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Decline in Bookings

Has anyone else noted a general decline in bookings within the last month or so??
I have changed my settings and compared my listing with others in the area.

Not sure what I might need to do differently.

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This was recently covered here

I really think it’s related to increased cases of COVID in certain states plus now we have the Delta variant and the Wu virus.

This is my first full year of hosting, and what an unpleasant, drastic drop in occupancy! “Went from sugar to $#!/” as they say. I have been proactive and aggressive with my efforts to stay booked as much as possible, and I believe it has made a difference. Here’s some of my efforts:

  1. Adjusted price daily, sometimes more than once a day, sometimes an increase but typically a decrease. An unbooked day yesterday can never be anything except a big fat zero. I put my ego aside and have ‘rethought’ what my minimum rate SHOULD be compared to unbooked night after unbooked night ALWAYS being “zero!” I think this indicates something positive within the Airbnb algorithms, and that increases your SEO

  2. Started allowing one-night stays (and thank goodness I did because I have had probably 12 or so in each listing since beginning of September. I was surprised by how many one-night reservations we have had, since we have a cleaning fee on the higher range. Importantly, my listings seem to be a good fit for one-night stays. I have not had the problems I thought I would - of course each listing and area is different so use best judgment.

  3. I have taken better advantage of the 50-character listing title and change it OFTEN. If I am unbooked on a Friday morning, I will change title to something like “Available tonight! Not too late!” or “Last Min. Specials” or “BOOK 2Nite 4LESS!” etc., etc., etc. Those 50 characters are probably the most under-utilized space in entire listing description. There’s an option to have an ‘internal name’ linked to the listing so changing the public name won’t be too confusing.

  4. I have become more assertive and ask many guests at some point, usually after (but sometimes before) they check in and get to know the place, if they would like to add a night for $X. Only a few have taken the offer but it’s extra money vs. the alternative - dead and empty and zero.

  5. I have focused on maintenance issues, painting, repairs, updated photos and such without having to block any dates (so far). I have used this slower time as an opportunity to assess my listing description with a more discerning eye for detail. It’s amazing to me how much my listing furniture and decorations change, a little here a new throw blanket there and so on… Taking new, updated pictures keeps your listing description consistent with reality. This is a good time to peruse other comp listings for things to add (or avoid!) to description. This strategy will get you more bookings, they’ll be in the future most likely, but more bookings indeed.

There are more ways to improve occupancy that I am focusing on, but these are the main ones. Any other hosts have strategies to share?

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Summer of 2019 I was booked virtually every night I had available. I take one night bookings, keep my price competitive with hotels but offer better value for solo or couple travelers and I take same day bookings sometimes up until 7-8 pm the night of the stay.

I always clean the room same day as check out now and did then. During the pandemic (pre-vaccine immunity) I let it sit a day or two between bookings. Now my calendar is blocked off but I’m getting a steady stream of direct bookings from regulars. So don’t neglect building a relationship with guests. I have people who live in small towns within 3 hours of my town. They have to come here regularly for Dr. Appts, flights, and shopping. Some come to visit family. I’ve become their home away from home. I’m getting so many that eventually someone won’t be able to book because another repeat regular is here.

I’m no longer chasing trying to be booked every night and don’t have to though.

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Smart, and we feel the same way. 70-90% of something is better than 100% of nothing!
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This week, we got a same day IB on Wed at noon for Wed-Fri. A few min later we got “sorry I was just trying to give them a new CC #” and asking for a refund. I figured it was actually buyers remorse and this was correct. So, we chatted and we sent a special offer, and we got a tidy sum for a 90 min room turnover and 2 loads of wash.
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Well gotta run and do a bit of paint touchups - our next guest checks-in tonight.

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One year might be too soon to judge what is normal seasonal fluctuation, especially with pandemic travel disruption still ongoing.

It looks like you are getting good results experimenting with rates & minimums. As you are so activist in managing your listing, the next step might be establishing relationships with local businesses to direct traffic to your door. See some of Jacquo’s posts. And don’t forget conversion of repeat guests from Airbnb to direct bookings.

I’ve increased minimum nights (to accommodate more vacant time between bookings for COVID air-out) and raised my rates to compensate, even though similar properties in my area have dropped their prices, I assume due to lower demand. Last I checked I average $10 more per night than my competitors.

I am content with meeting a goal to hit my pre-covid monthly net revenue level, not necessarily maximize nights booked. Unlike a hotel, I don’t have fixed staffing costs that I must cover. I keep in mind my time and sanity as a cost beyond the usual Rate X Nights - Expense calculation.

