Listing your short-term rental property on Airbnb is one thing. Getting bookings on the platform is another.

No matter how much time and effort you put into crafting the perfect title and property description, bookings won’t just start pouring in. You also need to make sure that your listing performs well on the most important factors of Airbnb SEO (search engine optimization).

Just like Google or other search engines, Airbnb uses an algorithm to rank listings in search results. Your rental’s ability to be seen by travelers and get bookings hinges on whether you have done everything to optimize your listing for the factors that Airbnb considers important. 

In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about boosting your search ranking on Airbnb, as well as some other ways to increase your bookings on the platform. 

Host Tools is an easy-to-use, affordable automation tool and channel manager made by Airbnb hosts for Airbnb hosts. Try it now – it’s free for 30 days. 

How do I increase my bookings on Airbnb? 

1. Turn on Instant Book

The easiest way to increase your bookings on Airbnb is to turn on Instant Book. 

Guests don’t like to send multiple booking requests until one is finally accepted. They prefer a quick, seamless booking experience. That’s why they’re most likely to book a listing that’s on Instant Book. And since Airbnb wants to provide guests with a good experience and keep them coming back, its algorithm prioritizes Instant Book listings.

For new hosts, you’ll find that Instant Book is automatically enabled and you have to actively turn it off if you don’t want to make use of the feature. But for hosts who’ve been using the site for a while, it’s worth checking your settings and seeing if it’s enabled.

Now, if Instant Book is not your cup of tea and you’d rather keep your property on Request to Book so you can check every guest’s Airbnb profile before accepting them, you can still rank high in Airbnb search results. You just need to make sure that your listing performs well on other Airbnb ranking factors, which we’ll discuss below.

2. Price your rental competitively

Pricing is one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking high on Airbnb. 

As you probably know, setting the same nightly rates for your rental 365 days a year is not a good strategy. Instead, your pricing should reflect the ebb and flow of demand in your area. Hotels have devised sophisticated revenue management strategies to respond to these changes in demand, and vacation rental hosts should stay on top of them, too.

If you want to get more bookings, it’s crucial to get your Airbnb pricing strategy right by setting competitive prices throughout the year. You need to keep an eye on the pricing of similar listings in your area, adjust your rates when there is a surge in demand (for example, on weekends and during holidays), and experiment with discounts.

Graphic with ideas on when to set competitive prices to get more bookings on airbnb

This may seem like a lot – but, fortunately, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Host Tools offers an easy-to-use pricing tool that allows you to automatically adjust your rates on all the booking sites you advertise on. It lets you create pricing rules specific to your listing based on your knowledge of the local market, and stack them on top of each other.

Pricing calendar of Host Tools

The Host Tools pricing calendar shows you exactly what pricing rules have been applied to a listing

Host Tools automatically syncs your rates to your connected channels – be that Airbnb, Vrbo,  or Houfy. This way, you’ll get the best price for your rental every day of the year.

Furthermore, if you’re using Airbnb pricing software to set your rates on Airbnb, Host Tools can push those rates to all other connected channels. Same with Vrbo. This means that you can have consistent pricing on all the channels you advertise on. 

3. Avoid canceling bookings

Keeping your cancellation rate low can also help you get more bookings on Airbnb.

When a host cancels a booking, it can mess up the guest’s travel plans and put a dent in their Airbnb experience. Airbnb wants to avoid this at all costs, so they encourage hosts to avoid canceling bookings whenever possible. 

In fact, Airbnb is so intent on avoiding cancellations that they penalize hosts who cancel – you may even have to pay a fine. 

Furthermore, maintaining a low cancellation rate is one of the main requirements of becoming an Airbnb Superhost. So, if you want to have success on Airbnb, don’t cancel any bookings unless you absolutely have to.

4. Respond to guests as soon as possible

Two other ranking factors that Airbnb takes into consideration are response rate and response time: in other words, how fast you respond to booking inquiries.

Similar to the previous points, it all comes down to providing a seamless experience for guests. Airbnb wants hosts to be responsive and provide impeccable customer service so that guests will continue to book their stays on the platform.

