The Airbnb market has never been better for rural farms with the rush of guests to rural destinations post-pandemic. A rural farm offers not only a rural escape with beautiful views but also a chance to engage in the salt of the earthy activity that is farming, gain a greater understanding of where your produce comes from and enjoy creature comforts whilst staying in an outdoorsy environment.
How to Market A Rural Farm on Airbnb
According to Airbnb, hosts in rural areas of the US earned over $200 million in June 2020, an increase of more than 25% from the pre-pandemic June 2019. Even in a tourist market such as California that has been badly hit by the pandemic, rural destinations in the state have pulled in surging numbers of visitors, even as former heavy hitters like San Jose and San Francisco struggle to recover.
The escape to rural locales however is not limited to the US. While rural travel accounted for less than 10% of nights booked on Airbnb across the globe in 2015, in 2021 it accounted for over twice as much, including 48% in the UK, 45% in France, 43% in Canada, 42% in Australia, and 28% in the US.
In fact, searches for unique stays have exploded by 10x in comparison to 2019. Searches for farm stays, in particular, have increased by 1,055%.
While a rural farm can be considered a unique experience in comparison to a hotel in a city, you’ll be competing with other unique stays such as ranches, mountain cabins, and airstreams as well as other rural farms. Make sure the experience you offer is unique and can stand out from the crowd.
No one’s interested in spending a weekend in the middle of a factory farm or watching copious amounts of pesticides being sprayed on crops. The allure of a farm lies in its wholesome, natural environment where guests can reconnect with nature and growth. Make sure to list out your eco-friendly credentials such as reliance on solar power, zero use of plastics, composting waste, etc on your Airbnb listing.
Offer your guests a tour of the farm. To suit different guests’ requirements, you can offer guests the options of a short and brief tour or a long and detailed one. Don’t force tours on guests though as you may find a guest or two who prefers to not engage closely with farming activities.
A huge part of the fun of staying in a rural farm is to take part in farm activities. From learning how to understand soil conditions or when to harvest to milking a cow or collecting eggs, give guests the option of choosing what type of activities they’d like to get involved in and how.
If the laws in your location allow it, then you can also offer guests the opportunity to enjoy your rural farm while staying in a tent cabin. This might be particularly suited to couples looking to enjoy the romance of sleeping under the stars though a more spacious tent can accommodate families who may also enjoy the experience of being outdoors.
Smart locks provide guests an extra sense of security whilst staying in a rural location as well as an added control if they integrate into other smart devices/appliances in the property. It can also be great for hosts who don’t have to worry about the security risk of not being in close proximity to their Airbnb whilst located in a rural locale.
As humans, we all love a good story. Make sure to craft an authentic, meaningful, and engaging story for your Airbnb. This will not only help set you apart from your competitors but can also act as a mission statement for your brand/business when you are making decisions about everything, from décor to marketing.
Great photographs are a must to stand out from the competition and attract potential guests. Hire a professional photographer to take high quality, standout photographs that capture the character of your rural farm, the surrounding areas, the experiences possible, and amenities. If you’re only starting out and really can’t afford a professional, you can always try using your smartphone smartly to take professional quality photographs.
Different people can have different ideas of what rural means to them. Some guests may expect a rural property to be a walk away from town and may be disappointed to find it actually a 30-minute drive on a gravel road to a small town. You can mention the distances to town, grocery stores, etc, the requirement for a vehicle in the listing, and provide further details once a guest books a stay. This helps avoid guests turning up with mistaken impressions of what their stay will be like and leaving you with a bad review.
Keep your Airbnb listing updated with the latest details as well as new photographs, etc to ensure users’ continued attention. Consider upgrading your property in small increments, particularly in terms of becoming more eco conscious such as increasing your reliance on solar power to 100% or using repurposed wood furniture. Every so often, renovate your Airbnb altogether to keep it fresh and attractive.
Getting good reviews is an important cog in the wheel of growing occupancy and revenue. Screen your bookings for bad guests, maintain clear communication, deliver an experience beyond their expectations, and take the step of reviewing your guests which prompts them to review your Airbnb in turn.
Just because your property is located in a rural area does not excuse you from responding to your guests’ messages. Always make sure to reply fast and meaningfully.
Always maintain a hospitality mindset in order to offer exceptional service that will keep your guests coming back. A welcome basket, free toiletries, extra towels can all go a long way in keeping your guests hooked. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and add custom amenities like board games for families and a chilled bottle of wine for a couple on a romantic getaway so they feel extra served. The additional flourishes will not only garner you better reviews but enable you to increase prices.
The short term vacation rental space is ever evolving and so is Airbnb. Make sure you are keeping up with the latest trends, forecasts, and Airbnb news and updates so you can keep your rural farm Airbnb business ahead of the competition. Airbnb podcasts are a great way to stay current as well as get free advice from Superhosts and experts in different areas of the business. Also, consider following short term rental superstars like Richard Fertig and Sean Rakidzich who offer valuable content both free and paid across platforms.
With a host of free and affordably priced, professional tools available to anyone in the world, digital marketing is truly within the grasp of all property managers. Use social media such as Instagram, Pinterest, and even Twitter to get the word out on your rural farm and maintain engagement with your brand. Use targeted marketing like PPC and social media ads to reach your target audience. Maintaining a blog is a zero-cost content marketing strategy that will not only improve your SEO but offer long term marketing rewards.
Proactively practise revenue management, i.e. where you maximize your Airbnb revenue by ensuring your property is listed at the right price at the right time. To do this effectively, you need deep insight into how your market is behaving, to closely monitor changes and to continuously adjust for conversion and maximizing of revenue. A good revenue management software automates the entire complex process including dynamic pricing, to automatically maximize your profits via smart pricing.
There’s plenty of vacation rental apps and other tools that can help you become a more organized and efficient Airbnb property manager. A world-class property management system like Hostaway however can do wonders, automating a plethora of tasks including messaging, preventing issues such as overbooking, and providing you a comprehensive and streamlined system that frees up a significant amount of your time that can be better spent on creative marketing and hosting.