My husband and I have been hosting with Airbnb for 5 years now. When we started, there were only 4 other listings for our city, Paraty, in Rio de Janeiro state in Brasil.
Very soon after we listed our acomodations, we got a booking, followed by a wonderful review from our first guests, and it picked up very well from there. Soon we had loads of reviews, loads of bookings, and we added another listing. Our reviews have always been excellent, we have always worked hard to make our guests feel welcome and have the best stay possible, never cancelled any booking and have refused very few booking requests. We also have 100% response rate, within a couple of hours, and have been superhosts since they brought this feature back again a couple of years ago.
Airbnb started to grow. New listings started to pop by the dozens daily, and in a couple of years there were almost one thousand listings on Airbnb for Paraty. This didn't affect our bookings. Our place is really special, and as I mentioned above, we get wonderful reviews. So, even though now there were so many options for stays in Paraty, our bookings kept steady.
Suddenly, about 4 months ago, things changed drastically. Enquiries became very sparse, and bookings went down drastically. We were puzzled. So started to investigate. Doing a search for all listings in Paraty, without using any filters or dates ( which normally showed ALL listings for the city), I couldn't find our listing. ( note that if you do this search logged into your account, your listing will most probably show on the search, and ranking pretty good. It is entirely different when you do a search loggged out, in a incognito tab or clear all cookies and cache before doing the search. I suggest you try ).Got in touch with Airbnb through a few different channels, and they all assured us that our listing was showing, sending us a link to show our page on the search. But all searches used filters in them, and the parameters selected were very specific which of course improves dramatically the chances of showing our listing on the search. Soon we realised, that, on a general search for Paraty ( again, no filters, no dates, no parameters), Airbnb is now only showing 307 listings. Always. From around one thousand available in Paraty. Which clearly means that many listings are being left out on general searches made by people. Got in touch again with Airbnb, and got the same reply and links showing that my listing does appear on search results, but only when many filters and parameters are selected. I insisted again that a general search should show ALL listings for Paraty, and got the reply that no one searches without dates or type of acomodations in mind. I insist they do, and that is why there is the option to search without dates and filters. I have done general searches and know of other people that do, without any dates or specifics in mind, just to have a look at all possibilities to some trip that you plan to do some day.
I suppose this is happening with many other people, because one day one of their newsletters send by email had a link to a topic about searches and how they work.
Starts with the same story, that the better your reviews, the more bookings, the less cancellations, the faster response, etc, the higher your listing appears on their search. From the beginning of our experience with Airbnb, I have already found out that this is not quite 100% true, but what shocked me was to hear about the new modifications they have done to how search works.
So basically, Airbnb is pre selecting listings to show potential guests whenever they do a general search on Airbnb. Based on the above listed factors, on type of properties you booked or even searched before. Assuming that people follow a pattern and are not willing to change and try something different. They are assuming what people want to see, and, in the case of my city, leaving around 2/3 of the listings out.
I wish Airbnb would hear and understand how this is affecting hosts drastically. I wish they would give more credit to hosts that been with them since the beginning, working hard and helping build their good reputation and grow.
The other day, I came across a paid advert from Airbnb on Facebook, featuring a house listed with them in Paraty. New host. Not many reviews, some not that good. But the house had been featured on an architecture Brazilian magazine. This alone was for them enough reason to feature it. .On the comments, a couple of people saying that they had tried to book that house, and the communication with the host was very bad and he had been rude. On the post, there was a link saying : click here to see all listings for Paraty. I clicked and it showed only 307. No surprise there!!! On that, I decided to write a comment pointing out that the link is not true, that it doesn't show ALL listings for Paraty, briefly pointing out my concerns about this and mentioned that I wished they would feature instead listings from hosts that had been with them for a long while, working hard from the beginning, helping build the reputation and that fitted in to the whole idea of Airbnb, basically great hosting with love and effort and attention to make people have the best stay possible. My comment was deleted.
I really appreciate if you read this far. Maybe the same has been happening to you. Maybe not. Maybe it has but you haven't been fully aware of it...But I ask you to please like or comment on this post, because it is the only way it will get selected to reach Airbnb. This is how this new host voice forum works. Posts that don't get attention, are automatically archived, the ones that do, are supposedly moved up the " importance chain" and hopefully gets the attention it deserves.
The other channels to get in touch with Airbnb are becoming more and more difficult and automated, doesn't really feel like real soul is replying from the other side. I feel very nostalgic about our beginning with Airbnb, and the easiness to get in touch, and get a proper and quick and personal response to enquiries, problems, complaints, suggestions. Feel that as Airbnb grows, this is all getting lost. That it is more about the money, less about the people. That the initial moto of hosting with soul is totally getting lost.
Response from Airbnb
Creating a platform that helps match hosts and travelers is unique and challenging. And any given search can produce different results based on numerous factors.
Many markets have thousands of listings, which means only a tiny fraction of those end up on the first page of a search with no date parameters set. While searching without specified dates is a great way to see what kinds of listings a location has, that’s not how travellers generally find places they decide to book. Almost all guests book using searches with dates.
Our data shows that in general, listings with more reviews, and higher ratings, show up in searches to more travelers, especially when their dates are specified. So, while we never promote listings (even based on tenure), you can do a lot to make sure your listing stands out in search.