8 Deep Adjustments To Your Listings

paulmanzey

Attaché
Vintory
#8 here really hits home, as it's something that I've seen a lot of success with through other marketing avenues as well. While we're all hoping that travelers aren't employing a goldfish attention span, the reality is that there are a lot of people looking for the quick, bulleted information. That's why you're also trying to (#4) shorten your origin story.

Whether we like it or not, people are much more visually driven now because of all of the online exposure. Use bullet points, but use them wisely. Don't necessarily put just any information in this format -- make sure it's compelling (USP) so that you're drawing those potential guests into the experience.

Echoing what @Jed is saying, imagery is also key. High quality images are a non-negotiable, but you have to use those images to tell the same story that your content is telling, knowing that in some cases they won't make it to your listing description. You (or your owners) know the rental inside and out. In some cases, guests are leaving reviews of their experience. Use that information to highlight what they are highlighting. Find the trends -- and solicit more information from them so that you can paint a better picture of the experience they are going to enjoy when they're staying in your unit.

Finally, while the guests may not be buying the KPI's like @Nancy is saying, that doesn't mean you can't use your own KPI's to understand what's happening as people are viewing your listings. I think there are two items that can give great insights into how far people are actually making it on a given listing:
  1. G4 Analytics - Google has been pushing out some great information on their new platform (the old Web + App), but I haven't seen many partners who have been quick to implement. It's definitely different, and offering different data points that may not be what we're all used to within the Universal Analytics setup. However, the one event that they are tracking here (automatically) is scrolls. Find out which of your rentals are getting scrolls, and do a little reverse engineering. Why are they scrolling down the page? Is it because of the name? The Imagery? The Rate? Use that data to help you tell your story even better.
  2. Google Tag Manager - Again, we're getting into how people are interacting with these individual listing pages. In this case (similar to the G4 case above) you're able to track scroll depth on a given page. Find the average scroll depth on your top properties vs your bottom properties, and figure out not only what content you need to put in these descriptions, but where it needs to be placed in location on the listing itself.
 

Randy

Counselor
Inner Circle
Vintory
This is such a valuable topic with a lot of wisdom provided! It would be difficult to add much insight here but I do 100% believe it all starts with the "Title" (Phase I). When writing posts/page/descriptions I always start with grading the effectiveness of the title for click through. One free tool I have found valuable is this Headline Analyzer (https://headlines.sharethrough.com/).

A well-written title will at least grab attention for a few seconds to get the potential guest interested for phase II (Step 8: Skimmify), then if you pass phase II they will typically read long-form copy (like Sallie mentioned). I look at it is multiple short bursts that compound the effectiveness if you pass each phase of interest to ultimately getting the conversion! Woohoo....

It is truly amazing how much strategy, creativity, A/B testing, and neuroscience goes into maximizing the effectiveness of a listing. Hopefully Matt will use this compilation of wisdom and create the following blog post:

Design an Airbnb Listing that Guarantees Double the Bookings (Scores 73 on the Headline Analyzer 🤔)
 

Will Franco

Efficiency Manager
Staff member
Like speed-dating, if you don’t convey quickly what makes you different from every other listing, you’ve lost the goldfish-level attention span of the visitor.

Note: As @Kim likes to remind us, according to some research, the average human attention span is now eight seconds, less than that of the goldfish with nine

The analogy is perfect because once in a while, someone catches your eye and makes a great first impression.



My attention is less than 3 seconds when it comes to booking a vacation rental.

I'm a visual person and make my decision based on the first 3 photos. If the property doesn't look good, I move onto the next listing. I whittle it down to 2 or 3 properties. Next, I read the title and description. Like a resume, the more you write, the higher the probability that I will exclude the property. Congruency between the headline and first photos is a factor.

