What are Airbnb bookings?

Airbnb bookings are more than just reservations. When a guest makes an Airbnb booking at your hotel, they’re looking for more than just a place to stay. They’re seeking a unique experience that combines the comfort and amenities of a hotel with the charm and personal touch of a home.

The beauty of Airbnb lies in its ease and convenience. The platform’s user-friendly interface, comprehensive search filters, and secure payment system make it easy for guests to find and book the perfect room at your hotel. This ease of use can translate into higher booking rates for your property.

But perhaps the most significant aspect of Airbnb bookings is the sense of community they foster. As a small hotelier, you’re not just providing a room; you’re creating an experience. You’re welcoming guests into your community, introducing them to local culture, and giving them a taste of the unique charm that small hotels offer.

In essence, Airbnb bookings can be a powerful tool for small hoteliers. They offer a way to diversify your customer base, increase your revenue, and showcase the unique charm of your property. Whether you’re a seasoned hotelier or new to the industry, Airbnb opens the door to new opportunities and growth.

About Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the few truly disruptive tech start-ups. What began as a tool that allowed homeowners to earn extra cash from their spare bedroom quickly turned into one of the world’s leading online travel agencies (OTAs), used by private citizens and multinational hotel chains alike.

On Airbnb a hotelier competes against a diverse array of competition, which makes it a uniquely challenging platform to succeed on. Nevertheless there are a number of ways to increase your Airbnb bookings. They range from the basic, such as lowering your minimum stay requirements, to the more strategic, such as avoiding cancellations and actively requesting reviews.

What is the Airbnb booking process?

The Airbnb booking process is designed to be efficient and user-friendly, but if you’re a new host, you might have some queries about how it works after you’ve signed up to be listed on the platform. Here’s what you need to know:

Creating an Airbnb booking policy or House Rules

A crucial part of any Airbnb listing is the booking policy, or what rules you need guests to follow to book with you. Your House Rules establish clear expectations for guests and help them in determining whether your accommodation is suitable for their needs prior to making a booking.

You can set rules about:

  • Pets
  • Events
  • Smoking, vaping, and e-cigarettes
  • Quiet hours
  • Check-in and checkout times
  • Maximum number of guests
  • Commercial photography and filming

Your House Rules are displayed on your listing page, the booking confirmation screen, guests’ Pack Your Bags email, and the Arrival Guide they receive before their trip.

If you have specific requirements that are not covered by the standard House Rules, you have the option to include additional rules. Here are some examples:

  • Please remove shoes due to carpeted floors and muddy conditions near property.
  • Please remember to close and lock all windows and doors when leaving.
  • Please do not store any food in the bedrooms.

Deciding on your cancellation policy is also an important step, as these protect your revenue from unexpected or late cancellations – but too strict a policy can also put guests off. Finding a middle ground and customising your cancellation policy per listing can be the key to getting more Airbnb bookings.

Receiving booking inquiries

The next step in the Airbnb journey often involves fielding inquiries from potential guests. They might have specific queries about your listing, such as the possibility of an early check-in or the exact location. These inquiries will land in your Airbnb inbox or email, depending on your chosen settings. 

Hoteliers are expected to respond to these inquiries within 24 hours, after which you can either pre-approve the booking, extend a special offer, or decline the request, always keeping in mind Airbnb’s Anti-Discrimination Policy.

Booking your space

Guests who don’t have any questions can book a stay with Instant Book, if you have it enabled, or with a reservation request, if you have Instant Book disabled. 

  • Instant Book is the default booking option for all listings. It allows guests who meet your requirements and agree to your House Rules to instantly book your space for any available dates they choose.
  • Reservation requests allow you to review and accept or decline each booking request. You’ll be able to see guests’ reviews and profiles. Some hosts, especially those with unique spaces or inconsistent schedules, prefer manual booking requests.

Keeping your calendar updated

To ensure a smooth hosting experience, it’s crucial to keep your booking calendar updated. You can tweak your pricing and settings to match local demand throughout the year. If there are dates when you’re unavailable to host, make sure to block them on your calendar. 

You can also set a minimum and maximum stay duration, and if you use other online calendars, it’s a good idea to sync them with your Airbnb calendar to avoid double bookings. Little Hotelier software does this for you.

