, ,

The Ultimate Guide to Renting Your Place (and Making Money) on Airbnb

Many people have their properties listed on Airbnb, but they just can’t get them rented. Are you one of them?

I sure was one of those Airbnb users who uploaded a listing and then hoped for the best. Then I did some research, and have run many experiments to find best ways to optimize an Airbnb profile. With what I am about to share, I managed to bring many properties from 0 to 10 reservations in a month.

This post is written by a guest contributor. Opinions her/his own, may or may not reflect the opinions of Search Decoder.

How I Made $20K in 3 Months on Airbnb

First let’s break down the common reasons why a listing on Airbnb can fail to attract reservations:

  1. Pricing – People price their properties too high compared with competition
  2. Appeal – The listing just looks bad, and has incomplete details
  3. Competition – The listing is not as appealing as the comparable listings


That’s great you say. I knew it. Right. But all of these (and more) impact the most important thing:

Your property isn’t on the first page when users search for accommodations.

Let’s remember one thing: Airbnb wants to make money by providing the best user experience. Its algorithm is not democratic and everyone gets a fair share of visibility. Airbnb is designed to weed out poor listings and bring the best listings to the top.

Airbnb will promote the properties that make the most money, and get most positive reviews. You want to be this property.

airbnb search miami

In this series of steps, I’ll show you how to become one!

14 Simple Techniques to Optimize your Airbnb Listing

1. Get a free Airbnb photographer to shoot your place

… sponsored by Airbnb. Yes, they want to make it easy on you! You can get free professional photographers who will make your place look fantastic. In major cities, any user is entitled for up to 4 photo shoots. Photos take 4 weeks to appear on the site, so plan ahead!

Here’s the link to get started: https://www.airbnb.com/info/photography

2. Make sure your Airbnb listing is completely filled out

All those tiny descriptions underneath the photos? Yes – they count! All photos need to have a description. Be mindful to use the right keywords, but – above all – make your photo descriptions short and catchy. Point out the cool highlights of the photo, and make it enticing.

Here are a few examples:

Airbnb listing bedroom

Master bedroom full of light and a view of more trees. What a great way to wake up!

Professional pictures attract more eyeballs on Airbnb.

Airbnb balcony exmple

The beautiful balcony – with all of the trees around it almost feels like a gazebo!

Go through all sections of your listing and make sure they’re complete.

Follow the instructions Airbnb puts on the side. Here are some more specific tips for a few sections:

  1. Overview -> Title: Use words that make your place desirable, such as: beach, balcony, luxurious, amazing, big, spacious, center, slopes, etc. When in doubt, study your competition. Run a search and see the top listings that come up. What words do they use in their titles?
  2. Overview -> Summary: Make it snappy and exciting, covering major features of your space and the neighborhood. Here is an example from one of my listings.
    Airbnb Overview Screenshot
  3. Details -> The Space: Detail what’s in the listing. How many bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen equipment, etc. What is unique about the space?
  4. Details -> Guest Access: Here you should push your amenities. Beyond just an amenities checklist that you specify later, you can specify appliances, special things like TV in bedroom or piano.
  5. Details -> Neighborhood Overview: Write all the cool things in your neighborhood.
  6. Details -> Other Things to Note: Another opportunity to advertise the cool things in the apartment and the neighborhood.
  7. Details -> House Rules: Specifying house rules is extremely important so as not to create high expectations that can’t be fulfilled, such as guests wanting to come and throw a big party or have sleepovers.

3. Create an Airbnb guidebook

Not too many hosts create guidebooks, but from my experience, people search for listings by using specific keywords. A potential guest might search using the More Filters feature.airbnb advanced filters

More Filters opens up to a screen that includes filtering by keyword!

Airbnb keyword search

When you have a guidebook with landmarks people search for, there is a higher chance your listing will come up in searches.

In your guidebook, put the most touristy landmarks in your area. Don’t put only your favorite, out-of-the-way places! Of course they are more fun and will make you look good in parties, but on Airbnb these are not the places most people will be searching for. In our Paris example, you will want to include the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysée, etc.

To create a guidebook, once your listing is listed, click on the Guidebook button.

Airbnb guidebook menu option

Once in the guidebook, start typing the landmarks. In most cases, Airbnb will autocomplete the name.

Hit enter, and add an enticing desctiption to the place, et voila!

Airbnb guidebok entry

By doing this, not only will you help rank your listing higher in the search results, but you will also help your guests find things that they will like to do.

4. Respond to every Airbnb message or inquiry within one hour (not 24!)

Airbnb requires you to respond within 24 hours to every inquiry in order to achieve superhost status. You can rest assured that this is good for your search ranking. But you know what’s even better? Responding within 1 hour, not 24 hours. There are two reasons for that:

  1. Airbnb’s search ranking ranks higher hosts who respond quicker. Why, you ask? because…
  2. When guests look to book their next vacation spot, they usually contact multiple hosts. They are more likely to start a conversation and convert with the host that responds first. Did I mention that Airbnb wants to make money? Airbnb wants to help hosts that convert the most guests. Plain and simple.

To facilitate this you can do a couple of things. First, you can set up Airbnb notifications to your mobile phone via SMS, in addition to their regular emails. Here’s what it looks like on an iPhone:

Airbnb iphone text message

You can also download the Airbnb app, and have it notify you of new messages on your lock-screen or when in another app:

Airbnb app iPhone screen notification

5. Enable Airbnb Instant Booking

After you’ve hosted once, you will be eligible for Instant Booking. Instant Booking allows guests to make a reservation without having to ask you to confirm. It’s crucial that your calendar remains up to date. Listings with Instant Book turned on rank much higher in search results, since they shorten the conversion funnel, and increase the odds of both you and Airbnb “scoring” a guest.

