Creating the perfect AirBNB listing for your vacation rental property is an art form. It takes a deft hand with photography, some creative juices flowing into the wording, and a few specific bits of know-how to get folks to line up (online) to book your home for their vacations. As you probably know if you’ve been researching vacation rental opportunities, there are a LOT of properties out there. How do you stand out from the crowd and earn your first bookings? Let’s dig in!
First, and maybe most redundantly, you need a good clean property to rent out. I covered that in my first post of this series, on getting your house ready to rent. If you haven’t already, check it out, along with the next post on cleaning, since that will be key to managing your property.
Creating the Perfect AirBNB Listing
So we already talked about how to set up the house, now let’s talk about how to list it to get the most attention and the most renters. Here is where you tell the story of your home and how it fits into your potential renters’ lives.
Rental Home Photography
- Hire a professional. I know it may seem like an unnecessary expense, but you’ll recoup the costs by the end of your first booking. A good photographer can help you see things you might not notice, and should be able to help you think about the following pointers.
- Use good lighting. Renters are attracted to bright and light-filled spaces, so help them see yours this way by turning on all the lights in the home. Your photographer will help adjust the lighting and color levels as she takes and edits the photos.
- Get rid of clutter. Obviously the house should be clutter-free before your photographer arrives, but I’m talking about taking the time to examine at how things look in the shot. Are the doorways framed and lined up correctly? Are there items such as the edge of a curtain in the background that detract from the shot? (Again, your photographer will help with this.)
- Include a photo of the front of the home and/or the entryway so people will recognize the home when they arrive. It’s unnerving to walk up to a home you’ve never seen and try to unlock the front door!
- Use a few close-up photos of vignettes that tell the story of the home and make it look homey and inviting, like a stack of books, or a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter.
- Consider using a photo of yourself (or someone else) enjoying some aspect of the home, especially if you have a patio or balcony with a view. This photo shouldn’t be too much about you, but more about what you’re doing in the home. You want to help people imagine themselves doing the same thing.
Writing your Listing
Creating a good rental home listing is about more than just accurately listing the number of beds and baths. Remember you’re telling the story of your home, and you’re helping potential guests imagine themselves enjoying the space. As you write, you’ll need to keep in mind the following things.
Sell an experience
Guests are coming to your town and home to have some sort of experience. Maybe they’re coming for a local event like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, or a concert or game. Maybe they’re just passing through on their way to somewhere else and need a cozy bed. Maybe they’re staying with family, but don’t actually want to stay with family. Give them an idea in the listing of why your home is perfectly suited to the main reasons someone would stay there.
Include references to any local experiences, sights, or events. Take the time to describe a bit about what the guest might experience in and around your home – don’t just list a bunch of amenities.
People rent homes through AirBNB and other sites because they want a personal touch, rather than staying at a big-box hotel. Show them your personality just a bit in your listing, so guests will remember that they’re renting from an actual person, and not just some corporate chain.
Remember you’re telling the story of YOUR home. You can do this by using specific action words that describe what will happen in the home, not just generic adjectives like “outstanding” and “awesome.” Think about what makes your home unique and welcoming, and narrate as if a guest were doing those things. Here’s an example from our listing:
Once your little ones have drifted to sleep in the twin-over-full bunk bed, retreat into the master bedroom and turn on the flat-screen Smart TV. You’ll fall right to sleep in the top-of-the-line queen bed as your Netflix favorites play in the background.
That’s so much more interesting than just listing the number of beds and that there’s a TV in the master. (And notice there’s not one “very” in the whole paragraph!)
I’ll admit, this is the hardest part for me. (And I’m a writer!) It may feel awkward and weird to “brag” about your house, but just know that if you feel like you’re getting a little too cheesy, you’re probably just getting close to making it right. I had to get some help with our listing, so don’t be afraid to ask your friends or a professional to help you write yours!
Search Engine Optimization
As you’re telling this story, you’ll also be building the SEO of your listing. (SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization and it’s how people find your listing.) When you include specific references to things that make your listing unique, it helps people who are looking for those qualities find you in online searches. Don’t just stuff your listing with catchy terms and keywords, though. Write naturally, and just make sure you’re getting around to mentioning those things as the conversation flows.
Learn one system at a time
Only put your listing on one network as you’re getting started. When we started out, I thought it would be a good idea to list our property on both AirBNB and VRBO. We want our listing in front of as many eyes as possible, right? That makes sense, but it also made my life a lot more complicated as I tried to figure out two completely different systems and how to use them together without getting double-bookings.
So I would recommend picking the system that makes the most sense to you. If you’re a VRBO user as a guest, you might want to start there as a host. I personally would start with AirBNB because I’m more familiar with their website in general after using it several times for my own vacations. They are both super user-friendly systems with great mobile capabilities. They both do a great job of walking you through setting up a listing. It really comes down to either personal preference, or just picking one and going with it.
Once you’re ready, you can expand to the other system and further sites as well. Just make sure you understand how to sync up your calendars immediately before letting each new system publish your listing.
Vacation Rental Property Series
I know it’s a lot to take in, but I hope this is helpful information for you as you’re creating the perfect AirBNB listing! This is the third in a series of four posts on vacation rental property management. Be sure to check out the others too:
- Getting Your House Ready to Rent
- Cleaning Your House FAST
- Setting Up the Perfect Listing (you’re here)
- How to Manage your Property (coming soon)
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In the meantime, I love reading your questions and comments. And I would REALLY love any other tips you might have on creating the perfect AirBNB listing! Leave me a note below…