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Depending on your location, you might be competing against thousands of other Airbnb hosts for the same guests. It can be difficult figuring out a way to stand out from all the competition. Fortunately, there’s an easy way for you to differentiate your listing and get free marketing. An Airbnb interior design method called theming.

We’ve all seen the photos of some pretty stunning Airbnbs on social media… the ones that make us want to go online and book the place for ourselves. Some of these include properties with panoramic views and unique designs. Unfortunately, purchasing or building such properties can be extremely time-consuming and expensive.

But, there is a way for hosts to still stand out without having to invest so much into their properties.

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Airbnb interior design method: What is Theming?

Theming involves styling your property to fit a certain theme such as a pirate theme, Star Wars theme, or Harry Potter theme.

airbnb interior design harry potter theme

By theming your property, you can easily differentiate yourself from the competition. When guests scroll through Airbnb listings, an Airbnb designed like the one above will catch their eye and make them pause.

This is called a pattern interrupt and is crucial if you want guests to notice and book your property.

If you’re new to theming, you’ll ideally want to start off with smaller-sized properties. While they are a little cheaper to purchase, that’s not the main benefit. A smaller-size property will require less time, resources, and money to theme out because you have less space. This makes theming a lot more manageable.

Additionally, you want to build up a network for all your renovations. This network should include people such as handymen, painters, and plumbers. If you have a good contact list in your phone for those people, you can get things done pretty quickly.

Some hosts have been able to renovate their properties within 2 weeks.

Benefits of Theming

One obvious benefit of having a themed Airbnb interior design is increased bookings. People who resonate with the theme (e.g. Harry Potter fans) will definitely book. Those who aren’t super into the theme may also book because you’re providing a unique, cool experience for them.

Another benefit is the increased attention. If you do something boldly different in a market, you’re going to get discovered with minimal effort. But if you aren’t, it’s up to you to get discovered. You can reach out to travel and tourist sites and see if they’d be willing to do a story on you. This would be free marketing and publicity for you.

If your theme is related to a local attraction, you can build local partnerships with them to cross-promote. For instance, if you’re located in Las Vegas and have a pirate-themed Airbnb, you can reach out to the pirate shows in town.

You may be able to build a partnership, where they promote your property and you promote their show. And if you’re a good negotiator, you might even get them to offer your guests a discount to the show. This would be a huge hit with your guests.

Use targeted marketing around your Airbnb interior design

Because themed properties can be somewhat niche, you can leverage targeted marketing to get bookings. You want to find where the niche is online, join the discussion, and target them. Facebook makes this really easy to do with Facebook ads. You can also target people coming in for conferences and events that fall under the umbrella of your theme.

Theming also makes it easier for you to partner with social media influencers. You can offer them a stay at your themed Airbnb. They’ll be more likely to agree to give you publicity because the property is unique.

By having a themed Airbnb, you open yourself to another opportunity to earn more. You can create products around your theme and sell that merchandise to your guests.

People will be more open to picking up a hat, mug, pirate-themed cocktail recipe book, and more if you’ve done a good job delighting them. Your merchandise should have a similar attitude as your property. This means having bold images, fun logos, and creative slogans.

How to Choose a Theme

When it comes to choosing a theme, you want to find one that speaks to a hungry niche. If you’re located near Disney World, a Star Wars-themed Airbnb might be a good idea. The theme should be relevant and shareable.

When you think you’ve found the perfect theme, ask yourself: How will this play out on social media? How will this look on Instagram? Is this something shareable?

airbnb interior design star wars

Remember, people tend to share photos of stunning Airbnbs because it’s something unique that they can’t get elsewhere.

Other than that, you’re really only limited by your imagination. If you search for themed properties, you’ll see a diverse range of themes. There are so many directions you can go. But, if you want to narrow down possible options, you can introduce your own criteria. For instance, if you want to create an Instagram-worthy bedroom, you’re going to have to focus on creativity in the bedroom.

In this case, a pirate theme might be appropriate because it is associated with regalness. This includes flowing, red fabrics and ornates, which also gives the impression of royalty.

Case Study: Jeff MacIntyre and Pirate Ridge

Jeff MacIntyre runs a pirate-themed Airbnb in Pigeon Forge. While he isn’t a fan of pirates, he chose this theme because it was appropriate for the typical visitor. Downtown Pigeon Forge (near Dollywood) is known as being the “Las Vegas Strip for Families”. There are a lot of nightly shows such as hillbilly comedy and pirate shows.

When Jeff first purchased property in Pigeon Forge, he didn’t do so with the intent of creating a pirate-themed Airbnb. When he was driving around on a Tuesday night, he saw a lot of people going to the local pirate show. The parking lot was filled with cars, and a large majority of the people were dressed up in pirate costumes. This gave him the idea of styling his Airbnb to follow a pirate theme.

How he decided to choose a pirate Airbnb interior design theme

His decision was a bit risky because no one had done anything like that before in the market. At the time, 98% of the listings were traditional wood cabins with bear figurines, fireplaces, and hot tubs. If you scrolled through the Airbnb listings, it’d be a blur of wood. The bragging rights among Airbnb hosts were about who had the most wood.

That was the distinguishing factor. A pirate-themed property would be a pattern interrupt. Guests would see reds, skulls, and cannons instead of the traditional wood cabins.

He effectively communicates his pirate theme in his listing photos and description. The listing photos instantly tell guests what the property is about. He uses pirate slang in his listing description to continue telling the story of his pirate-themed Airbnb. He also has #PirateRidge decals near photo-worthy decor, so people who share photos of the property are also marketing it.

pirate airbnb interior design

Around 80% of his reviews are about the decor. This indicates that there’s some level of resonance among his guests, meaning he chose an appropriate theme.

His only mistake was that he initially set the price too high. This may have hurt him in regards to Airbnb’s metrics and algorithms. He based his pricing on the uniqueness factor instead of the average neighborhood price.

He should’ve started off with a lower price to get more reviews. After building some credibility, he could’ve then increased the price. There are a variety of pricing tools out there that can help you set the optimal price.


At the end of the day, you shouldn’t be in this business to run hotels. Successful hosts focus on creating unique experiences for guests. This is especially important for guests that are looking for something different. If you’re interested in going down the themed route, think of yourself as a “dealer of delight”. The more delightful moments you can create for your guests, the more they’ll love you.

After all, if you don’t do something different, it’s going to be difficult standing out. You have to stand out to book up.

Want a list of the Airbnb tools that transformed my business?