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Average Airbnb Occupancy Rates by City
Merely posting a property on Airbnb isn’t enough to generate bookings and profits – once you’ve got your vacation home listed the next challenge is attracting bookings to make it a viable business.
Occupancy rates are the proportion of days in a month for which a property has bookings, and it’s one of the most important key performance indicators for any vacation rental owner or property manager. If you have a property with a high occupancy rate you’ll see significant revenue generation, but what occupancy rate should you be aiming for? What constitutes a ‘good’ occupancy rate?
AllTheRooms Analytics has taken a look at a selection of cities around the world to try and answer that question using our extensive vacation rental data and analytics platform. We also take a look at which cities get the highest and lowest occupancy rates, give some tips for improving occupancy rate, look at which amenities boost these rates most, and finally look at how you can boost your low season rates.
Below we’ve pulled occupancy rates for the last 12 months (Oct 2018-Sep 2019 at the time of publication) for 8 cities around the world.
The first observation you might make is that they seem to fluctuate a lot – that’s seasonality. More bookings tend to come in peak months, which occur at different times depending on the location. This, in turn, can be dependent on a number of factors, including weather patterns or large annual events.
Take Austin, Texas for example. There’s a clear peak in occupancy rates around March, right when Austin hosts the South by Southwest festival. Los Angeles on the other hand, with nearly year-round Californian sunshine, has very little seasonality visible in its occupancy rate.
Looking at these 8 different cities with their own seasonality patterns and market dynamics, you can see that the answer to the question “what is a good average occupancy rate?” is a complicated one. Take for example that there are occupancy rates as low as 20% and as high as 60-70% in the same city within one year.
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for Toronto, Canada: 49%
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for Sydney, Australia: 37%
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for San Francisco, California: 51%
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for NYC, New York: 47%
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for Los Angeles, California: 49%
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for London, UK: 42%
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for Austin, Texas: 40%
Average Airbnb Occupancy Rate for Atlanta, Georgia: 36%
Taking a different approach, we looked at average occupancy rates across 500 cities in the US. We consider a high Airbnb occupancy rate to be anything over 65%, top performers max out at around 75%, but those are generally anomalies. The average across the country is 48% (not filtered for full or part-time properties). On the other hand, full-time properties with anything less than 50% are considered to be on the lower end of the spectrum. Some cities have average occupancy rates as low as 20% and even 10%.
However, if you really want to benchmark your vacation property’s performance, you’ll need average occupancy rates for your specific market.
That’s where we come in – we have the most accurate vacation rental data on the market.
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Which Cities Have The Highest Occupancy Rates?
Cities With the Highest Occupancy
It comes as little surprise that of the 30 cities with the highest occupancy rate in the US, 23 are in either California, Hawaii, or Florida. Hawaii is especially prominent at the top, occupying seven of the top 10 spots. Places in these states, like Honolulu, Venice Beach, and Cocoa Beach, stand out in large part due to their warm year-round weather and their traditional vacation destination location. When filtering for cities that have at least 1,000 active properties, Kihei, Hawaii tops the list at 69% occupancy rate above San Francisco at 62%, Pensacola Florida at 62%, and Hollywood at 60%.
For cities that don’t fall into one of those three states, it’s still easy to see why their occupancy rate is much higher than the national average. Port Aransas, Texas (63%) is on an island just off the mainland in the Gulf of Mexico and a popular getaway. Sevierville and Gatlinburg (both 61%) are known as the door to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the most visited national park in the states). And Denver (61%) is known as a year-round destination with plenty to do.
The trend is clear, traditional vacation destinations in sought-after locations with a constraint on supply lead to the highest occupancy rates. Interestingly enough, properties that are “Instant Book” tend to benefit from higher occupancies regardless of location.
Cities With the Lowest Occupancy
When scanning our data for cities with the lowest occupancy, there are some interesting counter-intuitive trends. First of all, places that are highly dependent upon a single season seem to fare pretty poorly when their numbers are taken in aggregate over the year. For example, Indio and Palm Desert, the cities that host the annual Coachella Music Festival, are down at 25% and 28%, respectively. Also, with temperatures rarely falling below 100 in the summer, vacationers stay away during the most popular travel months. But don’t let the low number fool you, properties in these locations are expensive and make up for the short-selling season with average daily rates that are significantly higher than the national average.
The same goes for Aspen, Vail, and Crested Butte. These Colorado mountain towns are primarily visited during winter months, with the ability to maintain a high 75% occupancy during the busy season, but end up averaging in the mid 30’s for yearly occupancy. They, like the festival towns, have some of the highest rates in the country, which more than accounts for their short demand season.
