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Algorithms be damned!

#1

I have not had an Airbnb booking since February for my two-bedroom rental unit. I have been an Airbnb Superhost since October.

Today, I pretended to be a guest seeking a guestroom in my area. After I Googled: “Airbnb” and my town and state, I could not find my property listing among the 40 other nearby Airbnb units. Plus, my rental location was not marked on the adjoining Google Map.

I immediately called Airbnb Support who told me it was varying computer algorithms that took my listing off the featured Airbnb units.

During my Airbnb Support conversation, my rental magically appeared at the very top of all local Airbnb units.

Does this make sense to anyone else?

#2

Yes it does @Don_Burns

Airbnb does not show every listing, every time when there is a search.

Having said that its seems an awful long time to not have a booking. What other factors do you think could be affecting your listing. Do you want to post a link and we can see if we can make any suggestions.

Presume you have already checked issues like reviews, ratings, competitor pricing, demand etc.

I don’t think being a superhost has much impact on where you sit in the rankings.

#3

I have been looking at your listing and the competition.

  1. There are a lot of listings in you price range, most of them are “whole house”.
  2. The “private room” listings in your pricerange have no bookings either.
  3. The “private room” listings that have bookings are 1 night stays and lower price range.

So from this, my opinion would be that, currently the market slow in your areas, and not good for “private rooms”, and that the competition has better prices.

PS: As for the pictures in your listing. You need to do some serious decluttering and redo the pictures.
A good example is the Table with all the books in the lounge, remove all remotes and books. You could leave 1 strategically placed book, but now it just looks messy.

4 Likes
#4

As has been widely discussed here (but I guess not on those YouTube videos you watch?), it will serve you well if you are an active host who monitors your listing. As I put it: the busier you are, the busier you will be. I’m surprised that you have just now checked where your listing is showing up in a search. And when you say you “pretended to be a guest,” what does that mean? You should always do an “incognito” search. When you search for your own place on your own computer as yourself it shows your listing near the top.

If you don’t have any bookings for a long time or your listing is frequently unavailable then it will move down in the search ranking. So getting bookings on booking dot com has the unintended consequence of resulting in fewer bookings on Airbnb.

The link is on his forum profile.

I agree that the pictures leave a lot to be desired. The main thing I notice is that the lighting is poor. Some of the other things are aesthetic choices that might hurt you with the market as a whole but it is what it is. It’s your home and reflects your tastes. Some of the pictures you’ve taken from the internet are pixelated when viewing on a big screen like a computer; I’d definitely replace them.

Some reviews and your description mention a view from the private balcony but there is no picture of the view! There’s decent pictures of the furniture and the neighbor’s house on one side. And even outside the pics are strangely dark. I suggest putting the camera lower so you are look straight on at the spaces instead of pics that seem to be towering above everything. Then use a photo editor to brighten the pics. If you have a smartphone you should be able to do this easily on your phone.

One thing I noticed is your description says “shared bathroom.”shared%20bath

As I’m sure you’ve read here many times, people don’t read. If I were traveling with a group of 4 I’d be looking for private entrance and private bathroom. If I saw shared bathroom I’d click away and would only come back if there were no other listings in the area. Now reading your listing I understand that you mean the two bedrooms share a single bathroom but you need to change that to private bathroom. Since people have to come in through your front door it’s not totally crazy for someone to think the bathroom is upstairs in your part of the house.

After I closed the window from looking at your place I did a search for “Murphy’s” for 3 guests with no dates, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. I didn’t put in a “home type.” You didn’t come up as one of the 20 listings in Murphy’s. When I did a search for “Forest Meadows” with no other filters on you came up near the top.

There seem to be quite a few competitors that are whole house or separate guest suite. I don’t know if adding a separate entrance to the guest suite is something the layout of the house would allow for in a cost effective manner but it’s something to consider.

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#5

I have been thinking about this.
When is a space a shared space, and when is it a private room?

Personally, I would list the space as “whole place/basement appartment”.
In my area it is commonly accepted to share the entrance, even in privat rentals.

I do not know how it is fenced off, is there a door between the guest space and the rest of the house?

One of my spaces I list, the guests share a complete hallway with me. But there was no way to list the 12 rooms on my upper 2 floors as a private room listing.
This space is not on IB, and we asked the guest if they understand the shared hallway on the 1st floor.

#6

Ah I didn’t remember it was on his profile @KKC and what great advice you have provided @KKC particularly in terms of the bathroom being labelled incorrectly.

Having a quick look I would suggest it might be useful @Don_Burns to have a look at what others are offering locally and perhaps make some adjustments to declutter/modernise your Airbnb space.

And when you are done, I would hire in a professional photographer to help show it off to its best.

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#7

We have had many discussions of this on the forum and come to no conclusion. Even with the categories Airbnb provides there are still spaces that don’t fit. And their filters are still greatly lacking. Here’s Airbnb’s description (for the 1% of guests who look for the info)

My space has a entrance of it’s own. Guests do not come through any part of my home unless by invitation and I open doors for them to pass through. Many here have said I an list as an “entire place.” But note it says it “usually includes a kitchen.” I’ve already had guests think they get a kitchen despite none being listed or pictured so I’d rather underpromise and overdeliver by listing my guest room as a “private room.” If I were to add the room next door to the suite and put a kitchenette and lounge space I could list as an “entire place.” But I couldn’t get more than 10-$15 a night and I’d double the space to be cleaned and number of people trying to stay. And even then I don’t like categorizing what would in effect be a (US style) duplex in the same category as a stand alone home. Maybe someday I’ll do that, turn my home into a duplex.

