How is making money on Airbnb and covering expenses during the low-season even possible?
You’ve just looked at your Airbnb calendar to find no bookings and your stomach sinks.
Is this normal for this time of year, or are you hitting a slump?
Well, you will need solid data to determine that, as well as, implement some winning strategies to make money on Airbnb.
First, let’s talk Airbnb data.
Use Data to Hack the Off-Season
Using predictive and comparative data to predict trends during the low-season can help you plan your financials and game plan.
Knowing what you can REASONABLY expect from previous trends can help you set proper income expectations.
Mashvisor gives you projections of returns based on historical Airbnb occupancy rate data. Take a look at what returns to expect during low-season and plan accordingly.
So, if you have a mortgage payment to make every month, then by using Mashvisor’s Airbnb data you will know how far you will be behind during low season.
Take advantage of this data tool and know what your prices should be and how many bookings you need to at least break-even.
Now, let’s get to these five tips that will give you the strategy you need to make money on the travel off-season.
1) How low can your Airbnb price go?
You might know this already, but yes, offer lower your prices during off-season and you’re likely to see many more guests.
You’ll have to experiment with prices several times before you find the spot-on price for the off-season.
I have noticed that discounts of 10-20% won’t cut it, you might have to go as down as 25-50%.
If you play the numbers right, you can break even. It’s better than being at a loss!
But why does lowering the prices bring in guests?
Well, when travelers see random deals, they’ll take advantage and use the opportunity for a weekend getaway. Kind of like flash sales on sites like Amazon.
Also, sometimes off-season means travelers are actually on break from work or school, but wouldn’t have thought to visit your neck of the woods.
For example, in the summer time people are off doing family vacations or just enjoying the nice weather, and don’t think about vacationing in Vermont.
But an inexpensive romantic getaway during the Fourth of July weekend might just merit visiting your cozy Vermont listing.
2) Perks of being an Airbnb guest
You never want your Airbnb listing to appear boring during any season, but definitely crank up the Martha Stewart charm during off-season.
Add perks to make a listing look more appealing to prospective guests.
Think to yourself…
“What can I provide that would make tourists feel that they’re getting their money’s worth and make them want to take a vacation?”
Here are some suggestions of perks that may help your make more money on Airbnb in the off-season:
- Free breakfast of simple snacks and/or juices.
- Pick-up and drop-off upon arrival and check out.
- Tickets to an event like a concert, or a gift card to a popular restaurant.
When guests click on a listing and suddenly see a the added cleaning fee, service fee, and taxes, they might be tempted to look for an even cheaper listing.
However, with such these kind of extra services, they’ll feel they’re making their money back.
3) If guests don’t come to you, go to them!
Why is networking and customer service so important?
Because they help your business survive in these exact situations!
Email your previous guests (if they’ve given you permission to email them ahead of time) and let them know you’re having a special offer!
Invite them to come enjoy Valentine’s Day weekend at your listing for a ‘steal’ price.
Why does this work?
First, you’re reaching out to people who have stayed at your property and have hopefully left positive reviews, so you know they like your property.
Second, you’re also showing them that you value them as guests and customers, and want to give them first dibs on this special.
Airbnb Pro Tip: Always ask current guests to tell their friends about your listing in a follow up email after check out. Let the current guest know that you will give them a $20 cash referral bonus if their friend books a stay, and that your friend will get a 5% discount on their stay. Have the new guest let you know who referred them to complete the referral loop.
Maybe your Airbnb market doesn’t get a lot of tourism in March, but there’s an awesome St. Patrick’s Day festival – brag about it.
Highlight the events and local draws of the location to let users know NOW is the time to visit.
4) Rank High on Airbnb Search
There are a couple of technical tricks you can do to keep your listing on the top of Airbnb search and attract more guests.
Airbnb promotes listings that provide a smooth guest interaction and easy conversion, so the tips below will help your rank higher on Airbnb search.
Update your Airbnb listing’s calendar often
Airbnb’s search will prioritize updated listings. Your chances increase by 70% if your listing is updated monthly, according to Airbnb.
If Airbnb sees that you are being responsible with calendar and pricing updates, they will assume you are more active and have a better chance to convert an inquiry…or at least answer the inquiries.
Which leads me to my next point…
Airbnb inquiry response time is show time
You might be tempted to look at your phone and say “I’ll respond later,” but don’t do it! Respond IMMEDIATELY.
Guests will more likely pick the host that responds first because they are contacting multiple places at one time and want to stay with a host that is attentive and available.
In speaking with hosts in Paris, they said that to be on the first page of Airbnb search in their city, you need to have a 3 second response time. Which leads me to believe many hosts are using automated solutions like Zapier.
Be reliable and easy going to your Airbnb guests
Don’t be the host who can’t recover from having a bad cancellation.
If your guests are changing plans a bit midway through their stay or just before they arrive, then do whatever you can to not cancel. You will be rewarded for your flexibility with a great review and no dings from Airbnb.
If you’re trying to make money on Airbnb during off-season, you’ll most likely have to lower your minimum stay requirement. Guests desire flexibility…kind of like how they can check in and out of hotels for any length of time they choose.
You might also want to consider making your cancellation policy less severe. Again, the listings that are more guest-friendly will be promoted higher since Airbnb wants to create a positive guest experience…this is ultimately because Airbnb wants to earn more repeat travel business.
Have all the Airbnb badges & verifications
The more boxes you check on the Airbnb backend, they more vested you appear to the system. Consider creating your Airbnb Bélo as well.
And obviously, it also helps to have great reviews and a high number of reviews on your profile.
Here’s a secret with reviews – it’s quantity, not quality. Read it again. Data shows that the number of reviews increase Airbnb occupancy rate, more so than having positive reviews.
Update your Airbnb title
Include upcoming holidays or events in your Airbnb title – that should help with getting more contextual clicks to your listing.
Making money on Airbnb is a constant numbers game, so by getting more clicks to your listing, the higher probability you will get a booking.
Surviving low-season doesn’t mean go broke. It means give it all you have to strategically break-even at the very least…but profit is always nice!
Try saving some of your profit a few months before the off-season in order to prepare for future bills or purchases like if you’re going to be providing movie tickets and breakfast.
The good news is off-season frees up some of your time to make these extra efforts and experiment with your listing.
Lastly, the low season give you the time to make any repairs or maintenance to your property. You know that paint job or cabinet upgrade you wanted to do? Now’s the time to do it!
Do you have any other tactics for making money on Airbnb during the off-season?
Comment below or share this article with your friends!
This post was a collaboration by Mashvisor, a powerful tool that will help you find and analyze real estate investments to make money on Airbnb.