Long Island also plays the low occupancy game well, with Southampton, Noyack, and Montauk having occupancies below 30% but revenues in the millions. It seems that having a high-end vacation spot in the backyard of the world’s elite is a wise investment. Larger cities pulling up the rear include Omaha, Nebraska at 38%, Houston, Texas at 40%, and Scottsdale, Arizona at 46%.
A key takeaway is that low occupancy does not necessarily mean low revenues. Additionally, travelers are able to take advantage of significant discounts in more luxurious destinations by traveling in the off-season.
Occupancy Rates, Adjusted Occupancy Rates & Booking Rates
In the traditional lodging industry there is only two states that a listing can be in, either it is booked, or it is vacant.
However, in the vacation rental market another state exists. Vacation rental marketplaces provide hosts the option to block their listing off. This might occur when a host is themselves staying in their property.
This third state brings with it some nuance in how to measure the occupancy rate:
- Occupancy Rate: this is the traditional measure, the number of days during some period of time that the listing is occupied by a guest. For example, if a listing was booked for 12 days out of 30-day month then the occupancy rate is 12/30 = 40%.
- Adjusted Occupancy Rate (or the Booking Rate): this considers only the time that the listing was on the market and was available to be booked by guests. For example, if a listing was booked for 12 days out of a 30-day month, vacant for 12 days and blocked for 6 days, then the adjusted occupancy rate is 12/(12+12) = 50%.
While both measures have their different uses, we tend to favor the adjusted occupancy rate, or the booking rate. So the charts above are all really showing the average Airbnb booking rate.
How Can You Improve Your Occupancy Rate?
Setting the Right Price
One of the most common causes for low occupancy rates is inaccurate pricing for a listing – whether too high or too low. Having a strategic pricing plan based on data-driven research is crucial to maximizing revenue. Listing an accommodation too high in relation to the surrounding competitors could mean potential guests automatically disregard the property while listing a property too low could mean that guests distrust the property listing.
Enabling the Instant Book feature on Airbnb can significantly improve occupancy rates. The Instant Book feature enables guests to secure a booking without having to wait for confirmation from the host. Airbnb reports that two out of three bookings on Airbnb are now made via Instant Book, which matches the share of supply.
As many travelers search for a place to stay on Airbnb by filtering for Instant Book properties, hosts can maximize their visibility by enabling the feature. Additionally, once a new property has started gaining positive reviews and traction, instant booking can be removed and the host can be more selective about its guests. Notably, the Instant Book option has been linked with the status of ‘Super Host’, which is certainly favorable for guests.
Photos & Language
The photos and description are the first things a potential guest sees on a listing page and are therefore crucial to occupancy rate. If photos are blurry or misleading in any way, guests are less likely to book. Airbnb reports that owners who have professional photos of their properties earn 40% more in earnings and had a 24% increase in occupancy.
Similarly, the vocabulary used to describe a property should be chosen very carefully. For example, a property in Manhattan, New York may attract more attention if words like “modern, chic, local” are used in the title, whereas “cozy, quaint, comfortable” are more suitable for a cabin in Aspen. In fact, many property managers are now actually outsourcing the copywriting on their property pages to companies like Guest Hook in order to capture potential guests.
Write and Encourage Reviews
The value of a single good review is hard to overestimate. It can make your property stand out from the rest of the pack. Before your guests leave, give them some subtle encouragement to leave a review. If you think they’ve had a great experience, there’s absolutely no harm — and asking for reviews has become an industry norm.
Another great way to encourage reviews is by writing your own reviews of the guests. As the platform hides host reviews until guests leave a review of their own, it gives them an incentive to leave a review. And while it may seem impersonal, having a pre-written review template can save you time if you manage multiple properties.
Offer an Enjoyable, Personalized, Local Experience
Much of the reason travelers opt to stay in an Airbnb rather than a hotel is because the experience feels more personal. Travelers want to feel like they’re staying like a local, not like a tourist in some far-off cookie-cutter hotel room. Knowing this, there are tons of subtle, tasteful additions you can add to your listing that improve the guest experience. Offering welcome baskets, refreshments, local foods, and information on things to do nearby are surefire ways to increase your home’s rating and its occupancy rates.
Understand the Market
Keeping updated on the highs and lows of occupancy within the local market is valuable, especially when trying to identify trends throughout the year. For example, our data shows that Miami’s high occupancy months tend to be in March due to spring break and events like Miami Music Week.
Which Airbnb Amenities Increase Occupancy Rates Most?
Airbnb amenities often make a massive difference in the vacation rental landscape. Sure, location, pricing, and marketing each deserve careful consideration — but having a curated setup of kitchen essentials, a barbecue, a fireplace, top-speed WiFi, and comfortable lounge areas is really what makes listings pop.
