How to Identify the Top Selling Points of your Short-Term Rental Property

When businesspeople seek to market a product or service, they tout the selling points of that service. What are the features and benefits of their product/service that their target market most desires? Those are points that get promoted and advertised

The same is true for short-term rental (STR) hosts. Selling points must be at the core of your marketing efforts. I ask clients of my listing writing service to identify their STR’s top 5 selling points. My goal is to distribute these 5 selling points across the listing title and Airbnb’s 500-character opening paragraph. It’s hard to get all 5 selling points in the title because it’s limited to 50 characters.

When I surveyed members of my Facebook group, Critique My Airbnb Listing, almost a quarter of respondents said they cannot identify their top 5 selling points.

So, just how should you identify them?

Selling points come about in a couple of ways. If you are starting from scratch with the blank canvas of a property you’ve purchased, the property may or may not have come ready-made with some selling points, such as location, pool, or large capacity, but you have a lot of discretion in terms of expanding your selling points, say, adding a firepit and gameroom.

Other hosts use their own primary residence, vacation home, or second residence to rent out as an STR when they’re not using it. In that case, the property likely already has a full complement of selling points, though the owner can always add more. For example, my ex-husband and I wanted to add acreage to our property, and the adjacent acreage had a home on it when we bought it. When we divorced, I moved into the other home and turned the main house into an STR. It already came with a Roman soaking tub, 40 acres of hiking trails, and since we had lived in it, all the equipment any guest would need. Still, I added a firepit, kids’ room and baby equipment, and recreational equipment.

Are amenities the same as selling points?
Amenities are a subset of selling points. Many amenities are selling points, but some selling points, like location, are not amenities. A great view is a selling point but not an amenity. Technically, pet-friendliness is not an amenity, but I still imclude it in the Amenity Highlists lists I develop for my clients because it’s a huge selling point.

What are the selling points guests look for?
This question is surprisingly difficult to research. The answers also vary from region to region, For example, in many countries outside the United States, air conditioning is considered to be a highly sought-after selling point, while in the US, AC is a fairly standard amenity in most places, and guests don’t think of it as a big deal. Parking is a much more important selling point in a big city than in a rural area.

Airbnb has an article on the most sought-after amenities (and because these amenities are sought after, they are selling points):

  • Pool
  • Wi-Fi
  • Kitchen
  • Free parking
  • Jacuzzi (umm, how about calling it a “hot tub,” Airbnb?)
  • Washer or dryer (Washer OR dryer? Hmmm, one is not very useful without the other)
  • Air conditioning or heating
  • Self check-in
  • Laptop-friendly workspace
  • Pets allowed

But the article is from 2020. The world is different now after the pandemic. Among my listing-writing clients some big selling points include firepits, gamerooms, and movie rooms. Coffee bars/coffee stations are wildly popular among my clients. Are they a selling point? I don’t know, but hosts sure love them right now. One client even has an entire coffee-themed STR. The vast majority of my clients also offer some form of outdoor dining.

While I haven’t had many clients with themed STRs, I know these are very popular and would certainly be a selling point. Anything that sets you apart is worth considering a selling point.

My clients also often list items I DON’T feel are selling points, or at least not major ones. One of these is new renovation or remodeling, which I discuss at length in my article, Is ‘Renovated’ a Selling Point for Short-Term Rentals? Because it’s virtually universal, self-check-in doesn’t feel like a strong selling point to me. I don’t think I’ve had more than 2 clients who didn’t have self-check-in.

I asked an artificial intelligence tool for the most sought-after features and got this list. (I don’t quite trust these results since hot tub isn’t on the list):

  • Full kitchen
  • Air conditioning
  • Free parking
  • Pool
  • Wi-Fi
  • Washer and dryer
  • TV
  • Grill
  • Fire pit
  • Pet-friendly amenities
  • Accessibility features

So, bottom line, how do you identify your top selling points so you can use them in your marketing? Here are 4 ways:

(1) Check your reviews. What amenities or features do your guests mention most often? These are clearly selling points for your listing.

Obviously, the technique won’t help before you have reviews. In that case, (2) show your listing to family and friends and ask them what 1 to 5 features would most motivate them to book.

(3) See what your competitors are touting as top selling points. Maybe you have selling points your competitors don’t have that you can play up. I never questioned whether my STR would be pet-friendly because dogs had already lived in the house I moved out of. But when I saw that very few of my competitors were pet-friendly, pet-friendliness became one of my top selling points.

(4) Ask yourself what your main TARGET Market most wants and needs. The selling points that appeal to your target market are your most important ones. If your target market is large groups, they want to see what selling points you have to accommodate their group. Virtually all large-capacity hosts provide enough beds for their stated occupancy, but very few also provide enough dining seating, living-room seating, outdoor seating, dishware, and so forth. Your ability to TRULY serve a large group can be a significant selling point.

If you cater to families, those guests will want to see family-friendly amenities and equipment. If beach-goers are your target, prospective guests may want know you have beach equipment and an outdoor shower. See also my article, Increase Bookings by Pinpointing and Delighting Your Short-Term Rental Target Market.

It is vitally important to identify and market your top selling points. Try listing your top 5. Are they all mentioned in your title, your 500-character opener, or both? Great! If not, I’d be happy to help you identify and make the most of your top selling points.

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