Wheelhouse Review: Introduction
Welcome to my Wheelhouse review and tutorial. Below you will find a 75% discount code, but please continue reading to find out if this tool is right for you.
Wheelhouse is one of the four major dynamic pricing tools available to Airbnb hosts.
In addition to Airbnb’s Smart Pricing, which has seen recent improvement but is still not satisfactory for serious Airbnb hosts, there are PriceLabs and Beyond Pricing.
RELATED: You may also want to read my review and tutorial of PriceLabs.
Andrew Kitchell, the founder of Wheelhouse, is also the former CEO and founder of Beyond Pricing. He exited that company years ago to become a direct competitor.
In recent months, Wheelhouse has made a giant push in terms of their tools usability and functionality which prompted this review.
For this review, I removed one of my listings from PriceLabs and enabled it on Wheelhouse. Throughout, I will discuss the differences I noticed.
To be clear, of all the dynamic pricing software, Wheelhouse is much more than a pricing tool. The data-driven company built by a team of PhD data scientists can be broken down into three segments:
- Dynamic Pricing – this is where you’ll price your calendar and select customizations
- Market Reports – provides both micro- and macro-level data for hundreds of markets
- Comp Sets – basically lets you spy on your direct competition (really cool!)
My review and tutorial of Wheelhouse will focus on the dynamic ricing tool, but I will mention the other two segments.
Wheelhouse is for short-term rental owners, from individuals managing one listing to large property managers managing hundreds. Some of the sections are unnecessary to you if you are just managing a few listings which I call out below in order to focus your attention.
My Wheelhouse review will also function as a tutorial, taking you through the same process you would go through when first signing up for this dynamic pricing tool.
If you’re short on time, I’m going to write my overall thoughts first. You can dig into the details below or by clicking on any heading in the table of contents at the top.
My Overall Thoughts
I think of Wheelhouse as an attempt to pull the best of both Beyond Pricing and PriceLabs into one tool.
They are trying to incorporate the user-friendliness of Beyond Pricing with the superior customizations of PriceLabs.
This leads to some positives and negatives I will discuss below so that you can decide whether or not you’re a good fit for the Whelehosue dynamic pricing software.
As a result of Wheelhouse’s focus on a user-friendly experience, some customizations suffer. For example, you can only turn on or off the “Gap Night” customization, but cannot opt for a price increase or decrease on these days.
Similarly, there is limited functionality with the “Far Future Premium” adjustment which doesn’t allow for a gradual increase in price (only fixed). Finally, there is a similar issue with the “Last Minute Discounts” customization being cumbersome to implement a gradual discount. (All of these specific customizations are discussed in detail below.)
On the flip side, this user-friendly approach has the effect of making their pricing algorithm more transparent to the user. For example, the “Seasonality Adjustments” shows the monthly increase or decrease in rates based on the Wheelhouse calculated seasonality in your market. Of course, all of these settings are easily changeable with the click of a button.
I am really a big fan of Wheelhouse’s making their pricing algorithm more transparent going so far as to name the events per day that may be affecting your nightly rate.
Wheelhouse has included some unique settings that are superior to the competition like allowing for an automated customization per night that lowers the nightly rate automatically as the date approaches rather than a custom fixed price.
Their Comp Sets tool, though in beta, is highly powerful and I’m most excited about this peripheral feature. It allows you to choose and compare yourself with nearby competition.
Property managers will love the filtering options available throughout the Wheelhouse platform.
And, the pricing on Wheelhouse is my favorite of all the tools. They allow the user to choose between a fixed rate or commission percentage based on whatever is best for their individual situation (I show you how to find out below).
Outside of the pricing software, Wheelhouse is building out a few more tools like Comp Sets, Market Intel, and Portfolio data (all discussed below) all of which have their own dashboards and sub-headings. With so much going on within the tool this could confuse some users who want only a pricing tool. I hope this review and tutorial and my Wheelhouse videos will assist.
