How To Make Money With Airbnb With Independent Guest Ratings

self catering occupancyvsreviews

Many holiday homeowners think I am crazy when I propose very competitive rates on Airbnb when launching a new property. 

I must say that I would rather choose crazy than stupid. 

In previous writings I have argued why Airbnb hosts need to make love with Airbnb by making them money. If you do they will make you money. 

Today I want to change the focus slightly. 


This is the first time I could find data supporting my crazy ideas.

It has to do with trust. 

You know about all the scam issues using the internet. People are very skeptical. And it's your job to turn that skepticism into trust. But alone you'll not do it. You need independent guests who turn the story for you. The turn comes when these guests leave reviews. There's such a lot of resistance when you list a new property. Have a look at what one client had to say to us about a lovely new home we listed. Eventually she booked the house, but it was not easy. And most potential clients would not even bother to get answers. All they'll do is go to the homeowner with many reviews even if the house is not so nice.

Trish Leonard Potential Holidaymaker

My husband and I (ex Zim long ago!) are bringing our Godson (aged 22) from UK to SA for his first trip to Africa and we are being joined by old 'varsity friends from Natal. We need 3 bedrooms and preferably 3 bathrooms, with sea view. Love "Dorian - newly renovated" on AirBnB but don't understand why it has no reviews. What's wrong with it? or am I being too cautious? As you can imagine, I want the trip to be just right! My grandparents lived in Fish Hoek so I know the area fairly well - any suggestions?

Let's move into a different gear. And look at how you can increase occupancy as your number of independent reviews increase. 


The graph above shows the average occupancy over 365 for the average number of ratings per listing. Places with no ratings have very low occupancy. (These figures are based on USA listing only and provided by EverBooked - unfortunately they have no data for South Africa). 

Let's look at another graph

self catering occupancyvsreviews

Significant to say the least!

Only after about 250 reviews do proprerties achieve full occupancy potential.

It's clear that you have a lot of work ahead of you if you have no reviews, or very few reviews.

It can be done!

It’s not just the ratings that have an affect on the occupancy of the listing but the sheer number of ratings. There is the possibility of a mutually reinforcing relationship here between higher occupancy and higher numbers of ratings— more guests equals more ratings and more ratings equals more guests. Notice that for listings with 10-20 ratings, the average occupancy is already over 20%, above the overall market average. This data underscores the need for new hosts with young listings to adopt aggressive ramp up pricing in order to get bookings early to obtain as many ratings as quickly as possible in order to move up along this occupancy curve. (Source

The most obvious solution is aggresively competitive rates to attract most guests to review your place. You need to pay for the right to get many ratings by making less than what you could if you have had 250 ratings.

Also never forget Airbnb and their choice to give you front page exposure..... Airbnb only gives you front page exposure if you make them money!

Let me again give you 3 things you must focus on to maximise your rental income:

  • Ensure your rates are extremely competitive; less than your neighbour with the same home may not be enough.
  • Only pay a professional to take photos of your place
  • Your first aim is to get 40% occupancy or at least 40 ratings.

Good luck.....

I am sure many who read this would again say I am crazy suggesting the above. But then again rather crazy than stupid.

Have Fun!

Johan Horak

P.S. Johan is part of Horak Clan The clan runs a small self-catering agency. The clan is not interested in being the largest agency. No! Only the best agency.

Are you looking to Maximise Your Self Catering Accommodation? Click and tell us more!

May 6, 2016


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