Writing your listing blurb for Airbnb or other accommodation platforms can be tricky. After all, you’re in the hospitality industry, you’re not a copywriter.
The good news is that online, it’s much better to underpromise and overdeliver, rather than the other way around, so specialist buzzwords, button-pressers and clever rhetoric are not required. Just be honest.
However, there are some words you’ll want to avoid. These are mostly words that have been done to death by real estate agents in their ads and online listings (yes, real estate agents or ‘purveyors of untruths’ as they are sometimes known).
Here’s a selection of word NOT to use:
Or if you’re into American spelling, cozy. We know what you mean. You want to give the impression that your place is friendly, warm and a lovely place to snuggle up in comfort. But that isn’t what the reader sees. He or she sees ‘small’. Of course, if the smallness of your rental is a selling point – if your rental is a tiny house for example – then say so blatantly, even give the square footage.
But in general avoid the word ‘cosy’ unless you want potential guests to think that it’s a code word for ‘can’t swing a cat’.
The chances are that it isn’t. Unique means that there’s only one like it. Unique means that there’s nowhere else in the world like it. This means that you can’t get away with ‘almost unique’ or ‘fairly unique’ – it either is or it isn’t. There aren’t degrees of unique-ness.
You can rent some pretty special accommodation these days – lighthouses, yurts, private islands, tree houses … and not even all of them can claim to be unique so the chances are that your place isn’t. It has a lot to offer guests, it’s special. But unique? Probably not.
Okay, I’ll grant you this one on the condition that you paid at least $1.5 million for your rental. Luxury is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I live in South Florida, for example, where items like sparkling swimming pools, outdoor kitchens and hot tubs are commonplace. However, other people might see those items as luxurious.
I have a tiny bathroom so consider a spa-like, large bathroom as a luxury – others wouldn’t. So be very careful about luxury and luxurious – definitions are many and varied.
Again this means different things to different people. Better words are ‘inexpensive,’ or ‘value’. A house that’s valued at $2 million but that’s for sale for $1 million is ‘cheap’. So is a discounted pack of generic brand crackers at the supermarket.
Cheap can also mean tawdry and tacky. You don’t want your listing to be thus perceived! Try to get the word cheap right out of your vocabulary.
What on earth is wrong with saying that your place is clean? It is clean after all. Well yes, but potential guests will automatically assume that any listing they are looking at will be clean. This isn’t the nineteenth century. We don’t need to be told that your place is clean.
And there’s always that suspicions in the back of our minds – if that’s something you feel it’s necessary to mention, why is that?
If you describe your neighbourhood up-and-coming (or just as bad if not worse, gentrifying) then you’re telling potential guests that it’s a pretty rough area. There would be no need for it to be up-and-coming, or being gentrified, if it was a great and lovely neighbourhood already.
Remember that your potential guests are perfectly capable of using Google Maps – and they will – to find out more. So describe your neighbourhood, tell us what’s great about it, but avoid those hackneyed buzzwords that make it sound decayed.
To many people, quaint can be read as old-fashioned. And old-fashioned can be perceived as being awkward, a little tatty and whimsical. Not many people are looking for those attributes in vacation accommodation.
Of course, your offering might truly be quaint, and that’s fine. But don’t use the word for an unmodernised 1950s bungalow in Rhyl – that just won’t work.
The beach is walking distance from our rentals. It depends how much you like walking though and how accustomed you are. It takes me at least forty minutes because I amble and look around me. A guest recently told me it was a brisk 20-minute walk (not for me it isn’t!)
The shops and restaurants are closer. But after a good dinner, a bottle of wine and with high-heeled shoes on my feet, I prefer a taxi home. So forget walking distance – be accurate and put the actual distance. A neighbour who put online that his apartment was ‘a fifteen-minute stroll to the beach’ was, quite frankly, lying. And didn’t last long as a rental host.
NOTE: And please don’t use the words ‘close proximity’. It’s a tautology like ‘reverse back’ or ‘free gift’. Proximity means that it’s close. Yes, some of your potential guests are from the grammar police.