What makes guests choose one Airbnb property over another?
Friends of ours recently returned from a trip to Italy. They’d decided to try Airbnb for the first time, having always booked serviced apartments or hotel accommodation in the past. How interesting it was to hear them recount their experience: the properties they chose, what they loved, what they didn’t and why.
We’ve been managing short stay rental or Airbnb property across WA for years and we always seek feedback from clients —hosts and guests alike. However, in this informal setting over a lazy dinner, we had more time to discuss and reflect on:
- our friends’ overall experience
- the details and offerings that dramatically increased their Airbnb experience (no matter how small)
- how these can help you as an Airbnb or short stay rental host, and increase your bookings in the short and long-term.
So exactly what impressed these international Airbnb guests?
Let’s look at two areas:
- Why they chose the properties they did
- What made their stay extra-special
Why they chose the short stay rental or Airbnb property they did
With pages and pages of listings on the Airbnb site, searching for the ‘perfect’ place can eat up a lot of time, especially when booking direct through the host on the Airbnb site.
Of course, everyone’s different, and some undertake the research process with relish, while others don’t —or simply, don’t have the time. Our friends would admit, they sit somewhere between the two.
So, let’s see, what ultimately caught their eye and why?
It may seem obvious that a property’s listing should have great supporting photographs. But what exactly does that mean?
- A sense of place: location is important for all guests, but especially so for international travellers. This is can be reflected in property styling and photography. For our friends, it was often the “rustic ‘Italianess’” of their Airbnb stays.
- Light: the properties they booked were taken using the best natural light and it showed. Every property enjoys a different aspect and there will be a time of day when it looks its beautiful best. That’s the perfect time to capture it in photos.
- View: if your property has a view, show it. You can do this by using the window to frame the view to indicate what guests will see from the window.
- Small details: the odd close-up of a wonderful or interesting accessory or decoration highlights the quality of your property. Photos like these can make a huge difference at next to no cost. They also communicate to guests that your entire property is of equally high quality.
- The number of guest reviews: the sheer number of reviews listed implied (to our friends) that particular properties were in high demand, which convinced them that they must be good properties. This in turn, made them stop and look immediately.
- The star rating: as you would expect, the more stars the better! No surprise there.
- The comments: somewhat surprisingly, there was less focus on the comments left by previous guests than there was on the number of stars. It seems the star rating was the most reassuring aspect of the reviews.
- Convenience and amenities
- It’s worth mentioning that the type of guest a property needs to attract will determine what a host needs to promote in terms of ‘convenience and amenities’. Still there are some general requirements that most travellers love. Such as, great transport on the doorstep, fast WIFI and conveniently located supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. In our friends’ case, these were clearly (and reassuringly) promoted in the listing’s copy.
- There’s no doubt that price plays a big part. However, our friends report that while ‘price per night’ captured their attention, they were easily swayed into booking more expensive properties if the listing clearly highlighted the additional value up-front. Still, it was the skill in which this was communicated (the copywriting) that really made the difference.
What made their stay extra special?
- The clean, well-equipped kitchens and modern bathrooms helped them settle in fast and relax.
These two rooms had an immediate and powerful impact on their mood upon arrival. Our friends checked out the kitchen first, intuitively opening cupboards, drawers and the fridge. In fact, how clean the cupboards and fridge were, affected how they felt about preparing food and using the crockery.
Likewise, the bathroom—and particularly the toilet and shower.
- A few welcome provisions were a generous thought after a tiring trip
The trip from Australia to Italy is exhausting and the staples (bread, milk, coffee, tea, sugar, biscuits, ham, cheese etc.) were much appreciated. It meant they could stop awhile and unpack at leisure. A bottle of local wine was left with a delightful welcome note wishing our friends a wonderful holiday. Nice touch.
- Advice, tips and ‘insider’ knowledge helped them orientate quickly
A pretty folder was left beside the bottle of wine. Unlike many others they’d seen before, this one contained more than a few hastily-gathered promotional brochures; it was filled with detailed information that only locals would know. Someone had taken the time to sit down and type this carefully and thoughtfully. In Rome, they were directed to a simple family restaurant, tucked down a tight alley, that served ‘real Roman pizza’ at a snip of a price. (Real Roman pizza is apparently super-thin, by the way). In Florence, they were recommended a local ‘tabacchi’ that served great coffee, delicious pastries, and a pretty mean ‘Negroni’ to boot. These special ‘finds’ helped our friends experience local life, not just the usual tourist traps.
The lesson of course, is that a little thought and care go a long way to keeping your short stay rental or Airbnb property booked. All that’s required is a little thought and effort. It’s not rocket science, yet many owners of Airbnb and short stay rental properties, get it so wrong. There’s nothing listed above that you couldn’t easily achieve in your WA rental property, to create a sense of place –be it Busselton, Cottesloe, Broome or downtown Perth.