Frustrated. I NEED help! Please!

I have noted a huge decline in our bookings since last year. I am frustrated and not sure what to do. Currently researching rental management companies. I have 2 homes, one in Riverside and the other in LA. The one in LA is recent but little to no booking. AIRBNB/VRBO and Furnished Finder are my most used apps nowadays; I have adjusted my price, compared prices, etc. Both homes are very well furnished and laid out. Huge spaces. A lot of money is on the table.

I need assistance with other possible sites to list my properties. What are your thoughts on using a management company? Any ideas on which ones I can use?

How would a management company get you bookings?

Do you currently manage your own listings? If so, how would using a management company increase your earnings, when they would take a percentage?

You could post links to your listings here so other hosts could maybe give you some advice on how you might change or improve your listing to attract more bookings. Sometimes an objective eye catches things that you may be unaware of. There’s more to attracting bookings than furnishings, house lay-out, and that it’s huge.

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I agree with @muddy’s advice to post links to your listings here for feedback and @rolf’s question on how a property management company would increase bookings.

In theory a property management company could help if they’re more astute than you in pricing, presenting and managing the listings.

BUT

o. My sense is that most experienced Hosts feel you can manage guests and the properties more effectively than the typical management company. By far.

o The management company’s fees might/might not be reasonable (they’re sometimes misunderstood, especially what the ‘base’ is on which the fee is calculated.

o Many managers want the listing in their name as Host, which would mean that if you ever fire the manager all those reviews go with the Host not you, though you might (for me this would be a ‘must’) be able to negotiate that you stay as Host and the management company is listed as co-Host.


We’ve heard similar complaints of little (or no) business from others coming on to this forum. But you should also know that many Hosts here are doing very well. How much of the difference is skill? How much is the specific marketplace you’re operating in?

Where it is the marketplace, I’ve read here:

o In some marketplaces Airbnb has been very successful in recruiting new Hosts. So, whereas last year you might have been competing with ‘x’ listings, now you’re dealing with, say, 2x listings (2x being an example). Some Hosts here track this and can tell you what the available listings were in their market last year vs this year. Do you have a sense whether this is happening for your listings?

When Airbnb recruits new Hosts they give them a promotional ‘bump’ in where they appear, potentially displacing you to a later page in results. Some Hosts have said they cannot any longer find their listing in the search results.


When you post links to your listings, please let us know:

Are you local to your listings? [If not, do you have a local co-Host?]

Do you manage the listings? Manage the Guests?

How long has the Riverside property been a short-term rental? Have you been managing it for that time?

What do you see as your target market for each listing?

One thing to look at is the level of competition for similar listings in your area. The market may be saturated, in which case you need to do things to make your place stand out from the rest.

There’s a mistaken idea some hosts have that if you see that your competition provides XX, YY, and ZZ, that you should as well, but that’s a faulty concept.

For instance, if most of the listings in your area sleep up to 10 people, hosts may assume they should buy a big house to Airbnb, or put in some sleeper couches to up the guest count. But that’s the opposite of what you need to do to be competitive, because not all guests are a group of ten- there may be lots of guests who are looking for a place for a group of four, which would be much less expensive. So while your nightly fee would be less, your profits wouldn’t suffer because you’ll be getting all the bookings from guests for whom the other listings that sleep 10 aren’t suitable. A cute, simple little bungalow that sleeps 4 may end up being fully occupied, while the listings that sleep 10, with all the bells and whistles, are all competing for the large group business so may only achieve 30% occupancy.

If all the listings in your area have pools and hot tubs, that doesn’t mean you need to have those, too, because many guests may not find those things to be worth paying a higher price for. Maybe they don’t even like hot tubs and wouldn’t use it anyway.

In other words, assess your competition and try to attract a niche market which isn’t catered to by others.

My listing is a private room for 1 guest only. Most of the private rooms in my town sleep 2, are in the central area of town, close to the beach, can be quite noisy, and cost more. So I tap the solo traveler market that prefers to be on the outskirts of town in a quiet countryside area, a 20 minute walk from town and the beach, and get as many bookings as I really want.

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If you’re having issues getting bookings for short term rental in LA, why not rent it long term? In the long run, I think it would be better than using a management company to manage a home with little to no bookings. You can probably lease it out for $2,800 or more a month depending on square footage.

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Hi Muddy.
Yes, I do manage my own listing.
Here is the link to the Riverside location. I am open to any form of changes that can benefit and increase my bookings. Including pricing. https://airbnb.com/h/7399riverside

I think I will benefit more from short-term rentals. I have posted on 2 sites so far. Not sure about other possible sites out there.

I thought about a management company because they might have strategies that I am not armed with or possibly know of more ways to advertise. I might be completely wrong here.

