May 17, 2018

Starting from Scratch on Airbnb

May 17, 2018

Starting from Scratch on Airbnb

Just a few years ago, posting your extra room or vacant vacation home on short term rental sites was fairly simple. You typed a quick description, snapped a few photos, checked the right boxes, set a price, and clicked a listing button. Chances are that demand outstripped supply in most areas and your location alone brought new bookings.

Today, the market has become competitive, and in some areas, flooded. Customers can search for exactly what they want in terms of size, price, location and amenities and still pull up many options to review. So if you want to get into the market right now, where do you even begin? Here are some tips for starting from scratch:

Look at Your Offering With a Critical Eye

Whether you're renting a room or a home, put on the customer's shoes and think about whether your property can compete in your local market. Would you pick your own place if you were looking for a vacation rental?

If not, consider what changes need to made first, and whether you want to invest the time and money to make your vacation home attractive enough to generate income.

Consider the Competition and Market

Take a look at other Airbnb properties in your area as well as other lodging options such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and campgrounds. Depending on the popularity of your location, the type of people who visit the area, and existing lodging options, you can make a better decision on whether to list your property on a rental website.

This initial research may help you narrow down your rental window. For instance, if your city has a large convention center, you may want to fashion your space into a business-ready option. If your neighborhood is near a popular summer festival or a major concert venue that draws folks from out of town, you may want to target those potential customers and busy seasons.

Start With The Basics

If you're convinced that your property can generate some income, start with the basics. Make sure your place is clean and in good repair. Consider updating flooring and adding a new coat of paint. Be sure you have good, comfortable beds and furniture, and reasonably newer appliances, bedding, linens and towels.

Invest in Photography

The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is true in the Airbnb world. Potential customers are scanning listings and the first thing they see will be your photos. Although smart phones make taking pictures easy, it may be worth the investment to hire a professional photographer, especially if you're in a tight market.

The professionals can easily highlight your property's strongest points with lighting and camera angles and really bring out the best side of your place both inside and out.

Describe Creatively, Concisely and Accurately

Once you have snagged a potential customer with your beautiful pictures, you'll need to reel them in with your descriptions. Try to be relatively brief but creative in how you describe your home. Consider telling a story so that your potential guests can envision themselves vacationing at your rental. Above all, be truthful and accurate in your descriptions.

Cut Your Price Early On

If many similar properties exist in your geographic area, consider slashing your price early on to attract initial customers. Ratings and customer feedback tend to drive business, and as a new listing, you won't have either right off the bat. Give your first customers a break on price so you can rack up some positive reviews quickly.

How to Climb Search Rankings

Like most things in the online world, there's huge benefits to appearing on the first page of a search list. Once customers find what they want, they are likely to book and move onto the next item on their to-do list. Here are some tips on how to move up on the ranking list:

Strive for positive reviews. Do your best to please your first guests and personally ask them to review your property. The more five-star ratings, the higher your ranking.

Offer competitive pricing. If you are priced at or below the average rental, you'll be listed closer to the top.

Be responsive. Try to respond back to any questions as quickly as possible. The site tracks how quickly you answer questions, and that statistic factors into your ranking position.

Achieve Superhost status. Check out the list of requirements for being a "superhost" and strive to achieve this status as quickly as possible. Good ratings and responsiveness scores play a part in this premier rating.

Complete your listing. Be sure to spend the time to fill in all the boxes and questions so that your listing is 100 percent complete. 

Update your calendar. As soon as you book customers, add that information to your availability calendar alongside the dates you and your friends might use your property. Going into and out of your calendar tool is tracked and factors into your ranking.

Ask for referrals. When family, friends and colleagues simply add your property to their wishlist, this can boost your ranking. In addition, you can add character references in lieu of positive customer feedback to help when you're just starting out.

Enlist assistance. Finally, consider tapping into the broad network of Airbnb service providers who have experience in helping property owners. For a small fee, you can not only get professional help but also access many other tools and services that can save you time and money in managing an Airbnb property.


We are a California-based Airbnb management company specializing in handling every aspect of your vacation rental - from optimizing your listing to interacting with your guests and overseeing turnover cleanings after guests depart, reviews, damages, maintenance. If you want to learn more about our services:  

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