Oh boy is there a lot to talk about.  

Start with the customer!

Some of you are probably rolling your eyes.  Just wait with me for a few more lines.  If you are looking to optimize your listing, your ads, or anything else, how do you know that it is optimized? 

Well things become a lot easier if you know what to optimized for.  So that's why we start with the customer.  If you have been running your short term rental for a while then this is probably something you already know or can figure out pretty quickly.  By looking at your reviews, notes, and messages from guests you can figure out which group a majority of your guests fall into.  

If you are just starting out, then this might take a bit more effort.  You can look at reviews from similar listings in your general area.  No matter your source of information once you know what your target customer then you can start optimizing. Well almost!


What? Guest-atar is short for Guest Avatar.  This is a fictional character you are going to create that is the representation of your ideal customer.  People can be reluctant to niche down as they view this limiting their ability to acquire business. While this usually isn't true as most businesses generate 80% of their profits from just 20% of their customer base. 

However, who said you can only have one niche?   Maybe your customers vary significantly from season to season, or from weekdays to weekends.  Then come up with a few guest-atars that represent each one of your niches.  This will actually lead into another area that we will touch on later. 

For each guest-atar you will want to know their basic information (relationship status, age range, gender, family, income etc.) along with their desires, pain points and fears.  Ai can be a great tool for this as you can ask it to take on the role of your guest-atar and have it answer questions based on that persona.  Prefer the old school way, then make sure to put yourself in the shoes of your guest-atars.

First Impressions 

Okay now that you have a much better idea of who your guests are and what drives them you can start optimizing.  And what better place to start than where guests get their first impressions of your place.  No matter if you are talking Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com or your own website, the point of first impression is usually your title and the first 5 photos.   If those speak to the potential guest then they will likely move further and look at your highlights, description, and reviews. 


Seasonal Titles:

How do you optimize your title?  At bare minimum please update your title quarterly/seasonally.  Even if your focus customer doesn't change with the seasons what piques their interest most likely will. 

Utilizing Ai for title generation:

Again, this is a great place to utilize Ai to get some ideas and help you craft a compelling title.  Remember with Ai to feed it as much detailed information as possible to help improve the results. 

Make your titles talk:

You want a title that addresses any concerns (say privacy, safety or child friendly for example) and answers their desires (being near a location or in a region with beautiful fall foliage for example).  It's also generally a good idea to speak to the atmosphere that your target guests are looking for (romantic, fun, adventurous, serene, etc.).  

Testing Titles:

A great way to test your title is on social media or direct advertising.  You can run a small ad campaign / post using the same photo(s) and see which gets the best engagement.  If you have a direct booking website, you can even create multiple variations of the same product to conduct more thorough A/B testing (but more on that later)


Are worth a thousand words (at least).  Far more than the character limit on your title.  The beauty in pictures for hosts is that they can communicate things that are impossible or impractical to describe with words.  

Rotating photos:

Just like your title minimally please rotate your pictures quarterly/seasonally.  People either have poor (positive) imagination or are too tired and distracted to use theirs.  So don't make people imagine. 

Someone that is looking to book your place for Christmas would prefer to see pictures showing that time of year (if you're lucky snow on the ground, decorations if you put them up, etc.)  Also, for this reason it is always a good idea to have section of photos for each season always able to be viewed but just putting the further out seasons lower in your stack.  You never know when someone will be looking to reserve for 6 months in the future. 

Professional Photos:

Also, please get professional photos!  They make such a big difference, and they don't have to cost a lot.  If you don't know any photographers you can look up BNI (Business Networking International) and find your nearest chapter and there is a very high likelihood that they will have a photographer. I hired one recently and it cost me $259 for a 3 bedroom house.  

Social Media Influencers for photos:

As an alternative you can find a social media influencer.  Hiring social media influencers to come up is a great way to grow your social media accounts (you do have one, right?) to gain business, and receive some of the best photos and videos possible.

If you have the cashflow these will often end up costings you very littles as you will likely end up making money.  With an influencer that we paid $1500 to per place we ended up getting almost an 8x return in bookings from their posts (almost $12,000).  

You can also find social media influencers that are starting out and have a smaller following that will offer their services for free in exchange for a few nights stay.  

Make your photos talk:

When getting photos taken or working with an influencer you will want to keep in mind your guest-atar and make sure that you stage your place appropriately and are working with influencers that your guest-atar would follow.  

Stage your photos with purpose.

When staging your place think back to your title and the concerns, desires, and atmosphere that your guest-atar is looking for.  Are you trying to showcase that you place is perfect for a secluded romantic honeymoon?  Then try showing off the most intimate area with a pair of wine glasses and a bouquet of flowers.  Looking to showcase your perfect place for families to relax and reconnect?  Your backyard with a firepit and yard games speaks to that.  

Use people in your photos.

Don't be afraid to use photos with people in them (as long as you have permission).  This bit of life can help separate your photos from others and it helps people see themselves there.  It also lends a sense of scale that can be difficult with photos. 

The Money Shot:

Remember that it's your first 5 photos that will be the one that make the first impression.  This isn't saying you can slack off on the other photos.  Through A/B testing, social media and just asking people you will be able to figure out which photos are your money shots.  Just don't forget to rotate at least a few of your top 5 photos seasonally.  

