Investing in short-term rentals does not end when you buy a property and prepare it for renting. Next, list on Airbnb and start welcoming guests in order to generate revenue.
In this article, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to list on Airbnb in order to boost your ranking and thus maximize your occupancy and ROI. We’ll go through each step of the way, from signing up for the vacation rental platform to improving your ranking once your listing gets published.
List a property on Airbnb following these 8 steps:
1. Sign Up for Airbnb
The first step in listing your property on Airbnb is signing up for the platform if you’re a new Airbnb host. Just click on the “Airbnb your home” tab in the top right-hand corner of the home page and then on “Airbnb Setup”. You can create an Airbnb account using a phone number, email, Facebook, Google, or Apple. Get access to the device corresponding to the method you choose as you’ll need it during the verification process.
During the setup process, you can choose whether to be matched with an Airbnb Superhost (to receive guidance over chat or video) or start on your own.
This should take a minute.
2. Create Your Airbnb Listing
As you get started on Airbnb for the first time, you’ll need to go through 3 steps:
Tell Airbnb about your listing and select:
- The property type: apartment, house, condo, etc.
- The place you’ll be renting: entire place, private room, or shared room
- Property address
- Number of guests, bedrooms, beds, and bathrooms
Make your listing stand out:
- Add amenities and standout amenities
- Upload 5+ photos
- Write a short, fun title for your property (max. 50 characters)
- Choose up to 2 highlights to describe your home
- Create a truthful, attractive description to show what makes your space special (max. 500 characters).
Finish up and publish your listing:
- Choose who to welcome for your first reservation: any guests or experienced guests only
- Set your nightly price (you’ll receive an AI recommendation based on local trends)
- Mark whether you want to offer your first 3 guests 20% off
- Choose how you’re hosting: private individual or business
- Mark if your property has security cameras, weapons, or dangerous animals
- Make sure that you comply with local short-term rental laws and the Airbnb nondiscriminatory policy
- Review and create your listing
- Add a photo of your government ID and take a photo of yourself
- Confirm your phone number
Listing your vacation rental on Airbnb should not take more than a few minutes as long as you have everything ready: exact address, high-quality photos, precise idea how you want to grab the attention of Airbnb guests, and the front and back of your ID, and you are ready to take a photo.
You will need to wait for Airbnb to confirm that your photo matches your ID photo before your property gets listed. This usually takes a few minutes. Meanwhile, you can work on optimizing your listing on Airbnb. You can go back to any of the details you have already entered and edit them if needed. Just click on the “Listing details” tab on the left.
3. Price Your Airbnb Rental
As a next step in listing on Airbnb, put effort into optimizing the pricing of your rental. This will help you attract the first few guests (without leaving money on the table) to get your short-term rental business going.
You can do that from the “Pricing and availability” tab on the left-hand-side menu.
You have the following options to set up for pricing:
- Nightly price: This is the base price for your listing, also known as the listing price. The Airbnb algorithm will recommend a value based on comparable rentals in the area. You can choose whether to switch on Smart Pricing for automated adjustments of your nightly rate (up or down), based on property type, location, season, demand, and other factors. Dynamic pricing can help you strike the right balance between daily rates and occupancy rates.
- Listing currency: A few dozen currencies are supported.
- Weekly discounts: You can offer a discount for stays of 7-28 days. The Airbnb-recommended weekly discount is 21%.
- Monthly discounts: You can set up a discount for stays of 28+ days. The Airbnb-recommended rate is 48%.
- Custom length-of-stay discounts: You can provide discounts for 8-week and 12-week stays.
- Early-bird discounts: You can reward guests who book a certain number of months before arrival with a special discount.
- Last-minute discounts: You can encourage last-minute reservations with a discount applied to bookings happening a certain number of days before arrival.
- Cleaning fee: Applied per stay.
- Pet fee: Applied per stay.
- Extra guest fee: Applied per extra guest per night.
- Weekend nightly price: This will replace the base nightly rate for all Fridays and Saturdays as long as Smart Pricing is off.
No need to over analyze all the options at the setup stage. Just look at nearby competing Airbnb’s using the Awning Airbnb Estimator and price similar to them. Then as bookings come in, you can make adjustments. Set a weekly reminder to check your pricing and ensure you aren’t missing opportunities to drop the price and get more bookings or raise the price for events and peak season.
4. Update Your Airbnb Calendar
When listing on Airbnb, you should also work on your booking calendar. You can adjust the settings based on your requirements and preferences in the “Pricing and availability” tab on the left-hand-side menu of your Airbnb listing profile.
Set up the following calendar settings:
- Minimum stay: You can host for a minimum number of nights only. The default value is 1 night.
