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Page views - corresponding booking rate. What gives?

#1

I am in my 3rd summer/fall renting my house via Airbnb. I do consistent, but less frequent, rentals during winter/spring- this past winter/spring being my busiest to date. So far my experience has been overwhelmingly successful. Recently, though, bookings have virtually dried up for reasons I can’t figure out. Here’s where things are currently at, would love any thoughts or input. Thanks!

-I have a 5 star rating with over 70 reviews- easily in the top 10% of my area (a popular tourist vacation destination). I am a superhost and have instant book.

-I try to keep my prices very competitive, among the lowest third or quarter of all options in my category (entire homes for 5-7 people). My prices this year are at or slightly higher than they were last year.

-Compared to last year at this time, my page views are up a fair amount (8% over last April, 25% over last May, currently avg around 12-17/day) but my booking rate is way down. Last April/May I booked at 2.6% rate, this April/May I am closer to .5%. I had 13 bookings last April/May, this year I am at 3.

-Approaching my busiest season I typically average 6 weeks ahead of time for my bookings. This season I am only 8% booked for the coming 90 days. Down from about 30-35% at this time last year. At this point last year I had 39 days booked in my 90 day window. This year I am at 11 days.

-I am pretty active on the site, and adjust prices fairly regularly to stay on top of searches.

#2

Competition in your area increased and with the new host bump pushing you down the rankings?
Have you done a private page search for yoru available dates to see if you are visible / available?

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#3

Yeah, I am visible for sure- 2nd page at worst- for unfiltered searches. When filtering for my core demographics (groups of 5-7, entire homes, bottom 1/3 of pricing market) I am first or second among anywhere from 5-25 listings. But none of this has really changed in the past few months or since last summer.

You are right about the new host bump and increased area competition. This is why my prices are steady, if not a touch lower overall than last year. Even accounting for all that I view my drop in bookings, while page views are increased, as a concerning element.

#4

What other channels are you using to market your listing @rangerjake?

#5

Airbnb provides guests with a great way of creating their listings, and it’s excellent for us to be able to advertise on what has become the industry leader. But there’s no way that they can promise full occupancy to all hosts, obviously.

Most hosts, if they’re not getting enough leads from Airbnb, need to promote their listings themselves just as any the business would.

#6

None currently. Never had to use any other platform before.

#7

Yeah, I hear ya. Promotion through other outlets may become necessary. Though if you are reading this as a complaint about not being guaranteed year-over-year full occupancy, that would be a misread. What I am trying to address is given the available metrics I have to analyze where/how much my page gets viewed, coupled with the competitive pricing, what factor can I reasonably attribute the marked decline in reservations? For my time using Airbnb, more page views equaled more reservations, with April and May yielding many reservations off of fewer page views (hence the 2.6% conversion rate). Yet this year those numbers haven’t just declined, but they have fallen off a cliff, while at the same time my page views have increased. It seems to suspect.

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#8

Last night I did figure out one potential reason. Though I have been listed as an Instant Book home for as long as Instant Book has been an option, doing searches for IB homes in my area I saw that it eliminated my listing.

I called Airbnb CS and they were surprised by this since i was listed (as I assumed) as an IB home, yet they saw on my page that it required that guests request to book. After a few minutes on hold while they moved some 1s and 0s around they resolved this issue and I am back to being listed as an IB home. A filter that, when used, eliminates about half the housing stock in my area. Hopefully this has been a big factor and things pick up back to normal.

Just a reminder that the infallible algorithms can just crap out for whatever reason. Stay vigilant.

2 Likes
#9

As has been mentioned above, your decline in bookings may well be due to the fact that new hosts have opened up for business in your area. Unfortunately, the conventional ‘wisdom’ supplied by Airbnb is that they should charge low prices in order to get guests and therefore get reviews.

This means that no matter how competitive your rental is, it is nevertheless competing against prices which are, frankly ridiculous.

A host with great reviews who offers a good value for money service can’t, and shouldn’t want, or try, to compete financially with bargain basement listings.

The number of page views your listing receives isn’t as important as your conversion rate. Your conversion rate, arguably, is a factor that Airbnb takes into account when its algorithms decide where your listing will appear in searches. Simply put, lots of views but not many bookings? Or fewer views but plenty of bookings? Naturally Airbnb wants to promote the latter.

When you know what conversion rate you are aiming for, then you can promote your listing to achieve the required number of page views.

However, do be aware that compared to services such as Google Analytics, the Airbnb service is pretty basic. There are many hosts here who will tell stories about times when the site’s statistics were showing zero views yet they received bookings.

2 Likes
#10

I used to subscribe to a service that would ping my listing each day. It would survey similar listings and email me a report each morning telling me where I ranked in search. And sometimes it would tell me I wasn’t showing up in search at all. I sometimes wonder if the formula is set to disappear listings periodically so as to give other hosts a chance at an occasional booking (pure speculation on my part). People regularly report glitches here and when they talk to Airbnb, Air is “surprised, doesn’t know what the problem is, etc”

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#11

This is kind of where my head was at regarding the above dilemma. Seems like Jaquo is on the same page, where Airbnb (understandably) manipulates things to push new listings to the top in order to bring new users into the fold. Strangely that seems relatively short sighted to me in a business sense, as any new host worth their ilk would price aggressively out of the gate and present well in order to drum up and generate business. Promoting new listings on the back end that may provide shitty experiences for guests doesn’t seem to me to be in Airbnb’s best interest long term, since so many guests (that I see) are still “just trying” Airbnbs for the first time. Figure they’d want to lead with their best foot since the lions share of their revenue comes from guests, not hosts.

