Smart Pricing Not so smart?

Hi All- Can ya’ll share how you come up with a price on your listings? I set my price here in VT in February at $120 plus $50 cleaning fee as a new host.The place sold immediately (it was ski season). I work during the week so the unit is available weekends with a 2 day minimum stay. It is mud season now and I continue to get bookings. I recently got WIFI and increased the rent slightly to cover my costs. When you edit the pricing fields, the platform makes suggestions. It suggests $71 minimum and $306 max. I noticed before that if I take the suggestions of the platform, the place seems to get booked at the minimum price. My questions are these: Why would I want to use their suggested minimum if my vacancies are being booked? And if left smart pricing on “auto pilot” this way, when would the platform book my place at the higher level? Any suggestions on determining pricing would be much appreciated!

I think you know the answer, you do not.

I raise my prices a little at a time, I never lower them. Since you are weekends only 2 day minimum I would roll the cleaning fee in. $160 a night for the next few weekends, then 175 a night the odd weekend and see if it gets booked. If all of your stays are 2 nights a cleaning fee is just an added fee as far as guests are concerned IMO

Turn off smart pricing, and ignore price tips.



You charge depending on your costs plus your desired profit margin.

You should never base your pricing on what Airbnb suggests to you.

Set your minimum at your desired nightly fee.


When setting up our listings last year, I set the prices on both of our places. Of course Air wants us to set lower prices, they will get more bookings (they think). They were ridiculously low with their suggestions on my places. If you do a search of your competition, you can easily see what similar houses are going for and set your rates accordingly…
But it depends on the location…I keep one of the houses at the same rate year-round, but the other changes during the busy and tourist seasons.
So far it’s worked very well. Next year I will fiddle with the pricing and see at which price-point I lose guests, then adjust again…

I calculated my cost per day based on expected and real costs per year divided by conservative occupation and put a healthy profit margin on top.

Then I looked at the top 20% of comparables made up my mind of what I want net in my bank account per day averaged over the mix (short/long term) and put this as a base. 10% on top for less than 3 days Naturally any fees from portals etc come on top. 7 days I give 10 – 15%.

One should not forget doubling one’s price and getting 60% less booking is the same profit just less stress, less wear and tear, less cleaning, smaller power/water bills…


I set my prices so I feel like I am being rewarded for Hardwork. And if the place is vacant I don’t sweat it. I’m really lucky that I don’t have to do Airbnb or even depend on it it’s just an extra income which comes in handy for extra things but I don’t have to do it.

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SMART pricing should be re-named “DUMB” pricing. I never use it.

This, 100%.

The only time you should consider using these stupid recommendations is when listing a new property, and then only to get your first three or four guests. I’ve got a gut feeling that listings that follow the “price tips” get a slight boost, in addition to the new listing boost.

The VRBO MarketMaker pricing advice is slightly better than Airbnb’s, it allows you to set a strategy, based either on occupancy or revenue. We still don’t use it :rofl:

In some respects, this topic ties in with @Debthecat’s “easy money” topic.

Getting the correct pricing strategy takes time and effort. You leave it up to the OTA, then damn right you’ll get booked, but you’ll end up working twice as hard for less revenue than if you’d taken the time to do the research relating to your local market.

There are a few hosts in my area that have been doing this for years, their occupancy rates are good and reviews pretty decent as well. I always keep an eye on them, and while not following their prices/strategies exactly, I find it helpful when determining our prices. Interestingly, before we moved here we stayed with two of them as guests :grinning:


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Strangely, recently, Airbnb’s suggested per day pricing for one of my units during a certain period was $350 when my price was $88. However, because I only accepted bookings of 20-plus days, even with my low prices I still have periods in which my listing is not booked. How does it make any sense that atypically, Airbnb is recommending a price so much higher than mine?

There are other automatic pricing alternatives than using the smart (dumb) pricing of the listing platforms. An experienced host with 3 listings who posts on another forum has been using something called Wheelhouse for years and says she is quite pleased with it.

Smart Pricing is aiming for consistent revenue across many listings vs. maximum revenue for one listing.

It’s important for people who are reading this to know that in the past when smart pricing has been discussed (seven thousand times at a guess?) some posters are confusing SP with pricing tips.

Pricing tips are only a computer’s wild guesses regarding what the nightly fee for a rental should be and obviously knows nothing about a host’s costs, particular circumstances etc.

Smart pricing on the other hand allows the host to set and minimum and maximum price. A lot of the time it will show the minimum price but, unless I’ve just been remarkably lucky for years, it will never make a booking at below the set minimum.

Remember too that you can manually adjust prices whenever you want to - for instance if there’s a popular local event.

@jaquo Jackie, I think that you are absolutely correct; I probably confused SP with pricing tips – but if that’s the case, why would Airbnb offer a tip to increase my price on a tiny studio by 200%?

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Maybe everything else in your area and category was booked up. But you can’t really try to make sense of Airbnb’s price tips. It’s just an algorithm, which has no idea what your place is really like.
Thar’s obvious from the “similar listings” they show.

It does seem a bit bonkers. I’ve been ‘training’ my SP over the last few years. After all, it understands tourist seasons and peak times like Easter and New Year, but it can’t be expected to know every special event worldwide.

But, after ‘training’ it for a while, it twigged that my price doubles (or more) for the Fort Lauderdale Boat show and it started posting prices during that period that I’d never have dared to. And it was booked, sometimes a year in advance.

@Muddy is spot on - it has no idea what your place is like. For instance, the owner of the apartment directly below ours best one started on Airbnb and it was half the price of ours.

Same location, same (fabulous) view, same host (me as co-host). The decor was different but that’s about all. We were back to back and he only had a few bookings before he threw in the towel.

But the point is that the two apartments were almost exactly the same. Airbnb’s SP algorithm, or the price tips, can’t take the tiny differences into account.

I looked up wheelhouse and don’t see anything that looks like a pricing tool. What exactly is wheelhouse?

I don’t know. I’ve just heard a long-time host on another forum mention it.

I did find it eventually.
It’s a web based service that will gage pricing for you, for a fee.