However, implementing amenities is not entirely straightforward. In fact, because every listing is incredibly unique with its own style and characteristics, amenities that prove to be essential in one location may be downright bizarre in another.
In order to determine exactly which Airbnb amenities help hosts and property managers most by improving guest experiences, AllTheRooms Analytics analyzed the effect of specific added items on occupancy rates across a number of markets. Here are our findings…
To understand which Airbnb amenities drive occupancy rates most, we dove into data for listings with at least 10 reviews in four distinct areas over the last 12 months (May 2018 to May 2019):
7 of Sydney’s most famous beach districts; Bondi, Coogee, Manly, Palm Beach, Avalon Beach, Cronulla Beach, and Watson’s Bay.
- 13 of Europe’s most popular alpine ski resorts across France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy: Courchevel, Zermatt, Val D’Isere, Tignes, Cortina D’Ampezzo, Chamonix, St Anton, Meribel, St Moritz, Courmayeur, Val Thorens, Verbier, Cervinia, and Alpe D’Huez.
- The beautiful and rural region of Provence, France.
- 8 of Germany’s most iconic, lesser-known cities: Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden, Leipzig, Heidelberg, Dusseldorf, and Stuttgart.
In order to present the data, we created an easy-to-read amenity scoring system. If an amenity was deemed important by a particular algorithm in a particular area, it received one point. Below is a chart outlining our findings.
Get the Basics Right
For each area, there is a set of small amenities hosts can include that have proven to increase occupancy rates. Across all area types (beaches, cities, rural regions, and ski resorts), providing basic items such as extra bed linen, basic cooking essentials, and shampoo can boost occupancy by 7.1%.
Additionally, hosts who don’t indicate the availability of WiFi, hot water, or a refrigerator (items that may go overlooked by some) suffer a 7.7% penalty in occupancy rates. Our first clear takeaway from the data is that investments in small amenities go a long way. Moreover, hosts benefit by listing every amenity available, no matter how obvious or redundant it may seem.
Going Above But Only Slightly Beyond
Going beyond the basics and providing a more comfortable and functional experience for guests can be achieved at only a small outlay. Creature comforts such as a microwave (1.5% increase), a hairdryer (3.9% increase), an iron (3.7% increase), and a coffee maker (1.0% increase) all increase the occupancy rates across the four regions studied. Including all four of these amenities in a property can yield returns of a 5.3% increase in occupancy. These types of add-ons are especially useful for marketing your listing towards business travelers and appealing to those using Airbnb on work trips.
There are other adjustments hosts can make if they have the right resources. Advertising listings as family-friendly can increase occupancies by 2.9%. Indicating if the listing has the availability for guests to park freely on-site leads to a 3.5% boost in occupancy. Other listing features such as the availability of long-term stays and self-check-in also increase occupancy rates by 3.2% and 4.6% respectively.
Unsurprisingly, when parsing out the particular areas, certain Airbnb amenities are significantly more favored in one location than they are in another.
In the beach neighborhoods of Sydney, guests heavily favor beach essentials (3.1%), BBQ grills (3.7%), and the personal touch of being greeted by the host (5.2%). Curiously, they also value having a flat path to the front door (7.0%). While a flat path may not be possible for all vacation homes, offering the other three can boost occupancy rates and provide a more comfortable guest experience.
In the ski resorts of the Alps, guests show preferences for more snow-friendly facilities such as a ski-in-ski-out entrance (3.6%), hot tubs (5.3%) and on-site first aid kits (3.7%). As for the listings in German cities, dishes and silverware (2.1%) and allowing pets to stay (9.7%) both result in higher occupancy rates. Listings noting the presence of a doorman in German cities also see an increase of 6.2%
In the countryside of Provence, guests tend to look for long-term stays and family-friendly listings that offer amenities such as a pool (4.7%) and a stove (2.1%). Offering all four of these features — something holidaymakers traveling to the South of France would generally find appealing — can raise occupancy rates by a staggering 19.8%.
When asking ourselves which Airbnb amenities increase occupancy rates most, it becomes clear that the key is more nuanced than simply throwing in a few marketable items. Furthermore, the data shows that thinking beyond individual items and focusing on bundling amenities around a strategic brand or a theme provides sizeable returns.
How To Improve Your Low Season Occupancy Rate
Peak travel season comes and goes. Not every month will be as busy as Venice in July or Aspen in December, and so it’s natural that occupancy rates fall during certain months of the year. However, there are ways for vacation rental owners to increase occupancy during off-season months. Here are seven tips and tricks to increase booking during the low season and keep your business rolling year-round.
Use Data to Optimize Bookings
Data can be incredibly helpful for your vacation rental business, and especially so during off-season months. First, analyze last year’s business performance to determine which months constituted your low season. This includes analyzing your property’s previous occupancy periods, revenue flow, the average length of stays, and which days of the week you tended to book. These indicators will help you determine which months out of the year yield the lowest returns and when to adjust your business model and approach.