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Just so they can wave whatever magic wand they might have. I am just frustrated at this time. Wanted to hear the opinions of people in this forum. And pick their brains. I know we have quite some people who have more experience in this hosting business.

Back to your question, I though that they might have more insight and ideas about other possible ways/sites for me to list. Especially sites that target short-term renters.

Very interesting to know. About wanting the listing under their names. That makes sense. I just posted a link to my Riverside location.

https://airbnb.com/h/7399riverside

Okay, there’s several things I think you could do to improve your listing.

For starters, you could work on your description. The first section is where you should give general info, close to… (which you have done) etc. That’s where you have to lure guests in to read further by making them think it would be perfect for them.

The Space section, where you have written almost nothing, is where you are meant to describe the house itself, the rooms, the house layout, some of your attractive amenities.

Most of what you have written under “Guest Access” belongs under “The Space”.

Guest Access is where to say the whole house and property are for guest use, that there is a locked shed with the owner’s supplies that’s off-limits, whether and where there are stairs (in case guests have mobility issues), stuff like that.

Your photo gallery definitely needs work. 82 photos are far too many and many of them are redundant, showing the same things, or pointless, like close-ups of knicknacks or a potted plant.
I also find the photos confusing- for instance, there appear to be 2 living rooms, but that isn’t described anywhere.

Close the toilet lid for bathroom photos.

Beds for 2 people need bedside tables and reading lamps on both sides of the bed.

Xmas is long over- get rid of seasonal decor like the Xmas tree pillow.

Get rid of clutter. A certain amount of decor items are fine, but that tiered shelf crammed with useless things is unnecessary. Guests don’t book on the basis of your knicknacks.

Your backyard photos are of an unattractive space- a large expanse of what looks like bark mulch with a concrete block wall. As you live in an area with a nice climate, people like to spend time outdoors. You have a large outdoor area with great potential that you have done nothing with that would make it appealing.

I would put outdoor seating there- a table with a big umbrella, enough chairs for your guest count, some potted palms and succulents, and flowering plants. It needs to be turned into an enticing outdoor living space. Yes, that will cost money (check online marketplaces and garage sales for second hand stuff that may just need a spruce-up or be fine as is), but the way it looks now is not condusive to getting bookings, it’s actually a detriment. (You have a review from back in 2020 mentioning the barren backyard, you responded that you are working on it, yet 2 years later it appears you haven’t done anything there)

Your guest count is too high for your dining room and living room seating. Cut the guest count down to 8 and make sure all the areas where people congregate to eat and converse have adequate seating for 8 without being cluttered or cramped.

You need to disclose the potential for noise from the train tracks and the nearby freeway (if that can be heard). You have some reviews which mention this. Your lowest rating is for location. Disclosing everything about the location, the bad along with the good, will set better expections and lead to higher ratings. Every listing has warts and being clear about them leads to getting guests who are a better fit, have reasonable expectations, and therefore give better reviews.

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OK. Noted and cropped. Will work on these.

Thank you.

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One more thing- try to identify and market to a target market. Right now you say in the The Space section “Perfect for every travel accommodation needs.”

Instead, in your intro description, say something along the lines of “A comfortable and spacious house to relax in and enjoy with your family or group of friends.”

It’s better to appeal and cater to a certain market than to try to appeal to everyone and anyone. You’ll still get crossover, like some bookings will be from families and some from a group of couples vacationing together, or a bunch of gals having a girls’ get-together, but what you want is for guests to think when reading the intro description, “Hey, that’s us she’s talking about.”

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Thank you for the link.

There are a lot of wonderful things about your listing. I LOVE that you have four bedrooms and THREE baths. That’s great. The beds decor, small touches, combination door locks, look appealing to me. But rather than dwell on that let me focus on what I think could be improved.

First, I agree with every one of @muddy’s recommendations.

Second, Pictures

o Aim for no more than about 50 pictures.

o Caption Pictures. I often did not know what I am looking at or why (e.g., #30, which looks like it is from bathroom in #36). There are many styles of doing so. I came across this listing the other day that I thought was drab and just so-so appealing but when I read the captions I felt the Host was charming and I warmed to the place. Of course, some Hosts prefer a simpler style. For the bedrooms, it looks like each are numbered (?); if so, I’d start those captions showing the bedroom number, then any pertinent facts, then maybe something interesting or that would make me study the picture more, or charm me.

o Take Better Pictures.

