When it comes to vacation rental listings, your property description is integral to your success. Some people may argue that the property photos are more important, which is fair enough. The reality is that one can’t work without the other.
A great title and property description doesn’t just support your imagery, though. They have the ability to drive bookings too! Unfortunately, many people take the text for-granted when creating their listings.
Well, now’s the perfect time to go back and make some edits if you’re one of those people.
(Expanded) Property Description
This subject was touched on briefly in the Airbnb Management Guide, but we’re going to make things easier now. The best way to write a property description is to break it down into a simple format.
How do we get that format? Well, there’s only a few overarching subjects to talk about when describing a property.
Each channel has its own way of presenting the information.
Airbnb, for example, has a more rigid structure where each subject is broken into sections.
Booking.com is a little less organized.
Now, those two examples look vastly different – the length, the format, everything really. When you’re listing on multiple channels, it’s best to be prepared for any and all of them. That’s why we’re going to focus on the common ground – if you’ve got every base covered, filling in descriptions for any channel will be much easier.
Here’s the subjects you’ll be writing about:
Let’s get the boring one out of the way first. If you’ve already done your property listings, you probably had to go through a lengthy process of listing your amenities. If you haven’t published your listings yet…well, it’s good to have all your amenities on hand.
Nothing fancy here – just an unordered list of any luxuries / non-standard features or services that come along with your property.
What’s a facility? It’s a spacial feature of the property – sometimes it’s also described as being equipment. A parking space, a gym, a nursery room, an olympic size swimming pool, a backyard casita with a patio and a bbq. These are all facilities.
People frequently conflate facilities with amenities. Yes, you can list your facilities as amenities on various channels that have pre-filled options to create your list. But there’s a distinction to be made: you can describe your facilities in a compelling manner. That’s why we’re separating them from the amenities list.
An air conditioner is pretty much the same everywhere, but there’s a ton of variations when it comes to your in-house gym. Do you have a bench set? Rowing machine? A 25-foot rock climbing wall? This is all perfect stuff to write about – potential guests would love to know a little more about it.
|Gym||In-house gym equipped with over 1000lbs of weight plates, various lifting and squatting stations, running & elliptical machines, and a massage table!|
|Parking||Reserved street-side parking spaces for two vehicles.|
|Separate Room||Beautiful Spanish-Colonial backyard casita with one air-conditioned bedroom and a full bathroom.|
It’s a great idea to incorporate your local tourist attractions in your listing – but try not to go overboard. People generally have a good idea as to what they’re going to do when they book a hotel somewhere. But, if your property offers a convenient location to a major tourist attraction or two, by all means mention them.
|“A stone’s throw from the city’s historical center“|
|“Located just one mile from the Florida Marlins stadium“|
|“Within walking distance of the famous London Eye ferris wheel – perfect for couples!“|
Take a look at this perfect location description from an Airbnb property:
Make note of something important here: he doesn’t just tell you what’s around the corner, he describes how it can improve your stay. He actually describes a picture-perfect vacation that potential guests will envision when considering booking the property. He’s selling his location perfectly.
In addition to tourist attractions, it’s a good idea to describe your property’s most immediate surroundings. It’s the perfect opportunity to make up for any facilities your property may be lacking in. If you don’t have any exercise facilities on your property, write about the beautiful public park with a running track down the road.
If you lack any cool public facilities in close proximity to your property, list conveniences! That includes supermarkets, pharmacies, train stations, restaurants, etc. Stuff that people will find useful.
Isn’t it funny how it took this long just to get to the actual property? If there’s just one part of your description that utilizes fancy adjectives, this is it.
We’ve already listed the amenities, so you’re not going to need to stuff them in here. Basic details (such as number of bedrooms/bathrooms) aren’t necessary here since it’ll be featured in your listing details. Sometimes they can help flesh things out though. If your property is a generic development painted all white, maybe focusing on the number of bedrooms might help.
Here’s some helpful subjects to get your ideas flowing:
|Construction Style||Spanish Colonial, Modern, Garden Apartment, Maisonette, Loft, Tudor, Villa, Treehouse|
|Exterior Features||Garden, Woods/Forest, Farm, Terrace/Balcony, Guest House, Garage, Deck, Patio|
|Furnishings / Interior Construction Features||Sash Windows, Wood Flooring, High Ceilings, Built-in Cabinetry, Open Floor Plan, Fireplace|
|Interior Styles||Modern, Minimal, Contemporary, Mid-Century, Industrial, Traditional, Transitional|
And of course, you’ll be crossing these things with adjectives. Try to come up with three adjectives that you’d use to describe your property.
For example, my house is spacious, traditional, and peaceful. Now we can work in our features: I live in a spacious, traditional Spanish Colonial villa located in a peaceful neighborhood at the edge of the city.
It really starts to write itself.
Listing Titles & Abridged Descriptions
Alright, so now you’ve got a full-fledged description of your property that’s informative and enticing. But now you’ve got to find a way to condense all of it into just a sentence or two.
There’s two places you’re going to need to sharpen your words to be both effective and concise: the title and above-the-fold.
What’s above-the-fold? That’s really just a digital marketing term to describe content that is immediately visible. Sites like Airbnb will often have the expanded descriptions hidden with a “read more” button below a paragraph of text. That little paragraph is your above-the-fold content.
There’s just 5 sentences here in the example that describe features that the author felt were most important to potential guests. Now, I would personally disagree with a couple of them, but it’s his apartment.
That’s all it is though – your property’s most attractive features. Don’t waste your time talking about amenities. And, please, try not to use the word “beautiful”. That’s a wasted adjective. Remember, there’s still accompanying photos to communicate the property’s beauty.
A Quick Exercise in Writing Awesome Openers
So now let’s put our new skills to the test and make a new tagline for this guy’s property. Take a look at it first:
We’ll be using the same method outlined in the expanded description chapter. Let’s come up with a few good adjectives first – here’s what I’ve got:
cozy, colorful, charming
Now what are some important features of the property? It’s got a sort of contemporary interior design, the pool (obviously), lots of greenery and flowers, and a suburban aesthetic.
Now let’s throw it all together:
A charming poolside retreat with cozy quarters and a colorful suburban landscape.
So I left out the “contemporary” part because it’s not a very defining trait – contemporary could mean a few things. The word broke up the flow of the sentence. Anyway, let’s compare to the original opener:
This beautiful Poolside Studio Flat is separate from our main house and is adjacent to our pool and covered patio.
Which is more enticing?
You’ll find it’s quite easy to turn out a few more sentences to round off all of your property’s best features. Your opening tagline will serve as your inspiration.
OK, so here’s the ultimate test of your ability to be concise. Or is it? For a couple of the listing channels, your title is going to be automatically generated from your property’s features. For others, you’ll find there’s a pretty strict format.
Let’s take a look at these Airbnb titles for some top-performing properties in Paris:
The basic formula looks like this:
|Adjective + Type||+||Preposition + Location|
Pretty boring right? Apparently it works though, so it’s really up to you if you want to break the mould. There’s always some outliers, but a vast majority tend to follow this format.
A major reason for this is due to having to strip your hook down to a character length specified by the channel. Airbnb, for instance, is about 50 characters.