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Discussion – 


Discussion – 


Case Study of an Airbnb in Cape Town (Ep 277)

Airbnb is a momentum game. The more bookings you get, the more users see your listing in search results. Build a solid reputation, and you become one of the top Airbnbs in your city. But in order to get those initial bookings and build that momentum, you have to make it as easy as possible for guests to book your Airbnb!

My friend, Simon Lewis, lists his home in Cape Town, South Africa, and it’s a beautiful space in an ideal location. Unfortunately, his bookings have declined in recent months. Today on the podcast, we’re taking a look at his listing to find out why.

First, Simon describes the features of his Airbnb, explaining what makes it special and how it’s managed currently. We debate the pros and cons of allowing one-night stays, and Simon explains why he’s hesitant to set his listing to Instant Book and relax his cancellation policy. We also discuss simple ways to improve your position in search results, like changing the order of your photos and maintaining your calendar. Listen in for our plan to improve Simon’s results on Airbnb and learn how to build momentum for YOUR listing so it ranks near the top!

Topics Covered

An overview of Simon’s Airbnb in Cape Town

  • 1BR by beach in desirable area
  • Slow during winter months (May—August)
  • Friend does check-ins, local cleaning co.

The benefits of using the Instant Book setting

  • Airbnb promotes listing in search results
  • Build momentum as reputation grows

Why Simon is hesitant to use Instant Book

  • Fear of theft from personal home
  • Avoid bad reviews by talking to guest first

How you can protect yourself AND use Instant Book

  • Use Airbnb Resolution Center for stolen items
  • Allowed to cancel booking 3X penalty-free
  • Set conditions for who can Instant Book

Tips for maintaining your Airbnb calendar

  • Open up for booking full year in advance
  • Update daily to demonstrate accuracy

How to order photos for your greatest advantage

  • Use collage of photos in first position
  • First 5 should show different spaces
  • Research nearby listings + stand out

Our plan to improve Simon’s results on Airbnb

  1. Set listing to Instant Book
  2. Use Beyond Pricing to optimize prices
  3. Reduce minimum stay to one night
  4. Change order of photos
  5. Shift to flexible cancellation policy

How to handle requests for early check-in

  • Allow guests to leave bags while cleaning
  • Recommend nearby restaurants, shopping

Update May 9th

I started working on Simon's listing on May 3rd, 2019. The next day we received the first booking and by the time I published this podcast we had received three(!). In fact, a happy Airbnb guest is staying at Simon's property currently.

May 3rd, zero bookings and a health score of 22. I set the base price at 700 ZAR (USD 49), to price the unit competitively compared to the market average of 1000 ZAR (USD 70). The pricing algorithm adjusts this base price according to various demand & supply factors.
Bingo! On May 5th we got our first booking!
May 9th, we now have three bookings and a guest is staying at Simon's place currently! This is great news,
Our health score is up to 91, which means our occupancy is aligned with the demand curve. In other words, we're almost perfectly booked, an indication that our base price is set correctly, currently at 900 ZAR per night (USD 63)

Connect with Simon

Simon’s Airbnb Listing

Simon on Twitter


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