Home Blog Short-Term Rental Investing

Are You Getting Less Bookings For Your Short-Term Rentals? Here Are 3 Ways to Get More The short-term rental industry is starting to slow down, but that doesn't mean you have to.

Alex Jarbo
4 min read
Are You Getting Less Bookings For Your Short-Term Rentals? Here Are 3 Ways to Get More

Over the last 4-5 months, there has been a shift in short-term rental bookings. Some are attributing the dip in bookings to Airbnb’s redesign of its website. Others are blaming current market conditions. Maybe it’s a combination of both? 

Whatever the reason, there has been a decline in bookings this summer. Enough of a drop to the point where I’m seeing some hosts become frantic and sell off their properties or take them off short-term rental sites. I think it’s crazy talk. 

Though it may be frightening that there’s a dip in bookings, short-term rentals are still incredibly lucrative if you implement the right strategies. Whether you own your property or you’re a manager of short-term rentals, you need to understand that you run a real estate business and real estate goes through cycles. Short-term rentals are not immune to these cycles. 

Most of us are going into the slow season of our short-term rentals. I want to share some strategies I am currently implementing, which have already caused a boost in bookings for our properties. 

You Need Perfect Pictures 

I’ve coached over 100 students in short-term rentals this year, and the number one thing I tell them to change in order to help their booking rates is to update the pictures of their STRs. You should not use your phone to take photos and upload them directly to STR sites. If you were getting away with that before—great! But now, with bookings decreasing, you need to start competing. Your goal should be to hire a professional to take your photos. 

Ideally, you should find a real estate photographer. I usually just go onto Google and look up “real estate photographer in my city,” which should get you good results. 

The best thing to look for in a real estate photographer is if they can do drone photography. Adding drone photography to your listing is my favorite way to make a property look unique on sites like Airbnb.

aframe dirone
A drone photo of my A-frame short-term rental in the Mountains

Lastly, you’ll want to have your photographer come out for more photos as the seasons change. The reason is if you have a house as a rental, the outside will look different in the winter than in the summer and fall. I have had guests complain in the past because the photos were done in the winter, and it was summer. The outside of the property looked completely different. 

Update Your Description 

The second most important thing that contributes to more bookings is going to be your description. I am a firm believer that your description should be used to paint the future experience that your guest will have with your property.

Another thing that I want you to start thinking about is search engine optimization. When SEO is discussed, usually Google is the first thing that comes to mind. Not many hosts think about SEO on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. But they have a search bar, and if a site has a search bar, there are certain things you can say in your description to help you rank better in the search results.

Airbnb recently did a massive overhaul of its website this summer. With that came categories that your property can be placed in. What I recommend doing is going to Airbnb and looking to see what categories pop up for your area, then try to use those keywords in your listing description. That will give you a better chance of being placed in one of those categories. 

The easiest way to write your description is to think about what your city or area is known for. Between those two, you should be able to come up with a killer listing description. You could also look at other rentals in your area to see what hosts have written about their properties.

Don’t forget to add captions to your pictures! I’m going to classify that as your description as well. I see a lot of hosts who put a considerable amount of effort into getting their pictures just right but forget to add captions. All of your photos should have captions explaining what the photo is. This helps with ranking your property as well. 

Now you may be saying, “Alex, I’m a terrible writer, or I simply don’t have time to go write a description plus 20+ captions for my photos,” and I completely understand that. I personally do not write out my descriptions anymore. All my descriptions are written by someone specializing in short-term rental descriptions and caption writing. I currently use a writer off Fiverr. 

I currently pay anywhere between $100-$200 to have my listing descriptions and photo captions written, and I can say after using this service over the last three years, it’s 100% worth it. 

Use Peerspace

Lastly, I want to talk about a platform that I feel does not get enough attention in the short-term rental world: Peerspace

Peerspace might as well be the definition of a short-term rental. It’s as short-term as it can get. It’s not meant for overnight stays. It’s meant for people to rent your place out if they have a family get-together, a photo shoot, video shoot, etc. 

There are a lot of categories on their site, so check it out before you say that this won’t work for you. I found Peerspace when I was looking for a way to get my weekdays booked out like the weekends were.

I own a large log cabin with horse pasture, hot tub, and mountain views. I got a few bookings on the weekdays and realized that the daily rate the guests booked through Peerspace was similar to if it was booked overnight. 

There are plenty of advantages to booking out a few hours rather than overnight stays. The biggest is that the property usually doesn’t require a deep cleaning afterward because it’s often left in better shape than if a renter stayed in it overnight.

One of the coolest ways I’ve seen Peerspace used was with a property in my market, Asheville, North Carolina. This property has a beautiful mountain view of the city, and in between their cleaning window of 11 AM – 3 PM, they have something called “elopement time,” where people can book a ceremony or photo shoot. 

This is an insane strategy because you can essentially double your daily income on the property. And that’s just one idea. The sky is truly the limit when it comes to Peerspace and what you can come up with. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you have seen a drop in your bookings or are going into your slow season, I truly believe that focusing on updating your photos, updating your descriptions, and considering Peerspace can help. It helped my business tremendously over the past five months, and I hope it does for you as well.

short term rental

Find long-term wealth with short-term rentals

Vacation rentals can be an extremely lucrative way to boost your monthly income—but only if you acquire and manage your properties correctly. This ultimate guide to analyzing, buying, and managing vacation rental properties will set you up for immediate success and long-term wealth.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.