As a result, if you want to improve your Airbnb search ranking, you should respond to all guest queries within 24 hours. 

Of course, guest communication can be extremely time-consuming. Manually typing out and sending messages can take hours of a busy host’s day. However, there’s a way to automate your Airbnb messages with software like Host Tools.

With Host Tools, you can create message rules that trigger the automatic sending of specific messages. For example, you can set up a rule for responding to booking requests, and another one for sending guests check-in information. 

All you need to do is:

1. Define a message rule.

2. Select a trigger.

3. Pick a premade Airbnb message template.

4. Personalize your message with tags that pull unique information from the booking.

5. And refine your rule settings.

Graphic with tips on how to rank higher on airbnb and maintain a high response rate on Airbnb

Once you’ve gone through this process, you’ll never have to type out a message or click the send button ever again. Host Tools will take care of your messaging while you work, eat, sleep, or spend time with your family. 

This way, you’ll be able to keep your response rate high and your response times low, so you can get more bookings from Airbnb. 

Adding a new message rule in Host Tools

Adding a new message rule in Host Tools

5. Choose a flexible cancellation policy

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, flexibility has become a priority for vacation rental guests. 

Travel plans can change at any moment, and guests want the peace of mind that they can modify or cancel their trip free of charge whenever they need to. That’s why, if you want to get more bookings on Airbnb, you should consider adopting a lenient cancellation policy. 

Airbnb allows hosts to choose from 6 different cancellation policies. To increase your chances of getting bookings, you should pick:

  • Flexible Cancellation: If your guest cancels at least 24 hours before the check-in time, they get a full refund.

  • Moderate Cancellation: If your guest cancels at least 5 days before check-in, they get a full refund. 

So what happens if you get a last-minute cancellation? Well, that’s a risk you have to be willing to take. In general, the benefits of choosing a Flexible or Moderate Cancellation Policy outweigh the risks. Airbnb runs special promotions that increase the visibility of listings with lenient cancellation policies and highlight them in search results, so there’s a good chance you’ll see an increase in Airbnb bookings once you make the switch.

6. Reduce your minimum stay and increase your maximum stay

Likewise, you may want to be more flexible when it comes to setting minimum and maximum stays for your rental.  

If you set your minimum stay to three days, you’re essentially excluding your listings from searches that are for two-day weekend stays. Similarly, if your maximum stay is set to two weeks, you could be missing out on lucrative mid-term bookings.

So in order to maximize your listing’s visibility in Airbnb search results, it’s a good idea to reduce your minimum stay and increase your maximum stay. Yes, shorter stays mean more turnover costs, but you can always adjust your Airbnb cleaning fee to make up for it. 

In addition, make sure you provide a monthly or weekly discount that incentivizes travelers to book longer stays. Airbnb gives more visibility to listings that offer length-of-stay discounts, so this can be a good way to get more eyes on your listings.

7. Boost your reviews

Reviews are another huge ranking factor that can boost your Airbnb listing’s exposure to travelers.

The more positive reviews and high ratings you collect, the higher your listing will rank in search results. This is because Airbnb guests trust the opinions of their peers, and they’re more likely to book a rental that has numerous raving reviews than one that no one seems to vouch for.

The most obvious way to get good reviews is to provide a great guest experience. You can do this in several ways, from adopting Airbnb self check-in to providing all the essential and nice-to-have amenities on our Airbnb host checklist.

Additionally, you can encourage guests to leave reviews by writing them a review first. This may be too much to take on if you were to do it manually. But with a tool like Host Tools, you can automate your reviews for guests and even send them automated review reminders in case they forget to write you a review in return. 

Setting up an automated review reminder message in Host Tools

Setting up an automated review reminder message in Host Tools

Boosting your reviews this way can make a big difference in your Airbnb search ranking, so make sure not to skip this step.

8. Keep your calendar up-to-date

Making sure that your availability calendar is always up-to-date is crucial to getting bookings on Airbnb. 

If you don’t update your calendar, your listing may not appear in search results for dates when your rental is available, and you could miss out on bookings.

