Using words like luxury, exclusive, premium, executive, high end in the listing

I’ve been researching hundreds of listings and reviews as I put the finishing touches on mine. It really puzzles me why people use those words…except in cases where they clearly apply.

One host who is renting out his finished basement in suburban NJ uses the word executive over and over. He calls the small MDF table an “executive table.” Why?

It’s a perfectly decent table, but nothing about it screams executive.

I’ve seen Whirlpool and Fridgidaire appliances described as “high end.” These are good quality appliances and totally fine, I have them in my own kitchen. To me high end appliances would be brands like Wolf, Thermodor, Viking, Miele, Sub Zero (in the US, at least.)

Suburban tract houses listed as villas, palaces.

I’m not being a snob. My new listing is a functional, modest Cape Cod and I describe as such. It just seems like people are opening themselves to disappointed guests and negative reviews.


I wouldn’t worry about how others describe their listing to be honest @GardenGnome.

Personally I think it is always better to under promise and over deliver.

Just use words that will appeal to your target market and identify features and facilities within your listing and locally that are likely to appeal to them.


My neighbour uses words like designer, high end , luxury etc. I glossed over their listing pictures and 75% of the items are from K-Mart and the rest from IKEA. Still, many guests took the cue and commented it was stylish, well decorated, etc. I surmise most guests like to feel important and underpromising may not attract the right type of guests , because budget travelers may stay away from those listings that consider themselves higher end? I’m not really modest with my own listing, and guests seem fine with what they see and use.


It more of a phenomenon that I find interesting from a psychological standpoint rather than a worry. I agree with the under promise and over deliver philosophy.

Another related question which I will put here rather than start a new topic:

Do most hosts use filters on their photos? I can’t decide. I’ve done the photos both ways and they do look brighter and warmer with filters. OTOH, my house doesn’t always look like that, it really depends on the weather and time of day.

It can also be cultural and and matter of socio-economics. If you grew up in a household with secondhand appliances that were also out of style a brand new Whirlpool stainless steel $2000 appliance seems “high end.” As Poppy has explained Aussies think a villa is type of studio apartment. For most of us in Western Europe and the US it means a grand estate. I particularally think of a big home from the 1800’s in the hills of Tuscany.

I agree with Helsi that knowing your target market and over-delivering works. My ensuite room attached to my house is quite humble, imo. But it’s fairly new and I keep it in like new condition. If something doesn’t work it gets fixed and usually upgraded. I’ve had people who I know have more money than me (higher SES) compliment me on stuff from my mattress to my bath sink to shower head and ask me where I got them. I refer to stuff as “new,” “modern,” or “contemporary,” not luxury.

Not filters but I do edit to make it look bright. My professional photos are wide angle and very bright. The room is on the northeast corner of my house (in the northern hemisphere) so although it’s sunny here the room is not usually as bright as pictured. However this is a situation where overpromising is better. Unless you are selling a boudoir/sexy/artsy vibe I suggest bright a and cheery. Have day and night photos.


Under promising and overdelivering has certainly worked for me and a number of other experienced hosts on these forums @Daniel_Lin.

My guests do feel important - that’s why I have 98% five star reviews and superhost status since I started three years ago.

I think you are not correct in surmising that underpromising means I don’t attract the right guests.

I have invested a lot of time and effort through my copy and photography and how I have set up my listing to help the ‘right sort of guests’ understand why my place is a good fit for them. And the wrong sort - why it’s not.

Once you start managing your own listing Daniel and have become a more experienced host, I am sure it will help you understand more about what works and what doesn’t.


I am managing my own listing… And I did use the qualification “may”, and also ended the sentence with a question mark. The word “surmise” was also used as a qualification. I think that’s enough qualifications. I could throw in “potentially” and “probably” and a few others to make a throwaway post, but I’m not sure that’s good writing.

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And you could certainly use the word “designer” about your listing without hesitation, Daniel! I still covet those baskets …

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Thanks @Malagachica :). I’ve toned down my listing a little bit since, as I’ve always felt the pictures oversold the place. But my latest guest said she absolutely loves it, so that made me very happy to hear.

I would tend to shy away from booking anywhere that describes itself as “high-end” or luxurious (unless it very obviously is) as this screams to me “lots of money but no taste”!

Also, we’re very low-end, cheapskate guests!


I don’t use filters, but I do wait for a bright sunny day (almost any day since I live in South Florida) and do adjust photo brightness as needed with the indoor shots.

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I agree. They’re setting themselves up for failure. That wording over promises and guests will be disappointed. I much rather under promise and over deliver.

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Thing is, that is how most copy advertising is written in the travel industry. It gets bookings because holidays are geared towards spoiling yourself, living the high life. Not to mention… that language appeals to the inner-narcissist in a lot of people.


Daniel I absolutely adore your listing! I also covet those baskets! Your styling is on point!

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Thanks for the kind words!

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I would never use those descriptors to describe our home. Quiet, wooded, convenient, maybe. But I’m not going for the exclusive, luxury-seeking traveler.

Under-promise and over-deliver. That’s generally what I’ve read in this thread and I have to agree. Knowing your location and taget audience is very helpful too. I think most of our guests are genuinely relieved when they arrive at our house and see that’s it’s simply clean. We live in a small city with a bad reputation, so some guests appear a bit skeptical at first. I do get mildly offended, but by default I’m able to over-deliver based just on location.

As for target audience, unless you’re in a resort town, it’s hard to tell. I think most of our guests are either visiting family or friends, or here on business or an event. The rest are passing through and we get the occasional European family traveling off the beaten path.

There are some amazingly beautiful homes, assume truly luxurious, in my city, but we may not be the location for luxury travelers. Even our local hotels are pretty mainstream. I actually wish the were more
Airbnb hosts. But alas, our reputation is our own worst enemy. Also, most residents can’t imagine why people even come here, that’s how bad the perception is.

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I don’t think my property is “high end” or luxurious at all. and, in reference treeDaniel’s neighbor thinks, I don’t consider IKEA high end. Personally I like older WOOD furniture – the real thing. Someone encouraged me to post my listing on a site was for advice. I assumed she meant for constructive criticism but heck no, those people came at my with sarcasm and judgments.
Any way t outoi i y told me the “wood” look was out of style – all of furniture spent loking for isl;slskl

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Dear @GardenGnome You make a very valid point. On the AirGMS blog there’s an article that warns exactly against using generic words like “luxury” or “executive”. Instead, it’s better to use catchy words that could be used to describe only your place like “spacious” or “rustic.” At the end of the day if you don’t have objective proof that your listing is “executive” you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Although it may sound more attractive to potential guests, most of the time it sounds too overpromising.


I’m fairly reserved when it comes to superlative use, but a part of me worries that them what shout ‘premium’ the loudest get noticed more