Increase Your Revenue With Better Guests

5-Step Marketing Blueprint For Your Short-Term Rental

Part 2 of 7 - Know Your Audience

Your "Guest Avatar" Is The Foundation

Bad guests who throw parties, damage property, sell drugs, use your space to meet with "escorts" and anything else your mind can imagine is every hosts nightmare.

And we've had them all.

One year in particular on December 31st, a New Years Eve party was put together by underage high-school/college kids who used their parents information to book the place.

We started putting things together when looking closely at some red flags:

An entire house booking for only two people...

Guests were local to our area...

The reservation was made with very short notice...

The reservation was only for 1 night...

Guests were very elusive in their communications...

Anyone could have seen this coming, but being relatively new to the game we did not want to be the "paranoid host" who is suspicious of everyone.

After only a few hours, it became clear that a party was being thrown, so the police were called and they kicked everyone out. In only a few hours, over $1,500 worth of damage was done inside.

Carpets were stained, holes were punched in walls, refrigerators were kicked in, people were peeing on the walls in the bathroom, etc.

And this isn't the first time something like this has happened, but it was one of the last.

Because we started to take a more serious look into our marketing strategy.

The point of this little story is that the way you put together your listing matters. Who you attract matters.

As Airbnb hosts, we tend to make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone. We think, “Who wouldn’t want to stay in my beautiful home?”

But the truth is, not everyone will be interested in your listing… And that’s okay!

Your goal should be to attract the right guests – those who will appreciate and enjoy what you have to offer and repelling those who might not be the best fit for your space.

(Which are the ones that tend to cause most of the issues, anyways.)

Before you can put together an emergent marketing plan that pulls all of your ideal guests in, you need to know who you're talking to. It's the foundation whereby everything else gets built.

Most hosts skip this step because they believe they have to shoot for 100% occupancy and attract as many guests as possible. But it’s worth the effort to narrow down your target market and really zero in on those perfect guests who will love your listing just as much as you do.

Not all guests are good guests, and not all bookings are equal.

I’m still pulling out gray hairs from my head due to guests who ignored our house rules or who couldn’t figure out how to download and read a PDF.

But then there are the guests who abuse the Airbnb system, like those who give fake or stolen IDs, threaten to leave a negative review if you don’t discount their stay, or leave your property trashed.

These are the kind of guests that no host wants. And these are the kind of guests you get when you market to anyone and everyone.

By knowing your target audience and attracting the right type of guest, you can avoid many potential headaches and even save yourself from future legal issues.

This necessary step is particularly important to get right in the beginning because it will affect everything else downstream in your marketing strategy.

For example, if you’re targeting business travelers, you’ll want to use different messaging than if you’re targeting families on vacation.

Your descriptions will be different...

Your pictures will be different...

The amenities and features that you offer will be different...

Even your furniture will be arranged differently to fit the needs of your target audience...

The bottom line is that you need to know who you’re marketing to. This will help you determine what kind of messaging and imagery to use in your marketing materials.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

What type of traveler is my ideal guest?

What are their interests and hobbies?
What kind of amenities and features will they be looking for in an Airbnb?

Once you have a good idea of who your target guest is, you can start putting together a guest avatar.

This is basically a fictional representation of your ideal customer.

Include as many details as possible, such as age, gender, occupation, income level, location, etc. Heck, even come up with a name for them and the kind of movies they like to watch!

The more specific you can be when creating your customer avatar, the easier it will be to market your Airbnb to them, because the things you say and the photos you take will attract them like a magnet.

So where do you find these people?

The best place to start is by looking at your current guests, if you have them.

Pay attention to who they are, where they came from, why they chose your listing, and what they liked or didn’t like about their stay. Rate them from 1-10 and create a traveler persona around your most ideal guests.

You can also look at your competitors’ listings too.

Who are their guests?
What kind of language are their guests using in their reviews?
What kind of photos do they have?
But there is one small consideration to make.

These people need to actually be travelers to your area, otherwise you’ll just be wasting your time by marketing to travelers that don’t really exist for your market.

One way to shortcut the research process is by using market analytical software like AirDNA, which can help you track your local market and understand who your target guests are.

If you’re familiar with our story, you’ll know that we were able to spot a significant gap in our market and used that information to overhaul our listing and start filling up our calendar.

You can use their tools to look at the demographics of people who have booked Airbnb listings in your area in the past, where they are coming from, etc.

This will give you a good idea of who your potential guests are and what kind of messaging to use when marketing your listing.

For example, if you see that a lot of people from New York are booking Airbnb’s in your area, you might want to target your marketing to people from New York City.

You can use language like “get away from the hustle and bustle of the city” or “escape the concrete jungle” in your listing description, and your photos can help represent the tranquility of your area or vacation destination.

You can also take your photos to show things that would be familiar to them, such as city landmarks in the background or the New York City skyline as your cover photo, with captions stating that “New York City guests are welcome here.”

These are just some ideas, but you get the point…

The bottom line is that you need to understand who your target guests are in order to market your listing effectively.

Once you have your customer avatar, it’s time to move on to the next step...

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- Benjamin & Sheila Harty
Skyline STR