Lucky for me I’m so well booked I’m in the “not broke so don’t fix it category.” But for someone like Don who is trying to get more Airbnb bookings the rules are different.

1 Like
#8

The problem with your approach @Chris is that Airbnb doesn’t agree with you and if @Don_Burns took your advice he could end up with complaints from guests that they were expecting a whole place but got one where there is a shared entrance and Airbnb would side with them.

#9

Can you show me where AirBnB describes that they do not agree with me?

AirBnB nowhere states that an “entire place” needs to have a separate entrance.
It only mentions bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

And AirBnB advices the host to choose the one that matches most. You can argue that it matches more to an entire place than a private room.

The key is in how you describe the listing in your wording.

You can debate if @Don_Burns is offering a kitchen. But he is offering cooking facilities.

Yes, and sometimes it is needed to seek the limits of the rules.
Underselling is good, but not to a point that you are losing business.

I think it is better to list as an “entire place”, than losing potential guests trough limitations of the AirBnB filter.

As long as you make sure the guest exactly knows what they get when booking.

2 Likes
#10

Thanks for everyone’s honest feedback. My thick skin (or big butt) allows me to handle criticism well. My reply comments are:

    1. I will re-shoot my TV-lounge photos and will remove the coffee-table books and other “clutter” on the glass table. The TV lounge appears dark in photos, despite all ceiling lights are on. I use a SLR digital camera, and not a cell phone, to take these interior photos. I don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer, as I have spent money on several newspaper ads, 4" x 8" rack-cards, double-sided business cards (with guestroom photos), and a website (MeadowsLair.com).
    1. The guests’ lower-level balcony view is a solid wall of green pines trees that surround our house. Guests must crane their necks upward to see the tree tops and sky. But I will take a photo of this forest view and add it to my listing photos.
    1. I listed our downstairs guest bathroom as “shared.” I thought it was more honest to indicate that two couples in both adjoining bedrooms must “share” that single bathroom. I am limited to what Airbnb amenity categories are offered for me to click.
    1. My Airbnb home is four miles from the nearest town, whose connecting highway is not safe to walk and there is no dependable Uber, Lyft or taxi service. The town has 20 wine tasting rooms and several fine-dining restaurants along its downtown Main Street. With more Airbnbs and VRBOs opening in the downtown area, I think visitors would rather stay within a short walking-distance when drinking a lot.
    1. Our Airbnb home is within a little-known gated-community, called “Forest Meadows.” Tourists will better know the name of the nearby town of Murphys, than typing Forest Meadows, to find our rental unit online.
    1. We chose our $100 (winter) and $125 (spring through fall) nightly per-bedroom rate, based on the local hotel/motel room rates. My wife and I discussed lowering our nightly rate to $80 per-bedroom, but the booking frequency is not worth the lower room price.
    1. With my retirement pension and my wife’s income, we don’t solely depend on our rental fees to support us. But the rental revenue helps pay our annual $6,600 house property tax in California. We enjoy being hosts, as we like to entertain guests and meet new people, since we have no family to visit us.
    1. Our downstairs rental space does have a private entrance. But it leads through an unsafe dirt basement. I have had contractors estimate $3,000 to install a concrete walk-way and hand rails to make it safe for my guests to enter and leave from my house’s lower-level.

Thanks again for your insightful suggestions!

#11

Which you could re-coup in one month compared to sitting empty.

I’m thinking that 90% of people would realized if there are two bedrooms and one bathroom, they will have to share that bathroom with each other. However I and 90% of guests take “shared bathroom” to mean sharing with the hosts and or other guests.

4 Likes
#12

I agree. And the ‘shared bathroom’ thing would prevent me from booking - I don’t want to share a bathroom with strangers and that’s what’s implied.

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#13

It is caused by the light wall and the bright light trough the windows windows. Try to shoot with less outside light. (cloudy day or golden hour)

Also do not use flash, put it on a tripod. If you do not have a tripod take a ladder or stool and some books to place the camera on.

If this does not work, it can be solved in post-processing.
If you want help, you can send me a PM and I will do it for you.

1 Like
#14

Chris: Thanks for your photo help offer!

I was in a near-fatal car crash 20 months ago. I am learning to walk again, with the use of a four-pronged cane. I wish I would stand on a ladder, let alone put on my shoes and socks by myself. But that day will come!

I limped down our 16-step stairway this morning to reshoot a few make-up photos and did my best without falling. I am a persistent SOB!

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#15

Glad to hear you are starting to walk again. My heart goes out to you.

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#16

Just to show you how a little post-processing goes a long way:

Before

After

And this is done in 2 minutes, with some poor quality material from the AirBnB website.

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#17

A small point, filtered photos may in some cases make a room (or space such as a deck) look too good and lead to guest disappointment.

1 Like
#18

My eyes are bleeding! I hope your roads are pothole free lol

1 Like
#19

What do you mean by filtered?

#20

In the US, we commonly refer to using digital tools to brighten/darken/blur edges etc, filters.

1 Like
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