When it comes to getting ready for your area’s busiest travel season, it pays to think ahead. No matter when your peak season occurs, having a thoughtful pricing strategy can help you get the bookings you want. Here’s how some hosts around the world get ready for hosting in high season:
New nights open on your calendar daily, so you’ll want to ensure your nightly price is always updated. To stay ahead of their availability windows, some successful hosts pick a day of the week or month (depending on how often they host) to update their calendars.
It’s also a good idea to set a custom price for specific nights, weeks, or months now, so guests who plan ahead don’t book high-season dates at low-season prices. Host Jessi of Ciudad López Mateos, Mexico, sets her rates months beforehand. “Don’t leave it for later, because then come reservations with a rate that we didn’t want,” Jessi says. If you use Smart Pricing, you may want to double-check your nightly rate for peak periods, and adjust your maximum and minimum rates accordingly.
To set your listing apart, consider opening your calendar six months in advance. Extending the availability window in your reservation preferences can help you attract guests who are booking peak-season vacations now. Plus, if you add an early-bird discount in your price settings of 10% or more to any reservation booked up to 36 months ahead, strikethrough styling (for example, $200) will appear on your original price. Discounts under 10% won’t appear with a strikethrough but can still help your listing appeal to early bookers.
Requiring guests to stay a certain number of nights can work in your favor. Host Jeff of Caernarfon, Wales, raises his minimum stay during peak season from his usual three nights and limits when guests can check in. “I've set the high season to [a] seven-night minimum and Saturday check-in,” Jeff says. As the busy season gets closer, you can always relax these settings if you find they’re too restrictive.
If you live in a destination with annual events that draw crowds, some seasoned hosts recommend initially blocking your calendar for those dates. In Austin, Texas, for example, about 417,000 people attended South by Southwest in 2019. Some Austin hosts open their calendars and set prices closer to SXSW every year, so they can compare similar listings and keep their rates competitive.
To set up your listing so guests are more likely to choose it over others in the busy season, study similar listings as well as the highest-rated listings in your area. From there, set your prices and any necessary fees for cleaning, extra guests, and more. New listings come online during peak season, and more fees may lead to fewer guests in the high season. Remember: Guests will compare not just the nightly price of your listing but the overall price—including fees.
Even if your listing is in good shape, it’s smart to re-examine it before you head into your busy hosting season. Are all of your photos up to date? Is it time to hire a professional photographer? Have you updated your accessibility features? Are there any typos or missing info?
Host Pablo in La Paz, Bolivia, created a complete checklist to help prepare for his high season. “It's good to always stop to evaluate,” he says. His checklist includes:
If you haven’t tried Instant Book before, now might be the right time to try it out. Listings with Instant Book turned on tend to be more popular with guests, since they’re able to more easily plan their trips. Plus, turning on Instant Book speeds up your response rate, which can improve how your listing ranks in search results. During peak season, this could make the difference between attracting a guest—or not. There’s also a filter guests can use to find Instant Book listings only, which could bring more attention to your listing.
Whether you’re already a Superhost or you’re aspiring to be one, try hard to respond to guests quickly. (Part of becoming a Superhost is responding to 90% of new inquiries and reservation requests within 24 hours.) You might even consider using message templates for a faster response. “I love the templates and use them all the time,” says Superhost Sally of Snoqualmie Pass, Washington. “When a guest first makes a [reservation], I send them a ‘Thank you for booking’ message. That way they know I got their request.”
Consistent communication is key, and this applies after checkout too. You can send guests a thank-you note via the Airbnb app—and remind them to write a review. To increase your chances for positive reviews, hosts generally recommend communicating with guests from booking through checkout. The more reviews you get, the more potential guests can learn about your space and the closer you are to your hosting goals.
Think about your cleaning routine now so resetting your space is on auto-pilot. If you generally allow for a day between guests to clean and turn over your space, hiring a professional may get the job done faster. Consider adding a cleaning fee to your listing, but be strategic: Higher cleaning fees discourage shorter stays, and increase expectations for cleanliness.
Prepping for high season is also ideal for major cleaning projects. While assessing his listing, host Pablo of La Paz, Bolivia, also evaluates his space to find out what linens should be replaced, what furniture needs repairing, what supplies could be purchased wholesale, and whether it’s time to deep clean interiors and exteriors.
Hosting can be a collaborative effort. For example, host Ivan-Dario of Bogotá, Colombia, doesn’t do it all on his own—he relies on both a co-host and a cleaner. “When I receive a reservation, I inform [my cleaner], and this way, if for some reason I forget any upcoming reservation, she always reminds me,” he says.
Peak-season prep can be simple—and lucrative, if you plan ahead. Just make sure you block dates you can’t host so you don’t have to cancel any reservations, which can lead to cancellation penalties such as paying fees, losing Superhost status, or even getting your account suspended. Once you have a better idea of the dates you can host during your busiest time of year, creating a pricing strategy with some of these tips can help you make the most of your high season.
If using Smart Pricing, how do I set a new minimum price starting on a future date?
i.e. - assume peak season starts April 1. I'd like the system to use an 'off-peak' minimum for any bookings prior to April 1, but for anyone booking for stays from April 1 on, I want the 'peak' minimum applied.
I don't see a way to do this?
All very interesting information. There are MANY festivals and events In St. Augustine, Fl. The city itself is a draw/ destination for tourist travel and weddings. We are FULL of snow-birders this time of year as well. I have set my nightly price @ $50. There are MANY Airbnb here. I dont feel like I could raise my price during events. I can not really "change" anything physically about my space [its an RV, so it has built in furniture], I do change up the bed linens and decorative pillows and towels . I enjoyed reading this, but dont know if I can implement any of the suggestions. Thank You Airbnb for informing us all.
Has anyone else had the frustration of getting lower Value scores in the review process? My listing is competitively priced, even when compared to efficiency hotel rooms not on the oceanfront (my listing is a two bedroom apartment with a full kitchen and private beach access with oceanfront deck). So my nightly prices are appropriate, and I will get 5 stars overall and on every category, but then get a 4 star for Value.
It seems these typically happen on shorter stays and I'm wondering if its the Airbnb fees and taxes plus the cleaning fee that is disappointing guests. My cleaning fee is fairly low, at only $60. But it is the same no matter how long the stay as I have to do the exact same cleaning and sheet changing etc. each time.
Any thoughts or feedback on how you've dealt with managing Value expectations?
I occasionally have this issue as well but have reduced it significantly by tactfully mentioning Airbnb statistics on how our price compares to the median and average in the message I send to the guest thanking them for booking our home. This only works if your prices compare well to the other listings. You need to have professional tools turned on for your listing to get these statistics.