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Prricing Strategies


Hi there I have some questions:

  1. Does anybody pricing on airbnb manually and why?

  2. Would a average price and occupancy per day on all listings in your area this help you for the pricing?
    I am thinking of a heatmap/tabele where you can see a the occupancy, average rate for every day.

  3. What other information would be helpful for you?


Best regards,


Yes I set my prices manually by comparing what is available in town on certain days, so something to automate that would be better for me.


I don’t think any software could automate better than you could for your location. Maybe in a big city with thousands of listings automation is nice. But your unique situation can’t be understood by just looking at numbers, IMHO.


Probably true. But I can daydream!


It also can’t know what your running costs are! I often see new Airbnb listings that have set stupidly low prices - it’s pretty obvious from these that there are many hosts who truly believe in the keep-it-cheap-to-get-reviews fantasy or simply don’t do their sums and work out the full cost of hosting.

I don’t care at all (really) what others in our neighbourhood are charging and I don’t care what their occupancy is. I know what I need to charge and what occupancy I need. No-one else and no computer knows!

Example, one rental may be an apartment that’s owned free and clear. The owner just needs to make enough to cover his costs (property taxes, utility, condo fees, whatever) and then he/she is in profit. The almost identical apartment right next door might have a huge mortgage that also needs to be factored in.

There are so many variables even between identical properties.


I do care what similar listings charge but it’s just one small factor in my consideration. It took me about 3 years to figure out what I could get per night given the competition and my needs. Airbnb would have me getting 25% less (minimum) per year. They (any data mining site) will never know what I know.


Nope! You’re assuming other hosts know better than I do what they can charge. I don’t think that’s true. We have certain weekends in our town that are so busy, there’s not a room to be had anywhere. Yet some hosts don’t raise their prices, or if they do, could still get much more. It may be laziness or just being unaware of what’s happening in town or they just don’t need the money.


I was able to charge $125 per night for my bedroom suite in a shared home(shared with me and my husband) now I hover around $75. Last year I completely revamped the suite to make it more luxurious, thinking I could fetch a higher price, sigh… it did not work. I also have an apartment on the first floor of the home (not connected to our living space) which I started renting at $100 per night and in two years I am down to around $75 as well. Have you seen any decrease in what you can charge in order to keep occupancy and profits where you need them?


I “saw” a decrease a couple of years ago because Airbnb told me to see it. That is, I was getting suggestions via “price tips” and “someone looked at your place but booked a place $11 lower” and I would lower my price. And yes, bookings were steady.

However, I don’t “need” occupancy and profits at a certain level. I’m 60, “retired” with a paid for house. If I were comparing now with mid-90’s when I had roomates and paying xx a month house payment it would be a completely different calculation.

That said, I’m booked way more than when I started at close to the same price but my listing is different than yours in many ways. I don’t get tourists. I get road trippers, some business travelers and some for other reasons. It works very well for me to take last minute bookings. As of today I have 8 one night bookings for tonight thru April. That would freak a lot of folks out. I bet by the end of May 90% of my available days will have been booked. But if not I don’t have a profit I “need.” Competition makes me nervous at times but most of those people don’t last because this is harder than it seems.

If I were in your position I’d probably measure Airbnb against what I could get from a room mate because I’m old like that.


Not really, but for example, I check what other hosts are charging on random single days that are unbooked. I figure I am slightly below average for the whole house listings, and above average for the rest. So while I have an idea of the prices I can ask, I don’t want to be the most expensive or the cheapest on any given day. So I check others’ pages for that. Also, if I am the last whole house listing left, I think a) I can increase my price that night and b) why was my place chosen last? That last part is mostly paranoia though but it helps to reevaluate my listing/ price etc.


We’ve been listed for 4 months and have used Smart Pricing (and Instant Booking) from the outset. We have a ‘whole house’ listing but it is attached and linked to our house. We set a below average default minimum price at the start and have gradually raised it - now being around 22% higher which is still good value compared to other listings we feel. We do some benchmarking with comparible listings for quiet and busy dates.

We did this to generate interest and get bookings and it has worked. We’ve had circa 50% occupancy rate to date and 55% for the next three months. However, maximising this is not actually our aim; with us both working full time and with two kids it isn’t possible. So we moderate the price and often adjust it - making it higher by a futher 10-20% when we’re ‘busy’ and are happy with income/need a break/can’t make the changeover. We try not to block dates. The Smart Price is typically overriden 2-4 weeks in advance this way and 2-3 months for weekends and event days.

Adjusting the prices has been learned over this time. In hindsight there were missed opportunities for higher, event led pricing, where Smart Pricing undervalued the accomodation. However, we’re learned and are far better informed now. For example the prices were hiked for one long weekend literally minutes after a new major event in 2 months time was announced; which we’ve booked out. Smart Pricing did not and perhaps could not pick up in such a spike quickly enough.

Because of our circumstances we’ve also started to place ‘rules’ for certain dates for a 2 night minimum (our default is 1) in an attempt to increase the average stay and reduce turnaround work for our lifestyle. Most stays are 1 night but we’re extending this gradually.

So, back to your questions:

  1. we use a hybrid of Smart Pricing and manual.
  2. in our circumstances this solution would not work as a definite solution - simply an information source.
  3. other useful info would be a linkage between prices and events/local and national holidays. A tool that indicates a new event being announced. In our market even small events can have a big impact.


I agree with you that the automatic pricing is not accurate enough and I am having the feeling it’s optimized fo maximize the occupancy, but that’s sometimes not the best, but I think stearing at the number and having other factors in mind can help you to find the best rate

I noticed eg stearing at future occupancies help sometimes as I can see that certain dates having a high occupancy, but nobody is increasing prices. This might happen as there is an event nobody knows about. Sometimes it’s the other way around, everybody increase prices but the occupancy isn’t that high. Then I check the event calendar and there is a big event and everybody expects a lot of guests.

but you are right a rural area is different to a urban area…

  1. other useful info would be a linkage between prices and events/local and national holidays. A tool that indicates a new event being announced. In our market even small events can have a big impact.

Yes that’s exactly what I noticed too. A small event can have a big impact, sometimes events you cannot find somewhere. But you can sometimes see it in the occupany heatmap: Occupancy is higher than normal, but nobody increase rates


I would be interested to see the service fee percentage brackets. What are those brackets and their percentages? Are they truly based on total price, or are there differences based on dates, listings, guest, length of stay, etc? How has this evolved over time?


@Terrance, I am very sorry, but I cannot get information about the service fees on individual bookings. This information is hidden by Arbnb, although I would be interested in that too.


Smart Pricing is an important tool in Air’s toolbox, and they need it to help manage markets. Hosts at first don’t have a good price to set on properties and as they get established in a market can set a baseline price point that’s either too high or too low. Some hosts manage listings actively, some don’t, and may set prices that depress entire markets.

Air has no way to easily correct this and pull the market back into line. They have enough data and calculate a figure akin to “revenue per bookable day” and will want to set this at an attractive level.* Through smart pricing they can help set a base line for a market and time. Market baselines can also change over time, up or down, and through smart pricing can adjust this baseline. You just need some percentage of hosts using smart pricing and Airbnb has a powerful tool.

For hosts it should set a reasonable level of income and a reasonable average property, but of course you know your property and what it offers and should be able to do better.

*) they may have other goals in markets other than just price that could get factored in.


What do you mean by “hidden”? It’s shown on every listing, or are you referring to an API?

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