Gaming Airbnb for Innkeepers

Gaming the System

We recently did a VERY well received webinar at PAII (Professional Association of Innkeepers International) on how to “game” Airbnb, “Airbnb is the frenemy of the legal B&B / Inn world. And while we won’t say, “If you can’t beat them, join them”, we will say, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” If you look at Airbnb as an opportunity because it is cheaper to deal with than most OTAs, take advantage of it and we mean “take advantage” in the purest sense of the word. The non-legal, non-inspected properties are using it, and while we here at PAII are working hard with AHLA to level the playing field so that Airbnb hosts are paying their fair share, let’s not miss an opportunity while we fight. Learn how to leverage an Airbnb listing properly to be able to compete – and beat – those Airbnb illegal rentals stealing business from your property. Learn what pictures, text and additional information to include to make a stand-out Airbnb listing over those that are not legal, while educating the public about why staying at a legal B&B has a lot of benefits over the non-legal listings.” 

The recording is available in the member’s section of the PAII website.

Here are notes from the webinar, gleaned from talking to many B&Bs who are listing, including inn clients who I help manage their listings, and also talking to many very successful Airbnb hosts as well.

Gaming the Algorithm

  • Respond Quickly to every inquiry, Airbnb gives preference to hosts that respond within an hour of email, Even a quick “we will get back to soon with more information” stops the clock.
  • Actively manage your availability calendar, make a few small changes at least once a week.
  • Link your account to social media, Twitter and Facebook.
  • SEO your listing, Create a Headline that’s SEO friendly “Hudson Valley Romantic Suite”, Not “Charming Victorian Mansion in the Heart of the Valley”.
  • Be location and accommodation specific, don’t use catchy phrases or jargon.
  • Do a Google search for relevance, when you label photos of the area, Google Search your description.
  • Share your listing online, FaceBook, Twitter, Google+ etc. often.
  • Review the calendars for each competitor properties, see what their actual prices ranges are, Do a spreadsheet of your competition, high rates, low rates, specials.
  • Link your account to social media, Twitter and Facebook.
  • You have fifty words to get the basics across, look at the area competition and focus on what they DON’T offer.
  • What are your five best selling points?
  • In the end of your description add a call to action. “We book up fast for the weekends, Email us now to guarantee your reservation” or offer a deal, don’t forget if you have specials or offers you can mention them here.
  • Make sure your profile photo is SMILING!
  • Fill out your personal profile giving as much background as possible, the more professional and hospitality related the better.
  • Don’t put your lowest price and lowest price room on, you get the deal seekers and the ones who want to negotiate.
  • Remember use this as a directory that’s good for SEO, don’t expect to get a lot of business from it, but you can if you leverage it correctly.
  • Don’t forget to highlight the legal aspects of the B&B, licensed, insured, plus no room cleaning fees (it is included), Repeat guests won’t book through Airbnb again, they will book direct to avoid having to pay the service fee. Make sure you capture their email address when they come to stay.

Photo Tips

  • 12-15 photos, min. of 5 to show up in mobile search results.
  • 1024 x 683 pixels is the best sizing for listings.
  • Your most important photo is your primary photo, if it’s not interesting enough to click through people won’t, put your best photos first in the listings.
  • Bathroom photos are important.
  • Add text and annotations to your photos to highlight certain aspects.
  • Take your photos in landscape format: Vertical photos won’t showcase your space as well.
  • Use catchy captions on photos, instead of “This is the dining room” jazz it up a bit like “Awake after a good night’s sleep to a delicious homemade breakfast, our Pecan Waffles are a signature recipe!”
  • Non-cluttered rooms get the most bookings.
  • The biggest mistake B&Bs do on is just show just the room that’s available, add area photos and photos of the rest of the house and exterior including some highlights of things to do in the area.
  • Add screenshots of some of your reviews from Tripadvisor, make sure you highlight unique things at your B&B and in your area.

Airbnb resources:

Winning the Battle with Airbnb

Jack North, Mayhurst Inn

Online Photo editors

Use composite/collage photos to show multiple aspects of your neighborhood around your B&B in one picture

Showcase your high speed WiFi network by doing a speedtest and adding a screenshot of the results to your listing

A good Internet connection speed varies depending generally in the number of users and the functions of the connection, however, 8 megabits per second is usually considered decent. Connection speeds less than 8 megabits per second are considered slow. There are cable broadband speeds capable of moving at 100 megabits per second.

Display the layout of your house by creating a floor plan

Online Free Planners

Smartphone Apps