Smart pricing works again

I just got booked for New Years Day and was surprised to see a price of $66 attached. My base price has been $50 for the last 11 months but had lowered to $48 part of the slow part of the last month. So Smart pricing has raised my prices around the holidays. I also have a xmas week booking at an average of $59 a night. That’s with a 2nd person fee. Both of these holiday reservations will have pet fees on top of that.


Glad it’s working for you.

I’m not so sure it’s working for me. Smart pricing booked the entire month of December, including Christmas and New Year’s Eve, at my base price. Thanksgiving, too, BTW. December 2019 is going to be the month with my 2nd highest earnings ever. December will be 10% lower than my highest earnings month (March 2019), but with an identical occupancy rate and an 7.5% higher base price.

On the surface at least, it doesn’t look like Smart Pricing is doing a good job at predicting demand for my area and listing-type for the month of December, and probably most of January, too.

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Smart Pricing wants me to set Christmas 2020 at the same price as September 2020. Our place is a three-bedroom home in the Caribbean and gets a lot of families. September is super-low season and Christmas is the peak of high season. Duh, not smart to me!

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I think this another case of what suits some hosts, doesn’t suit others.

I’ve got no experience with Smart Pricing, only the price tips that come up. For our scenario, they are worse than useless; they don’t take into account seasonality, regional events, national events, or any other major pricing factor.

We’d be out of business within six months if we followed the price tips, and I see a few in this area that look as if they are following them, and are they booked out? Nope. Not even close. I do wonder how they can carry on with such empty calendars all the time.



I know there are many people for whom smart pricing doesn’t seem to work. I don’t know why. What I do know is that for a long time I resisted turning it on because of what I read here. The consensus was that it shouldn’t be used. But since I’ve started using it it has absolutely resulted in more money for me. Maybe it has to do with my own laxity in setting my prices up in advance according to seasonal demand.

In any case I wanted to offer an alternative view to counter the relentless negativity about it in case anyone is weighing it’s use for their rental.


Even if we had it here, I’m not sure I’ve got sufficient confidence in it to manage the short, but lucrative, higher than high season weeks/weekends we have sporadically throughout the year.

That said, any tool that can make a hosts life easier shouldn’t be discounted purely on anecdotal evidence, especially from a fairly anonymous online forum!



Hadn’t you set December manually? Was it setting prices from last December? It can only work on historical data and the way you ‘train’ it with manual adjustments.

I’ve said here many times that it took SP a couple of weeks to figure that I’m in Florida and that my February prices should be way above my July prices.

As @JohnF says above, it’s a tool and tools can only work if they know what to do - there’s always the human element involved.
Bear in mind too that SP won’t know your area until it has historical data.

Luckily it never does that with me. It never tells me what prices to set. It never goes lower than the minimum but as I’ve put in a ridiculously high maximum, it’s sometimes gone way over what I’d dare to charge! Like @KKC I’ve no idea why it works. differently with different hosts.

Even Airbnb itself says that the price tips are nonsense. Well, not in those exact words but in the blog they said that they were ballpark guidelines and only suggestions for starter hosts. Something like that anyway…

Me too. I just hope that new hosts reading the posts here don’t get the idea that SP is not for them. It’s better to at least give it a try. I wonder if some hosts are expecting a bit much from it? No idea but it has us all divided, that’s for sure.

It definitely works for me.


No. This is still my first year of hosting (first guest check-in was Dec 27, 2018), so I didn’t make any adjustments because I didn’t know what the demand would be like. 3 of my 4 reservations in December were all over 70 days advance notice. The other was a midweek booking with only 2 days notice (death in the family). Still, Smart Pricing is supposed to do this for me. Airbnb says that’s what it’s for.

If you mean historical data from all listings in my area, then I hope so, but if you mean historical data from my own listing, then this definitely is not the case. Smart Pricing made adjustments above my base price in February, March, and April this year with no historical data at all from me.

The main problem about Smart Pricing is that it is not necessarily designed to maximize profit, it is designed to “attract bookings”. Airbnb is also not transparent about how it works, so that hosts can better use it to their advantage.

As with most transparency issues at Airbnb, I think the lack of transparency is simply so they can change how it works without having to explain the changes to anyone.

