificing occupancy and therefore has the ability to earn far more.
Here are some factors to consider in attaining five star reviews:
Your property should have a surprise and delight style:
Give the guests a welcome gift on arrival. We personally give artisanal coffee with some rusks for an authentic South African experience and then chocolates with the South African flag on each pillow. For more upmarket properties we will provide champagne. Some other suggestions are city memorabilia, something local and unique, a fruit bowl, airport pickup, map of the city (cheap or even free but goes a long way).
Your property should also have a minimum requirements list:
Cleanliness is the number one guest complaint:
Your property should be squeaky clean in-between guests. To get there Your property should have house keepers trained to a hospitality standard clean. On top of this they should have a checklist which is ticked off digitally as they work their way through it and provide photographic evidence of each point. This way you know the house keeper has made themselves aware of every detail that needs to be taken care of as they’ve completed the checklist and provided pictures. If anything is not done to standard it’s because they chose not to knowing full well what was required of them. It’s important that physical spot checks are performed on the house keepers work. This maintains a high standard of clean as the cleaners know there are consequences to a substandard job. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll provide you with a cleaning checklist
Maintenance is one of those important points that is often overlooked:
You will experience wear and tear in your property and it needs to be kept in show room condition. The only way around this is to do a maintenance and inventory check at every change over. The nice thing about this is you pick up damage immediately and you know exactly which guest caused it. This allows you to claim if your guest has come from a platform like airbnb. You should get a maintenance and inventory checklist to be completed digitally by the house keeper. Again their maintenance and inventory checks need to be checked occasionally. This can be done when the cleaning check is performed. This way you have a fully stocked property with all the bells and whistles that’s sparkling clean and in show room condition. This is a great way to start ensuring all five star reviews.
Next up is communication:
We use our software to take care of messages that don’t require the human touch so we can eliminate human error. Good automessages to have are a confirmation message as the booking is paid for, check-in instruction message, post check-in message, pre-checkout message, post checkout message and the family and friend discount message to try drive more bookings and guest loyalty.
Make sure that none of these go over 100 words, guests don’t want to be reading a novel just to find out how to get into their accommodation. The longer it is the less likely they are to read it and the more likely there is going to be a problem. Trust me guests will punish you in reviews because they didn’t read the check-in instructions and showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s your job to make their stay is effortless no matter what the circumstances.
Besides this you need someone that will closely monitor the inbox and always be ready to take a phone call. We have a 24/7 guest communications department that takes care of this but if you’re starting out I’m afraid you’re going to need to be stuck to your phone so you can answer any questions without delay. Something we’ve implemented which works well is whatsapp calling the guest after check-in. We then give them advice on what to do
whether they are into adventure, restaurants, on business etc. We know the purpose of their visit from the booking confirmation message which asks them the reason for travel and their interests. This is a sort of concierge experience. It adds a personal touch and shows we care about their experience beyond the accommodation.
Complaint resolution is what’s going to separate you from the rest:
Your property and experience can be amazing and receive 9 five star reviews in a row. Your next guest staying for business has a problem with the WIFI and can’t have his zoom meeting. You receive a two star rating bringing your average right down into the depths of never seen, never booked. Eventually you will always have problems. Something out of your control will go wrong for your guests. You need to do everything possible to make the guest believe that you went overboard to try and fix the problem and compensate them.
Remember they have your success in their hands. One bad review and you’re out of the game in this highly competitive market. Have the issue fixed immediately, comp them with restaurant vouchers, offer a full refund, send over a gift basket, go there in person and apologise profusely! Do anything and everything you can. Make the guest feel bad they complained because you’ve gone to such lengths. If you think the R10,000 refund for their stay is a lot wait until I tell you about the hundreds of thousands in lost revenue over the year due to your poor overall rating. Just go back to the exposure and conversion exercise I did earlier and you will see it’s worth the cost and effort.
You should never cancel a booking unless the guests are causing extreme damage to your property or creating a major noise disturbance. In this case if you prove to Airbnb they have broken the house rules Airbnb will cancel the booking. Make sure that it’s completely worth it though because even though the cancelation doesn’t show up on your profile the guests will still have the ability to leave you a review. If they have used profanity or slurs or assumptions about a persons character or social and political views in their review or complained about something that doesn’t relate to your property you can get Airbnb to remove the review. Please refer to my previous guide which will prevent you from dealing with guests like this in the first place. Cancelations on your profile get your property less exposure and therefore less bookings so avoid them where possible.
Make sure your check-in is silky smooth
The last thing you want is a guest waiting around for an hour trying to check in or worse ending up lost because your instructions were poor. If you’re doing an assisted check in make sure you’re on time. Use the opportunity to show them the basics from WIFI to TV to appliances and offer some concierge advice. Tell them about the little nuances in the property. Always have a big smile and a welcoming demeanour. If your check-in is a self check-in make sure your instructions are detailed and concise. Use pictures to go with your descriptions. Make 100% sure absolutely everything is in working order and explained fully in your house manual. Self check-in is fine and actually preferred in most instances provided everything is working like a well-oiled machine. If the guest has to constantly contact you because there are problems you can kiss your five star goodbye.
4) Heads on beds:
When guests book they often work out the price of your property per head. If you can accommodate more people your place can command a higher selling price. By adding a sleeper couch you can give your property the ability to sleep more people. I have one rule for this: never make more than four people share a bathroom and always make it clear in your description that the extra one or two people will be on a sleeper couch. You don’t want guests showing up expecting their own rooms and ending up on a sleeper couch. This has personally happened to me so I know how the guest feels.
5) Maximise exposure:
Putting your listing in front of the maximum amount of people you can will result in more bookings and better financial performance. Before you attempt to do this you must have software that can link all these platforms together to a centralised point of control. It must take care of every aspect from pricing to automation to linking calendars. Trying this without a powerful centralised software will result in tears. There is just too much going on to be jumping between a numbers of different platforms. The best platforms for self-catering accommodation in my opinion are Airbnb, Booking.com, Homeaway, VRBO and Agoda.
6) Remarketing and creating a database:
So this is the longer game for your listing if you haven’t already started. The trick here is to give the guests a
digital check-in form required before check-in that requires their email address. Once you’ve received this you now have a way of contacting them. The platforms all assign encrypted email addresses specific to the platform so you can never get your hands on the guests actual information however a simple digital check-in form takes care of this problem. Our software sends this out automatically through the platform messenger so it helps to have some sort of software to assist you in this otherwise you’ll be doing it manually. I’m sure you have better things to do with your time.
Once you have their email address you can begin sending special offers on your properties. Discounts to friends and family of previous guests with a referral payback to the guest that’s stayed. We usually like to do a 10% discount on the rate seen on the platforms and then 5% of the stay back to the guest that referred them. We end up with the same amount in our account anyway because we aren’t paying platform commission so it’s a win win situation. This method can start bringing in guests right away however the real magic starts when you end up with a large database so start this today!
If you stack all these techniques on top of each other you can more than double your income. I hope this was useful and will help you succeed
Cheers for now
Co-founder of Manageair