A 48-year old Airbnb host breaks down how she used Facebook and Instagram to bring in $25,000 through direct bookings
- Amie Sommer, an Alaska resident, rents out a $1 million Arizona home that sleeps 10.
- When she launched her listing, she used Facebook to get direct bookings from family and friends.
Alaska resident Amie Sommer's first step for her new short-term-rental was to make a website. Though she would also list her Arizona pad on Airbnb and Vrbo, Sommer knew she wanted a diverse pool of prospective guests.
"I don't want all my eggs in one basket," she told Insider.
It's been a boon for Sommer's business. In her first year listing the $1.08 million desert-oasis home that sleeps 10, she's already landed $50,000 in bookings, which Insider verified through documentation. Half of those bookings she told Insider were from promoting her direct booking link on the social-media sites Facebook and Instagram.
An explosion of new listings has made the short-term-rental market more competitive, with some hosts worrying about an "Airbnbust." Recent data from the analytics site AirDNA showed demand climbed by 24% year over year in September but that occupancy fell 1.2% because of the glut of listings travelers could choose from.
To stand out, hosts are getting creative. Sommer believes her strategy is accessible to any host, even those who aren't quite tech-savvy.
"I'm not the most technically, technologically advantaged person in the universe, but I was able to get on there and do it," she said.
Sommer made a website and booked Facebook friends as her first guests
Sommer started by setting up a simple website using Wix and then an account on the vacation-rental-software site Lodgify. She said she chose a $380-a-year plan because she preferred paying a flat fee to plans that took a 2 to 4% cut of all bookings.
Lodgify provides Sommer with a central calendar that syncs bookings between her website, Airbnb, and Vrbo. It's a one-stop shop that keeps her weeks in order and prevents double bookings, she said.
When it came time to book her first guests, Sommer was looking for "guinea pigs." She posted a link on her Facebook profile and offered some a friends-and-family discounted price of $350 a night, down from $550.
She said she was shocked at the interest and ended up nearly fully booking her first six weeks. She encourages other guests to search within their networks to find guests. A discount might be necessary, but this type of booking likely means fewer headache-inducing guests.
"If I know them, I know they're good people," she said.
Sommer uses Instagram to attract guests and brand her house as an experience
Sommer frequently traveled to Arizona and knew the area well before buying the home. As a visitor turned owner, she had a good idea of the types of tourists she wanted to attract.
The house is in northeast Scottsdale, close to the nightlife hubs around Phoenix. But Sommer said it's more suited for a quiet desert retreat.
"We're out in the country where you can walk down the road and pet a horse," she said.
She started branding the property as #LunaHouseAZ on Instagram and emphasizing in her website description its secluded nature. It seems to be working: one upcoming guest found her when searching for lodging for the 2023 Super Bowl in nearby Glendale, Arizona.
For just two nights, they are paying $3,000.
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