For example (same price, same location)

1616801659327.png
Thought stream
  • The title feels like SPAM. Is this a bogus scamming listing?!
  • The living area has no heart.
  • The beach looks bad
  • That TV looks too high. It looks like it would hurt my neck.
  • What are these people thinking?
  • I feel bad for them.
  • Should I email them a link to the LSI quiz? ;)
_____________________________

1616801771094.png
Thought stream:
  • Title is congruent with the photos. Check.
  • First bedroom (on the left) is awful.
  • Second bedroom looks great :)
  • On wait, it's the same bedroom.
  • Duh! It's a 1BR.
  • Oh WOW, the main area looks amazing! ❤️ [photo in the bottom right]
  • I want it.
  • And it's close to the beach.
  • Done deal. I hope it's available.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
The analogy is perfect because once in a while, someone catches your eye and makes a great first impression.



My attention is less than 3 seconds when it comes to booking a vacation rental.

I'm a visual person and make my decision based on the first 3 photos. If the property doesn't look good, I move onto the next listing. I whittle it down to 2 or 3 properties. Next, I read the title and description. Like a resume, the more you write, the higher the probability that I will exclude the property. Congruency between the headline and first photos is a factor.

For example (same price, same location)

View attachment 3893
Thought stream
  • The title feels like SPAM. Is this a bogus scamming listing?!
  • The living area has no heart.
  • The beach looks like $#!T
  • That TV looks too high. It looks like it would hurt my neck.
  • What are these people thinking?
  • I feel bad for them.
  • Should I email them a link to the LSI quiz? ;)
_____________________________

View attachment 3894
Thought stream:
  • Title is congruent with the photos. Check.
  • First bedroom (on the left) is awful.
  • Second bedroom looks great :)
  • On wait, it's the same bedroom.
  • Duh! It's a 1BR.
  • Oh WOW, the main area looks amazing! ❤️ [photo in the bottom right]
  • I want it.
  • And it's close to the beach.
  • Done deal. I hope it's available.
I’d love to do more livestreams of someone’s thoughts as they book. Super interesting.
 

Christina

Counselor
Inner Circle
Vintory
These are good tips. Nevertheless, now in Paris the market is, by defintion, nearlly all domestic and all this kind of strategy which is avalaible in "normal time" is not very effective now where the majority of clients are looking for one thing : the price.
So properties have become more commodity versus unique? Are there ways to make them different than anything else? Our experience with folks currently in the US is they want to 1) drive to the destination, 2) be outside their normal four walls, and 3) have everything PERFECT (ugh). I wonder if we could somehow elevate their experience. Thor and I this morning early were discussing putting something in every house, chalkboard with the words "What are you Grateful For?" and then bullet points or numbers (at least five) to have them frame their own experience out of gratitude versus frustration from other parts of their life. We even discussed leaving a kids version like a restaurant with a small pack of non-staining markers or something (and have a puzzle and/or coloring page with our logo or the house shape of each house). Maybe a cool game that helps people staying together reconnect (lots of folks are 'meeting' in the middle to visit from various cities).
 

Christina

Counselor
Inner Circle
Vintory
The analogy is perfect because once in a while, someone catches your eye and makes a great first impression.



My attention is less than 3 seconds when it comes to booking a vacation rental.

I'm a visual person and make my decision based on the first 3 photos. If the property doesn't look good, I move onto the next listing. I whittle it down to 2 or 3 properties. Next, I read the title and description. Like a resume, the more you write, the higher the probability that I will exclude the property. Congruency between the headline and first photos is a factor.

For example (same price, same location)

View attachment 3893
Thought stream
  • The title feels like SPAM. Is this a bogus scamming listing?!
  • The living area has no heart.
  • The beach looks bad
  • That TV looks too high. It looks like it would hurt my neck.
  • What are these people thinking?
  • I feel bad for them.
  • Should I email them a link to the LSI quiz? ;)
_____________________________

View attachment 3894
Thought stream:
  • Title is congruent with the photos. Check.
  • First bedroom (on the left) is awful.
  • Second bedroom looks great :)
  • On wait, it's the same bedroom.
  • Duh! It's a 1BR.
  • Oh WOW, the main area looks amazing! ❤️ [photo in the bottom right]
  • I want it.
  • And it's close to the beach.
  • Done deal. I hope it's available.
Good points! And agreed, as a traveler I think this is their process.
 

