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How Daniel Rusteen Helps Airbnb Hosts Optimize Listings and Boost Revenue

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Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

How Daniel Rusteen Helps Airbnb Hosts Optimize Listings and Boost Revenue

Short-term rentals can be a slippery slope for new and experienced hosts alike. Daniel Rusteen, the founder of OptimizeMyAirbnb, has made it his mission to simplify this process and help hosts maximize their potential. In this interview, Daniel shares the inspiration behind his company, some mistakes hosts make, and strategies to improve listings, communication, and revenue. He also discusses the benefits of his various programs and tools, the importance of staying current with industry trends, and what the future holds for short-term rentals.

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Daniel Rusteen

Genesis of OptimizeMyAirbnb

SBS – What inspired you to start OptimizeMyAirbnb? 

Danny – I worked at Airbnb in 2013 and was part of their company for a while. I was employee number 700. Airbnb is a very big company now. Last time I checked, they had almost 8,000 employees. I was there in the very beginning, and it changed my mind about many things. I remember I started learning about Airbnb when I stayed in Seoul, South Korea, and I spent my first night there on just a floor mat. I think it was 2012. From that point onwards, my love for Airbnb, or what they offered — more of a human connection than hotels — pulled me into it. After working at Airbnb, I worked at a property management company for a while, and that’s when I decided to take off on my own and do it my way. Having worked at Airbnb gave me a unique perspective on how to be more profitable and build your listings so that guests know from the get-go what they’re getting for their money.

Common Mistakes

SBS – Can you share some mistakes that are common for new Airbnb hosts? 

Danny – As the company evolves, even the website changes, obviously, and the things that worked in the past no longer do, so you have to be studying all the time. If you had asked me a few years ago if I would recommend using direct bookings for your listings, I would have said no. That’s not something that hosts should have done in the past, but now my perspective has changed completely. People now have to have an online presence outside of Airbnb, and there’s a process for that.

Listing Optimization

SBS – How do your listing optimization services help improve search rankings on Airbnb?

Danny – One of the wrong ideas that people have about Airbnb is that your ranking matters. That’s not the case. Your ranking on Airbnb is not something that you should pay attention to because Airbnb works differently from a company like, for example, Google. If we both type a query into Google, we will get the same result. Airbnb is like this personalized search. If you search for a property to stay in, say, Orlando, you and I will get vastly different results. Your property might appear number one in some searches and at the bottom in other searches. You need to pay attention to whether your online listing is optimized, whether you have a good hospitality mentality in place, and whether you have good pricing.

Effective Guest Communication

SBS – How can a host effectively manage guest communication so they can ensure that they have high ratings? 

Danny – In terms of guest communication, the best process is to answer questions as fast as possible to show guests that you are taking their issues seriously. There are a few ways you can do that. Some tools automate that kind of stuff, and you have templates or pre-written messages so that when guests write to you, they automatically receive a response, which has the advantage of improving the rate. There’s also what I call a “certain strategy” when sending messages — you don’t have to send every single piece of information about your property from the get-go. You have to send some stuff three days before, some a day before, and some after the guest leaves. All in all, responding fast and responding accurately to guests directly affects your reviews.

Pricing Strategies

SBS – What pricing strategies do you recommend for maximizing occupancy and revenue? 

Danny – I’ll give you my general recommendations in terms of pricing. You have to take a look at your occupancy. If your booking lead time is 30 days, it means half of your reservations are coming before the 30-day mark, and the other half come after. With that number in mind, you can establish occupancy targets to help you decide if you have to raise or lower your prices. Let’s say your booking lead time is 30 days, and you want 100% occupancy in the next seven days (your occupancy target). For 15 days, you want to be 75% occupied (that number depends on your particular property). So, if you are underbooked, you have to lower your prices to reach that occupancy target. The same works in reverse if you are overbooked. If your target is 75%, and you are 100% occupied, you can raise your prices. That helps you maximize profits. Remember that number changes from host to host and property to property, but that’s the general recommendation.

Free Tools

SBS – You have some free tools like a title generator or a revenue calculator. How do they benefit new hosts? 

Danny – The title is one of the most important things on your listing. However, most people use their titles ineffectively. They use words like “cozy” or words that don’t tell your potential guests why they should book your place. I recommend having stuff that the guests can know from the get-go what they’re getting — for example, hot tub, WiFi speed, balcony, pool, barbecue. Without clicking on the listing, they know what they will get. What I offer for free is a title generator that has baked in my logic when writing titles so people can get a useful or better title than they would have come up with on their own. You have to fill out a few questions, and based on that, you’ll obtain a very good title for your Airbnb.

Enhancing Host Success

SBS – Can you explain more about the benefits of your Profitable Properties Program

Danny – That is something that I came up with fairly recently. It is like a companion program for my latest book, Profitable Properties. The idea is to give hosts and property managers more personalized access to me and what I teach. There’s a whole community of those people, and there are forums so they can come in and ask questions, and someone else might give them some knowledge. We have live classes (around two per month), and I bring experts from other fields. For example, we brought in an expert who talked about property insurance. This community is very active, and we make hosts and property managers better versions of themselves.

Staying Updated

SBS – How do you stay updated with the latest trends and changes in the short-term rental markets? 

Danny – First of all, I am a permanent resident of Airbnb. I live in Airbnbs. I travel the world. Right now, I’m in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and have spent more than 8,000 nights in Airbnbs. Staying in Airbnbs all the time, I see what houses do. I use Airbnb almost every day, so I’m always up to date with changes on the platform. At the same time, I also invest in properties. I always keep myself within the short-term rental industry. I have a property in Medellin, Colombia, and that’s been a great success so far. It’s called the Belmonte Penthouse.

Efficient Property Management Solutions

SBS – How does your Elevate Host service help hosts manage their properties in the most efficient way possible?

Danny – That’s the most complete service that I offer, and it serves to set in place my strategies and processes that can help you self-manage your property instead of relying on a property manager. I do not think that every single host needs a property manager. The Elevate Host package sets you up with pricing. I optimize your listing, you receive a digital house manual, and you get the message automation we discussed before. That allows you not to hire someone else.

Success Stories

SBS – Can you share some success stories of some hosts that use your services and have improved because of you? 

Danny – Yeah, I’ve helped many, many, many hosts. All of the listings I have optimized or done something for have received more revenue after the optimization. If you go to my Instagram, you can find a whole column of quotes directly from customers, and there, you can find all my clients’ success stories.

Future Trends

SBS – What future trends do you see in the short-term rental industry, and how should the hosts prepare for those changes?

Danny – There’s been a big trend and a growth of offering direct bookings. More people are looking for a place to stay directly with the host instead of relying on companies like Airbnb or Vrbo. People are also more open to offering direct bookings themselves. In the past, it wasn’t the case. Direct bookings are cheaper, too. You save on the booking fees from these companies. If you have a property and don’t have a direct booking option, you have to start doing that. That doesn’t mean you must brand your property or build a new website. There are ways to have a small presence in the direct booking space. I see that growing in the future. People should start offering direct bookings. That won’t hurt at all.


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How Daniel Rusteen Helps Airbnb Hosts Optimize Listings and Boost Revenue