“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain
We know that guests don’t read, right? Right.
The solution is to make the most information available in the least amount of text. Sounds simple enough, but it’s one of those things easier said than done.
Time and again, I see hosts load up their listings page to the brim with behemoth descriptions. Not only that, but the text comes in huge blocks and run-on sentences. If you’re one of these hosts, I think you’ll be glad you found this post.
Keep in mind there are many points in the reservation process. Certain information is best communicated at certain points in that process. Don’t overload the guest all at once.
Additionally, with the success of social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, our attention span has decreased to, at most, a few minutes and, at least, how quickly one can flick their finger across the mobile screen.
Combine the issue of guests not reading, short attention spans, and intense competition on Airbnb and you have a recipe for hosting torment.Snappy, Catchy, + Thorough – Your Airbnb Listings Mantra Click To Tweet
This illustration shows us just how intense competition on Airbnb is. Meet Pelin, an Airbnb host in Istanbul, Turkey. Her listing is somewhere on this map:
This map is about 1,800 square feet (600 square meters) wide. Compare to Google maps:
That’s a whopping 6 square feet (2 square meters) for each listing! This isn’t an extreme example. It’s actually more common than not to have this much competition.
How is Pelin going to stand out, knowing that there are tens, possibly hundreds of listings like hers in her vicinity?
She’s going to make everything about her listing, snappy, catchy, and thorough. This should be at the back of her mind throughout the entire Airbnb listing creation process:
- Catchy to grab attention
- Snappy to keep attention
- Thorough to attract the right guest
Here are just a few examples (remember, snappy, catchy, and thorough applies to your entire listing):
The Airbnb Cover photo
This needs to be catchy, a selling point of your home. Its sole purpose is to attract eyes.
Pro Tip: Scout your competition to find out which colors are not being used in their cover photos and plan accordingly.
You’ll want it to be a photo of a room in the house the guest will be spending a lot of time (bedroom, living room, maybe kitchen). Rarely will this photo be a view. A view is suspicious to FPGs.
The Airbnb Title
Catchy. Do not tell the guest how many bedrooms your listing has. They’ve probably already narrowed down this search result if they’re serious about booking. It’s also just plain boring.
Communicate a selling point to your guest, ideally an amenity not typically available in your area.
- Bad title: 2 bed/1 bath elegant spacious home in Sunset District
- Good title: ★Free Parking ★ Rooftop Patio w Views ★ Hottub ★
The three most important sections of your Airbnb listing: Cover photo, title, and summary text Click To Tweet
Keep it snappy, yet thorough. (Related: Mastering Your Airbnb Description Text)
It’s best to communicate both the good and bad aspects of your home here. The result of a guest surprised by the 27 steps leading into your listing with no elevator is a bad review. Set expectations of your guest prior to booking.
- Bad: My spacious home has all the details of a traditional Victorian in the heart of San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. When you arrive, you’ll experience a San Franciscan stair case so pack your walking shoes!
- Good (bullet point): → 27 steps into my home from street level
Always consider the cost/benefit of disclosing information.
For example, it’s cool that you splurged on 2k thread count Egyptian cotton for your bed linens. The guests will appreciate that, but they will not book you home because of it. The benefit of adding this information (I’m not sure there is any) does not outweigh the cost (lost reservations as you likely have too much text in your listing and are not focusing the guest’s attention on the sellable features).
Leave it out of your description. It will be a ‘surprise and delight’ feature, something the guest will happily discover upon check-in.
Also, keep in mind the House Manual delivered to guests upon confirmation. Do not overload the guest with pages of information here. If you do, none of it will be read or remembered. Only put the most important house notes and rules here. Save the rest for the mightily important digital guidebook.
Here at OptimizeMyBnb.com, I’m focused on conversion rate an occupancy.
I don’t care about your rank. I don’t care because it doesn’t matter. I’m over-emphasizing to make a point.
Focus on what you have control over and the rest will follow.
You don’t have direct control over your search rank (ie you cannot pay Airbnb for high placement). Instead, focus on creating an optimizing Airbnb listing and developing a streamlined and pleasant Airbnb guest experience. If you do this, you’ll never reach out to me due to a lack of views or occupancy. Additionally, you’ll be happy with your nightly rate.
Also published on Medium.