Susanne

Counselor
Inner Circle
@Matt Landau, your speed-dating reference is the perfect analogy. When I met the owner of this property, he had a VRBO listing with a few grainy, dark photos of his faux-chateau-themed 1000 sq foot condo. There was not one photo that even hinted ALL windows had a sweeping lake view. Nowhere did it mention the property was located in the tourist epicenter, on the lake, in the center of town. There was no reference to the dozens of area attractions and booking magnets within walking distance. He knew there was more he could do, but was not sure where to start.

The transformation has taken a full year through all the stages of branding, name, logo, ideal guest avatars, property description, automation, website build etc. This thread mentions the importance of good photos. That helps a lot, but my experience is that good photos cannot make up for bad design. For this post's purpose, I will focus on our design efforts. If the property has "star potential" among the comps, don't be afraid to make an investment in elevating the design with the help of professionals.

Make sure to ask whether they can provide past examples of their VR work, and case studies backing up some whopping ROI jumps. We targeted the luxury market, and it is an interesting niche to be sure. Our guest two nights ago was persistent and determined to buy the place upon checkout. Then yesterday morning we pulled in $10,000 in bookings before lunch. It has taken off like a rocket. Targeting special occasions has been really effective. People want a special place to celebrate their milestone birthdays, anniversaries, or retirements. www.urbanshores.ca. Credits to www.1ChicRetreat.com for design and www.jodibourne.com for the website.
 

Attachments

  • 9A24FE1F-E1ED-43F5-B5C1-2B144A602F21.png
    9A24FE1F-E1ED-43F5-B5C1-2B144A602F21.png
    473.3 KB · Views: 11
  • E7A4D653-495C-4A8F-A9CC-D2FDB2BA17FA_1_201_a.jpeg
    E7A4D653-495C-4A8F-A9CC-D2FDB2BA17FA_1_201_a.jpeg
    450.9 KB · Views: 10

DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
So properties have become more commodity versus unique? Are there ways to make them different than anything else? Our experience with folks currently in the US is they want to 1) drive to the destination, 2) be outside their normal four walls, and 3) have everything PERFECT (ugh). I wonder if we could somehow elevate their experience. Thor and I this morning early were discussing putting something in every house, chalkboard with the words "What are you Grateful For?" and then bullet points or numbers (at least five) to have them frame their own experience out of gratitude versus frustration from other parts of their life. We even discussed leaving a kids version like a restaurant with a small pack of non-staining markers or something (and have a puzzle and/or coloring page with our logo or the house shape of each house). Maybe a cool game that helps people staying together reconnect (lots of folks are 'meeting' in the middle to visit from various cities).

Actually, I am in the process of creating a coloring book for our guests using mimi-panda.com
See examples of our pages. Note we use to keep artist pencils and adult level coloring books but no one used them. My goal is to create a small coloring book either as a "let's get excited about the arrival" and/or departing gift (thinking send me your photos and I'll send you a coloring book)
The trick here is to use a photo that has very distinct lines in it and little clutter (in my case the meadow and sunset did not pop as much as my grandkids' smiles).
 

Attachments

  • BACK YARD.pdf
    1.1 MB · Views: 5
  • BACK YARD & CHAIRS.pdf
    1 MB · Views: 3
  • TWINS.pdf
    296.9 KB · Views: 3

Craig

Counselor
Inner Circle
I need to add another item to this thread... sorry still thinking about it.
The final point should also include: Mindful Inclusive Text

I recently received what I thought was a ridiculous email from VERBOH... pointing out that the text I used could be construed as insensitive.
"Plantation Shutters".
Well that set me off because to me plantation shutters is a widely used design and product term.
The VRBOH AI must have thought I was using the word plantation to describe my entire home... which is not the case.

After researching text and descriptions I found out that many real estate boards are no longer permitting the use of the word "Master" for Master Bedroom... the new term to use now is Primary Bedroom.