What’s more, the Airbnb algorithm gives priority to hosts who regularly update their calendars, as this shows that they’re active on the platform. 

Staying on top of your availability is especially important if you have a multi-channel distribution strategy and advertise on a variety of booking sites. 

In this case, it’s vital to keep the calendars on all your sales channels up-to-date. Otherwise, you risk getting double bookings – which leads to cancellations, which leads to penalties from Airbnb and your listing sliding down in search results. 

Luckily, there’s a way to make sure that your calendars remain in sync and potential guests can see your real-time availability at all times on all channels. All you need to do is enlist an Airbnb channel manager like Host Tools, which can automatically synchronize your calendars. 

Graphic explaining how a channel manager works

Host Tools has direct API integrations with Airbnb, Vrbo, and Houfy. This allows the software to seamlessly sync data between the platforms, so you never have to worry about double bookings. 

And Host Tools doesn’t just sync your availability. It has a bunch of other useful features that you can implement across channels, such as automatically setting prices and providing Airbnb keyless entry using smart locks. 

9. Become an Airbnb Superhost

If you’re on a mission to get more bookings from Airbnb, why not shoot for Superhost status?

While being a Superhost doesn’t directly influence your search ranking, the requirements to become a Superhost do. Things like maintaining a high response rate and a low cancellation rate all work in your favor when it comes to Airbnb SEO. 

Plus, the shiny badge that Superhosts are awarded carries a certain prestige – Airbnb guests may be more inclined to book with you if they see you’ve achieved Superhost status.

10. Build a social media presence

Last but not least, it’s important to think about promoting your Airbnb listing outside of Airbnb. After all, relying solely on the Airbnb search algorithm for bookings may not yield the best results.

A good way to get more eyes on your listings that has nothing to do with the Airbnb algorithm is to promote them on social media. 

We’ve written extensive guides on Instagram for vacation rentals and how to promote your Airbnb listing on Facebook. Check these out and learn how to build a social media strategy that will get you more bookings. 

How to get your first booking when you have no reviews

Since reviews are such an important factor in determining search ranking, getting started on Airbnb may seem like a tough challenge. However, to give new hosts a fighting chance, Airbnb allows them to rank high for a time before they get their first review. 

To get the most out of this initial boost when you’re new to the platform, make sure you optimize your listing for all the other ranking factors listed above.

How to increase Airbnb bookings in the off-season

If your property is a highly seasonal destination like a beach town, seeing bookings plummet in the low season can be disheartening. However, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure your rental doesn’t remain empty for too long:

  • Review your listing title, description, and photos. The off-season is a great time to spend some time updating your listings on Airbnb. Is your title catchy enough? Have you written a compelling description? Do you need to retake your photos and upload new, high-quality images? The content of your listings has a direct impact on your bookings and conversions, so take advantage of the low-season downtime to optimize them. 

  • Offer seasonal discounts. If you’re trying to keep your occupancy rate high, consider lowering your prices in the low season. This way, you’ll at least get some bookings – if not high-value ones. Promotions are a good way to outrun the competition, and the low season is a good time to experiment with them.

  • Eliminate extra charges: If you normally charge a fee for extra guests or pets in a pet-friendly vacation rental, you may want to drop those fees in the low season. When demand is low, you need every little advantage you can get over your competition and this may just be what tips the scale for some guests.

Conclusion: How to get more bookings on Airbnb

All in all, there’s a lot that short-term rental hosts can do to get more bookings on Airbnb. 

It starts with optimizing your Airbnb listing and making sure it performs well on all the major Airbnb ranking factors. Once you’ve got that covered, it’s also important to pursue other ways of boosting your Airbnb bookings – like becoming a Superhost or promoting your listing on social media.

To save time and make your life easier, take advantage of vacation rental automation tools. Software solutions like Host Tools allow you to send automated messages to your guests; automate your reviews; keep your calendars up-to-date and more. All these contribute to increasing your search visibility and getting more bookings on Airbnb.

Host Tools is an easy-to-use, affordable automation tool and channel manager made by Airbnb hosts for Airbnb hosts. Try it now – it’s free for 30 days. 

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