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Can I Resurrect a Listing That Seems to Have Fallen off the Face of the App?

hosting

#1

First off, I am so thrilled to have discovered this community- you guys really go out of your way to give straight up and honest advice! And now my dilemma, thanks in advance for any advice you could offer…

For over a year and a half, I ran a humble but thriving Air BnB in the Brooklyn apartment I am struggling to keep in the face of rapid fire gentrification. I was a laid back host who always welcomed guests to treat my home as their own. Between guests, I cleaned everything- curtains, pillows, everything. I worked so hard to create the sort of space I would want to share. Some of my guests became lifelong friends, some chose less engagement, but I worked so hard to always be present and helpful in whichever way I was needed.

In the winter, things would slow down for a few months and then pick up in the spring. This spring they haven’t picked up. At all. My account has literally no activity. Needless to say, I am worried. It’s the end of April. Worried maybe isn’t the strong enough word…

When I search Brooklyn on incognito (and filter,) I don’t see my listings at all. My views are way down from last year, and those who do view don’t book. When I check my calendar, I find little lightbulbs next to some of the dates informing me that guests looked but chose something for $42 less. Which would be $8.

I’m not sure how this happened. I have no doubt the market here has grown exponentially but have no sense of whether it is oversaturated. Similar listings have a lot of blocked off dates and far more views.

In February, I hosted two guests who were new to Air BnB. As it was my dead season, I had a roommate and took the very occasional booking for a different bedroom. (She received 1/4 of each booking for the inconvenience and the emotional disruption that comes from having strangers in your house.) Although I have learned to grin and bear it through pretty much everything, my roommate had a very hard time with these guests. They spoke loudly outside her door into the wee hours of the night. They holed up in the bathroom for three hours the next morning, loudly splashing and having some sort of “romp” we didn’t want to visualize. My roommate, not having grown accustomed to quickly using the bathroom at a synagogue down the street and going to work dirty, was profoundly upset as she rushed to a meeting not even having gotten to pee. I knew I had to take some sort of action, and I called Air BnB for advice.

My experiences calling Air BnB have been a mixed bag. For some reason, on this day I got a gentleman who really cared, so much so that he opened a case and someone contacted the guests. When I next saw them, they were standoffish and everything became incredibly uncomfortable. Like now I’m sharing my home with these two women who hate my guts.

They left a vicious, factually inaccurate, one star across the board review. It changed my overall stats. (Location was always a 4.5 star category for me- I live deep in the heart of Brooklyn, and most tourist attractions involve a subway ride, a fact my listing doesn’t disguise. But cleanliness? That hurts…) Air BnB says that the review does not violate their standards, although, in the private portion, the guests essentially say that I “ratted them out” and describe things that straight up don’t exist (a “broken badge” on the front door that leads out to my terrifying neighborhood.) At this point, I don’t know what recourse I have, and I don’t know to what extent this lead to the current silence. It’s just devastating to imagine that one guest can completely destroy everything I worked so hard to build, but I honestly don’t know if this was the tipping point…

Thank you so, so much for any insights you might have…


#2

First thoughts…I don’t see the 1 star review unless I go to the foreign language reviews near the end. And then I’d have to translate it and I might not go to the trouble. It does seem that if hosts get a bad review, decline guests or do other things Airbnb won’t cop to, Airbnb punishes you with low rankings.

Don’t fall for their price lowering BS. I see that all the time on my listing too and I ignore it. I can and do take a lot of last minute bookings and if I lower my my price it’s $2-3 not $10-11 like Air urges.

Several hosts have reported it being slow so just be paitient. When all those other places are booked up by the early birds your place will still be available.

As for the roomie, maybe you should consider listing your room for one person (and cut the price $5) to cut down on the inconvenience to the roomie. You may still get people requesting for two and then you can handle those on a case by case basis and also charge $10 if there is a second person. Exchange messages with them to make sure they understand they have to accept the additional charge and they can’t hog the bathroom early in the morning. Do you still have two listings or is the roomie in a former listing. Check your pictures.

Experiment with one or two night stays if you are in a position to do so. Maybe increase the cleaning fee a bit to compensate. If you can get a couple of folks in who will give you a good review that will help.

Many people think that doing things like checking the listing every day, tweaking prices, changes pictures and so on helps with search results. The idea is that Airbnb rewards active hosts and you can’t just set it and forget it. So experiment and see if you can get a nibble.

As summer approaches and people make plans you will get bookings, I think. Forum member @Alia_Gee is a Brooklyn host and she may have some helpful ideas.


#3

Yes, I agree. Don’t blame yourself. We all get ghastly reviews if we have been doing this long enough. Some guests don’t even telegraph that the crappy thing is coming but instead shake your hand, smile, gush about their stay and then stab you inyour back hard. (happened to me over the summer. I thought I would not recover but I did.) at least your Mr. Wonderful is all the way at the end of your reviews!

