Let's face it - so far 2023 has been a bit underwhelming in the short term rental industry. Unless you are located in a destination space like Florida or Phoenix - you probably aren't seeing the normal bookings you would expect. Some might even say it feels sluggish. The truth of the matter - it IS slow. You are not wrong. For some of you, you have the ability to ride out the storm while others are drowning in financial question marks wondering what 2023 will have in store for you.
I am here as more than just a cleaner. Currently I manage, monitor, converse with guests in 70 properties between Tulum, Phoenix, Colorado, California, Austin, and Houston. Im not going to say Im an expert by any means - but what I do have is 20 plus years of restaurant and hotel forecasting experience under my belt. Yes... I was a hospitality developer for many of those years and from 2000 - to now I have kept a diary if you will of what months are busy, what the new trend is, what people are looking for and what things need to be left in 2000. My experience has helped me understand not only my direct community and its impact on food and travel, but an understanding of how to change the way we view things and how to stay relevant. Owning a cleaning company in the Austin area for 10 years with no financial backing from anyone but my own pocket has taught me the importance of pivoting - and thats what the short term rental industry in Austin needs right now.
Im sure if you have made it this far you are wondering why so much detail about all of the above? Well, let's be honest... most people don't give their cleaners much credit - but the truth is we know your space probably better than you do. My background allows me to see different perspectives. So if you don't want to trust what I say as a cleaner - please take into consideration the years of experience I have as a concept developer. (Multiple restaurants of mine are STILL in business today... and there's a reason why).
Below I am going to update you on 5 ways to prepare and pump up the algorithms to get your listing viewed and booked. Please feel free to leave me a comment, question or if you would like to book a one on one with me - I'm here to help. Let's get your business mojo flowing!
1. Watch the wishlists - Are you aware of wishlists on Airbnb? One of my personal goals is to try and hit over 100 wishlists added a month. These are people who are actively looking to visit your city. They have marked your rental as a MUST visit. You can watch it go up and down monthly. The more adds, the more people are considering staying there. I check this once a week. Ive found that Monday's are a great day for people looking to plan for their next great adventure. So check out your wishlist (can be found in Airbnb under Insights/Conversions/Wishlists added). If you have multiple listings - this will show you which ones people are really drawn to at that time. Don't worry - these numbers go up and down, but if you are seeing a spike in one property it means people are looking at it and you should be working on turning those leads into bookings.
2. Change your photographs - You probably think your cell phone photos look amazing? Oddly - they don't. Statistics show that most cell phone photos don't properly load on different devices as well as you think. They come out stretched, grainy, poorly lit, missing the mark. Trust me. Pro photos is worth the cost of selling your space. Think of it this way - if you went to a restaurant and the entire menu was put in front of you and it was nothing but pictures from someone's cell phone vs. professional restaurant photographs - you ARE probably going to pick the restaurant with the pro photos. Not only does it show that they care about their food, it shows that they want their food to be shown in the best way possible.... the way that has you salivating over which item you MUST eat. Same thing with movies - do you really go back and watch those old movies you recorded from tv on your VHS player? No. Because there are better ways to see it.... and that includes investing in quality photography. Stage your space with a bottle of champagne and glasses with roses and make it a romantic and memorable stay. Showcase a desk with access to printers and a computer with the high speed speed test on the screen. Show your place with the sun setting through the window in the background. Give your place the BEST chance it can have to stand out from the rest. Do you want to look like the Ritz Carlton or are you ok looking like Motel 6? Bonus points - This is my go to for all of my photography and drone footage needs. Trust me - he can produce some of the best - www.willfulphotography.com/
3. Who is your target audience - do you know? By now you should have an idea of what types of people gravitate to your rental. Are you targeting that audience specifically or is there a reason they are choosing your space? Something to think about. In my history - larger rentals are usually best paired with travelling families, bachelor/ette parties, wedding parties who want to stay as a group and the occasional group of nurses travelling together. Smaller units are best for lone travelers or even one night stays. Targeting your market means making sure you appeal to the groups who are best suited to book your space. Is your home the perfect spot for wedding groups to stay as a family and get ready? Do you have a floor length mirror she can look at her wedding dress in? If its bachelor parties - do you have trash cans in all the rooms? I learned in hospitality that you NEED to "Anticipate your guests needs". Maybe they need an area that has extra charging ports so they can all get ready for the big day and not overload your circuits. Maybe the table needs to be bigger to seat everyone that has a bed. Prepare your space for the needs of the guests who are going to stay with you and not only will you be rewarded with a great review - it will show in an uptick in the bookings.
