How to increase bookings on Airbnb and VRBO in 2019

What's in store for us on Airbnb and VRBO in 2019?

It's the start of a new year, which means we need to have a game plan on how 2019 is going to be even better than 2018.

As a vacation rental homeowner myself for over five years, I love this time of year, I love getting a fresh start, and I love reviewing back on the previous year, and really looking at what worked really well and what didn't.

Every year that I have done this I have been able to outperform my previous year, and I do not intend to break that streak!

In today's post, I am going to review the three ares that I look at this time of year so that I can increase bookings and rental income year over year.

Part #1: Focus on the fundamentals

At the start of the year it can be easy to get sidetracked on new shiny objects, or maybe new tools that you want to add, but the first step is just making sure you are still doing the fundamentals correctly.

When I say fundamentals the first part of this is timely responses, you want to make sure absolutely that you're responding within 24 hours, but I like to say aim for under an hour if possible, and immediate is even better.

We are living in a fast paced world and our potential guests are moving quickly, so they are likely shooting out lots of responses, or lots of inquires all at the same time, and sometimes the first to respond is the first to get the booking. So, first things first let's just make sure we're doing the fundamentals well, and that we are responding quickly.

The second part of fundamentals is providing a stellar experience. Of course, we want to aim for a five star review for every single guest that we have if possible, and I like to reflect back on, how is the experience I provide for my guests? Am I delivering against this, and what can I improve upon to make this an even better experience for my guests?

The last part of fundamentals is being a reliable and trustworthy host. Hopefully you didn't have to make any cancellations last year, and if you did it was an extenuating circumstance, but those are the key fundamentals.

By doing these fundamentals well you are going to earn those badges, and you are going to be seen as a trustworthy and reliable host.

Part #2: Reflect and Refine

Reflect and refine takes the first step a little bit deeper. You first want to look back on the previous year and understand what you need to fix before you can grow. I like to really dig deep into a few key areas:

1. Conversion Rate.

Conversion rate is going to be how many of your inquires are you converting into a booking? Are you getting a lot of inquires that aren't going anywhere, and aren't turning into bookings? If so, you may have some opportunities to adjust that.

The first adjustment could be just going back to your response time, if you are not responding as quickly possible, ideally under that hour time frame then they could just be moving on to other properties that are getting back to them quicker.

Sometimes this is a quick and easy fix, but then sometimes you just need to go back and really look at the messaging that you're using.

When someone first inquires with you and says, "Hey, I'm thinking about booking at your place, but I'm wondering are you pet friendly?", maybe you just shoot back to them with, "Hey, yes my dates are available and we are pet friendly."

If so, you are missing a key opportunity to continue to sell your place, so you could say, "Hey, thanks for your interests in our fantastic property, it sits just steps away from the lake, and I see that you're wondering if we're pet friendly and we absolutely love having pets at our home, etc, etc." You can just take that a few steps further to further sell your place.

2. Review Breakdown.

Next, look into your review breakdown. And if you're on Airbnb, then this is great because they give you a lot of information that you can dig even deeper.

If you go to your profile on Airbnb and go to progress, then you get your overall review score and then you can see that you can breakdown into each area.

For example, our overall score is a 4.8, but I want to see how I can get that to a five, so what area am I missing out on a five-star review? A couple years ago, I noticed that I was getting dinged on location, which was kind of odd because we had a really great location that was close to the water in a prime spot. When I dug a little deeper I noticed that there were comments about our gravel road. People were coming and were disappointed that our property was located on a gravel road in some situations.