It’s January in London and so far its a mild winter but it has rained almost every day since August (well certainly feels like it). The heavy rain has caused unexpected damage to my house which is very annoying but it has not affected my airbnb which has been full most days (only Sundays I was not 100% booked out but that was almost a welcome relief for me. But now it’s January and like every year for the past 5 years i’ve been an airbnb host my bookings have dried up.
Did you airbnb bookings suddenly drop off in January?
It’s only because i’ve been a host for over fives years that i know the sudden drop off of bookings is normal. I know its obvious that January should be a quiet month thats not the issue. The issue is that not only is January quiet but people don’t seem to be making forward bookings either. In my experience about half my guests book about 6-10 weeks ahead. The other half about 2 weeks. But looking at my calendar there are very few bookings in Feb and March (where I would expect to be about half full already and no bookings at all in 2 weeks. So what should i do?
What to do if you don’t have bookings?
If you have suddenly stopped getting bookings in January first don’t panic. There may be nothing wrong with your listing or a borderline bad review has not ruined your hosting future. It’s just that time of year. It’s actually scary looking into the darkness and only seeing a empty airbnb calendar.
I have a mortgage to pay so I really need my airbnb money to come in every month without fail. I can’t miss a month and make up the difference later. I need that money now. Its a simple fact that demand has dropped and now the airbnb market is crowded with empty rooms. There is only one thing for it and that is to drop my prices.
When I first became a airbnb host 5 years ago I was charging £20 a night average for a private room. Today I charge £20. Adjusting for inflation I am charging less than five years ago. Why am i charging the same price? Well it’s basically because the market can’t handle a higher price.
Despite the increasing popularity of airbnb for travellers this has been more than offset by the increased number of those who want to host. Also suspect traditional hotels have significantly reduced their prices to compete so this has kept prices low.
I have tried to increase my prices slightly but this sometimes led to not getting bookings and I would rather be full than empty so this didn’t work out. I find it’s better to be full ALL the time for two reasons: 1. the constant cash flow 2. bookings generally lead to bookings
Should you drop your listing price?
So what can you do about your empty airbnb calendar? Well first you need to drop your prices. Every year I have bitten the bullet and dropped my prices BELOW my acceptable minimum price. In some respects I was making a loss (when you consider my time and effort as well as the actual cost of my house). My guests were getting a dam good deal in my opinion.
Why would I drop my prices like this? Well first as mentioned above bookings generally lead to bookings. This is part of airbnb search rankings. A place that was booked will be seen as positive by airbnb’s search engine and push you up the rankings. Possibly therefore ensuring future much more lucrative bookings! Second is to stay liquid. Cash in every day pays the bills. Profit next year is no good to me if I have bills to pay TODAY.
Having regular guests can keep you in business
Bookings have dropped off but fortunately for me I have a steady stream of regulars. Some of my regular guests have been coming for 4 years or more. They all pay cash and usually come on the same days every week (for example every Monday and Tuesday).
All my regulars are working in the city of London so they are consistent. They usually arrive at about the same time every day and are out all day (at work of course). Guests like this are easily the best in my opinion. I give them a good price and I get peace of mind (the chances of a regular guest causing trouble are very low).