And the use of the word "Plantation" to describe a house is also a bit of a taboo I found out.

So it's a good idea to relook at what's happening in the word every once in a while to see what's OUT and what's still IN in terms of mindful usage of text.

**************************

Email Received from VERBOH:

Vrbo is more than a platform - we're a community of guests and hosts built on mutual respect. And we're committed to creating a welcoming experience for everyone who uses our site.

As part of this commitment, we've worked with award-winning inclusion and diversity leaders the 360 Agency and Dr. Kazique Prince to make sure the property listings on Vrbo reflect our policy and purpose.

We invite you to join us in shaping a world that's inclusive to people of all racial and cultural backgrounds.

We ask that you review your listing description and avoid using the term "plantation" or "plantation-style." Instead, you may want to use the word "estate" or "mansion." If you are using the term to describe a property’s design, consider neutral language such as “tropical-style” or describe the specific features.

Going forward, "plantation" should only be used to describe, and never celebrate, properties with a history of slavery in the United States.

When we address language in this way - removing it or adding context - we're not trying to rewrite history. We're breaking down historical barriers that have harmed some people as a step toward creating a safer, more inclusive future for everyone.

Learn more about what Vrbo is doing to drive change in our industry.

We thank you for joining us in our effort to be a welcoming place for travelers everywhere.
Oh dear god. The PC brigade have gone mad...
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
So properties have become more commodity versus unique? Are there ways to make them different than anything else? Our experience with folks currently in the US is they want to 1) drive to the destination, 2) be outside their normal four walls, and 3) have everything PERFECT (ugh). I wonder if we could somehow elevate their experience. Thor and I this morning early were discussing putting something in every house, chalkboard with the words "What are you Grateful For?" and then bullet points or numbers (at least five) to have them frame their own experience out of gratitude versus frustration from other parts of their life. We even discussed leaving a kids version like a restaurant with a small pack of non-staining markers or something (and have a puzzle and/or coloring page with our logo or the house shape of each house). Maybe a cool game that helps people staying together reconnect (lots of folks are 'meeting' in the middle to visit from various cities).
My family did this every evening of covid quarantine. It has incredibly unifying and memorable ramifications.
 

SScurlock

Envoy
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
Another great thread and ideas! I need to work on #1 and let them know I run my vacation rentals as a business.

#2 - I think I have added provenance in my story with the story of the farm and how we began the business. I have notebooks in the farm written by my mother that tell the story of them purchasing the land, building the homes, her painting, etc. Guests tell me they read it cover-to-cover and love it.

#3 - Years ago I believe someone in the IC advised having the property name under every photo and I have done that.

#4 - Okay, I really need to work on shortening my About Us Story! I know I can get too wordy.

#5 - thanks to @BobG I got on the eco-train and it has been a fun ride so far! I knew I instinctively did a lot of eco-friendly things with the farm and rentals, but had not thought about using that information to attract guests until @BobG. Yesterday I did a recorded Zoom interview that will be used by Tourism Declares Emergency about what I am doing with to make my rentals and farm eco-friendly.

#6 - Associate with a specialty niche - I found FarmStayUSA after Matt did a blog post about niche listings. Many of my rentals now come via FarmStay and I will be helping Scottie Jones, founder of FarmStay, and Bill Lee, CEO and co-founder of Yonder, add farms and wineries to their websites as places for guests to stay wanting to connect with nature and/or stay on a farm.

#7 - I will need to work on the "Underdog narrative"

#* - Skimmify text. This is the area I need to do the most work on! I will spend some time to shorten things, make smaller paragraphs, use headers and use bullet lists more.

Thanks @Matt Landau for some really good ideas that will be easy to implement!
 

BobG

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
#5 - thanks to @BobG I got on the eco-train and it has been a fun ride so far! I knew I instinctively did a lot of eco-friendly things with the farm and rentals, but had not thought about using that information to attract guests until @BobG. Yesterday I did a recorded Zoom interview that will be used by Tourism Declares Emergency about what I am doing with to make my rentals and farm eco-friendly.
Nice work @SScurlock I think you make a good point that probably applies to many hosts, you don't realise all the eco-friendly things that you already do until you make that list and start talking to your guests about them. I watched your interview too - great job!
 

