As the sharing economy grows in popularity, more people are listing their homes and apartments on Airbnb. If you already host on Airbnb, you are going to have more listings to compete with, making it more of a challenge to achieve your occupancy goals.

At the last Airbnb meetup I attended, the primary topic of discussion was on differentiating your listing and standing out amongst the crowd. Two solutions that were proposed included having professional photographs taken and micro-branding your listing, giving your Airbnb the competitive advantage to attract more guests. These concepts are important and interconnected, but what lies at the heart of both solutions is design, or more specifically the interior design of your listing.

Potential Airbnb guests depend on photographs when choosing a listing, so good photographs are your visual marketing tool. However, a listing that lacks style and proper interior design will not stand out from the crowd, even with good photographs. Interior design combines art and science… with the goal being to make an a space more aesthetically pleasing to anyone perusing your Airbnb listing.

The ultimate purpose of design is to create consumer lust, or simply having the viewer say to themselves, “I can see myself in this space.”

When it comes to photographing your Airbnb listing and interior design, every detail is critical. Adding decor accents like plants, flowers, fruit and books help create ambience in the room. These accents will stand out in photographs, attracting more viewers.

Regardless of whether you are redecorating your home for the purpose of enhancing your Airbnb listing or to try and increase booking requests, good design is good for business. The more people who see your listing and have the “I’ve gotta stay there” feeling means increased booking reservations, leading to higher revenue.

Your budget will determine whether you choose to repurpose old items or purchase new ones. Good design doesn’t mean you have to spend more money. It’s about art and technique–how the item is used in the space. It’s about how the furniture looks and feels, perhaps combining soft finishings and the right colors to create a mood. Design is meant to bring items together in a harmonious, inviting and lustful way. You want your listing to evoke an emotion in the viewer so that they HAVE to stay at your place and book it immediately!

Being a designer is like being a storyteller. Airbnb clients hire me to write their biographies but instead of words I use fabrics, furniture design elements, and of course personal items that tell a story about the host’s life. Your Airbnb listing is your personal brand, your story, your life. It’s who you are. The design elements reflect your personality, interests and passions. Guests who book your listing have resonated with you through the photographs of your uniquely crafted space.

If your listing is for investment purposes then the question becomes, “Who are you trying to attract?” Are you looking to attract business travelers, boho socialites, or families on vacation? Does your listing’s design attract your intended clients?

Your brand, or micro-brand, is what makes your listing unique and helps you stand out from the competition. Branding your listing is of utmost importance! Proper branding ensures that your listing resonates with your target market and attracts ideal guests. Your targeted or ideal guest is one that has found the perfect solution to their traveling needs in your listing.

An area of design that is often forgotten about is the psychological effects that decor and style can have on a person, influencing their thoughts and emotions. Believe it or not, the choices that you make when decided how your home or apartment will look has an effect on emotions and perceptions; therefore, design can be used to evoke feelings of being welcomed, and even happy when guests are in your space. All of these positive emotions result in raving Airbnb reviews and increasing bookings!

Another aspect is how design can influence behavior. Design can be used to create a sense of privacy which is something the majority of humans crave. As a designer you are able to convey the message “this is your personal territory” without words. You can also design a space that invites guests to interact and connect with each other. More importantly, your design can influence how guests behave in regard to respecting your property. For example, incorporating a mirror in a room means people are less likely to deface furniture because they will experience feelings of shame and guilt when viewing their reflection. It’s a very gentle way of commanding respectful behavior when someone is in your space.

As an Airbnb host you have the ability to attract guests to your space, excite feelings of positive emotion, and influence their behavior through interior design. With the sharing economy growing, competition will continue to increase. That means the need for good interior design is at an all-time high.

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