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I don’t have the time to read the article right now Brian, but all I can really say is that it works well for plenty of hosts. As we said above, it seems to do so for some people and not others and I’ve no explanation about why.

I do hope that some of the hosts who don’t like it aren’t expecting too much from it though (not you, I’m referring to other hosts who might be reading this).

It can’t know when you want to put your prices up and when you don’t. For example, I look after a neighbour’s apartment. It’s directly below one of ours and the same in every way apart from decor. I look after the whole caboodle for him, including the online part.

He sometimes asks me to put a very low or a very high price on certain dates and I’ve absolutely no idea why or how he chooses these.

So we all choose our higher priced days differently. But SP does expect hosts to change prices manually too - that’s why the facility is there. Not all hosts see the same periods of time as important. July 4th might be a premium time to some hosts in American and not to others, for instance.

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Are you confusing Smart Pricing with Smart Tips? I see HUGE discrepancies all the time. Smart tips is ALWAYS lower than what I have.

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It might be you that is confused. Smart pricing NEVER goes below what you set. Price tips (in my experience) usually does.

It’s not based on a minimum you set it’s based on a minimum of what others are setting. So it thinks the average price in xx place is xx dollars but it can’t really compare all the variables like luxury fittings/view/beach access/on grounds staff/newly remodeled. Price tips will tell me to price at $32 for the same night smart pricing has me at $51 (with a min I set of $48)


It marked my whole house listing way up for Christmas time back in August and I got annInstant book. After they canceled (they hadn’t read my Listing, hadn’t booked for all their people or house rules And when I pointed out the (fellow host)!canceled indignantly) it is now back down But still $5 above my base. The ones I won’t take that for, due to my schedule, I have raised accordingly.

We said the same thing. Although my tips are always below vice usually.

I mostly agree, what I’m lamenting is that it doesn’t seem to be getting the basics correct for the dates and listing type. Forget about holidays when I might think my time is worth more, it really looks like the algorithm is not properly considering simple supply and demand.

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How can we not be confused? An other article (not from Airbnb this time) basically says the price tips are based on the Smart Pricing algorithm.


I think that if people are, it’s probably an easy thing to think. They see the tips (I never do see them, I’ve no idea why) and assume that SP is going to use similar pricing? They don’t realise that the host has complete control.

I very much doubt it. When you use SP, you set the minimum and the maximum price. Airbnb has no control over that whatsoever and will never go under your minimum or over your maximum.

Many listings near to me have much, much lower pricing. This includes the neighbour directly below that I mentioned earlier. Those low prices are never reflected in SP in any way.

We are priced (guessing) in the top 5% or so in our area. But SP never prices us lower than the minimum I set; it never takes the cheapos around us into consideration. There’s no reason for it to do so.

In theory but when I first started (3.5 years ago) it did unfortunately go below…I was too new to see how to fix it until I saw it happen with an actual booking…I turned it off not too long after that and turned it back on almost a year ago while watching it fairly regularly and haven’t seen the problem since. I also raised my prices though, almost double for the most part from start to now.

It DOES take those cheapos into consideration but does not drop below your minimum set Smart Price.

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I think you are right. Our market is not very large, and our property is unique enough that I don’t trust a “big-data” algorithm - it doesn’t have enough data to learn the right lessons!

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I guess it depends on what you consider the algorithm. I agree with the author that the Smart Pricing algorithm only determines what Airbnb thinks a host’s price should be. A host’s min and max price are not technically part of the algorithm. They are simply overrides to prevent the algorithm from going outside the arbitrary range the host are willing to charge. Basically, if you have Smart Pricing enabled and your calendar shows your minimum price on any given day, then the Smart Pricing algorithm thinks your price should be lower, but you are overriding it’s result. I think it’s extremely likely that the price tips follow the algorithm because it wouldn’t make sense for Airbnb to have two different algorithms.


Yet not everything they do makes sense…so…
Anyways, I have seen contradictions between them most often when I override the smart prices on individual days. Generally I see that no matter what price you have for a specific day (whether smart price, your min price with smart pricing, or your own annual override price) that the smart tip will always be lower…it could be higher than my minimum smart price but it will always be lower than whatever price is available to book. I haven’t seen an exact percentage difference but definitely always lower.