I found it odd that you cannot connect Wheelhouse directly with some of the major vacation rental platforms like Booking and HomeAway/VRBO. Instead, you have to connect through a third-party property management system (PMS). If you’re already using a PMS, it’s a non-issue.
Ultimately, with most tools, it’s not right for everyone. If you’re looking for more customizations than Beyond Pricing or if the PriceLabs layout is too confusing for you, Wheelhouse is your best option.
Ready to try Wheelhouse with a 75% discount on your first month? Click here and use the code OPTIMIZE upon signup.
Wheelhouse “Settings” Tab Tutorial
After connecting your Airbnb account to Wheelhouse and prior to turning on Auto Pricing, you will want to click ‘Edit Strategy’ which will bring you to the Settings tab.
(Please note that upon uploading your Airbnb listing, Wheelhouse indicates they need 30 seconds per listing. Sometimes this upload screen gets stuck. Simply refresh the page after a reasonable amount of time, your listing should be uploaded.)
As part of Wheelhouse’s mission to make their dynamic pricing tool more user-friendly, all tabs have a short three- or four-step tutorial showing you the basics of each section.
The Setting tab is individual per listings and is where you will be able to choose or customize the following options:
First up is the all-important “Base Price”. The base price affects your entire calendar. Based on data that Wheelhouse knows about your listing, they will recommend a base price. In my case, it is $291.
Unlike the other dynamic pricing software, if you choose the recommended rate, it actually changes based on your booking patterns. Today, one week after I started writing this review, my base price is $283.
With the click of a button, you have the option to choose a more conservative or more aggressive strategy. The conservative approach is 10% less than recommended while the aggressive strategy is 10% more.
If you are connecting an existing listing, I have confirmed with Wheelhouse that the “Recommended” option does take into consideration the individual listings prior booking performance.
If you’re coming over from a different intelligent pricing tool, including Airbnbs Smart Pricing, don’t assume the same inputs (ie base price) will match the outputs (ie individual nightly rates on your calendar). All of the intelligent pricing tools use totally different pricing models. So, check your calendar rates before going live! I will do this below.
I elected for a custom price of $495 as I’ve been the property manager for this Airbnb listing over a year and am very familiar with its booking rate.
UPDATE: After publishing this Wheelhouse review, I lowered the base price to $435 after one week as the prices were a bit higher than anticipated without bookings. A good example of not assuming the same inputs will produce similar nightly rates!
You may be thinking ‘well if you’re so familiar with pricing in the area, why even pay for this service?’
Great question. The base price, though important and a main driver of your nightly rates, is just one of many features of a robust dynamic pricing strategy. Below, we will see additional features which turn this tool from an expense into an investment.
Here’s your answer. I use and pay for these services because at the end of the day they do two things for me:
- Save me time
- Earn me money
How great is that?
Now, I want to call your attention to the lower half of the base price page. It shows, in much detail, how the recommended base price is calculated. I applaud this transparency done in a user-friendly way.
Next up, the “Minimum Price” setting should be whatever is the lowest price you’re willing to accept if the alternative was vacancy.
Said differently, minimum price is not what you’d like to have. It’s the lowest nightly rate you’re willing to accept.
The top hosts don’t book out at their minimum often. It’s mostly relevant during slow season.
How do you calculate your minimum price on Airbnb? Your minimum price should be the sum of your fixed costs (mortgage, insurance, other fixed costs like cable and internet) plus your variable costs (utilities like water, gas, electricity, and any surprise and delight features).
In general, your minimum price should be around half of your base price.
Wheelhouse offers a few more options on the “Minimum Price” tab.
“Day of week minimum prices” is quite straight forward. You can increase or decrease the minimum price for any day of the week. Remember, this applies to all future dates.
“Time-based minimum prices” allow you to lower the minimum price for upcoming vacant days and increase it for far-out dates (like 3+ months in the future). If you’re using this setting, it might mean that your minimum price is too high to begin with.
Personally, I prefer a low minimum price with a discount for any approaching and available nights. We will go over this in the Strategy section below.
