“Words, like eyeglasses, blur everything that they do not make more clear.”
– Joseph Joubert
Recently, at Airbnb Open, we gave hosts a few tips on great listing descriptions. Spoiler: you don’t have to be a writer to make your description really stand apart while accurately representing your place.
And a note: When talking about the listing “description,” we’re referring to all of the free-form fields available for you to describe your space. Each field, from the description to house rules, provides a unique opportunity to highlight specific parts of your listing.
Write how you talk
You don’t have to be a great writer to create a warm, inviting description. Conversational language is fine (but remember to be concise and not ramble)!
A good exercise is to actually sit down with a friend and describe (out loud) what it’s like to stay at your place. What comes to mind immediately? What gets you excited or draws a reaction from your friend? Use these cues when writing your description.
Though you may want to show off how special your place is, resist the temptation to oversell or exaggerate. Highlight the quirks and things guests might find surprising. You’ll help set guests expectations, and potentially earn better reviews for accuracy.
If you interact with guests, your personality and personal style are as important as the physical details. So it follows that the most important ingredient of a good listing is you, the host. Be real, and let your personality shine through.
The importance of brevity
Think about your state of mind when you’re completing tasks on your computer or phone. Often, people are making the most of limited time by trying to do things quickly. They might have multiple tabs open, or get distracted mid-task. Writing for the web means writing for scanning, not reading.
Share must-know information at the beginning of your description so that it doesn’t get lost, or require that your reader scroll through copious text.
The main listing description is an opportunity to grab travelers’ eyes and quickly summarize what’s unique about your place. Use words that set the scene, then dive into the specifics in subsequent fields.
Photo captions provide an overlooked opportunity for brief descriptions that connect the visuals to the experiences guests will have. Photos are one of the primary factors in a guest’s decision. If you find yourself stumped on how to caption a photo, think about what you can add that the camera doesn’t necessarily capture.
If you’re showing a bed, tell your guest if it’s comfortable, if the sheets are new, or if there’s a convenient reading light.
Maybe your porch is a great place for people watching while enjoying a glass of wine.
Write about the small details that make it feel like a living space.
Every listing tells a story
A story isn’t always a complex narrative, but can be just a simple sequence of events. Your guest might be traveling for business, for pleasure, or for solitude. What you write can help them anticipate and imagine what’s to come––the “story” of their trip.
Character and setting
Think of your guests as the characters in your listing’s story. Your listing may be especially well suited for couples, or families, or perhaps large groups. You can suggest that your space is a good fit for certain guests without excluding others. The “Other Things to Note” and “The Space” sections are opportunities to provide this type of context while setting expectations.
Help guests imagine themselves at your place by identifying the unique or unmissable moments. Do you have a beautiful deck with a view? Is there a room in your home with lovely light? Is there a nearby walk that shows off your neighborhood?
Reading through reviews––yours or other hosts’––is a good way to identify the types of moments and details that guests love. No matter what type of place you have, identifying these small opportunities for delight will help bring your listing to life.