Your property photos should be taken professionally, showcasing the best views, space, natural lights, furnishings, and tasteful decorations. Booking.com and Homeaway.co.uk are very strict about their photo quality standards, but Airbnb is not; so it can often be neglected there. Airbnb however does offer FREE photography for some property listings so make sure you take advantage of that if qualified. You can also add photos of the building exterior, surrounding streets, local popular spots such as parks, riverside, restaurants, cafes, pubs, underground station, bus stops to tell travellers how wonderful and well-connected your London neighbourhood is! If the previous guests have left you thank you notes or gifts, upload pictures of these on too. These reflect genuine appreciation beyond a 5-star review, so why not show them off to new guests?
This is usually the most neglected aspect of property listings. Having several best high-resolution profile pictures, preferably where you're looking friendly and smiling, will instill more trust and confidence from strangers who are still new to the idea of spending their holidays in someone's home. It is also worth taking the time to polish your profile description and complete all the ID verification requirements. Put yourselves in your potential guests' shoes - If you are planning to stay with a host in a new country, the best property won’t matter if you’re not comfortable with who you’re staying with.
Your property description should convey all the information needed to make a good decision in a structured way. Structure helps get the message across, and if the listing sites don't provide structure, create your own. Capitalise headings, use bullet points for easy reading, and add space between sections or paragraphs.
We all know how important location is, especially for tourists, and therefore you should cover transport links and also highlight the journey times to important tourist attractions or city centres.
Managing expectations will also be key to ensure you receive excellent reviews afterwards. Be honest and mention important features like which floor it is on, lift, noise level etc. so people know what to expect. Guests can tolerate inconveniences as long as they know about them ahead of time.
Despite the housing shortage, short-let accommodation competition in London is very high for the obvious reason - the income is extremely attractive. It is a large city with so many wonderful areas and excellent transport links, yet tourists will tend to look at Big Ben or the British Museum as the city centre and locate themselves around there, neglecting some interesting upcoming areas. If your listing is new or away from Central London, be extra competitive and willing to offer lower prices to get a few bookings through the door first to generate 5-star reviews or fill up vacancy.
Some hosts with multiple properties use pricing management software, automated pricing platform, and channel managers to provide pricing intelligence. Airbnb also offers Smart Pricing / Pricing Tips however there are occasional glitches (extremely low price to zero) so make sure to check regularly. If you only have a small number of listings, a simple accommodation search to check your rankings should give you very good idea about how you compare price wise within a certain date range.
Nothing says quality more than a bucket of 5-star reviews and Superhost status. Achieving these requires excellent engagement and services from the query stage to after departure.
Even if you don't have a Superhost status, having great reviews will get you a lot of the benefit, so make sure you act on past reviews and actively reply to guests' reviews (especially the not-so-good ones) so that new guests have good information and confidence about your place.
Airbnb recently rolled out the 'Business Ready' feature to serve the business traveler market - i.e. your space needs to provide the usual business amenities such as wi-fi, desk, hairdryer, etc. that are needed for work or important for those that travel light with no check-in luggage. These features are not difficult to prepare and set up - Chances are you already have those in place anyway. So why not spend some time to get your listing 'Business Ready' to attract the business traveler groups to improve your occupancy.
Hosts are often wary about the Instant Book feature, but it clearly offers a huge benefit for guests. As travelers it is frustrating to have to restart your search because the places you enquired are not available. However the hosts’ peace of mind element should not be ignored here. As a host, you can set screening criteria for instant booking to give you some assurance, for example, offline ID verification, guest reviews, and minimum stays.
We usually spend a lot of time on our CV, work presentations, various adverts to present our best self, products or services to potential employers or customers. Your vacation rental should be treated as a business that you are trying to present and sell to future guests, so it is important to make it stand out from the crowd. You don't need to be a real estate agent or experienced property manager to create outstanding listing, just be yourselves and genuinely tell people what you love about your space and how you can make their lives and trips easier. Good luck and hope to see more beautiful listings out there!