- Maximum stay: You can host for a maximum number of nights only. The default value is 365 nights.
- Custom trip lengths: You can apply additional requirements for the length of guest stays.
- Advance notice: The latest time guests can book before arrival.
- Preparation time: How much time you need before/after each reservation to get ready for the next guest.
- Availability window: For how many months in advance you would like to open your booking calendar.
- Restricted check-in days: Whether there are any days of the week when guests cannot start a stay. For instance, some Airbnb hosts require guests to book the entire weekend (both Friday and Saturday), so a reservation cannot start on Saturday.
- Calendar sync: You can link and import existing booking calendars to sync the availability of your listing.
- Sharing settings: Share some details about your listing and bookings with other Airbnb hosts, you will get access to the properties that potential guests end up reserving after checking your listing and not booking it. This will help you improve your listing against competitors.
5. Update Your Booking Policies and Rules
As an Airbnb host, you can set your own policies and rules from the corresponding tab on the menu in your listing profile. In specific, you can customize your listing’s:
- Cancellation policy: You can choose from the following standard cancellation policy options: flexible (refund 1 day before arrival), flexible or non-refundable, moderate (refund 5 days before arrival), moderate or non-refundable, firm (refund 30 days before arrival), firm or non-refundable, strict (full refund within 48 hours of booking for check-in dates 14 days away; 50% refund 7 days before arrival; no refund 7 days before arrival), and strict or non-refundable. The non-refundable option means that guests get a 10% discount, but you keep your host payout no matter when they cancel. When setting up your cancellation policy, keep in mind that Airbnb guests are more likely to book listings with a more flexible policy, especially for reservations a few months in advance. For long-stay cancellation policies, you can choose between firm (refund 30 days before arrival) and strict (refund within 48 hours of booking for check-in dates 28 days away). Airbnb recommends the firm policy in this case.
- Instant Book: If you switch on Instant Book, guests who meet certain requirements will be automatically accepted. You can set up your listing requirements for identity verification, good track record, and pre-booking message.
- Pets allowed: You can choose whether to allow or refuse pets on your Airbnb property. Service animals need to be accommodated.
- Events allowed: Allow or prohibit events on your property.
- Smoking, vaping, e-cigarettes allowed: Allow or prohibit smoking.
- Commercial photography and filming allowed: Allow or prohibit photography and filming with commercial purposes.
- Quiet hours: You can set a quiet hours window.
- Check-in window: You can set the earliest possible check-in time.
- Checkout time: You can choose the latest possible checkout time.
- Number of guests: You can specify the maximum number of guests allowed on the premises. Make sure that this number corresponds to local short-term rental regulations.
- Additional rules: You can set up more rules to protect your property. However, keep in mind that being overly strict might push guests away from booking your Airbnb listing.
- Profile photo required: If you enable this, you will see Airbnb guest photos after booking confirmation. This is in order to prevent hosts from discriminating against guests. Meanwhile, the Airbnb platform makes sure that all guests meet certain minimum requirements to provide safety for hosts and their rentals.
- Local laws: Airbnb hosts are asked to review local short-term laws and meet all requirements. Airbnb offers some resources under the Your City Laws section on the platform. You can check out county and city local authority websites too for additional information.
- Primary use of listing: Indicate whether the listing is mostly set up for guests or you keep belongings in the space.
6. Enter Additional Information for Guests
When you list on Airbnb, you can provide some extra information to help guests. This includes:
- Guidebooks: You can create a guidebook for your listing to share recommendations with guests. According to Airbnb, listings with guest books get more bookings.
- Interaction with guests: You can choose whether you would like to socialize with your guests, will give them space but be available, or won’t be available in person.
- Address: You can edit the address you initially entered if needed.
- Directions: You can provide guests with directions on how to get to your property.
- House manual: You can give guests tips on how to use your rental.
- Check-in instructions: You can provide the check-in method choosing from smart lock, keypad, lockbox, building staff, host meeting, or other. You can also give specific instructions.
- Wi-fi details: You can enter your network name and password so you don’t have to send them to each guest.
7. Set Up Co-Hosting
Next, you can choose whether to add co-hosts when listing on Airbnb. The following options are available:
- Listing admin: The listing admin is set up as you and cannot be changed. This makes you the primary host.
- Co-hosts: An Airbnb host can add up to 3 co-hosts who will help manage listing details, reservations, and Resolution Center requests through their own Airbnb accounts. Reservations will show the primary host.
- Recommend a service provider: Hosts can submit recommendations of service providers to help build a directory to support the Airbnb host community.
