Industry Insights

How to Increase Bookings With the Perfect Description for Your Short-Term Rental Listings

July 12, 2018 |

A good photograph can say a lot… but it can’t say everything. That’s where your listing description comes in. If photos are what we use to hook potential guests, then the description is what we utilize to reel them in and seal the deal.

A great short-term rental listing description will tell viewers why your short-term rental is the rental for them. The good news is, you don’t need to be a word wizard in order to say all the right things. Just follow these simple guidelines to create a description that will pique interest and drive bookings.


7 Ingredients for the Perfect Short-Term Rental Listing Description:

Open Big

When we say “big,” we don’t mean literally. You might be tempted to get your listing noticed by writing a headline in ALL CAPS, but research has actually shown this to significantly reduce bookings, perhaps because it appears less professional.

No, “open big” means grab their interest!

With the average human attention span down to a terse 8 seconds (that’s less than the attention span of a goldfish), an eye-catching headline for you short-term rental description is critical. Here’s your chance to say something that will make the OTA browsers stop at your listing and, dare we say, continue reading. If you’re using Airbnb, you’ve got 50 characters. Up for the challenge?

Listing Headline - Before

Here’s an example of a lazy headline for your listing

To make it easier on you, here’s a practical example. You’ve got a two-bedroom loft in Miami. Instead of headlining your listings, “2 bedroom loft in Miami,” let’s spice it up a bit and tell travelers why your two-bedroom loft is better than any other two-bedroom loft. Try this: “Serene, modern loft with ocean view balcony.”

  • Less than 50 characters? Check
  • Describes the space? Check
  • Provides alluring details that might get your listing some extra clicks? Check ✔
Listing Headline - After

Caption: And here is an example of a headline which will catch someone’s eye

Don’t use your title to reiterate what OTA browsers already know. They know your place is in Miami because they filtered their search for rentals in Miami. What they don’t know is that your place has a balcony overlooking the beach or rooftop access or a private swimming pool. Here’s where you tell them.

Don’t Forget the Details (Not Even the Small Ones)

Vacations are cherished experiences that require careful planning and, more often than not, guests don’t want to be surprised. The description beneath your listing is your chance to fill them in on whatever stories the photos of your rental don’t tell.

Describe each room, specify the size of the beds (twin, queen or king), include the number of toilets and showers. Discuss appealing features like high ceilings or natural lighting.

Got a smart 4K 55” flat screen TV?
High quality cookware?
A 12-year-old sofa that feels like a cloud?

Point it out!

While you don’t want to write a novel that no one’s going to even bother skimming, getting specific not only shows off the attractive aspects of your rental, it also gives guests the sense that this is a professionally-run listing into which the host puts sincere time and effort.

Use Spell Check (and a Thesaurus)

If you want people to actually read your description (and you do, trust us), then you’re going to have to put in some effort to make it, well, readable. Boring and dry descriptions won’t hold a browser’s attention, but again, you don’t need to be a Pulitzer winning author to craft an engaging description.

Listing Description - Before

Would you be interested in a listing after reading this description?

Pop out a thesaurus (or, more likely, visit and replace tired, overused adjectives with more exciting words. Read other listing descriptions to get an idea of how you can make your sentences flow rather than crash abruptly into one another. And for the love of all things good, use spell check. It’s too easy not to, especially when misspelled words can massively impact your booking rates. Perhaps due to an association with lack of professionalism, listings with poor grammar or spelling have been shown to lag behind the others by as much as 12% when it comes to turning readers into guests.

Listing Description - After

Write a description that really sells your listing

So check it once, twice, three times, send it to a friend, do whatever it takes to ensure your description is error-free and enjoyable to read.

Think Outside the Rental

Your mom probably told you it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And that’s definitely true (you know mom’s never wrong). But where vacation properties are concerned, guests want to know what’s waiting for them beyond the rental, so dedicate part of your description to the surrounding area.

Is it quiet? Buzzing with life?
What’s nearby? A bustling farmer’s market? A strip of pubs? A local cafe that serves up a stellar eggplant parmesan?

As delightful as your property may be, it’s likely your guests won’t spend all of their time indoors, so fill them in on what the neighborhood has to offer.

Read Their Minds

Okay, not literally. But you’ve probably received enough guest enquiries to anticipate what people are going to ask about your rental. With everything so immediately available these days, people have gotten just a little bit spoiled and might be somewhat put off should they have to go to the effort of reaching out to the host in order to get some basic information prior to booking. So don’t make them.

Use your description to provide them with the answers before they even ask the questions. Tell them how public transportation works in the area and how far away the bus or subway is from your listing. Offer them some nearby dining options as well as a list of conveniently located grocery stores and kiosks. Let them know how many people the property can accommodate and whether or not you allow pets. List some of the house rules so they can determine if the place is suitable for their needs.

If potential guests can learn all they need to know about your rental from a simple read-through of your description, they might just book it then and there.

Target Your Desired Audience

If there’s a specific kind of traveler you’d like to attract to your short-term rental, then you’ve got to tailor your listing description to appeal to that niche. Whether it’s honeymooners, business people, families or college kids, there are specific buzzwords you can incorporate to signal that this is the property for them.

If you want to grab the attention of a couple looking for some alone time, drop the word “romantic” and mention the luxurious queen-sized bed and spacious jacuzzi. To reel in the business travelers, talk about your high-speed wireless and your rentals’ proximity to the commercial area. Families are more likely to book your properties if your descriptions include words like “kid-friendly” or refer to some nearby parks. For college students, you’ll want to make note of the local entertainment and bar scene as well as your tolerance of high noise levels.

You may want to include some of these aspects in your title too, so that you’ll have the right people clicking on your listing in the first place.

Update Often

This one’s important! Well, they’re all important, but this one especially. Far too many property managers simply create their listing description and then leave it as is. FOREVER. In fact, a recent Guesty survey revealed that 58% of respondents do not regularly update their descriptions. This is a grave mistake and it’s costing you.

Guesty Seasonality Survey 2018


Glad you asked! Not only does updating your listing boost your SEO (search engine optimization – basically, it gives your listing more visibility by pushing it higher in the search results), but it also lets guests know why they should book your rental during each specific time of year.

Property managers across the globe are battling this pesky thing called seasonality, which is an inherent part of the game when you’re in the vacation market. Detailing the attractions and events happening near your property at any given time is a way of marketing your listing when the calendar isn’t working in your favor.

Events can be anything from a World Cup match or a Coldplay concert to a town fair or weekly standup night in a local pub. Do some research and dig up anything that might give your property an edge when it needs it most. And remember, if you leave your listing description to collect dust, you may as well do the same for your property.

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