Second Impressions

So, you got a potential guest's interest by speaking to their wants, fears, and desired atmosphere.  Now what?  Well, that was the first second of interaction.  Now it's time to convince them that you're the only solution to their problem.  This is where your listing highlights, reviews and description come into play. 

Listing Highlights

What are the highlights: 

While not always in your direct control, these 3 bullet points are the biggest visual impact after your photos.  This is the section beneath the host name on Airbnb.  It will often have things such as "dedicated workspace", "fast internet", "self-check-in" etc.  

Controlling them: 

While you don't have direct control of these unless you have your own website you can do a few things to make these more meaningful.  Make sure to go through all of the listing settings / set up and put in all of the details.  Test your wifi speed, make note of anything that Airbnb, VRBO, or Booking.com have a section for.  Even if you 100% completed your listing when you first set it up, it's now likely missing some information as these platforms have changed things around.  

If you do have your own website, then you can get creative.  Make sure you are speaking to your guest-atar about what matters most to them.  If someone is staying for business then self-check-in, fast-wifi, and a dedicated workspace might all be good points to highlight.  Your guests are looking for a romantic retreat? How about highlighting your hot-tub, private entrance, and outdoor firepit? I think you are getting the idea at this point.  


While this is probably the least important as long as it's good enough it is worth considering.  The best way to ensure good reviews is to be proactive and it's especially important to get as many reviews in as possible.  This goes double if you have longer minimum stays (less guests means a lower number of reviews) or are just starting out.  

Reviews on your own website: 

Whatever direct booking solution you chose make sure it has a way to import your reviews from existing platforms such as Airbnb & VRBO.  We have this build directly into the Bookly website template because reviews offer trust and social proof. 

Reviews for Social Media: 

Your reviews can make for great social media content, and you can even turn static photos into "videos" with text to speech Ais.  With Bookly when your reviews are imported into the template you also get an excel files of the reviews for this purpose.  

Showcasing Reviews:

If you have some reviews that are from past guests that match your target guests why not show them off?  This is easier to do with your own website, but you could add in a section of review highlights in your description on other platforms. 


Well, speaking of descriptions let's get down to it.  

Tailoring your Description:

Hopefully by this point you've gotten the general idea but for anyone that cheated the scrolled down here I'll offer a few brief pointers. 

Speak to your guest-atars'

  • Concerns
  • Desires
  • Preferred atmosphere (or vibe if you prefer that word)

Do your best to enter the conversation going on in their head and answer their questions before they can even bring them up.  This will help make them feel confident in booking your place! (Want to learn more about building confidence with potential guests? Come back next week)

Utilizing Ai for your description: 

As with any of the text based sections asking your guest-atar Ai can be very useful here.  Also Pricelabs has an Ai that will re-write your description based on a few preset guest models that is currently free (click here)

Seasonal Descriptions:

As with most pieces mentioned about it is a good idea to rotate or at least update your description with the seasons.  This might even be as simple as re-ordering certain parts of your description, so the most relevant information is closer to the top.  Have a section about local attractions? Make sure that the ones that matter for that season are at the top.  This is especially important if you are talking about season business/attractions that are closed for part of the year.  Don't want to be talking about the best ice-cream parlor in town if they are currently closed for the next 6 months. 

Multiple Niches

Getting Started

I would recommend that you start with optimizing your listing and creating a single guest-atar.  Sure, you can always do multiple but just start with the one that represents the biggest slice of the pie. 

Don't spend too much time on it either.  This is something that is more useful completed and 75% accurate so don't worry about making it perfect.  Remember 100 time 0 is still 0.   Just start writing or typing down some basic information about the demographics of your ideal guest and then start trying to answer the questions of what they fear, what they want, and what are their pain points (things that are stopping them).  

Leveraging Multiple Niches

When and How:

You've moved on and created your guest-atars for several of your niches.  Now what?  Well that really comes down to the question of are your different guests booking different times or is there a lot of overlap? If they don't overlap, then you can simply rotate based on time.  

For example, a host I talked with recently has dozens of rental units in a college town.  During the week he mostly gets business travels and to a less extent parents.  During the weekends though if there are games going on his cliental and price points shift dramatically!  Now he's dealing with large groups coming for the game.  He leverages this demand to increase his rates 10x to 20x (more about this in the future).  

Without a direct booking website:

So how could this host speak directly in his listing to these two very different groups that book during the same season?  Well, you could try accommodating both in your listing but that ultimately leads to confusion and may even turn away one group from booking.  This is actually what most hosts and businesses try.  We solve all the problems for everyone, and it always leads to lower performance.  

Without having a direct booking website, you could potentially tailor say Airbnb for the weekend crowd and then have VRBO for your weekday travelers.  This would allow for your targeted title, pictures, highlights, reviews, & description to take affect and this might be a great solution.  The one problem with that is that does the usual person using VRBO booking smaller places for business travel on shorter notice?  In my experience, no. 

To reach that target market you are more likely going to want to be on Airbnb.  Airbnb actually does have a tool that allows for multiple listings for the same place syncing with a common calendar.   

With your own website:

Well, this is pretty simple now.  You can create a product that is tailored for each of your guest-atars, linking them all to the same calendar.  This also enables you to provide targeted offers (through discount codes) and marketing campaigns (click here to learn more about marketing & promotion).  

Thank You and catch you on the next one!
Gabriel Broomfield
Founder of Bookly

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