You asked: You're constantly pushing me to lower my price—why? Who are you comparing me to?
This was a top-voted question that we answered at the July 2018 Host Q&A, and it comes up often, so we’ve captured the answer as well as some updates for you here. Let’s dive in.
You’re always in control of your listing price
It’s important that you know you’re always in control of the price you set on your listing. You can decide based on your business goals and risk tolerance how high or low to go, and when to change that price to encourage bookings or to maximize your profit. Our intention behind offering pricing suggestions is to give you the information you need to help you get bookings, and adjusting your price is often the most effective way to do this. The goal is to dial in a price for your listing that matches what guests are searching for—and willing to pay for—at the time of their trip.
Pricing suggestions when demand is low—and when demand is high
We have some updates to share about how we’re developing and delivering the information you need to price your listing competitively—both during low and high demand seasons. The pricing tools we build are intended to help you boost your income by getting bookings. Historically these tools have focused on helping you set a competitive price when demand is low. See, when demand is low, setting a lower price is more likely to get you bookings. Some of you may prefer to keep your price higher even if that means your place goes unbooked, and of course that is absolutely okay. You’re always in control of your listing price.
Some of you have told us that the suggestions you get are sometimes so low you question if it’s worth continuing to host on Airbnb. Please know that we value you as the core of our community—there’s no Airbnb without Airbnb hosts! Our intention is only to give you the most reliable information we can gather, so you can make informed business decisions that work for you. Our pricing suggestions may not always capture the nuances of how you host, or what makes your space unique. That’s why it’s important to add a minimum price that ensures Smart Pricing only gets you bookings at prices that are worth it for you. We might still send you suggestions below that minimum simply to keep you informed about what price we believe would get you bookings. You’re free to ignore these if they don’t work for you. We also understand that this is not always welcome information, so we’re working on ways for you to let us know if you’d like fewer, or no, notifications in your inbox.
So we’ve talked about pricing suggestions when demand is low, but what about when it’s high? Indeed, many of your calendars are quite booked up. And what you really want are tools that help ensure you’re not leaving money on the table by charging too low a price when there’s plenty of demand. That’s why we’ve spent the first half of 2018 working on this problem and have launched improvements to our Smart Pricing suggestions to be more in tune with the market during periods of high demand.
The updated model looks at the previous years’ Airbnb data and the relationship of demand (bookings) and the prices of the booked listings in your area. Your Smart Pricing suggestions will now do a better job of taking these factors into account. This is just the first step. We’re still working on more ways to make our pricing suggestions better suit your goals, and ways to give you more market data rather than suggestions, so you can make informed pricing decisions. We’ve started testing these new ideas this summer.
How your space is compared to others
Some of you asked about how your listing is compared to others. When it comes to comparisons, we look at your listing through the eyes of guests and compare it with other listings that are successfully booked. In addition to finding listings that host similar numbers of guests and are close to your listing’s location, we look at what guests click before and after visiting your listing. Sometimes you’d be surprised (and we are too) at what guests perceive as comparable.
Next, we try to make sure your listing is compared to other listings that are successful and competitive. Unfortunately, many listings on the platform receive few bookings, especially in periods of low demand. We realize that most of you compare your listings to others by searching as guests in your area, and this can yield very different results than our comparisons. This is because it’s hard to assess how successful listings are with just a search. Moreover, if you search with dates, you’ll typically only see listings that have not been booked. These listings tend to be priced less competitively than the ones that have already been booked for those dates. So if you’re looking only at available listings, you have no way to tell if they’re getting booked successfully, or if their prices may be too high.
Despite all this, sometimes our model still doesn’t take into account all aspects that are important to you in your comparison. That’s why we’re continuing to expand the way in which we think about comparisons and are working to increase the relevance of our tools and suggestions.
Improvements on the way
Thanks to your feedback, we’ve made some strides in how we calculate and deliver pricing suggestions. Here are a few things you can look forward to:
Stay tuned for even more pricing news during the next Global Host Q&A, which will air on October 10 2018.