Updated: May 24
The art and science of converting potential guests into paid bookings
This article will explain everything you need to know about how to write a listing description that will make your potential guests click book as soon as they read it. If you want more bookings for your Airbnb, this article is for you.
Everyone knows just how important the pictures and price are to attract potential guests to your listing and if you're not, you can see this article here that talks about why staging and photography has such a huge impact on your success as an Airbnb host.
A lot of people believe that having the best pictures is enough and in some cases they're right, but in more competitive environments, you need an edge to help get you across the line. This is where the written section of your listing becomes much, much more important to help to convince potential guests to book your place and fill up your calendar and your bank account.
The guest booking journey
Every booking starts with a search and ends with a choice, you want to make your listing their choice. When you really boil down the process, you come out with this general process that most guests will follow as they go from their first search to their final choice.
Search. Every booking begins with a search of the area where the guest wants to stay.
Shortlist. Most guests will scroll through the map of the location they want and choose 10-15 potential listings based on price and the quality and appeal of the cover photo.
Compare & refine. The guests will then go through the pictures of each of the listings they opened and narrow down their search to 3-5 listings that they really like the look of.
Details and choices. This final step is where most guests will look over your pictures again, read the house rules and the full description of your listing as well as go through a few of the more recent reviews.
This final step is where most people fall down. They believe that if their listing is in a great location, the price is competitive and their photos are amazing, the rest will take care of itself. We have all had that one message from a potential guest who enquired about your Airbnb send you the dreaded "I've already booked somewhere else." message. Writing a killer listing description can be the difference between winning and losing a booking.
“Every booking starts with a search and ends with a choice, you want to make your listing their choice.”
Why your listing needs a sales touch
Your listing is your shop front for your Airbnb and you need to make sure that it is as appealing to potential customers as possible. I encourage people to go through every aspect of their listing at least once a month to fine tune everything and make sure everything is still relevant from when they first listed their Airbnb.
If you want some help with your listing description, leave a comment below with a link to your Airbnb listing and I will have a read through and give you some feedback on where you could improve.
The art of writing a killer listing description
Writing a great listing description is both an art and a science. The art is knowing your own property and the surrounding area intimately enough to be able to share your own experience with your readers. If you can write with passion about your own experiences living in the property and your most cherished memories there then you're halfway there. Think about how a great author describes a scene in your favourite book so that you can lose yourself and become completely immersed in their world. The art of writing a great listing description is exactly the same, you want to have emotion in your writing so that people can begin to feel how they would experience their holiday in your home.
Memory is triggered by emotion, if you think back on some of the most vivid memories in your past, and really think about what was happening at the time, you will understand that it was a very emotionally charged experience that caused it to be so clearly etched into your brain.
If we trigger the readers emotions as they read through your listing they are much more likely to remember your listing and think about it more often than the others that did not.
If you have never lived in the home or aren't familiar with the local area, it is a great idea to find someone who is and get them to give you some pointers about the local area and how to get around and find the hidden niches that would appeal to your guests.
Your Airbnb should be a reflection of your own personality which means that it will be appealing to other people that share your sense of style and comfort. Make sure that you talk about everything you love about the area, not just that you do. Talk about that quiet dingy bar down the road that nobody goes to but you love because of the lady that sings on a Tuesday night.
What to write - The space
Remember that you're trying to appeal to someones emotions and there is no better way to do that than by telling a story. Tell a story of your favourite day, evening or weekend you spent in your place. Did you spend a special evening with someone cooking in the large fully stocked kitchen, did you fly in from London and spend an hour relaxing in the bath with a glass of wine before retiring to the beautifully soft bedroom?
Try not to get caught up in the details, if you didn't fly in from London, that's fine but consider the guests point of view in everything you write and try to feature the highlights of your home.
I don't recommend that you try to include every single feature of your property and if you're struggling to decide which features to highlight, have a look throguh your existing reviews and see what your guests most often comment on. IF they all seem to love the private plunge pool overlooking the ocean, make that the highlight of your story. If you don't have anything in your reviews, try to focus on what you believe would be the most appealing aspect of your home and structure your story around that.
What to write - The neighbourhood
Everywhere has it's secrets and your neighbourhood is no different. Try not to focus on the main tourist attractions and instead remember why people come to Airbnb. Airbnb is a community of travellers and hosts who come together to share spaces and experiences, not to focus on the major tourist trap of your local area. Chances are they already know about it but they don't know about that back alley restaurant that serves the best cuisine in the world.
Again, I like to encourage people to create a story of their perfect day or evening in the local area. Tell it like a story and be sure to include a healthy dose of passion into the words you write to make sure that the reader can get a sense of exactly what they will be missing out on if they book somewhere else.
What to write - Transportation
For a lot of guests the local transport scene will be a complete mystery and they may have very different expectaitons of the quality and availability of the local transport. I know that here on the Gold Coast, the local busses are nearly always late and sometimes drive right by so be sure to include information like that so travellers are aware that they should allow some extra time to wait for the bus or to catch the next one.
Be sure to include all of the major ways that people can get around (Uber, bus, tram/train and walking or bicycle) and an approximate cost estimate for a trip to some of the places you speak about in your neighbourhood description as well as the larger local attractions.