Prepare Rooms First. Make it look nice and finished before taking pictures. For example, that very first picture of one of the bedrooms: the bed skirt is not neatly presented.
Take Most Pictures from Eye Level. That same bedroom picture is taken from a low height: looks weird to me.
Show Pictures of Each Room and Living Area. You have three bathrooms but I don’t see three bathrooms. I see that outside sitting area/table only from a distance. BTW, if you have eight guests or even six and they want to eat or sit outside, where do they sit? Where do they eat? Where is the grill? You say there’s a work area – where?

We had a recent post where the guest complained about the outside being dingy, trashy, unkempt, full of weeds. The listing had very few pics of the outside and did not show this. Some of us thought that when things are not shown that there’s a reason. So, your back yard looks like a prison exercise area and you don’t show us the front of the house. As a guest that suggests to me that there’s something ‘wrong’ with the outside that you don’t want me to see.

First picture, and then next four pictures: Make Them Count! This is valuable real estate. Show me the best of your home and include at least one appealing outside picture.

Third, Title and First Paragraph

You need to think about what you want to point out about your listing that is special, who it’s for, and amenities valued in your marketplace. I don’t know who you’re targeting, so I don’t know what to say. Is Riverside’s proximity to LA a draw for your listing? To other places in Southern CA? I just don’t know, though the pictures and your closing line in your first paragraph (“Perfect family experience this holiday season”) suggest that I think of this place for the holidays. So you need to think about this because if you don’t generate interest here the rest of your listing won’t be read or seen.

Fourth, Somewhere Give Me Bullet Points

For example, replace this:

“All the house space can be used except the garage which we mostly use as our storage space. We allow the use of our Washing machine and dryer for guests staying longer than 7 days. We also provide WIFI with smart TVs located in the sitting areas which will enable our guests’ stream from their own devices and apps. We installed Alexa for your listening pleasure. Our kitchen has Keurig for instant coffee, the guests provide their own coffee pods. We also equipped the Kitchen with Ninja Blender and toaster for you to enjoy. We have flutes for your champagne and wine glasses when you want to relax and have a quiet time. Our home is made for your comfort and pleasure.”

With (edit appropriately):

o Three Queen-size bedrooms
o Three full baths
o Pet friendly (please ask first!)
o Welcome children
o Free clothes washer and dryer
o Central AC
o Wood burning fireplace
o Fully fenced in yard with BBQ Grill
o 65" HDTV with Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix
o Super fast Wi-Fi: 513 Mbps
o Alexa
o Fully stocked and equipped kitchen
o Keurig, Ninja blender, Champagne flutes . . .
o One hour from Los Angeles (50 miles)
o Year-round fun in the sun, access to trails, [fill in]

Fifth, Think about Maximum Occupancy

@muddy made the right point that 10 is too much because your house just doesn’t look comfortable for 10 people. I know it can sleep eight, but it doesn’t look comfortable for eight in my view because there does not appear seating for eight to eat inside or outside, nor does it appear that eight can sit comfortably to watch TV. Yet, you have four bedrooms and three baths – which could easily accommodate eight, if only they could dine and sit together somewhere.

Sixth, Make the Outside Appealing and an Outside Living Space

The backyard is an eyesore. Put a vine on that wall, maybe a trellis with a flowering plant. I used to live in the Bay Area, which is not as sunny as what you have, and in just a few months my trellis was filled with flowers. You could do this NOW.

Seventh, Make the Living Area Appealing

After you resolve the seating situation, many of the walls are just bare. Those rooms look sterile. You need more pictures/paintings on the walls. You have great taste, so it’s just a matter of doing.

Eighth, Review Your Listing Language for Consistency, Accuracy and Interest

Consistency: In House Rules you say check-in is at 3 pm, check-out by 11 am; in Additional House Rules you say check-in is at 4 pm, check-out by 10 am. [I think you could edit the Additional Rules to make them somewhat shorter but hopefully others comment on your additional rules. BTW, what is ‘TOT’? Does the guest have to remove the trash from every room? Really? After the guest collects it, then what? Why does the guest need to know here that Trash day is Monday. What do you mean by ‘early’ trash pickup? . . .

Accuracy: Just make sure that everything is accurate, especially the list of amenities. Several of us have had the experience due to an Airbnb software glitch that amenities were added that we don’t have. In a recent post a guest got a penalty-free cancellation when the amenity list was incorrect even though it’s likely that it wasn’t the Host who checked off an amenity he didn’t have.

Interest: Make it easy for the guest to read. In Additional Rules you say to avoid loud noises ‘especially during stipulated hours.’ To see what those hours are I have to get out of that section to go to the previous section. It’s easier for all to replace ‘during stipulated hours’ with ‘from 10 pm - 7 am.’ In ‘Getting Around’ you say I can take Uber or taxi but am I close to a freeway (a review said you are). Maybe that’s a plus – Five minutes to Riverside Freeway (91), to Villegas Park (18 acres, swimming pool, swings, events, super fun for kids). Please tell the reader more about the area, ideally in bulllet points, maybe distances to attractions are relevant (?).