That’s how the process works – but how do you actually benefit from being on Airbnb? Let’s take a closer look at Airbnb bookings and how you can maximise your property’s success.

Why should a hotel use Airbnb to increase bookings?

Airbnb doesn’t cater to the exact same market as other major OTAs like Expedia and booking.com, and not every hotel is eligible to be listed on Airbnb.

Airbnb understands its unique selling point (USP): unique listings that offer a personalised touch. As such it only allows listings from boutique hotels and B&Bs that offer what it considers to be ‘unique spaces and personal hospitality’: things like architectural design, personal touches, unique amenities and local knowledge from on-site owners.

But for those hotels that do make the cut, Airbnb can be a particularly profitable booking channel. In some areas Airbnb accounts for up to one in six hotel bookings, meaning a listing on the platform could increase your bookings by as much as 15%.

Once listed, success on Airbnb is obviously far from a guarantee – a hotel needs to do a lot of things right, from pricing to choosing the right channel manager. Airbnb simply offers an opportunity, and it’s up to a hotel to take it.

Why am I not getting bookings on Airbnb?

The uniqueness of the Airbnb platform extends well beyond the accommodation it offers. There are a lot of unique features and subtle nuances to navigate, many of which can affect your ability to attract bookings.

There could be any number of reasons your Airbnb listing isn’t attracting bookings, including:

  • An incomplete profile or listing: Airbnb wants to know as much as it can about hosts and give guests the complete picture. As such its algorithm will not prioritise your property if your listing isn’t completely filled out, or if you haven’t offered up all the necessary information on your personal profile.
  • Restrictive guest requirements and Airbnb booking policies: If you list your minimum stay as more than one night, if you insist on an Airbnb booking deposit, if you require guests to be ID-verified, or if you have turned off the ‘Instant Book’ feature, it’s likely that you’re missing out on potential bookings. Remember that Airbnb third-party booking is a popular way for people to organise stays for people other than themselves. ID-verification cuts you out of that valuable segment.
  • Pricing and availability: While you should certainly look to maximise revenue, particularly during peak periods, pricing your property too high will make you uncompetitive. Also, how far into the future do you allow guests to book? If it’s just a few months, you’ll miss out on potential bookings.
  • Performance (reviews and responsiveness): Reviews are as critical on Airbnb as on any OTA. A rating below 4.5 stars can make it difficult to attract guests. Responsiveness is another key metric: you should aim to get your average response time below an hour.

How to get more Airbnb bookings and increase your Airbnb booking rate

How do you make the most of the opportunity that Airbnb represents? If your hotel is accepted onto the platform, the following six tips are a great place to start.

1. Invest in a quality channel manager

For most hoteliers, Airbnb will be one of many channels through which reservations are accepted. Managing all these different OTAs, and ensuring consistency across them, is incredibly hard work—unless you use the right tech.

Little Hotelier’s channel manager software is designed to automate the management of all your booking channels, including Airbnb. In the process, it can save you 35 minutes per booking and increase reservations by up to 46%!

2. Build a comprehensive listing with a catchy title

On a platform like Airbnb, where unique and exceptional guest experiences are the norm, standing out can be a challenge. However, a well-crafted listing can make all the difference. Start by brainstorming a catchy title that captures the essence of your hotel and piques the interest of potential guests. A compelling title can set the tone for your listing and encourage users to click through for more information.

But don’t leave your listing with just a catchy title – that’s like a cake made entirely of frosting. Your listing should also be as comprehensive as possible, providing potential guests with all the information they need to make a booking decision. 

Describe your hotel and its rooms in detail, highlighting the unique features and services that set you apart. Be sure to include practical information such as the size of the rooms, the number of beds, and any special rules or policies.

The ‘Amenities’ section of your listing is particularly important. Many Airbnb users filter their search results based on specific property features, so be sure to list all the amenities your hotel offers. This could include everything from free Wi-Fi and parking to a swimming pool or a complimentary breakfast.

Remember, your goal is to paint a vivid picture of what staying at your hotel is like. The more detailed and enticing your listing, the more likely you are to attract bookings.

3. Invest in photography to showcase your hotel

Another way to stand out from the crowd is with professional photography. High-quality visuals are key to making a strong first impression. Professional photography captures the unique charm of your hotel, highlighting its best features and amenities. More than just showcasing your property, these images tell a story, offering a glimpse into the unique experiences that await guests.

