Differentiating Your Airbnb: Don't Get Filtered Out By Guests Among The Sea Of Cookie-Cutters | Cape Town Airbnb Management Agency
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Differentiating Your Airbnb: Don’t Get Filtered Out by Guests Among the Sea of Cookie-Cutters

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Differentiating Your Airbnb: Don’t Let The Airbnb Filter Crumble Your Cookie


inspiration-airbnb-interior-not-a-cookie-cutter-airbnb Over The Top Interior But Definitely NOT A Cookie Cutter

Differentiating your Airbnb should start with knowing if your accommodation is a cookie-cutter or not. And I assume most people will deny their Airbnb is a cookie-cutter. Denial can have tragic consequences. Like the family of an alcoholic will tell you. Unfortunately, while alcoholics deny it, they never fix it. Take it on the chin. Let’s get you tested and then learn how to fix it.

What Is A Cookie-Cutter?

If you describe something as having a cookie-cutter approach or style, you mean using the same approach or style. And there is not enough attention to individual differences.

The Unfortunate Oversupply Of Airbnb Cookie Cutters

The Airbnb platform has played a significant role in commoditising the short-term rental market by making it easy for anyone to list their property and compete with other hosts.

This has led to an oversupply of cookie-cutter properties.

Unfortunately, most hosts who are not familiar with the concept of Airbnb commoditisation may not understand how the platform is affecting their business and profitability.

Cookie-cutter properties often lack unique characteristics that would make them stand out from the competition. They can be typical high-class, charming and well-maintained homes, but they lack differentiation; amenities and features that would set them apart from other properties in the area.

We often find cookie-cutter Airbnbs in areas with a high concentration of similar properties, such as in popular tourist suburbs.

Let me generalise a bit to explain:

In suburbs like Camps Bay, a home with a pool may be a cookie-cutter – because most have pools. More differentiation is required. In other suburbs, like Simon Town or Noordhoek, all homes don’t have a pool. These homes, without pools, are mostly cookie-cutters.

The Consequences Of Being A Cookie-Cutter Airbnb

Because of the oversupply of these cookie cutters, they often have to compete on price (a downward spiral). I also call them draggers; they have last-minute availability – meaning they reserve slowly and not really far in advance. Without competitive rates, your cookie-cutter’s occupancy will be low. Where a wower with lots of differentiation reserve on emotion – high demand and rates on an upward spiral).

With Airbnb search and filter tools, guests quickly eliminate cookie-cutter Airbnbs. And they find lower priced Airbnbs with more amenities. (See the video below showing how guests filter your Airbnb out of the equation). This lack of differentiation makes it harder for the hosts to fill their calendars and ultimately results in lower profits.

It’s important to note that having a cookie-cutter property doesn’t mean it’s not a magnificent property or that it cannot be successful. It will just not do as well as it should. If you would invest in differentiation features. Stand out from the crowd; a pool, a hot tub, and an instagramable interior is a good place to start. Be an inspiration!

A boring cookie-cutter Airbnb does not sell. They draw no attention other than with their (low) price.


Obviously, the above interiors are over the top. I used AI from DALL-E 2 to create an over the top attention seeking interior. I don’t suggest you go this far. But I believe I made my point.

Differentiating Your Airbnb

This DALL-E 2 is not so over the top. And you may like it or not. It’s a statement. It’s not boring.

Examples Of Boring Stuff: Daily Commodities We Take For Granted

Agricultural products such as grains, energy like crude oil, metals like gold and copper, consumer goods like paper towels and laundry detergent, and technology products like personal computers, smartphones and servers are all examples of products that are widely available, standardised and priced based on their cost and quality rather than on unique characteristics.

Many companies often produce these products, leading to competition on price rather than differentiation. Fortunately for guest, and unfortunately for hosts, Airbnb’s tools allows filter the good from the ordinary. 

How Easily Guests Eliminate Your Cookie-Cutter Airbnbs With Filters!

Airbnb guests are give simple tools to dump the boring from the unique. Let’s see how I used the Airbnb app and searched to get rid of the draggers. I started with all Cape Town Airbnbs. There were thousands for the period I chose. Airbnb shows this as 1,000+ available. See the image below.

Differentiating Your Airbnb

The video below shows how simple the elimination process is.

I want you to watch how the “Show 1,000+ homes” reduces every time I exclude Airbnbs without a must-have-feature. Sad. Eventually, the most differentiated Cape Town Airbnbs crumbles to only 34. Obviously, your list of unique Airbnbs will be different, but you get the idea.

I start by selecting an entire place, a house, with TV, and Wi-Fi; the total is still a 1000+. But asking for Superhost’s only, you only find 770 trustworthy or rather reputable hosts.

What about a “work space“? 40% of these homes drop from the list because they don’t have or consider adding a workspace as a feature. Easy to fix, but an expensive mistake to not include.

A house without a Braai (BBQ)? The number reduces by another 200 as soon as I select BBQ. A simple hairdryer minus another 50. Dumb.

An air conditioner reduces the qualifying Airbnbs by 50%. Now there are only 200 homes with the above and a pool.

Let me remove the pool requirement and just select a hot tub. Of all these Superhost properties, only 34 have a hot tub.

Here’s The Good News About Cookie Cutters

Commoditisation or being a cookie-cutter can happen to any product or service. But it is also not a permanent state. A product/service can differentiate itself and become less of a commodity again.

Here are two ways to establish if your Airbnb is potentially a cookie-cutter dragger or a wower:

  1. Do this free 2 minute profitability evaluation. After you completed it, you’ll get the verdict.
  2. Start measuring your lead time to book (LTB). The faster guests reserve your Airbnb (consistently) and further in advance, the more money you’ll make. If you have lots of last-minute availability or last-minute bookings, your place may be too common. Differentiate more.

Can I ask you the obvious question? Where do you want your Airbnb to be? Part of the thousands of common cookie-cutters or amongst the few wowers? I know, and you know, where we should be.

  • It’s dumb and easy to stay a cookie-cutter.
  • It’s clever and easy to be unique.
  • It may take some innovation and a few clever bucks.

“Travel is about experiencing new and unique places, and a truly memorable stay starts with a truly memorable space

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1 Comment

  1. […] Note to Airbnb Owners and hosts: never underestimate the impact of supply on demand. If you don’t invest in technology like dynamic pricing, if you don’t add uniqueness (differentiating with high-demand features) and simple things like pet-friendly stays, you will just become another cookie-cutter Airbnb. […]

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