8. Improve the Ranking of Your Airbnb Listing
Besides covering all the musts of listing on AIrbnb, there are a few extra things you can do to boost your Airbnb listing ranking. This means that it will show more often on top of results when guests search for properties in your market. This is especially important when you first start an Airbnb business in order to get the first few reservations. The more bookings you have, the easier it will become to attract new guests.
Here are few concrete steps to take towards optimizing the performance of your listing based on Airbnb SEO requirements:
- Upload professional listing photos: Airbnb itself as well as all vacation rental experts continuously highlight the importance of high-quality photos when listing on Airbnb. Ideally, upload professional photographs to showcase your property in order to attract guests.
- Write a catchy, SEO-optimized listing title: Including keywords that guests are searching on the Airbnb platform is a surefire way to optimize the title of your listing. Focus on the experience rather than the property. You can test words like “explore”, “experience”, “enjoy”, “best”, “top”, etc. Also, it’s worth doing some keyword research even if you’re not an expert marketer. Meanwhile, make sure the title is truthful and does not over-promise.
- Optimize your listing description: Another place where you can work on Airbnb SEO is the listing description. Here you have more space to include even more keywords of interest in your market and to your guests. Highlight all the positives of your listing without exaggerating.
- List all applicable amenities: Tick all the amenity boxes that apply to your property. Guests are more likely to choose a property with more amenities over similar listings with little extra options.
- Speed up your response rate and response time: Put effort into responding to potential and booked guest enquiries as fast as possible, ideally within 1 hour. In addition, respond to every single question that you receive. You don’t want to lose guests before booking to your competitors who have a better response time. Keep in mind that the response rate and time are also calculated in the Airbnb algorithm and can help you improve the ranking of your listing.
- Get more 5-star reviews: Actively work on getting as many 5-stay guest reviews as possible. The first step is to deliver everything you promise and even more. As a next step, check up on your guests after their stay, make sure that everything has been up to expectations, and - if so - ask them to spare a minute to review your listing. You should also review guests. Meanwhile, put effort into not receiving negative reviews by maintaining your property, delivering everything promised, and being available during guest stays. Update your listing photos if needed. Mismatches between listings and actual properties are the easiest way to get a 1-star review by a guest.
- Use Instant Book: From Airbnb’s point of view, Instant Book boosts your response rate, so your listing ranking will improve and it will show in more searches. You can customize the Instant Book settings so that you don’t have to compromise your comfort level.
- Apply dynamic pricing: Whether you opt for the Airbnb Smart Pricing option or a third-party vacation rental automation provider (like AirDNA, Beyond Pricing, or PriceLabs), take advantage of dynamic pricing. The Airbnb algorithm gives preference to listings that are competitively priced, so don’t ask for much more than what the competition is asking for, unless you offer significantly more amenities. Meanwhile, you can ask for higher daily rates in the peak season to boost revenue.
- Promote online and on social media: To improve your listing ranking, your efforts should go beyond the Airbnb platform. If you have a short-term rental business website, promote your listing there. Also share it on your social media profiles. If you have an email list of potential guests, send them a link to your Airbnb listing.
- Translate your listing into other languages: Airbnb recommends writing a property description in more than just one language. Even if you don’t speak another language, you can get a professional translation online for a few dollars, while this can help you attract more foreign guests. This is useful in markets with a lot of foreign tourists.
- Connect with an Airbnb Superhost: The Airbnb platform gives you the opportunity to be matched with a Superhost to chat and learn from them. Another, more experienced host might be your best educational resource when getting started. In addition, you can attend Airbnb investor meetups or participate in real estate investing forums to ask questions and learn from more experienced hosts.
- Work towards becoming an Airbnb Superhost: The Airbnb Superhost program aims to reward top-performing hosts. The Airbnb algorithm favors Superhosts in listing searches. Guests are more likely to book with a Superhost because of the added reputation and trustworthiness. The requirements to qualify for Airbnb Superhost status are: overall rating of 4.8+, 10+ stays, cancellation rate of <1%, response rate of 90%+.
- Automate your management: For many of the processes necessary to improve the ranking of your Airbnb listing, you can use third-party automation tools. You can easily automate guest communication, review management, reservation approval, dynamic pricing, digital marketing, and others.
- Consider hiring an Airbnb manager: If you’re a busy host who doesn’t have the time to optimize their Airbnb listing and boost ranking, it’s worth considering working with an Airbnb management company. They will optimize your listings, improve performance, and help you make a passive income from your vacation rental business. The best property managers help you increase your revenue by boosting income by more than the amount of their fee.
Creating a basic Airbnb listing is easy as it doesn’t require any specific skills or knowledge. However, to perform better than competitors and maximize profit, learn how to list on Airbnb in the most optimal way. Just follow the steps in our guide, and you’ll be on your way to launching a successful vacation rental business.