Most people know to skip past the one kooky review in hundreds of good ones, chuckling at the dummy. I know, that sounds like patronizing and doesn’t help in the moment but do, try to relax. Don’t beat yourself up so much.

I tinker with prices, up or down a few bucks and I always always get inquiries or requests right after that.

Hasn’t NY had a really really unseasonably cold spring? Maybe that is part of it. But do try to tinker with those prices… anywhere on your calendar, doesn’t have to be April.

Chin up buttercup!


#4

Thank you sooooooooo much for taking the time to look and for such a detailed response! It really means the world to me!


#5

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I honestly hadn’t even thought of the snowpocalypse that would not end…


#6

Ignore the bad review, that’s the first thing. Simply forget about it.

What you need are bookings. You can’t, as you know, rely on Airbnb to send potential guests your way. I know that you work hard cleaning and preparing your place but be ready to do a little more work promoting your listing yourself and not relying on Airbnb.

Unfortunately when we sign up with Airbnb they do not promise that they will promote our listings! We have to take the bull by the horns.

There are many online and offline ways to do this. Decide to devote a certain period of time (one hour every Monday evening, two hours every Wednesday morning, or whatever) to promoting your listings.

Bear in mind that any search facility, be it internal like Airbnb or the industry leader (Google) has one major goal - pleasing its customers (searchers). Once you start promoting and getting bookings again, Airbnb search will wake up and realise that you’re worthwhile promoting to potential guests. Just nudge them awake by doing your own promotion.


#7

I think tinkering with the listing in general seems to do it. I’ll change some wording or photos and seem to get a bump. Yesterday, I added one photo to each of my four rooms and got three bookings this morning! Coincidence? IDK but it doesn’t hurt.


#8

I did it last night and boom, an inquiry right away. There is something to it!


#9

I only have 6 bookings for May and June and three came in this morning. That’s six one night bookings and April is almost over! But I will bet anything that by the end of summer 90% of my available days will have sold. Be patient.


#10

My inquiries and bookings are way off, too. For me in the Northeast I think the harsh, cold spring has hurt business. I hear through my cleaning lady that all her rental clients are slow. So I tweaked my listing, although I use smartbnb and beyond pricing, both of which ping my listing every day. We will see. I’m not panicked. Not yet anyway.


#11

I think photos are a big part of listings, or at least, I think that as a guest, that’s always the first thing I look at.
I would add a photo of the bathroom (otherwise it makes me think that there’s something to hide). I would also suggest removing the photo of the room that is not part of this listing. I was thoroughly confused by what room I would get. I don’t read the photos, just look at images.
Just my first impression from the listing, otherwise, it looks clean, cute and very affordable. But what do I know, I’m not from NY :smile:


#12

Queens, actually, but close enough. :wink:

I just stared using smartbnb this year, so i can’t compare my market report to previous years - but according to it my listing rarely makes it to the first 20 listings people see.

I’m assuming it’s not so much market saturation as new hosts listing - and new hosts get a boost.

Fwiw, my guests aren’t usually chatty (95% are here to see Manhattan or local family, not me) and my reviews are patchy, mostly good enough, so take any advice with a grain of salt:

I would try raising your prices. If nothing else, it gives the “oh, the host is active” boost to the search algorithm. $50/ night is too cheap. The hostels in Manhattan charge $50/ night, you should charge more. (You value your space, charge like you value it) You can always drop it down again if it doesn’t help.

Here is what else I’m doing: on Facebook I’m a member of several local groups. They allow people to self promote as long as you don’t do it more than 2/ month. We have a lot of young families in our neighborhood who don’t have room for granny to stay in their tiny one bedroom apartment - so, for instance, i’m marketing to the parents group as a convenient place to park visiting family members that isn’t their living room couch.

I also got business cards (Moo has an airbnb approved template and their paper quality is high) last year and I’m still leaving them at my local coffee shops.

I really think that has helped me get through the post-Trump tourist drought. I’m targeting people who actually have a reason to come to my neighborhood, as opposed to folks who just want to get into Manhattan as quickly as possible.

The other change i made last year is i added a listing for my Florida room. I call it The Summer Porch and it’s only available May-September, basically after we put away our winter coats.

Set up costs were new bedding ($50) and some time with an Airbnb customer service agent. But it was pretty hopping last August. It’s a different demographic than my private room, and so far they seem easier to please.

So now i may not have many nights booked ahead for one listing, but the other one balances it out.

If you have a couch or an air mattress, you could list it at a lower price point ($45-55) and see if that helps you.

I used to joke about listing our linen closet as a private room - it’s amazing where you can find usable space. :wink:


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