(A) Higher Rates and fewer bookings or (B) Lower Rates and more bookings

Fellow Hosts,
I’ve noticed that some of the hosts prefer to have less bookings but charge more – it seems to me it’s better to have a lower rate and back-to-back bookings – what do you think?
I dislike short stays and will only accept 4-plus days, however, I make more money when I have lots of short stays as opposed to 2-3 long stays; the reason is that I charge a cleaning fee so lots of short stays represent lots of cleaning fees. However, I’m not mathematically inclined, is there an equation I should consider?

This is a tricky question; everyone puts different values on money differently. The highest return usually is daily stays, but the most hassles. Personally, I rather make less and have to deal with too many different people less, so I make mine 3 days minimum, charge a solid price and in this way, less chance of having a lunatic guest, less hassle with cleaning and be personally happier. Oftentimes, less is more as the old saying goes.


Being heavily seasonal here on the Gulf Coast, we decided to take (and make) as much as we can during Season – both with a higher rate and allowing one night stays. Yes it’s more work for me (I do most of the work and I’m retired, my partner owns the property and still works a regular job), but the rewards are proportionally greater. Off season – after April – the price goes down and we go to a two night minimum.

If you want to make money, IMHO go for slightly lower rates than other nearby Air properties, and accept down to one-night bookings to draw as many guests as you can.

If you have lots of other obligations in your life - family, wanky job hours, whatever – then go for higher rates, more nights minimum and fewer overall guests.

You can do what you choose. That’s the beauty of AirBnB and being “part time” hoteliers. If you only want to be open two weekends a month, that’s up to you. But you won’t make much doing so. There’s an Air property a dozen miles from here – been listed for over a year. Less than two hundred yards from a similar Air property. The first one hasn’t had one guest in a year. The other is almost always booked. Why the difference? Cost. Available dates. Minimum night booking.

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Welcome, KenH! Gulf Coast? Lovely area. We stayed at the Gulf Coast State Park every year back when it was still mostly in ruins - but it was enough for us - now the prices have driven us to Ft. Morgan, which we like very well anyway.

Anyway, I find this a tough question as well. I’m tempted to make ours a 2 night minimum, but then I remember some delightful people we met on one-night stays! Also, being in DC, I can’t imagine having nearly the number of bookings if I had a 4 or more night minimum. Lots for foreign guests are coming through and doing NYC-DC-then Miami or other such location, or heading out west. Personally I like shorter stays - company, like fish, tends to stink after 3 days! ; ) Our guests share our home so they make an impact.

The other snag about taking short stays is that they can book in the middle of a 4 day opening and then you’re much less likely to get those days booked.

So, if you know that, personally you prefer the longer stays, and you’re not in financial need to the point you have to sacrifice what you want, stick with that. Or, change your minimum nights and see how it goes - if you start to fill up better, then you can choose to stay and it works out, you can keep it that way. Conversely if you start getting bookings that chop up your calendar, you can change it back. Personally I’ve blocked off everything after September for this very reason - I’m not sure if airbnb will continue to work for our family and if I want to set minimums, invest in making the space a separate apartment, etc. I can afford to give myself some time to learn before committing beyond the summer.

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We go for higher price and less stays, mainly because of wear and tear on the furniture and property. In Barcelona we start the season with a 3 night min, to get longer($$) bookings and then (if needed)I change it to 2 night min to fill in any lingering open weekends. This is also to deter ‘parties’ from staying at our listing. I was just comparing YR/YR for Barcelona and currently we are on track to make 10% more than 2015 with less bookings. Win-Win!

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^^^ Exactly. I start with 3’s, and then fill in with 2’s, and then simply use the un-booked single days here and there as a break. It kind of works out nicely. Also people do tend to book open slots anyway. My problem is people wanting to stay too long (6+ days).


We have a four night min stay, up from two when we started out in 2013.

This is a good balance of income to hassle for us, our occupancy rate hasn’t really changed but our stress factor has declined significantly"

We rent out a whole apartment, have full time jobs and a small child so fewer change overs is more valuable to us than a slight increase in extra revenue.

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Well I began dec 1 2015 so I did accept 1 days to get more reviews and we have been booked solid except for these next two days which is a nice break for me. My problem is that often folks book for a lay over before the florida keys and for wedding venues right near to me. So it makes sense to handle those types of bookings. We are beginning our slow season now in Miami so until peak season begins again I won’t make min stays yet. I have now 28 reviews and hope by the next season I can hike my prices higher and at least book 2 night mins…

The studio keeps much cleaner and in better shape when it is one or two days which makes turn around time a lot easier for me and often can book guest a little earlier.


Since my listing is a house share, my max is 4 nights and I really prefer 2 nights, by the third night, I’m ready to check myself into a hotel even if they are the nicest guests ever. I like living alone :slight_smile: ! I don’t usually do back to back to back bookings because I work a full time job and have a direct sales biz, so I can’t always dedicate my time to doing the cleaning and laundry right after a guest leaves. So for me, I have to have a happy medium. A few bookings per month (this time of year) at a very reasonable price point. I still keep it a few bookings per month in the summer, but at a bit of a higher price point. Where I live is a place that is very popular in summer and fall. But, If I had a place that was completely separate from my home…well, I’d probably still go for the happy medium but would probably have a 3 day minimum stay.