LMejias

I make films
Inner Circle
Note: Thanks to @ToonTownRob for posting this mini-revelation about the power of starting your email responses with a twist. It inspired this week's Motivation (and I decided to record it in podcast form too below).


Listing sites like Airbnb and Vrbo rank as the top pound-for-pound allocation of your time to generate inquiries. All the various listing sites make up Stage 1 of Listing Site Independence framework. But also from our findings, we learned that not all listings are created equally. Like speed-dating, if you don’t convey quickly what makes you different from every other listing, you’ve lost the goldfish-level attention span of the visitor.

Note: As @Kim likes to remind us, according to some research, the average human attention span is now eight seconds, less than that of the goldfish with nine

Below are 8 deep adjustments that are reverse engineered from the factors that lead a visitor to inquire or book: intrigue, engagement, and confidence.

1) Explain you do this for a living​

The vast majority of Airbnb hosts do not view their listing as a job, which while endearing and whimsical can also sew doubt in prospective guests. So come out with a disclaimer at the beginning of your listing, revealing you run your property like a business.

2) Add provenance​

The word provenance refers to the chronology of an antique or piece or art. The backstory of that object is what makes it valuable. So sprinkle provenance throughout your listing: what’s the story on the property, how did you come to represent it, why is the destination special to you and your family?

3) Sprinkle property name liberally​

“The billboard effect” is a phenomenon that occurs when vacation rental professionals see additional direct bookings after listing on Airbnb. But you need a unique property name (or business name) to pull this off. Insert your unique property name in the title and several times throughout the description, photo captions, and About Us section.

4) Improve & shorten origin story​

How did you find yourself in this position as a host? DO NOT leave your aspirational storyline on the table.The more interesting or relatable your “pre vacation rental” About Us section, the more you’ll attract inquiries who respect and admire your business. Brevity beats details in this department: you should be able to explain your “origin” story in a few sentences.

5) Get on the eco train​

Environmentally-friendly vacation rentals are exponentially more appealing than their direct counterparts. Which aspects of your business (products, services, amenities) reflect your awareness of the environment? Mention them blatantly.

6) Associate with a special interest niche​

Listing sites like Airbnb are like a giant supermarket and it can be overwhelming for guests to navigate to the right specialty aisle, much less find your particular product without some solid signage. Make sure to mention the exact kinds of travelers who most enjoy your property with any buzzwords necessary (yes, this is the one time we permit the use of buzzwords #blessed).

7) Deploy “underdog narrative”​

Hollywood movie writers use the underdog narrative to get potential viewers to admire the character for trying, moreso than for their actual success. Do this with your listing by including a short anecdote about a challenge, failure, or humble achievement that triggers emotion -- turning what was previously a transaction into a human experience.

8) Skimmify your text (3 parts)​

Remember the goldfish stat? Listing viewers have very short attention spans and the more skimmable your layout, the better. Here are three quick ways to do that.
  • 8.1 Normal paragraphs feel like massive walls to someone not fully vested just yet (aka. Visitors simply do not read them) so reduce your paragraph length down to 1-2 sentences (3 max) deleting as much fluff as possible. Your paragraphs should include everything they need, nothing they don’t
  • 8.2 Use headers (or short summaries of content) to break up sections. Headers are best when ordered to give the hierarchy of the listing.
  • 8.3 CAPITALIZE money words that pique people’s interest, make them use their imagination and turn the ordinary into something worth paying money for. Use ALL CAPS sparingly.
  • 8.4 Use bullets or lists to show features, benefits, or any cluster of items together one per line.

Question for Members: What other ideas have you done (consciously or by accident) to beef up your listings?
God, this is all so true. Thank you.

It feels like reading attention is shorter than ever.
 
Top