I am a new host in Chicago. I rent out a one bedroom condo in a nice neighborhood. I have been getting consistent bookings for the last 5 weeks for almost available day on my calendar for a fixed price with no fees. Now, all of a sudden, nothing. Are there general guidelines for changing price according to the time of year or other factors? I feel weird about lowering the price because I do all the work myself and I feel it is a very fair price for what I’m offering. On the other hand, no bookings=no money. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
More experienced folks will chime in, but what you are experiencing may be the loss of your “new host boost.” And, the end of August is a pretty dead time. I would not lower your prices until after Labor Day. That is when many people realize that they have to starting paying attention to real life again.
Like @smtucker said, you lost your “new host” boost in the algorithm. But here are some suggestions.
Do you update your calendar daily?
Airbnb brings you up in the algorithm.
Have you requested the free photography from Airbnb?
You can’t use them anywhere else, but they also bring you up higher in the search.
Have you done a market/price comparison for your neighborhood?
Prices vary per season, dates, etc. You will figure out the seasons for your listing and adjust your pricing accordingly.
@smtucker is right about the new host boost. It does seem as though you’re coming to the end if it - it seems to last about 5 weeks or so. Now, you’re on a level playing field along with the rest of us
I don’t lower prices. For one thing, the lower the price, the lower the quality of guest (in my experience) so you end up doing more work for less money. Also you have to remember the perceived value of your place. If somewhere is cheap, guests may assume that it’s simply not a good quality place.
I adjust prices according to the season and special events but never go low because I don’t want to appear desperate. If I have a day in between bookings I use that for my ‘real job’ or for maintenance on the rental.
We had a huge slump this month, too, and it’s just now picking up.
I would suggest you consider a service like Beyond Pricing. It has been helpful to me. They will adjust your price based on demand, season, day of the week, etc. It’s not perfect, but, helpful. Their philosphy is that most airbnb bookings happen less than 30 days in advance - so if you are booked up in advance it’s an indicator that your price is to low. I was in a panic because I’d been back-to-back all summer and then nothing. But based on their stats I was still ‘healthy’ so I didn’t lower my price. And now I’m booking up and actually becoming less ‘healthy’ because they think I’m a bit over booked in advance.
I think they offer a 30 day free trial. It’s just nice to have their input into the situation. They don’t, sadly, help you with your base price. That you still have to come up with on your own.
All good questions, thanks. Had a feeling maybe my “honeymoon phase” was over! I update the calendar weekly for the next week, and only rent 3 or 4 nights per week, usually Thursday to Sunday. Should I be going into my calendar daily and just re-making those same days available again?
I thought about the Airbnb photography, do you happen to know if there are any strings attached to using them?
As for comps, my price is on the high side for my area for sure, but pretty comparable to similar listings, and I’m not charging any fees…
So today is Sunday and I have received many inquiries but no bookings for next week, am I being too impatient/paranoid?
Yes, everyone is busy getting ready for school. I have bookings this next week but that’s because my prices were way to low and the guy booked me last November! But after that, nothing until late September.
I am booked solid through November 7th. Well, there are two open nights in September that keep getting nibbles, but no bites. Most of my bookings are folks from other countries who do book ahead since they buy their tickets when they see a good price. I truly hope that after Labor Day, there will be more activity for the November dates.
I literally just confirmed a booking for next week while reading replies:)
Thanks all for the feedback, keep it coming if you think of anything else I might not know about!
No strings but I decided not to use them. I’ve seen some pretty bad ones and I prefer to under promise and over deliver. Guests often say that the apartment is much nicer in reality than it is in the photographs and I’d rather them have that impression than the opposite.
I’d hate to think that guests were disappointed because the images were too polished and made the place look better than it is.
I used the Airbnb photography, basically because we’re not very good at taking photographs. He did quite a good job though they are somewhat overexposed so they look very light. You might as well have them, they’re free, you’re not under any obligation to use them and you can intersperse the two if you have some of your own that you like. That’s what I did, using most of the Airbnb ones but keeping the first one as one of our own which I particularly like.
In Chicago, June - Aug is definitely high season. My last week of Sept is still wide open. You will still get healthy bookings in Sept and Oct but things slow down quite a bit from Nov-March when there are fewer tourists and more family members visiting. My winter occupancy rates drop to half of what I experience in the Summer and I bring my rates down around 10%.
Raise your rates for Chicago Marathon on the weekend of Oct 9 to help offset some of this. Consider raising your weekend rates Thu-Sun by 20% in Oct. It’s hard to say whether to change your rates without knowing what you charge and what neighborhood you’re in. My prices are consistently on the low side for my neighborhood and I have a high number of bookings. I reject a good number of requests when they aren’t a good fit as the stress isn’t worth it for me.
Thanks for the advice! My listing is in Edgewater Glen, a one bedroom condo with a balcony for 2 guests max and I charge 124/night with no fees. I provide coffee, tea, snacks, and breakfast items. My availability is typically Thursday-Sunday and I have been getting 3 or 4 nights booked steadily since I began about 5 weeks ago. (Are we allowed to post our listings for others to see here?) Good idea about the marathon, didn’t think of that. Do you raise your rates for holidays like Labor Day weekend? You said you lower your rates about 10% during the slower season, does that really make a difference in terms of people booking or not?
I think most people lower their rates during slower season, so to stay competitive you need to look up similar listings and make your prices similar. Don’t worry about the junky places or the high end places. Look at what is similar to yours with a similar number or ratings with similar amenities and price competitively. You are welcome to share you listing, I and others have I just have stopped publicly in case I want to complain or something, you never know who is watching on a public forum
Thanks Sarah, I think I’ll follow your lead and not post my listing here. No complaints yet but you never know!!
If you do ever want advice on your listing, etc, send a PM to whoever you interact with the most on the forum. I’ve received some lovely advice from some people here, and no outside eyes can see it
I love Edgewater! One good thing about your location is that if you’re close to the train, you ought to get Loyola/Northwestern related guests to buffer the off-season. Students’ parents, researchers, grad students, etc.
You may be a bit North to be impacted by the marathon but check and see what your competition is doing. Runners and their families tend to stay fairly close to downtown. You definitely can raise rates on holiday weekends – I usually get people over Christmas who are visiting family living in small condos, but in general, it’s not considered high season and I don’t raise my rates.