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@Mearns We have been toying around with the idea of just leaving it at 3 for the entire ‘season’ April-October just to see what happens. We like to pop over on unbooked weekdays, so I’m not clamoring to have 100% occupancy.

Our house in wine country we have a 2 night Min and are booked solid for weekends through July. We get a lot of people coming up for the weekends, so I’m worried if I put a 3 night min we will lose that traffic. I would say 80% of our bookings are for 2 nights.

We have a one night minimum but we’ve never had a guest for just one night. Understandable really, our base rate is $125 with $135 for weekends and we have a $50 cleaning fee. So I’d love one-nighters!


@jaquo I think ‘one night stands’ are detoured when there’s an extra cleaning fee involved. We had an Air IB glitch and someone was able to book one night in Wine Country and their first message was in regards to our $150 cleaning fee (3 bedroom house!!). Obviously, I cancelled the reservation :smiling_imp:

@azreala - Yes, I would have done the same! I understand that mostly one nighters will leave the place in better shape but it takes me three hours to get the apartment ready even when it’s left in good condition and with a $50 cleaning fee that’s a pretty low hourly rate for me :slight_smile:

Interesting question. I prefer short stays but my rental strategy suggest me I must be doing middle term stays instead. So right now I 'm using a 4 nights minimum stay and I change it to 2 when I need to fill the gaps in between stays.

In terms of income, my area is oversaturated of hosts so it is really tough to fill the small gaps between stays. I might get more short term bookings using a lower rate but then I have to downprice very low the nights in between stays. In the end it is more work and less money.

Going further on this, a low rate might force you to meet a higher occupancy rate in the month to reach your income goal when a higher rate can make yourself happy with having a lower occupancy rate. And if you hold those rates you might get a surprise and fill some of the remaing days for a last minute reservation (high ceiling with a higher rate). The other ugly side I don´t like of having low rates is that you often get the more hostel-like guests that don´t take care your place very well. They might think that if you charge so low then it might not have too much value to keep it in good shape :frowning:


True. Somewhere in this forum there is a thread about lower prices creating less responsible guests. I believe that this is the case. Our rental is only slightly cheaper than a good hotel and more expensive than some of the downmarket hotels in our area.

Budget listings are all very well but so is creating value for the accommodation offered.


@Monica we are in two very oversaturated areas Barcelona and San Francisco. I refuse to lower our rates, because ever time I have, in the previous 6+ years of hosting, we have gotten guests that were less than respectful. We definitely are not booked as much as the people around the proverbial corner, BUT we are making 20%+ than the average listing in both cities (thanks Everbooked for the report) and we haven’t had an issue in over 2 years. Plus, we get to take mini breaks to our vacation homes! (They we bough as vacation homes and quickly turned into ‘ok we will go, only if it isn’t a busy Air time’)

This is such a tricky subject. I suppose that the ‘preparing time’ has some bearing, perhaps the most bearing; in example. our place takes a good 2-3 hrs to prep between guests, that is what gave us the idea to go from 1 to 2 nights. Then because of the nature of our place (an island in the tropics) pushing them to 3-day minimum stays made even more sense, because 1/3 days usually the weather tends not to be cooperative, so if/when they get 2/3 good days, it always resulted in a happy guest. Weather being our greatest enemy. Then we started putting a limit, or tried to, to 5 days because after 5, they exceeded the ‘capacities’ of the island (refill toilet tank, propane, water, food supplies, now wanting a trip to town, etc). The tinkering with the minimum stay has been an evolution. No doubt, the micro considerations are endless for each individual place.

One thing we been a champion of - we have never lowered prices JUST to draw customers, the emphasis has been in giving great ‘value’ for what we charge, and that in turn (we think) has helped to raving reviews (or it should), and then such great reviews has indeed led to more bookings, one feeding the other. I must confess we happen to have two absurd competitors; one is outrageously-prized and the other being absurdly lazy and a nickel and dimer, both acting as price rabbits, which has made our job easier.

Great interesting thread.


Attack the problem as a series of experiments. Here would be my suggestion. Start with your base case and then adjust these levers in sequence and monitor bookings 30 days and 90 days out. As a best practice optimize one lever at a time and make changes once a week. The sequence below assumes you are starting from a low to competitive / price with the few to no restrictions

Drive Revenue

  1. Increase cleaning fee
  2. Increase incremental guest fee
  3. Determine base price
  4. Move to demand-base pricing (Beyond Pricing in my case) – play with this for a few weeks

Balance Revenue w/ Operational Efficiency

  1. Set minimum nights stays for Friday and Saturdays only (weekends)
  2. Set minimum nights stays for other days
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We go with higher price and take less days booked it’s a better way to go and you normally get better guest

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Possibly you will find that you have been selling yourself short all along.

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