4. Are you catering to short term or maybe a mid term stay? Why do people book your property normally? If you normally see nurses or tech industry people booking and they currently aren't booking your space at the moment - how are you putting yourself in front of them? Furnished Finder is a great resource IF you know how to use it. Part of listing there requires you do the work. Make sure you know which hospitals you are near. Put that in your information. Respond to people who have a lead looking in an area you cater to. They give lots of details. It takes 2 seconds to have a pre-fabbed response to them. "Hi this is Cheyne with such and such property. It looks like my home may meet the needs of your stay. Can you tell me more about what you are looking for? Budget? Dates you are looking to stay? Even if I might not meet your needs - if you know someone looking - send them my way and Ill send you $10 as a thank you! I look forward to hearing from you soon!"
Put yourself out there. It's like dating. You can sit and wait for the perfect husband to walk up and knock on your door - or you can go out there and find him. Don't wait for the app to do the work for you, you have to put in more effort.
5. What makes your space special? Yes - Im going to say it.... most rentals are set up with the basic biotch starter pack sold from Target. And in some cases that is fine. But I want you to shift your gears here. You are looking to come and stay in AUSTIN and you DO NOT live here. It's your first time visiting. Go onto your STR rental site of choice and type in Austin. Go ahead, I'll wait...... Just scroll down. Everything has a picture and a "tag line". WHAT stands out? What are you looking for? Cheap? Has the right amount of beds? Pool? Put that in your search. And look at the photos and tag line provided. What from these listings look appealing to you? What from these listings turn you off? Mind you - you are looking at this objectively.... you have never been to Austin and the first thing you read is "Beautiful apartment in Austin". Is that enough? Does it tell me about your space or what it offers? Does it tell me where you are located in town? Would I want to eat or date this listing if it was food or a potential suitor? Because that's what your guests think. I know, it sounds crazy. But your tag line needs to captivate and celebrate the best of your space. There's a reason McDonalds has a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and then they have the hamburger. Are you going to be the hamburger? Totally fine by me.... but in a world full of basic - stand out.
Another great tip - offer something different. No matter what - you ARE NOT the Hilton. You have permission to offer bright pink towels rolled up on your beds or have your knife set be neon green. Don't let ANYONE tell you that because your linens are not white - they are not acceptable. If you want to be the Hilton - you can buy a franchise.... or you can set yourself apart and be the home that people WANT to stay at. I had a chat with a guest who was also a host...... her biggest takeaway from her experience in Austin was that - her home was just like most other people's homes. She stayed at my rental because it was ANYTHING but normal. While it wasn't what she would want her house to be all the time - she got to experience something new and different and it allowed her to find out more about herself and what she REALLY likes. Our pink flamingo palace told her that she didn't have to have the same damn towels her mom had.... and she could give herself permission to add some flare in her life. Don't get me wrong. Some people are creatures of comfort and they want to stay in something similar to home..... but most don't. Now while your rental may not be a treehouse or some glass dome on top of a mountain - it doesn't mean that in a city that is SUPPOSED to be keeping it weird - that you need to buy the basic Target starter pack. Liven your place up. Give it something that can stand out in pictures.... trust me your guests will LOVE it. Even if it is a neon sign. The world of posting your experience can be heightened by your enhancements to you space.... Make it insta-worthy. Who knows, you might start trending and people want to stay at your home specifically because you have a wall that is covered in spoons from around the world.
If I've learned one thing about this industry - there is no rule book. Things are changing, and you don't need to be afraid to change with it. Or you can continue doing what you have been doing and expecting a different result. Rentals 2 years ago aren't going to stand out today... So in a world full of Karen's and basic bitches - be a Lizzo.
- Just another cleaner Cheyne.