Airbnb Marketing: Growth Hacking Case Study


This is a growth case study of a side-hustle of our founder Rishabh Dev with a list of growth marketing experiments he executed for Airbnb marketing and the results of the experiments.

Airbnb Growth Experiment Overview

I executed my first Airbnb growth experiment in 2019 without any plans or strategies. This was unlike my client campaigns but my “everything is an experiment” mindset led me to manage my new Airbnb property like a true growth marketer.

As I usually say, It’s all about the mindset and once you build the right mindset as a growth marketer, you’ll find the mindset becomes a part of your life and everything you do becomes an experiment.

Airbnb Marketing Growth Metrics

When we apply the growth marketing process to Airbnb hosting, we have a few interesting growth metrics we can measure and improve in the different stages of the growth funnel.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Occupancy rate (vs Market Average)
  • Number of inquiries (leads in Acquisition stage)
  • Number of nights booked in a given time unit (Activation)
  • Organic visibility on Airbnb search (Top of the funnel)
  • Revenue generated (Revenue stage of the funnel
  • Average rating (Customer satisfaction; acts as an indirect referral and improves future acquisition %)

Here’s how the experiment went in 2019:

2019 results from the Airbnb marketing experiment

As the first year of experimentation, I was happy with the $10,000 revenue we booked. More importantly, there were a lot of learnings from the growth experiment and I’d love to share them with you.

Throughout the experiment, I learned a lot about how the platform works and how to optimize it to make sure we were always improving the “booking” metrics.

Growth Experiment: Improve Visibility on Airbnb Search Results

airbnb host reviews
Ask guests for ratings to improve visibility

While getting reviews from the organic bookings we were already getting (and Airbnb does a great job of the initial push) was the main focus to improve future visibility, we executed multiple other experiments.

Growth Experiments to improve search visibility (organic):

  • Using very good quality pictures with cultural elements
  • Using attractive (magnet) keywords like “pool access” and “free breakfast”
  • Maintaining a high response rate and a very low response time
  • Using long-term stay discounts as lead magnets to improve the average booking duration (average order size and hence increase the average ticket size).

Growth Experiment: Airbnb Pricing Strategy

The best pricing strategy should be setting your pricing to Airbnb’s suggestions but these suggestions are not always practical. In my case, I wanted to fuel the initial growth to gather reviews and become a Superhost (which I became quite fast), so I just used Airbnb’s suggested minimum and maximum pricing levels.

This works as it supports Airbnb’s algorithm.

Remember: On any growth channel you use (No matter if it’s FB ads or Google SEO or Airbnb marketing, if you align yourself to support their algorithm, you will get good results. However, a lot of times you should work your way around their algorithm using hacks to get even better results!)

airbnb listing and pricing
Airbnb Listing with Reviews & Pricing

Growth Experiment: The RARE FIND hack

A small hack you can try is to include the phrase “RARE FIND” in the property title which is otherwise an Airbnb algorithm feature.

The hack here is to design a similar badge on your featured image to make it look like Airbnb is promoting this property as it’s a rare find.

Try this at your own risk.

Growth Experiment: A/B Testing the Airbnb Listing Pictures

I A/B tested multiple pictures initially with the rooms and the pool.

After multiple A/B tests on the pictures, I found the ones that worked the best, in terms click through rates from the organic search results within Airbnb, were pictures of Vietnamese girls wearing Ao Dai, the traditional Vietnamese dress.

The runner-up was the picture of the wine by the pool.

So you see what travelers really want!

Airbnb marketing experiment
A/B test winners

Analytics for Market Insights: Airbnb Occupancy Rates

All of the above optimizations helped us beat the market standard occupancy rates of the area and this was a great metric to compare my listing performance with the market.

My occupancy rate was 55% compared to the market average which was only 12%. On my best day, we hit a 92% occupancy rate compared to just 14% which was the market average that day.

airbnb growth metric
Airbnb growth metrics for market comparison

If you’re a growth marketer, this article is to make you understand how to apply your expertise to any given channel.

If you’re an Airbnb host, I wish you all the best with your listing growth and you can use some of my experiments and how well they perform for you. Though this post is written from a growth marketing perspective, you might want to skip all the marketing terms and see this from the experiment perspective.

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