Airbnb pricing tools help Breckenridge vacation rental manager boost occupancy

SNAPSHOT

  • Property manager with 120 listings 
  • First listed on Airbnb: 2014 
  • Key benefit: Sharp increase in occupancy
  • Other benefit: Pricing tools make it easy to customize rates

For Candace, the task of managing more than 120 rental properties for private homeowners in the busy ski resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado, is a never-ending juggling act. As Director of Sales at property management company VisitBreck, Candace has to know the owners and their needs. She must remember each of the properties, which range from slope-side townhouses to nine-bedroom mountain mansions, and have intimate knowledge of their amenities and maintenance requirements. And she needs to keep track of availability, while constantly adjusting pricing for each home to maximize occupancy.

“A lot of our owners, in order to have a beautiful second home that they can enjoy with their family, rent them in order to afford that,” says Candace, who arrived in this former Gold Rush town after college to snowboard and never left. “But for a lot of them, it’s also the fact that there’s somebody here taking care of their home when they’re not here.” And in a cold-weather environment, knowing when a pipe might burst, for example, is “a big thing,” she says.

Airbnb platform combines reach with simplicity 

To help keep track of her homeowners’ away schedules and find them a steady stream of guests, Candace turned to Airbnb about five years ago. At the time, VisitBreck was seeking to extend its reach and add some marketing muscle to its efforts. “We chose Airbnb because they were growing,” she says. “We figured it was a great platform for our properties.”

Candace Cally, Director of Sales

The bet more than paid off. Since she began using Airbnb, bookings have increased steadily. She credits not only Airbnb’s reach, but its many management tools, which have also simplified many of the logistical headaches inherent to her job. For instance, when she logs into her platform dashboard she can click on a multi-listing calendar that lets her view all 150 properties at once. “That’s been a nice addition to the tool kit,” she says.

Pricing tools help property manager boost occupancy

The calendar is helpful when she’s trying to juggle various rental rates across so many properties and different seasons, each with its own type of visitor (winter skiers, fall leaf peepers, summer hikers). “If I have properties that are underperforming I can go into the calendar and select whichever property and add a promotional rental rate,” she says.

The Airbnb platform also offers automated pricing tips for specific properties to help boost the occupancy. “I started playing around with the price tips a lot,” she says. “I’ve tried it for soft time periods like September, and October, and early November, when we don’t have a lot of guests. I’ve probably gotten 10 extra bookings on one property just from following those tips.”

We’re able to manage rates a lot more easily, and so we’ve really grown.

Candace Cally, Director of Sales

Another big help, she says, are Airbnb’s pricing “rule sets,” which allow her to raise and lower rates through certain dates based on things like seasonality. The various pricing tools, she says, have played a big role in VisitBreck’s roughly 30 percent growth in occupancy rates. “We’re able to manage rates a lot more easily,” she says, “and so we’ve really grown.”

A full service operation

Thanks to its success, VisitBreck has been taking in new properties and expanding its services to homeowners. “We’re adding new properties every day right now,” Candace says. It also offers homeowners interior design work, and it has established its own retail furniture arm, where it sources from local craftspeople and many others. “You have a lot of owners, when they decide to do updates, ask us ‘What do you think I should do in this bedroom? What bedding would be best’ for helping rent it?” says Candace.

Recently, 10 of VisitBreck listings qualified for the Airbnb Plus program, indicating the properties have been verified for quality, comfort and style by an Airbnb partner. They have only been part of that program for two months, so it’s too early to tell how much of a boost they’ll receive. But based on her experience with Airbnb, she never had second thoughts about trying it. “I’ll be the guinea pig for anything,” Candace says.

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