The science of writing a killer listing description
Now that we have described the format of how you will present your information to your potntial guests, it is time to talk about the method and the outcome we are looking for. I spoke about creating an emotional response with the person reading your listing and I want to explain why.
The average person takes 3 days to go from their first search to their final decision and booking and on average they visit 14 pages on the Airbnb website. That means that your listing needs to be remembered more prominently than any of the other 13 listings the guest looks at and stay at the top of their mind for up to 3 days.
This is a hard task to accomplish and takes a certain level of skill to be able to pull it off properly. Lucky for you that I have provided this guide to help you include some of the major things that will help people to become emotionally attached your listing by employing a few psychological tactics used by all good sales and marketing people.
“The average person takes 3 days to go from their first search to their final decision and booking”
The best way to implement the following tactics is to intertwine them into your stories without detracting from the plot or flow of the stories. however, that is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve and if done poorly can do more harm than good. Instead, I recommend that you choose one of the tactics below and implement it at the end of the story you write in each of the sections described above as a call to action.
A call to action is exactly what it sounds like, it is something that calls the reader to do something or take some action. For example "book now" or "make your reservation today!". Although a call to action may work without employing one of the tactics below, it is much more effective when you frame it in the correct way with one of the tactics described below.
This is one of the most commonly used tactic to drive sales and conversions. It triggers a deep set subconscious reaction in humans that makes them more likely to purchase someting simply because it is running out. Think of what happens when the news talks about a severe storm or flood, the supermarket gets cleaned out of stock because people think they won't be able to get it. In some ways that makes sense, but did they really need to buy 16 tubes of toothpaste?
The way to promote scarcity in your services is to let people know that your listing is normally booked well in advance. Airbnb actually does this for you, but it is always better to reinforce the point with your own writing. You could include some comments such as:
Check availability of your dates as your Airbnb was booked out to 90% up to 3 months in advance at this time of year. If your dates are available, click instant book to reserve them so you don't miss out.
This is much less common but it is the idea that a person who acts in a certain way wants to continue to act in that way. This is actually the tactic you are using by creating relateble stories that people can read. In their mind, they are mentally picturing themselves in your story and wanting to be that person. To leverage this principle to try to drive bookings, you need to use the same language and even the same scenarios from your stories in your call to action.
For example, if you're selling a high end villa to international gusts and your story spoke about getting off the plane from London and collapsing into the steaming hot bath with some champagne, you should include that same language and theme in your call to action. Something like, "Wash away the stress of travelling by sliding into a delightfully warm bath with a complimentary bottle of chilled champagne on arrival, book now to secure your very own slice of paradise"
To talk about why this works, you need to consider what is going through the guests head. First they saw a picture of the bath with candles, freshly cut strawberries and a glass of champagne, then they read your story that spoke about how you love to slide into that very same tub after a long flight. In their mind, they are thinking just how nice that would be after a long flight and they can imagine themselves doing the same thing. For those of you counting, that is three separate occasions when the potential guest has visualised themselves enjoying your space. Then finally, when you go for a call to action, again you bring up the same image in their mind along with the emotions attached. Their psychological response is to be consistent with their thoughts and take action to make that happen. A well written story and call to action will have people clicking book straight away.
The rule of association is same way that companies use celebrities to help promote their products by having them take pictures using their products. You probably don't have the budget or connections to call Connor McGregor or Kim K to come and stay in your Airbnb in return for an Instagram post, but that doesn't mean you can't take full advantage of the same principle. Although if you ever do have a Celebrity stay in your Airbnb, take full advantage and get a selfie while they're there and include it in your pictures.
Instead of using celebrities, you can find local attracctions that you can associate with. You don't have to form a partnership with them or pay them, simply find some really interesting local attractions like a Michelin star restaurant down the street or a local theme park that you have an annual pass to use.
Using the example of the Michelin star restaurant, you would work that into your story that describes your neighbourhood and say that reservations are really difficult to get and you need to book months in advance. In your call to action, offer for your guests to help them get reservations if they book early at the best restaurants in your area that are notoriously difficult to get into. Something like "If you book early, I can help you to get reservations at the best restaurants in town!"
This gives people a reason not only to book early filling up your calendar, but also to book with you because you're offering something that they don't think they could get elsewhere.
Now that you have learned the art and science of how to write a killer listing description, it is time to up your game to increase your monthly earnings.
Want some help?
Seeking professional help is always a good idea, especially when it will result in you getting a much better conversion rate on your listing, filling up your calendar and your bank account. The first thing to do would be to leave a comment at the bottom of this listing and i will have a look at your listing and send you some feedback that you can implement.
If you're not confident and you want someone to help with the actual writing of your listing description, click here and organise a free consultation with one of our team members to find out some more about your situation to see how we can help.
Alternatively, we suggest you do a search on Upwork.com for a marketing copywriter. A copywriter is someone that writes content with the specific purpose of converting people into customers. Upwork.com is full of freelancers from all over the world that have varying levels of skills and experience but if you look, you will find someone that has the skills and experience you're looking for.
I hope you have found this article to be helpful and be sure to subscribe below to stay up to date with every new piece of content I release to help you be a better host.
P.S. If you're looking to take your Airbnb earnings to the next level and implement the same strategies the big hotels have been using for years to dominate the market...