“Date-specific minimum prices” are to be used for specific dates including holidays, events, or festivals. This is also a setting which you can probably ignore. Instead of raising the minimum rate on a holiday, you’re better of adjusting upwards the actual nightly rate with a customization I discuss in the next section.
Important note: Just because there’s an option, doesn’t mean you have to use it. In fact, I’d argue to only use a specific setting or customization if you are 100% sure what it does and why you’re using it.
Next up is “Maximum Price” which can be left blank. There’s really no reason why you’d use this. When I was living in San Francisco and renting out my couch for $100 per night, sometimes I’d get lower value ratings because, well, it was a couch. I suppose I could’ve limited the maximum price to $75 per night or so, or I could have increased the value or perceived value I offered.
“Weekend Adjustments” are unique to Wheelhouse and part of their attempt to open up their algorithm to the user in an understandable way.
This setting tells you by what rate Wheelhouse is adjusting your prices on the weekend. You can see my “Final Factor” is 102% so my weekends are being priced 2% higher compared to the market. What this means is that my area doesn’t have much more weekend versus weekday demand. I’d agree with this conclusion on data based on my real life experience.
“Seasonality Adjustments” is a great example of how Wheelhouse blends the best of Beyond Pricing and PriceLabs.
Beyond Pricing would hide this customization entirely from the user. After all, they want to be as user friendly as possible, even if that means fewer customizations.
PriceLabs allows for a similar customization, but the user has to find it and learn how to use it. Additionally, the user is only provided the “Custom” option available on Wheelhouse.
Wheelhouse comes in the middle and lets the user know about this data being used to price their listing and provides four options including a custom adjustment.
Unless you’re a real expert on your local demand and seasonality, I recommend choosing the ‘Recommended’ option. The “More Conservative” option is about 20% less while the “More Aggressive” option is 20% more.
The Custom option will allow you to change each month individually.
You are reading the most up-to-date Wheelhouse review.
Wheelhouse “Strategy” Tab Tutorial
Next, you’ll be brought to the “Strategy” tab with four pricing customizations.
When you connect to any intelligent pricing tool, you will want to start adjusting your minimum night requirements directly within the tool. On Wheelhouse, do this on the “Minimum Stays” tab.
In addition to the “Global Minimum Stay” which is your basic requirement without customizations (ie usually one, two, or three nights), you are given a few more adjustment options.
My favorite is the “Gap Nights” customization. If you want to set a minimum night greater than one, this option will adjust your minimum night for any gaps in your calendar that are below your global minimum stay requirement (ie couldn’t otherwise be booked).
For example, if your “Global Minimum Stay” is two nights with a reservation on Monday to Wednesday and another from Thursday to Saturday, no one could book that Wednesday night.
The ‘Gap Nights” adjustment would allow for this single night to be booked (the 16th). I’d like to see an option here to either raise or lower the price on an orphan night. Personally, I raise my nightly rate if someone wants to book for a single night.
“Day of week minimum stays” is obvious. You can see I have selected a minimum night requirement of 3 if the reservation includes a Friday or Saturday.
Given my weekend demand doesn’t seem much higher than my weekday demand based on Wheelhouse data, I might consider removing this setting.
“Time-based minimum stays” allows you to increase or decrease the minimum stay requirement for upcoming unbooked days or for far-out dates. Generally, I don’t recommend this. You should be comfortable booking at a competitive price at any time in the future. This is an adjustment I would only use to play defense if I was uncomfortable with demand and future events in my city.
“Date-specific minimum stays” allows you to increase the minimum stay requirement for large events or festivals or decrease it for unpopular dates.
Please note that you have to select ‘Save Changes’, the purple button in the top right corner to save any changes, it is not done automatically. If you don’t click that button and want to change pages, Wheelhouse does provide a warning box pop up, but I noticed my minimum nights settings didn’t save when I was reviewing my customizations. Just something to be aware of!
If you’re an existing host on Airbnb, you should be familiar with the “Long-Term Discounts” customization. It’s just the weekly and monthly discounts setting in your Airbnb.
