How to Increase Your Airbnb Booking and Price with Slight Upgrades?

Santa Monica is a coastal city west of downtown LA. For its natural beauty, comfortable weather, and the presence of many entertainment and high-tech companies, Santa Monica attracts more than 8 millions visitors annually. Thus there are many Airbnb listings in Santa Monica. As a local host, I wish to find out ways to increase the booking rate and price of my Airbnb listings.

Photograph by TaiLi Samson on https://www.timeout.com/los-angeles/things-to-do/santa-monica-attractions

In this blog post, I wish to share some findings when I analyze the Airbnb listing data in the City of Santa Monica, where I live in and host Airbnb myself. I hope to use these findings to improve the booking rate and increase the listing price of my listings (and hopefully it can be a reference for others in this area).

The data used in this analysis were part of the Airbnb data for LA that were compiled on Nov. 3, 2020, from http://insideairbnb.com/get-the-data.html There are 1116 listings in Santa Monica in Nov. 2020.

We would like to find ways (add more amenities, renovate our property, etc.) to improve our booking rate and (hopefully also) the price. In order to achieve this goal, the three questions I would like to ask in this analysis are:
(1) How the price/availability relate to the room type and bath type?
(2) What are the popular amenities offered by the hosts in Santa Monica?
(3) What are the most influential features to estimate the price/availability of a listing?

Question 1: How the price/availability relate to the room type and bath type?When I book Airbnb rooms myself, the two things I filter first will be room type (whether it’s entire home/apt, a private room or a shared room) and bath type (I do not like to share bathrooms with others). So I would like to see how different types of room and bathroom affect the availability and listing price.

Among the 4 main room types, it’s clear that “hotel rooms” are least popular in Santa Monica. This may be because the prices of hotel rooms are higher on average. But “Entire home/apt” are still very popular despite the high price. I think it’s because a real home usually makes travelers more relaxing and flexible, and it’s more hygienic to stay in an entire home/apt during the pandemic.

Although there are 17 different types of bathroom text are found, I only focus on types with fewer than 3 bathrooms (there are only a few listings in Santa Monica with 3 or more bathrooms so it can create high bias). From the availabilities plot, whether bathroom(s) are shared does not affect the popularity of a listing; from the price plot, listings with private bath have higher price than those with shared bath.

Question 2: What are the popular amenities offered by the hosts in Santa Monica?

To answer this question, I need to first prepare the data. Because Airbnb allows a host to check the amenities that his/her listing has and also add amenities that are not in their default list, I first need to find out what amenities are provided. It is found that 177 unique amenities are provided by the hosts in Santa Monica. Then I count how frequent each amenity appears in the listings:

The most common amenities in Santa Monica listings are:

  • Wifi (nearly 97% of listings are equipped with wifi)
  • Essentials
  • Smoke alarm
  • Heating
  • Hanger
  • TV
  • Hair dryer
  • Kitchen

Question 3: What are the most influential features to estimate the price/availability of a listing?

After finding the common amenities, I found that while we provide many of them in our listings, not all of them are (or can be) provided in our place. So I need to find out which ones are most attractive to travelers to Santa Monica.

It’s clear that Wifi, Essentials, Hangers, Iron, Hair dryer, Bed linens and Refrigerator are the amenities that help increase the booking rate (fewer availability in the next 30 days), while AC, Elevator, CO alarm, Free parking on premises, TV, Smoke alarm, Bathtub, and First aid kit are the helpful amenities in term of price of a listing.

Based on my own observation, many travelers who come to Santa Monica are for short-term study and working (internship), so more basic amenities (such as Wifi, Essentials, Hangers and Refrigerator) help them settle down in this area at lower cost, while more upgraded amenities (such as AC, Elevator and Bathtub) do not help a listing become more popular likely because they increase the price. The results I found in answering Question 3 seem to support my observations.

Detailed results are listed below:

By seeking the answers to the above three questions, we can conclude:

  • “Entire home/apt” is the most popular room type in Santa Monica in Nov. 2020, these listings have high booking rate despite their relatively high prices.
  • “Shared bathrooms” do not make the listing less popular, but they decrease the average listing price.
  • More than 80% of Santa Monica listings provide Wifi, Essentials, Smoke alarm, Heating, Hanger, TV, Hair dryer, and Kitchen, so it’s very convenient for travelers to stay in Santa Monica Airbnbs for working-from-home and cooking.
  • To increase the booking rate, a host in Santa Monica can add more basic amenities (for example, we are considering to buy an iron for our guests), and to increase the price, a host can invest on more upgraded amenities.

Detailed analysis with all required code is posted in my github repository and Jupyter Notebook.

References

LA Airbnb Open Data: http://insideairbnb.com/get-the-data.html

Github: https://github.com/zhao-li-github/airbnb_practice

Ph.D., data scientist in Santa Monica, CA