Want to increase your occupancy rate on your short term rental? Me too. While I was very happy with my numbers last year, I set out on a journey to see if I could increase my occupancy and improve my systems even further in 2023. Here are some ideas that I have seen be successful and some ideas I plan to try out myself. Check it out!
Idea #1: Set up "insta-book."
If you haven't already done this, do it. It's a game-changer! The main objection hosts have to this is they are worried that someone with bad reviews will be able to book instantly and then that you, as a host, will be penalized for canceling on them. Don't worry about this. There is a setting where you can set the criteria for who is allowed to insta-book your place. I usually require 5 star reviews in order for them to book instantly. Play around with what works for you, but insta-book is indeed a game-changer. We live in an instant society now. If someone has to wait to be approved before they can book, they will keep scrolling and find one that they also like and book that one instead.
Idea #2: Find a cleaner who can do same day turnovers.
This is clutch. I did not have that for most of my first year. I was worried that it would be too much on my cleaner, and that there might be a mistake. What I realize now is that the moment I switched to a professional cleaning team, they had it on lockdown. There was no need for a day in between because they have systems and structures to handle quick turnovers. This immediately added at least 5 days a month in terms of potential occupancy increase, if not more. So, find a professional operation that has an actual team who that can do the turnover the very same day. That will be a huge help to your overall occupancy rate and also just help you rest easier at night.
Idea #3: Get dynamic pricing.
This takes a huge load off your shoulders. These algorithms increase the rates on nights that are more in demand, and decreases the nights when they are less in demand. It removes the over-analysis piece from your plate. And the best part is, these algorithms are rooted in data! They learn from previous years and cycles and apply that knowledge to your own rental so you can optimize the highest rate possible that it will most likely book for on a given night. They are seriously worth their weight in gold.
Check out my previous blog post about other digital tools that can help you manage your property remotely.
Idea #4: Try marketing outreach to local professionals.
This is one I am trying out on my new short term rental, #STR (@mossymoodycabin), as I launch it. I have partnered with local Instagrammers who are going to stay at my place for a couple days and then post about it. They have a huge following for the target audience I am aiming to have stay at my place. So between the pictures, and them posting about it, I hope to get some great bookings early on when people are more hesitant to book because my #Airbnb doesn't have a solid track record yet.
Idea #5: Offer a discount for repeat bookers
I have been collecting email addresses and followers on my Instagram account this past year, so now as we go into year 2, I plan to message all those that stayed with me (and gave me a 5 star review of course) and offer them a discount for both my first STR and my new one that is coming online. Hopefully those that mentioned they wanted to come back will rebook. And if not, nothing is lost. So totally worth a try.
Idea #6: Design your place professionally.
This is a must. Unless you are super skilled and in touch with the current trends, it's worth it to hire a professional to get their perspective. Most people worry that this might be too big of an expense or that they can just DIY it themselves. It's necessary this day and age to really ensure the design is done right. People book based on looks. The house has to look incredible in photos and be well designed. If its not, people will scroll right over and go to the next one that is cute and pops off the screen. Even if you just hire a remote interior designer to give you ideas, and you execute the vision, it is very much worth it. I would recommend someone who has experience in short term rentals though. Because your place will get lots of wear and tear, you need someone who is familiar with selecting finishes that are durable, easy to clean and can withstand high usage. Gone are the days where you can just post a house that you have sitting empty and it will book.
My company, Textura Home Designs, LLC, is happy to help you if you need
Idea #7: Set up your own direct booking website.
I just started this. I was nervous about it before, but I see the importance of it now for control in the long term over my bookings. 1) It saves fees for the guest. 2) It helps me to own and control my own data base. 3) My insurance still covers any damage. It's a win/win/win in my opinion.
Here's an example of my cottage's direct booking website. It's easy to set up and easy to use.
Idea #8: Host a giveaway on Instagram.
You can use this to build your following, promote local spots and get more people to book in the future. Post about it on Instagram or whatever social media platform you are going for. Tag in a couple local restaurants with $50 gift certificates and ask that applicants follow you and tag 3 of their friends. Between that and boosting the post, you should drum up some business. And even if you just get more followers as a result, people seeing it over time will eventually want to stay there as long as your photos are cute.
Idea #9: Add in a hot tub.
Yes, it costs money. Yes, it requires maintenance. But apparently many people filter their search for that specifically. So I'm doing it with my new listing. It's coming with a hot tub. I'l let you know how this works out. :) I'm always happy to be the guinea pig.
Testing out the new hot tub. It's "Mack-approved!"
Idea #10: Revise your listing
Get new pictures, rewrite your copy, address any feedback that you have received throughout the year based on your reviews. While I can't say that this will affect the algorithm for sure, I have noticed that every time I do it, I get some fresh eyeballs on my page. So again, it never hurts to try. Plus, over time, your listing becomes better and better the more you work on it and address what your target audience wants to know.
So there you have it! Just some ideas to get you started. Remember that marketing is a key component now of your listing. With so much competition you have to make sure that your online presences reflects and targets the specific guests that you want to attract. The more time you put into it, the better results you will get. And remember it is a marathon, not a sprint. The more of a proven track record you develop as a host, the more likely you will get bookings too. So be consistent, and stay the course. But definitely don't cut corners. You got this!