Remember to remove it within Airbnb and start using Wheelhouse for these pricing customizations. Never have overlapping customizations on two separate tools.
In general, a weekly discount of 10-20% and a monthly discount of 25-40% is average. You can probably remove this discount during the high season and add it during the Airbnb low season.
Pro Tip: The top Airbnb hosts don’t offer a weekly or monthly discount as they get booked without such discounts.
[bctt tweet=”Top Airbnb hosts don’t offer a weekly/monthly discount as they get booked without having to offer such discounts.” username=”OptimizeMyBnb”]
“Last Minute Discounts” is a rather important customization as I find dynamic pricing tools don’t discount enough for upcoming and available dates. I’ll be comparing Wheelhouse’s performance to that of PriceLabs and will update this article at a later date with my observations.
The only difference between “More Conservative”, “Recommended”, and “More Aggressive” is the day on which the preset 15% discount starts. As always, you can opt for custom pricing.
On PriceLabs, for this listing, I discount up to 50% within 15 days so I’ll be curious to see how Wheelhouse suggestions deal with last-minute unbooked nights.
“Far Future Premium” allows you to increase the existing nightly prices higher than the recommended price for dates far into the future. Wheelhouse starts this one year into the future and increases over a very short span either 10% (Recommended) or 20% (Conservative).
I would prefer not to have to use this type of customization and for the intelligent pricing tool to simply add a gradual increase over time starting a few months from today. Alas, they don’t do this.
I recommend setting a custom adjustment here. This is when “Market Intel”, discussed below, comes in handy. But, in general, most reservations are booked within three months. I’d like to see a gradual increase option here, but the next best option is to do what I did. I set a 10%, 15%, and 20% increase at 3, 4, and 5 months, respectively.
I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve gotten a booking further than 6 months into the future. To be honest, they’re more of a hassle than anything else. What if something happens in your life where these dates become unavailable or you have to stop hosting at this location? What if something happens in the guest’s life causing them to cancel the reservation? This is more often than not the situation.
Typically, people booking far in advance are either coordinating something big (ie high cancel risk) or know something you don’t know (ie a large event announced their location for next year).
Ready to try Wheelhouse with a 75% discount on your first month? Click here and use the code OPTIMIZE upon signup.
Wheelhouse Tutorial: “Custom Rates” Tab
This is the final check before you turn on auto pricing. Review the next few months for anything that seems unusual.
Your current rates (either from Airbnb or from another pricing tool you were using) will be displayed in grey on the bottom of each date with the Wheelhouse recommended rates in purple above them.By clicking on a date, you can see a detailed breakdown of the Wheelhouse price recommendation. You’ll also see a flag in the top right corner on dates with major local events.
If you’re not really sure about the prices you’re seeing, it doesn’t matter. You will have to adjust some things no matter what. Even if you are sure about your prices, you will still have to make adjustments in the future. None of the dynamic pricing tools are ‘set it and forget it’. If you’ve made a good-faith effort to understand Wheelhouse (and read this Wheelhouse review and tutorial) I’ll allow you to turn on auto pricing right now 🙂
If you don’t get inquiries in the next few days, your prices are probably too high. Lower them. If you get too many bookings, raise your prices.
Let’s not overcomplicate dynamic pricing.
[bctt tweet=”How to price your Airbnb: If you get many bookings, raise your price. Too few, lower them. Let’s not overcomplicate pricing.” username=”OptimizeMyBnb”]
For me, this was really interesting as I’ve been using PriceLabs for years. I looked at July and noticed the following compared to my existing PriceLabs nightly rates:
- 10 days were higher by at least 5%
- 8 days were equal to within $20
- 12 days were lower by at least 5%
- The biggest price discrepancy was July 24th with a $250 price reduction (from $908 to $660)
On PriceLabs my pricing in July ranged from $473 to $908 while the rates on Wheelhouse fluctuated only between $531 and $656. I’ll update this Wheelhouse guide in the future with my findings as to which pricing tool earned this listing more revenue.
