Part 9 - Taking Advantage of Your Slow Season and Headwinds
Posted by John Fryer on
Firstly, yes I know there is no Part 8 yet in this blog guidebook. That is a work in progress but felt that this should be written and released given a few reasons as a rough draft.
The Coronavirus outbreak has caused a global decline in traveling. You might also have existing bookings that must be canceled and refunded because of the virus.
Winter causes a lot of people to not want to travel, and most markets to have a decline of guests. (There are some like ski towns where winter is their busy season).
People are waiting to get their tax returns before planning their trips after spending all their money on the holidays. Speaking of taxes, Part 0 is on the way with basic Airbnb host tax information. Meanwhile, I've found this book "Every Airbnb Host's Tax Guide" to be really helpful.
Improve your SEO
Read the blogpost by Airbnb on SEO and how it's handled.
Use the Downtime to Dog Food
Part 7 of this guidebook goes over the Importance of Dog Fooding. Dog Fooding is the act of using your own product; or staying in your own listing for Airbnb hosts. Your slow season is a great time to Dog Food your listings. If you can't stay yourself, get a trusted honest friend that will give you constructive criticism to stay in your place. It doesn't mean you need to change everything they point out, but gives you ideas.
Revisit Your Listing Details
Airbnb continues to grow, and they have added and changed a lot of fields in the listing details. Even in just the last few months. Go through everything about your listing on Airbnb and make sure it's up to date, and alter it with any changes you've made. This may also give you some ideas of what amenities you may want to upgrade. Read part 5 of this guidebook for a recent breakdown.
Use the Downtime to Make Upgrades
After dogfooding your place, and from previous feedback, there's probably a few things you want to change or upgrade about your place. Of course, you have your own list of furniture and things you might want to change or add, but here's a couple of bullet points that might help.
- Get better-looking comforters to get more bookings (read part 1 of this guidebook).
- Cut cable/DirectTV and setup streaming services to save on your monthly bills (read part 2 of this guidebook).
- Deep-clean your place, including wiping down the walls, baseboards, taking off the toilet seat to get under the hinge, dust out cupboards, etc (cleaning part of guidebook coming soon).
- Find used decorations in local classifies and Facebook Market Place that makes your place look better for more bookings.
- Take new pictures after making the changes (read part 3 of this guidebook).
- Install other long term money savors. Attic insulation, LED lights, seal your windows, fix small water leaks, smart thermostats, etc.
- Go through our Airbnb Host Supplies Collection to see recommended products we've gathered as Amazon links.
Nail Down Your Pricing
Many hosts struggle because they keep the same pricing during the winter as they have during the summer. Supply and demand will change the pricing, and lower demand right now means you may have to lower your price. Of course, you don't want to lower it too much that it ends up costing you to host. You also don't want to have the price too low that you would have more revenue at a higher price and lower occupancy. There is a balance there.
There are many pricing tools out there. Not all work in every market. For me, I've found Wheelhouse works really well for my area for advanced and dynamic price settings. It has more than made up for its 1% booking cost by a big margin. Use this referral link for a $10 credit.
Find Other Ways of Getting Bookings
There are several platforms besides Airbnb. I have no direct experience with any of them but think of things like VRBO, HomeAway, Booking.com, and more. If you haven't already looked at listing on those places, you might consider doing that.
Get more awareness for Airbnb in your local market. Post your place in local classifieds for people that are looking for a place for a short term that haven't thought to use Airbnb. There could be local families that are selling their house and are waiting for their new house to be built. Same with Apartment swapping. People just moving into town that needs a temporary spot while they search for a long term solution. You might end up going off Airbnb for these.
Make sure everyone you know is aware that you run an Airbnb. People from work, the gym, classes, friends, etc. Share your referral link so people are enticed to at least try it once for the first time referral discount (or share ours here). Yes, the people you know may not end up booking with you, probably won't. However, they might know of people coming to town that haven't thought to use Airbnb. Even if they don't know of anyone now, they might think about it later. Even if the person traveling into town ends up booking elsewhere, that's still more demand and awareness of Airbnb in the area, resulting in a higher likelihood that you'll be booked.
If needed, do a traditional Long Term Rental for a few months.
Bigger Marketing Ideas
Get a Billboard for the area to increase Airbnb awareness, thus demand, for the area. Maybe fundraise for it with other hosts in your area.
Talk with local companies that bring in employees that could save by staying with Airbnb over hotels.
Run Facebook Ads to people interested in traveling to your area. This could be direct to your listing, or just for Airbnb in general for more awareness.
Talk with local tourist attractions, have them add Airbnb to their marketing materials or packages and make a deal with them of some sort. Either direct referrals; have them set up an account and give out their referral link to their customers for the discount.
Talk with travel agents that setup vacations to your area to do a similar deal.
Talk with Uber / Lyft / Taxi drivers that frequent the Airport. Might just get business cards made to have them hand out to people, or flyers or something.
Be careful of trademark infringement on any marketing materials you do create with the Airbnb logo and such. Look into their terms if you're going that route.
More Ideas in the Comments
Most businesses know, during headwinds is the time to buckle down and improve on marketing and product improvements. Leave your ideas in the comments of what to do during this business headwind for Airbnb hosts with the Coronavirus and Winter months.