Create a guidebook.


I’m going to stop here for now.

There’s more to do but @muddy’s list and mine are a good start.

I’m sure others will give you their two cents, which might differ from mine, giving you a diversity of input and feedback.

Meanwhile, maybe you could tell us about your target market. Also, do you have a minimum stay?

Best of luck to you.

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First of all, I just need to say that I do appreciate the time it takes to read, go to the listing, and write your suggestions. I have copied and pasted ALL suggestions and will tackle every one of them.

My target market is people who are on vacation within the area, families, and professionals ( I have had travel nurses rent in the past).

A little background, I live over 60 miles away, and my plants all died because of lack of watering. I am not very familiar with plants and which ones will thrive with lil to no water. But I hear and understand the need for color and esthetics so I will do more research. I don’t know what Trellis is but best believe that I will find it and incorporate it as well. Vines? Ok.

I started working on this tonight.

https://airbnb.com/h/luxury13584bed

This is the link for my LA home. Some of the things mentioned also apply here. I have not edited it since this conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts also.

Again, thank you ALL for your time and input.

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Ok Muddy. I have made some changes. Will continue to apply your suggestions.

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People tend either be “plant people” or not. If you don’t have a green thumb or the plants will die from lack of water, of course that’s not a good thing.

You would definitely want to choose plants that thrive in your area and aren’t water hogs. The type of gardening and plants for hot dry conditions is called xeriscaping. You could look that up online and get lots of ideas. Lush, tropical-type gardens with lots of flowering plants need a lot of water and maintenance, so that’s not the style you’d be going for. But there can be a lot of color variation in succulent plants, which would do well at your place, so that can take the place of flowers.

I’d advise going to a local nursery (not Home Depot but a real nursery with knowledgable employees who can tell you which plants are low maintenance, suited to your climate without special care, etc) and browse around. Not necessarily buy plants on the first visit, but get an idea of what is available and then think about how to utilize what in your space. Ivy may not grow well in your climate, but other vines might (a trellis is a structure, usually of crisscrossed wood slats or bamboo, that vining plants can grow up, but there are also vines which are self-clinging and would grow up that block wall without a trellis to support it and soften the look of it. Not necessary to try to cover the whole wall, just break up the expanse a bit).

As far as watering, maybe you could ask your cleaner to also water the plants (pay her a little extra for that). She can dump the buckets of floor washing and cleaning water in them rather than down the drain. Or maybe a neighbor who you can see has a nice garden would like a little side job coming over to water once or twice a week. There are also various things available which you stick in a plant pot, fill with water, and the water seeps slowly over days into the soil. The most crude version of this, which of course wouldn’t look nice in a rental, but gives you an idea of the concept, is filling a plastic pop bottle with water and jamming it top down into the soil, where it will just seep out slowly.

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I just took a look at your link for your Riverside property. The first thing I noticed was your rating of 4.70. Your lowest rating was for location, I’m assuming it’s because of the noise from being closeby train tracks, as mentioned by one of your former guests in one of the reviews. Do you disclose your proximity to the train tracks? If not, you should.

The next thing I noticed was a guest mentioning in his/her review that there was no toilet paper. That’s an essential item and extras should be provided.

The next thing, was two different guests mentioned the backyard. One said it was bare and the other said there was no grass. The backyard should be inviting, especially when it’s a whole house rental. The yard is an extension of the home. A quick fixer upper could be creating a little patio made of pavers. You can do it yourself and buy them on sale at Home Depot. Then add a table with chairs and an umbrellla. You can buy a used one on Facebook’s Market place. Add a small grill and some potted flowers.

I hope that with a small investment of time and money, you’ll get more bookings and more positive reviews.

Whoever is cleaning the place should get a bonus because it seems like they’re doing a great job.

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Immerse in stylish comfort at this centrally-located gem. Spacious, child-friendly, and newly remodeled, this clean home is a haven in the heart of Los Angeles. Enjoy easy access to major freeways: 405, 91, 110, 105, and 710. Surrounded by malls, restaurants, and stores. Free parking!

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Thank you.
We do have a grill. I will take a photo and add it to the listing.

I will check out Facebook Market and see what I can find.

The review still baffles me today. About the toilet paper. This guest obviously didn’t look. We place them in the bathroom. He also didn’t reach out to inquire if we had any. We have extras of everything including towels, sheets, and blankets. In all the rooms and bathrooms. And we keep them within reach and neatly.

I have followed this group for some time now and have improved a lot on my services by reading and practices of others.

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