Wheelhouse “Calendar” Tab
The Calendar tab gives you a high-level, color-coordinated overview of a single Airbnb listing calendar.
There are two neat features on this tab I’d like to call out.
The first is related to changing pricing for individual dates. Wheelhouse allows for two options: Automated and Custom.
If you select Custom, whatever price you select will stay forever and you will have to remember to lower the price if the dates don’t get booked at that custom price as you hoped. This is the normal option offered on dynamic pricing partners including Airbnbs Smart Pricing.
I recommend you select Automated which will change the recommended price by a percentage that will vary over time.
So, instead of Custom changing a date’s price from $400 to $500 you will, instead, add a +25% custom price to this date.
As the date gets closer, if it remains vacant, the recommended price will decrease and so will that night’s pricing.
For example, if we’re just three days out from this date with our “Automated” price and the new recommended price (ie without any customizations) is $200, the “Automated” rate would be $250 ($200 + 25%). The “Custom” rate, if that’s what you did initially, would still be $500 until you adjust it again. You can see why the automated route is superior.
The second neat feature I’d like to call out is their breakdown of the price. By clicking on any date, you will see a detailed breakout on the left-hand side, including any events.
What’s extra cool, is that they actually tell you the names of the events they’re taking into consideration to decide on the nightly rate.
So, if you live by a small school and know there’s an upcoming graduation and your house is likely to be highly in demand, but that event is not listed in the price breakout, you know that the pricing may be inaccurate.
Have a question about my Wheelhouse review? I’m an expert. Ask me a question in the comments.
Wheelhouse “Performance” Tab
The “Performance” tab provides statistics narrowly focused on one individual listing.
This tab provides historical and future monthly data on:
Revenue per available night
Booking lead time
The booking lead time is the most important table. Wheelhouse is telling me that I’m getting booked about 8 days in advance. I agree with this number, though I want to look further into how it’s being calculated as I could not come up with it based on the info shown to me from the table.
This number is telling me that 50% of my bookings are coming between 0 and 8 days and 50% are coming further than 8 days. You can see the large variations above which should be taken into consideration.
This means I want to maintain about a 50% occupancy rate at a timeframe of 8 days into the future. More importantly, it tells me that I shouldn’t lower my price too early because many bookings are coming with very short notice.
If I want to be a little more conservative, which I do in this case given my erratic booking behavior in the past year due to Covid, I want to be 50% occupied at around 15 days and more like 75% occupied around 8 days in the future.
Does that make sense? It’s important. If it does not, please post a comment at the end of this Wheelhouse review.
Wheelhouse “Comps” Tab
This tab is cool and probably needs its own blog post, but it essentially allows you to spy on your Airbnb competitors.
You know that one Airbnb host around the corner from you? The one with a similar size home and similar amenities? With Wheelhouse Comps you get to spy on the details of their performance in order to identify ways they are beating you.
Click on ‘Create new set’ and set some filters around your Airbnb listing. Then choose the most relevant competitors. You can click the little reddish “+” sign in the right corner to add comps to your set.
I narrowed my comp set to distance and number of beds, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Sure enough, the first listing I clicked within Wheelhouse was extremely similar, but with a 30-night minimum stay.
After you select a few direct competitors, this section gives you a set of highlights comparing your performance. Super cool!
As you can see from my highlights, my occupancy is a little lower than my competitors, but my nightly rate, asking rate, and RevPar (revenue per available night) are much higher.
In my defense, the only reason my occupancy is low is because the host wants a full day before and after each reservation blocked.
If you didn’t know, I run a full-service Airbnb property management company. I only accept a maximum of five listings at one time, and I personally manage your Airbnb. All of my listings consistently rank on page one in the Airbnb search. Due to Covid, I have two available spots. Please send me a message here or comment or directly go on Belo: Airbnb Property Management website.
You are reading the most up-to-date Wheelhouse review.
How Much Does Wheelhouse Cost?