Are there any areas where your property shines that you can emphasize or increase? My property is attractive to older couples because they can park right next to the entrance, and there are no steps. I also ply my guests with amenities that don’t cost much but are valuable to my demographic, which results in gushy reviews.

The pandemic switched up my clientele from tourist & business to people visiting families or friends, but who want a separate accommodation, thus more repeat business. The tourist business is starting to trickle back in a bit.

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What a great place you have put yourself in - all your hard work and networking through the years has paid off! I hope to be able to put myself into that kind of ‘autopilot’ you’ve created, some day in the future!

Yes I totally get that - how one’s values and goals are the determining factor and how they will vary one’s business model. I would like for my ‘real job’ to be hosting, but the money is not yet enough to realize that.

But I am adding a third listing and going live in less than two weeks. All things being equal and because the three individual listings are very similar in size, sleeping capacity and nightly rates, going from two to three listings is equal to fifty percent more listings. And fifty percent more listings should earn fifty percent more money! Not enough to justify quitting my day job - not yet - but a (50% more!) incentive to keep on keeping on, working harder and smarter, creating new ways to streamline operations and increase occupancy!

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This! This! This this this this!

Great tips.

I have reviewed my listing several times and applied some if the suggestions you listed. I have gone back after reading your post to reducing my minimum night to 1 from 2.!! Let’s see how that works. I even changed my listing name again. I will be more constant and do this weekly!!

Thank you so much. I hope that I will come back here and give great testimonials.

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I have been running since I re-opened, few-to-no vacancies through November. What’s different post-COVID, besides it being my busiest time, is how far in advance folks have booked. My last booking was made at the end of August, but I was booked fully, except for Thanksgiving week, which I blocked as a well-earned vacay! I’m keeping my calendar blocked starting with December, to see if 1 week is enough for me to look forward to folks in my home again!

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Personally I focus on profit rather than occupancy,

It’s not worth my while doing one night turnover and I never reduce my rates .

For me it’s quality over quantity @rmorell

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I realize hosts have different goals, different business models… For me profit and occupancy have had a strong, positive correlation to each other. My profit increases as occupancy increases. And since I get paid separately for cleaning (besides a percentage of gross nightly rates of each listing) having one-night guests has been very good for my income during this off-season period. I worry about the quality of guests a lower rate may attract, but I am definitely in the medium- to medium/high-range of market price point. Definitely not the cheapest by far. Plus I feel that listings that ARE booked more often are interpreted by Airbnb to be more ‘interesting’ and thus GET booked more often, more or less favored by the algorithm (if that makes sense).

Me, too! I think the listing (1 bedroom vs. 4 or 5) makes a difference. My turnover takes too much time and effort to allow a single night. I want to make a 4 night min. but 2-night weekends were bread and butter pre-Covid. Now stays are longer but people get to travel less and it costs more so I think they want to make the most of it, so that’s good for me. If I can do 50% ish occupancy in a month (translates to the profit I want), I’m cool. So far, so good.

@epadat, we have a lot of festivals and events. Because those have returned, my bookings have returned. Yay! There are several factors…what country, state, city you are in…local restrictions…season…etc. to take into account. So glad your other strategies are generating business for you!

I have a 4 bedroom and 3 full bath listing.
September wasn’t so great and October is beginning to look the same.
I am not so rigid in terms of trying other things such as 1 day bookings. I have mortgage to pay. I understand the model of quality over quantity though and respect everyone’s decision on how to run their business.
Let’s see the outcome of the few extra charges that I have made so far. Honestly, I need to see a positive outcome. I will keep the group updated with feedback when I can.

I still love to read about others thoughts, strategies and ideas.

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It’s interesting what others are doing.

About those last minute booking discounts—is anyone using the discount feature in Airbnb to automatically generate the discounted rates?

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That’s a really good question, I’ve always wondered that too. Also, does anyone use the early-bird discount?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a tool that is provided for the convenience of hosts vs a tool that Airbnb would just like hosts to use so that they can make more money.

Just got a last minute 1 day booking for today. So that’s good news for me.
Oh, I got to mention that I also extended my same day booking time.

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How did you get to that page?? Did you use a computer or Hand held device?

if I needed to, I would use it. I just don’t need to right now. I have had the better stays with those who plan ahead & fly in, BUT I’ve had 3 last minute corporate bookings that were great (although they were inquiries & not discounted).

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