To enable Instant Booking, click on that option once it appears in the menu on the left when you are managing your listing.

6. Getting that first Airbnb guest

This may be the toughest thing for a new listing. However, we can take advantage of a couple of strategies.

Airbnb tends to rank properties that just got booked higher than other properties. Therefore, we need to find a way to get that first reservation. The best way is to lower the price. A LOT.

Check the prices of comparable listings in your neighborhood, and cut your price to 50-75% of the average. Airbnb recently introduced a neat pricing tool that makes suggestions. You can access the tool via the calendar page. Take pricing tip, and lower it.

Once you get the first booking, immediately jack up the price back to where you want it. You should see an increase in views and inquiries once this happens.

What’s next? Next you want to make sure that you get a 5-star review from that guest. Check out the next two tactics

7. Be an awesome Airbnb host

There are many guides on how to be an awesome host on Airbnb. Besides the basics (cleanliness, leaving sheets, soaps, shampoos, etc.), I recommend doing something special for your guests when they arrive. The first impression is the best impression.

Leaving a card and a piece of chocolate or a flower for your guest is reasonably priced, and very effective in showing them that you care about them.

8. Ask people to leave a 5-star review (over email or preferably in person)

Properties with 5-star reviews rank higher. The more, the merrier. If you made sure that your guest had an enjoyable time, you should ask them for a 5-star review. Do this in person as they leave, very politely. If you are shy, or just not there for check-out, shoot them a note. Say something like:

Hey [guest name],

Thanks again for choosing my apartment for your holiday. I enjoyed hosting you and would love to have you again at any time.

I hope you enjoyed your stay with me. If you did, I’d love a 5-star review on all categories. It really helps!

If you have some feedback or ways in which I could improve, please let me know privately, and I’ll make sure I address them.


[Host Name]

9. Update Airbnb calendar frequently (preferably daily)

Airbnb ranks higher properties that show constant activity by their hosts. Try and log in to your listing once a day, and better yet, make changes to the calendar once a day. You can make tiny changes like pick a random date and change it to “Unavailable” just for that day, and the next day change it back. You could do the same with pricing for a random date – change it by a small amount, and return to the original the following day. I know, this is a very silly tactic, but it demonstrates your engagement with the listing.

10. Send a special Airbnb offer for every message or inquiry

People have a higher tendency to book and convert if you make it easier on them by sending a special offer even when they don’t ask for it. It doesn’t have to be a deep discount. It can be a price close to the original price. Making it easier for people to book by reducing the number of clicks certainly helps!

Airbnb Send Special Offer Button

Here is how a special offer looks like on Airbnb:
Airbnb Send Special Offer details

11. Buy domain and point it to your Airbnb listing

This can be helpful to get more views and clicks. You can buy a domain without hosting for very cheap (like $1.50 a year), and point it to your listing. Then you can include it in your email signature or your FB status updates or any of your online profiles! Here’s one of my properties (shameless plug :)):


12. NEVER EVER cancel on an Airbnb guest!

Even when it’s agreed upon by the guest – have the guest cancel instead.

Canceling a confirmed reservation will hurt your ranking a lot, and you should absolutely avoid it at all costs.

As much as possible, and politely, try to get the guest to cancel and not you, as it hurts them less, and they don’t need to worry about SEO 🙂

13. Share your Airbnb listing on social channels

Airbnb tracks sharing by you and your followers. Make sure you share your listing from time to time on social media. I always see an uptick in the number of views and inquiries on my listings right after I share them. You can do this from the preview screen of your listing:

airbnb listing share buttons

If you got this far then I already see some dedication 🙂

These tactics should get you on the right path to being an awesome host and making a bit of change on Airbnb. As you continue along, you will learn more lessons and develop your own methods on top of these.

Let me know if these tips are useful, and in case you have any questions, just drop a note in the comments.

Are there any other Airbnb optimization strategies that has worked for YOU?

7 replies
    • Sabina Dunne
      Sabina Dunne says:

      Honestly the fastest way to boost my bookings was when I found this start-up, Booking All In.com .They explain to you how is important to be published on more than one hundred channels, also the professional translations make the difference on new marketplace especially for Asian and Russian guests. Definitely thanks to my friend Lisa who gave me this trick 🙂 I have both more free time and bookings, not bad at all. Sabina

  1. Ryan Biddulph
    Ryan Biddulph says:

    Gal, excellent!

    As a guy who rents through Airbnb it’s fun to see another perspective on the network. Me and my wife always note quick response time; an hour rocks, for sure. Post plenty of pro photos and yep, the more photos the better. We want to easily visualize how the entire place looks and tons of photos do that for us.

    Great share, and congrats on your renting success!


    • Gal Sivan
      Gal Sivan says:

      Thanks Ryan!

      Great photos def do the trick. The key as a host is to always see the world through the eyes of your guest, and try to help them make the right choice – YOU 🙂

      Love your writing by the way. Good luck with the new book on being a solopreneur!

  2. kelli
    kelli says:

    This was an interesting read. Ryan and I have used AirBNB quite a bit during our travels as we tend to stay in places longer and like to rent apartments and houses.

    The pictures one is so, so important.There have been many listings where the only pictures were the outside of the house, or random things like sunsets and flowers or whatever. I never even bother with those. The house may be beautiful but my first instinct is that it might not be that nice and that is why there are no pictures.

  3. Gal Sivan
    Gal Sivan says:

    Hi Kelli,

    That’s a great point. I think that beach or neighborhood photos are a great supplement to the pictures that show the property itself.

    Putting outdoors photos instead of them is suspicious and indeed causes people to shun away from the listing.

    Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *