Updated: Nov. 17, 2017
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain
We know that guests don’t read, right? Right. The solution is to make the most information available in the least amount of text. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not (refer to above quote). Time and again, I see hosts load up their listings page to the brim with behemoth descriptions. Not only that, but the text comes in huge blocks and run-on sentences. If you’re one of these hosts, I think you’ll be glad you found this post.
Tangent: Keep in mind there are many points in the reservation process. Certain information is best communicated at certain points in that process. Don’t overload the guest all at once.
Additionally, with the success of social apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Tinder, our attention span has decreased to, at most, a few minutes and, at least, how quickly one can flick their finger across the mobile screen. Combine the issue of guests not reading, short attention spans, and intense competition on Airbnb and you have a recipe for hosting torment.Snappy, Catchy, + Thorough – Your Airbnb Listings Mantra Click To Tweet
This illustration shows us just how intense competition on Airbnb is. Meet Pelin, an Airbnb host in Istanbul, Turkey. Her listing is somewhere on this map:
This map is about 1,800 square feet (600 square meters) wide. Compare to Google maps:
That’s a whopping 6 square feet (2 square meters) for each listing! This isn’t an extreme example. It’s actually more common than not to have this much competition.
How is Pelin going to stand out, knowing that there are tens, possibly hundreds of listings like hers in her vicinity? She’s going to make everything about her listing, snappy, catchy, and thorough. This should be at the back of her mind throughout the entire Airbnb listing creation process:
- Catchy to grab attention
- Snappy to keep attention
- Thorough to attract the right guest
Here are just a few examples (remember, snappy, catchy, and thorough applies to your entire listing):
Cover photo: This needs to be catchy, a selling point of your home. Its sole purpose is to attract eyes. Scout your competition to find out which colors are not being used in their cover photos and plan accordingly. You’ll want it to be a photo of a room in the house the guest will be spending a lot of time (bedroom, living room, maybe kitchen). Rarely will this photo be a view. A view is suspicious to potential future guests.
Title. Catchy. Do not tell the guest how many bedrooms your listing has. They’ve probably already narrowed down this search result if they’re serious about booking. It’s also just plain boring. Communicate a selling point to your guest, ideally an amenity not typically available in your area.
- Bad title: 2 bed/1 bath elegant spacious home in Sunset District
- Good title: Free Parking + Rooftop Patio w Views/Hottub
Description. Keep it snappy, yet thorough. It’s best to communicate both the good and bad aspects of your home here. The result of a guest surprised by the 27 steps leading into your listing with no elevator is a bad review. Set expectations of your guest prior to booking.
- Bad: My spacious home has all the details of a traditional Victorian in the heart of San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. When you arrive, you’ll experience a San Franciscan stair case so pack your walking shoes!
- Good (bullet point): There are 27 steps into my home from street level
Always consider the cost/benefit of disclosing information. For example, it’s cool that you splurged on 2k thread count Egyptian cotton for your bed linens. The guests will appreciate that, but they will not book you home because of it. The benefit to adding this information (I’m not sure there is any) does not outweigh the cost (lost reservations as you likely have too much text in your listing and are not focusing the guests attention on the sellable features). Leave it out of your description. It will be a ‘surprise and delight’ feature, something the guest will happily discover upon check-in.
Also keep in mind the House Manual delivered to guests upon confirmation. Do not overload the guest with pages of information here. If you do, none of it will be read or remembered. Only put the most important house notes and rules here.
Also published on Medium.