Out of all the pricing tools, Wheelhouse is my favorite in terms of pricing because they allow you to choose between a fixed rate or a commission of 1%. If you know what you’re doing (which I’m about to explain), this is a customer-friendly approach.
Whether you want to choose the fixed price of $19.99 or the commission of 1% depends on two things:
- Your nightly rate
- Your occupancy
Let’s take my Los Angeles Airbnb listing as an example. The average nightly rate is about $500 with an occupancy of about 67%. On an average month, this listing can expect about $10,000 ($500 per night x 20 nights) in earnings.
One percent of $10,000 is $100. I’m better off paying $19.99 per month.
If you’re making above $2,000 per month or about $24,000 per year you will want to choose the Pro Flat plan at $19.99 per month. Otherwise, you’re better off selecting the Pro Flex plan as you’ll pay less overall.
With the Pro Flat plan there are discounts:
- 15% discount starting at the 10th listing
- 30% discount starting at the 50th listing
- If you have 100+ Airbnb listings, please contact them for custom pricing and mention you found them through the OptimizeMyBnb.com blog
Of course, if you use the code OPTIMIZE on for the Wheelhouse dynamic pricing tool then you will get 75% off your first month’s bill.
The Wheelhouse Dashboard
The main dashboard of Wheelhouse comes with five components:
- Market Intel
- Comp Set Intel
The main Wheelhouse dashboard is your control center. You can access everything from here, as well as, connect more vacation rental accounts or listings.
All of your listings will be visible on this page with some basic information. If you have dozens or hundreds of listings, you can use filters at the top-right to find those listings.
You will also find the “Rev. Score” here which is a high-level index score of between zero and 99. It measures revenue relative to the revenue and vacancy of similar listings in your market.
Please note that even if you’re in the 90s, or even 99, this score is not an upper bound. Being near the top of this scale does not mean that more is not possible. It is. Instead, being towards the top of Rev. Score means you are at the top of the scale relative to other listings nearby. You are doing great, but can always do better.
The “Portfolio” module is going to be most useful for property managers with too many listings to keep track of in your head. If you’re an Airbnb host with fewer than 10 listings, I recommend you ignore this section until you’re very familiar with the other things we’ve discussed in this Wheelhouse review.
This module has a lot going on and will take some time to get used to, but it has three sections all of which provide information in a side-by-side format:
- Settings – detailed dashboard comparison of your listings
- Calendar – comparison between your listings with rates and availability
- Performance – comparison of occupancy and revenue with the option of adding in Comp Set data
The “Bookings” module allows you to compare revenue or occupancy numbers and future reservations. You can compare between listings if you’re paying for multiple listings.
The “Market Intel” module provides data analytics on a particular market (similar to AirDNA, except better). At the moment, this feature is in beta and is included in all subscriptions for free. However, they will be charged by market with a monthly subscription when Wheelhouse releases this feature from beta.
Finally, the “Comp Sets Intel” module displays all your listings comp set performance for a particular month. This tab is highly relevant and I’m most excited about its future. Given it’s in beta still, I will come back to this in the future.
Which Vacation Rental Platforms Are Compatible With Wheelhouse?
Of course, Wheelhouse connects directly to Airbnb, as well as a few other vacation rental platforms and property management systems (PMS).
They do not connect directly with either Booking or VRBO/HomeAway. If you use these platforms, you’ll have to connect to them through a third party like one of the PMS.
For most users, this won’t be a problem, as Wheelhouse has partnerships with many of the major property management systems like Guesty, Hostfully, and Rentals United.
Upon inquiry, Wheelhouse told me that they are about to launch additional channel manager solutions.
Ready to try Wheelhouse with a 75% discount on your first month? Click here and use the code OPTIMIZE upon signup.
Wheelhouse Review: Referral Program
All Wheelhouse users are able to click the ‘Refer & Earn’ button at the top-right corner where their username is.
This page will provide you with both a referral code and a unique URL which you can give out and earn a 50% revenue share for the first three months. This could be more than $30 per user!
Be sure to tell the referral they will get a $10 Wheelhouse credit off their first bill by using your referral code.