So how do you track data? Luckily, there are numerous vacation rental apps and services that help property owners gather their business’ data. MyVR, for example, is a cloud-based software primarily designed to help vacation rental owners optimize occupancy through marketing and data analysis. Vacation rental owners can track bookings, contact, reservation data, synchronize all listings through a channel manager, and more. A unique database for your business is perfect for determining when your low season hits.
Aggregating data is a great way to stay on top of your business performance during peak and off-season months. For any tailormade data reports on specific markets and property types, AllTheRooms’ Analytics are experts for solutions in the accommodation industry.
Market to a Larger Audience
And that leads to the next tip: marketing. Use the data you’ve collected to know your peak season guests — as well as the audience you may be regularly missing out — to target a larger percentage of travelers. Perhaps you own a beachfront home in Miami and tend to attract relatively young groups of vacationers during the summer; travelers who are looking to use your home as a resting ground between beach and club outings. Target other travelers during the fall, winter, and spring. This includes business travelers, families, retirees, locals, foodies, and honeymooners.
Update your listings on booking engines to highlight your property’s attributes that work well for other kinds of travelers. For example, the same beachfront view that attracts group vacationers during the summer could also be the perfect secluded getaway for honeymooners. Perhaps your place’s proximity to all the city action could also be the perfect location for foodies looking to experience the city’s local eateries. Rethink your marketing strategy to target the guests you typically do not book.
Adjust Pricing Strategy & Scheduling
Peak season calls for peak pricing. During the off-season, consider lowering your prices to attract more guests. Offer special discounts or bundle deals. A lot of off-season travelers pick the off-season to travel in order to get more value out of their trip by booking cheaper flights and having more lodging options. Appeal to this kind of traveler by making your place a no-brainer money-saver.
Open your scheduling to a 12-month calendar year so these savvy travelers can plan their off-season trips in advance. Adjust your minimum stay rules to attract even those just passing through. The more people who book your place during off-season travel months makes for more potential (positive) reviews on your page for peak-season travelers to see. Plus, building an off-season clientele by lowering your prices and opening your availability will add to your status as a superhost.
Revamp Your Space
Updating your listings may also call for changing up your space’s look. A new design may attract the attention of those just scrolling through booking sites and landing on the rentals that look the nicest (who doesn’t do this?). A picture says a thousand words and the photos you choose to post on listing sites play a huge role in attracting guests.
If interior design isn’t your thing, try out Houzz. Houzz is an online site full of inspirational interior and exterior decor pictures sure to spark your creative touch. In the age of social media, creating a picturesque backdrop for Instagrammers to get their perfect shot may land you some new guests during an otherwise slow time of the year. There are also many property management services that can help you maintain your vacation rentals year-round from home-cleaning to furniture assembly. Remember to keep your properties in peak shape even during the off and shoulder seasons.
Improve Your Guest Experience
A great way to secure guests during your low season is to earn positive online reviews. Let the fabulous reviews of peak season travelers bring in offseason guests. A simple way to get more positive reviews is to provide a rock-solid guest experience. This includes maintaining constant open communication with your guests, being an active host, recommending local hotspots and attractions, making sure your rental properties are routinely stocked with amenities, and taking care of the little things.
It may be beneficial to offer a rewards program in order to build relationships with former guests. This could include a points system based on stays; a certain number of stays grants a certain kind of discount. This is a great way to show your guests that you care about hosting them in the future and you want to book returning guests.
Host for Local Events
If you’ve noticed that it’s harder to book international guests during your low season, try targeting locals to increase domestic sales. You know your city better than anywhere else, so try marketing your place for local and cultural events that occur all throughout the year. Keep a calendar handy and make note of all the holiday weekends, events, and school year breaks that happen during the low months. These should include the four-day weekends, no-school-days, and work breaks that visitors may want to celebrate while in the city. Market your short-term rentals during these times to attract the domestic guests you don’t usually book. This strategy will help keep an eye on the local and cultural events in your city and target “staycationers” in the market for a weekend getaway.
Social Media Campaigns
Social media is a powerful tool to attract an online audience. Try setting up social media pages for your vacation rental business. This includes Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and a personal business website. Market your vacation rentals all year-round to attract the interests of travelers throughout the year. With social media, you can launch your own promotional campaigns whenever you want, offer special discounts to your followers for any month to increase your occupancy rate, and post a consistent stream of quality content to garner a strong and active following. An engaged following means more people have your rentals on their radar.
Take charge of your peak and off-peak seasons by directly advertising your amazing properties to your next potential guests across social media platforms.