Listings with high-quality photos tend to attract more views and bookings, often leading to higher ratings, more bookings and higher prices, as guests are often willing to pay more for properties that sell a “unique experience”, especially on Airbnb. This is an investment that can quickly pay itself back through extra bookings, as it enables you to present your hotel in the most alluring light.

4. Turn on Instant Book

Because the platform sees private property owners allowing strangers into their homes, Airbnb gives hosts more power to vet guests than most other OTAs. But as a hotelier you should ensure that you turn on the ‘Instant Book’ feature, which allows guests to book instantly and without gaining your explicit approval. ‘Instant Book’ listings also rank higher than those that manually approve each guest.

While Instant Book can feel a little daunting – no safety net of the manual confirmation – you must remember that Instant Book can help you secure guests who are trying to get last-minute Airbnb reservations or same-day booking. It’s fast, it’s secure, and it gives them instant relief that they have a place to stay. Capitalise on that!

5. Maximise your availability and avoid cancellations

At the risk of making an obvious point, if your property isn’t listed as available for the dates a guest wants to book, they won’t be able to book it. To maximise your reservations, you therefore need to maximise your availability:

  • Allow guests to book their stay 12 months in advance.
  • Allow guests to stay one night.
  • Allow guests to check into a room on the same day another guest checks out.

You should also be careful to avoid cancellations. If you cancel more than three reservations per year, or for reasons beyond a very limited and specific list, you’ll face consequences from Airbnb.

6. Actively seek out positive reviews

Reviews are the lifeblood of the Airbnb platform. If you manage to generate positive reviews that result in a high star rating and Superhost status, you’ll enjoy a high ranking and a wealth of other perks.

While Airbnb will prompt a guest to review their stay three times in the fortnight after they check out, it’s also wise for a host to actively solicit positive reviews. On the day the guest checks out, thank them for choosing you and mention that if they enjoyed their stay, you’d be very appreciative if they took the time to post a positive review.

7. Offer discounts & promotions

One effective way to attract more bookings is by offering discounts and promotions. This could be a special rate for extended stays, a discount for first-time guests (that first Airbnb booking is super valuable for securing repeat stays), or a special package that includes additional services or amenities. 

You could even go really granular and start creating offers for specific days of the week. If your calendar is regularly empty on a Wednesday, offering a discount can be a great way to increase your mid-week booking on Airbnb. Promotions not only attract guests looking for a good deal but also create a sense of urgency that can encourage potential guests to book right away.

8. Update your pricing

Pricing strategy plays a crucial role in attracting more Airbnb bookings. Consider implementing dynamic pricing, where you adjust your prices based on factors like demand, seasonality, and local events. If you can beat the average Airbnb booking rate for your local area, you have a great chance to outpace the competition.

For instance, you could increase your prices during peak tourist season or lower them during slower periods to attract more bookings. Also, consider offering last-minute discounts to fill any unbooked rooms. Remember, the goal is to find the sweet spot where your price is attractive to guests but still profitable for you.

Increase Airbnb bookings and manage them with ease using Little Hotelier

Capitalising on the potential of Airbnb is about doing a lot of little things right. Which is where we come in. Our software makes it easy to manage your Airbnb listings, providing front desk functionality, cross-platform channel management (with over 450+ OTAs included!), quick and accurate calendar synchronisation, an easy website builder, competitor insights and data on your own performance – and much more.

Here’s just a taste of what we can do for you and your hotel:

  • Automate channel management: Little Hotelier’s channel manager software automates the management of all your booking channels, including Airbnb. This saves you time and reduces the risk of double bookings, allowing you to focus on providing an exceptional guest experience.
  • Maximise availability: With real-time synchronisation across all platforms, Little Hotelier ensures your availability information is always up-to-date. This helps you maximise your bookings and avoid cancellations.
  • Boost direct bookings: To be successful, you must aim to outgrow Airbnb. Little Hotelier’s direct booking engine allows you to take direct bookings from your own website, increasing your profit margins, reducing those pesky commissions, and giving you more control over the guest experience.

Say goodbye to the busywork of channel management and focus on what really matters: delivering an unmatched guest experience that keeps them coming back for more.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).