#12

I would be interested to hear other’s experiences with 3rd party metric/analytic services, as well as listing on VRBO.

Worth the time? Worth the investment? I have only one listing, pay pretty close attention to it and my market, and feel like I have a good strategy/grasp on what I need to do to achieve my desired occupancy. Or at least I had that for 2 years up until these past few weeks.

#13

If “worth their ilk” means “host with competence” then I don’t know that I agree with the “price aggressively” strategy. A little lower than the competition, sure. Aggressively lower doesn’t make sense.

I would think they have to give new hosts a chance. If someone new lists on Airbnb and gets no bookings because the hosts at the top are in the top of search 100% of the time then they won’t stick with it. I’m sure many new hosts provide superlative experiences because they want to guarantee a good review. I’ve seen hosts with 100s of reviews that have a generous number of poor reviews sprinkled in. They don’t care, they are just in it for $$ and as long as Airbnb doesn’t shut them down, they are happy.

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#14

“worth their ilk” does mean “host with competence”. I figure it is best to get people in the door and knock their socks off to generate some 5 star reviews, even if you are only barely covering your expenses. Rather than stick to your belief in fair market value while people will book with verified hosts boasting many 5 star reviews even if it’s a few bucks more. As a regular Airbnb guest, I would certainly pay $50 more for a few days of stay to be with a bonafide 5 star host vs. an unreviewed new listing. Though I wouldn’t pay $100+ more over the duration of the stay.

Either way, I understand Airbnb’s prerogative. Not to get into the weeds of economic competition theory, I stick by my assessment that Airbnb does itself a disservice if they artificially promote unproven hosts at the potential expense of guest experiences- particularly new guests who may not be as savvy in selecting the best possible Airbnb (cost and history included).

Anyway, speaking for this market it is heavily saturated with hosts. As it seems many other popular markets are. Figure there is a limit to what is the “right number” of active hosts to have in a given area- what with municipal scrutiny increasing on the company and increased local regulation. Would love to be a fly on the wall in understanding their company strategy in this regard. Hopefully they have one.

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#15

I think if you aren’t getting the bookings you want/need from Airbnb it is definitely worth you exploring other listing companies that work for your area/type of property @rangerjake

I certainly get far less views and bookings than I did with Airbnb then when I first started three odd years ago. This is due to both lower demand and increased competition. However I have built up the direct bookings side of my business.

You can look at marketing your place directly through your own channels such as social media/website/PPC advertising etc.

You could also explore third party marketing channels such as contacting your local university/hospital to see if they run an accommodation service for their staff that you could be part of.

Difficult to suggest other ideas without seeing your listing and understanding who your target market is.

EDIT

I don’t agree that "you must" be on a huge number of listing channels as suggested by another poster below. It is not the number of channels you use that is important, but that you use channels, which are used by your target market and ones whose T&Cs work for you.

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#16

Yes. You must be on Airbnb, HomeAway / VRBO, booking.com, Craigslist, TripAdvisor / FlipKey. Part of the reason is billboard effect, we’re about 7% of lookers will come directly to your website.

Of course, this requires a decent Quality Property management system with channel manager. Guesty, freetobook, ownerreservations, and a few others.

#17

This is the listing.
[quote=“Helsi, post:15, topic:32105, full:true”]

Difficult to suggest other ideas without seeing your listing and understanding who your target market is.
[/quote]

New to this forum, haven’t figured out how to link in the listing. Suffice it to say I am 3 miles outside of the center of what is likely the biggest tourist/vacation destination town in Vermont. 3br/2ba, 1500sqft, private location, large yard, decent mountain views, modest house but nicely appointed, nice photos, value priced.

I mostly attract young families as well as friend groups in their 30s who are here for hiking, skiing, and breweries.

#18

Hi @rangerjake

You may not be able to post as a new member, but if you want to send me a private message with the link, I can post the link for you.

1 Like
#19

Hi
Sorry to hear you have experienced a downfall in bookings, it can be hard to keep momentum going sometimes, especially if new vacation rentals are cropping up.
It sounds like you have a great place, so maybe you need to push it a bit more - could be the perfect time to beef up your marketing strategy? Take a objective look at your property and listing:

Do the photographs do your property justice?
Could you add a video to your listing to garner more interest?
Does your listing command attention, and attract potential guests?
Could you add value by upping the customer experience e.g. partnering with a restaurant and offering a special meal, teaming up with a guide and offering hiking etc.
Could you partner with local attractions e.g. a local outdoor sports centre - perhaps they could market your place as a vacation place for their clients and you could suggest their attraction as a potential activity for your guests.
Could you promote your rental on other platforms?

A few ideas (we have just released a marketing guide, so we’ve been busy thinking of ways to attract guests and increase bookings)!

Really hope things pick up for you and bookings start rolling in again.

#20

Not sure I can even PM you.

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