By the BUOY Team
Over the last few years, Airbnb has given hosts more and more control of their listings. Opportunities are among the most powerful features they have released to date. These special promotions offer increased page rank, eye-catching tags, strikethrough pricing, and inclusion in Airbnb’s multi-million dollar marketing campaigns.
Airbnb Opportunities have become an essential part of every revenue manager’s toolkit. But, like any powerful tool, they can wreak havoc when used poorly. Some can even lose you money if you’re not careful. Below I grade each Opportunity and tell you how to use (and how not to use) them to maximize your earnings.
Opportunity: New Listing
Designed To: Help new listings get reviews
What it does: Applies a 20% discount to your first three bookings
Superhosts know that new listings need their first reviews fast. After three reviews, listings receive a review score and are far more likely to be booked. The New Listing Opportunity increases your visibility through a boosted page rank and a “New Listing” tag. All the host needs to offer is a 20% discount. Pretty great, right?
Hosts should exercise caution, though. The discount will apply to any reservations the host receives. If a guest books for three months, their entire stay is discounted, and you have to wait three months for their review! If a concert or conference is announced in the middle of the stay, there is no way to maximize potential revenue for that room night after it is booked. New listings, by definition, have wide-open calendars, making them more likely to show up in search results for longer stays.
To use the New Listing Opportunity well, block your calendar more than 30 days in advance and implement a maximum stay length of 6. This will ensure your discounted reservations and the valuable reviews that come with them occur in the first month the listing is live. After you receive those first three reservations, unblock your calendar.
Opportunity: Weekly & Monthly Stay Discounts
Designed To: Capture Longer Stays
What it does: Applies a variable discount for weekly and monthly stays
Everybody knows guests are booking longer and longer stays. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky even predicts travel will blur with living as stay lengths increase. In recent years the company has leaned in, creating subsites dedicated to mid-length and flexible stays.
Hosts should rejoice! It is far easier to increase occupancy through a few long stays than many short ones. The Weekly and Monthly Stay Discounts make your listing more attractive to digital nomads, bleisure travelers, and anyone else looking to escape for a few weeks.
This Opportunity should be standard and, in many cases, can be activated through your property management system directly. My recommendation: Set a 10% discount for weekly and a 15% discount for monthly stays.
Opportunity: Cancellation-Tiered Pricing
Designed To: Get Non-Refundable Reservations
What it does: Offers a 10% discount to guests who book a non-refundable stay
Flexible cancellations are another indelible mark Covid-19 has left on our industry. In May 2021, Airbnb highlighted an overwhelming desire for more flexibility in travel among its users. Since then, its cancellation policies have grown ever more lenient, with Strict now offering a guest refund just 14 days in advance of check-in in many cases.
In this environment, it makes sense that hosts want to lock guests into non-refundable reservations. However, I think Hosts should embrace a more flexible world. After all, who wants to host a guest who wishes they could cancel the stay? What kind of review do you think they will leave?
Remember that a non-refundable reservation goes both ways, locking you into the reservation as well. If a guest books a date and the booking environment for that date changes, you may end up wishing you could cancel.
To get the most out of this Opportunity, simply raise your prices by 10%. You will effectively institute a 10% premium for flexible stays, and non-refundable stays will be “full price” after the discount.
Opportunity: Custom Promotion Period
Designed To: Boost Reservations Over Any Period
What It Does: Applies Any Discount Over Any Set of Dates
The Custom Promotion Opportunity is the best tactical tool at your disposal. Need to drop rates for mid-week orphan nights? Boom, done. Trying to attract a longer stay over peak dates with a discounted shoulder date? Easy as pie.
No other Opportunity boasts the versatility of the Custom Promotion. For Hosts who want a hands-on approach, there is no better tool. Users can discount any low-demand date for an instant page rank boost. Perfect for neurotic hosts.
However, the Custom Promotion’s versatility also feeds its weakness: it has to be applied manually. There is no “bulk action” for a Custom Promotion, so hosts with large portfolios may find it tedious.
Answer early check-in and late check-out requests automatically.
Opportunity: Early Bird
Designed To: Attract Guests With Lots of Lead Time
What it Does: Offers Discount To Guests Booking Months In Advance
This Opportunity is a trap. While it can be attractive to think about booking up your calendar far in advance, you lose the ability to respond to a changing market. Only use Early Bird if you value security over revenue.
For the host who wants to tempt fate, seeking that long-term, above-market reservation, I beg you pause. When guests book far in advance, the entire market of vacation rentals is available to them. Most hosts are unbooked and underpriced. If you price low and add a discount, you will surely leave money on the table. If you raise your rates high and add a discount, you won’t be competitive.
To make matters worse, you can only activate two Opportunities at a time. Don’t waste one on Early Bird!
Opportunity: Last Minute
Designed To: Attract Last-Minute Travelers
What It Does: Offers Discount To Last-Minute Travelers
Admit it. Whether you use a base rate system or adjust pricing by hand, you drop rates as the booking window closes. It makes sense. As time runs out, you want to get whatever booking you can to extract value from your calendar.
We drop rates as the booking closes to make our listings more competitive. But if you are dropping prices anyway, shouldn’t you get a page rank boost for your trouble? More importantly, strikethrough pricing preserves your value perception even as your rate drops.
I would even recommend anyone who uses a last-minute rate reduction rule should replace it with Last Minute in Airbnb Opportunities. By simply dropping the raw rate, you risk losing out to the host using Last Minute.
With these guidelines, Hosts should feel confident using Opportunities to improve listing performance and maximize revenue.
For free rate setting, visit buoy.us.
Hospitable Tip: Answer Early Check-In and Late Check-Out Requests Automatically, Depending on Calendar Availability
So if you can allow early check-in and late check-out lossless, why not make your Airbnb guests happy? This approach will help you get more 5-star reviews and maximize your income. Besides, you can automate everything if you take advantage of a useful hospitable feature.
Airbnb Pricing Strategy: Getting Started
When starting your STR business you have to decide on pricing strategy. In the back of your mind, you realize this could have a huge impact on how much money you make. But where do you start?
Start right here! This blog post will lay out how to set up a great pricing strategy that will make you the most money you can and give you peace of mind that you’re doing perfectly.
Hospitable Tip: How to Automatically Upsell Late Check-outs and Extra Nights
One of the ways short-term rental owners make extra income is by upselling. A host in Miami recently shared with us that they make at least $100 per month extra with almost no effort.
A useful feature of hospitable that might not be immediately obvious is that you can automatically ask your guests if they’d like to stay an extra night, or you can offer them a late check-out for a fee.