7 years of using PriceLabs – Airbnb expert Daniel Rusteen shares his experience

Customer type: Owner/Host/Property Manager

Region: USA/Colombia

Products: Dynamic Pricing/Portfolio Analytics/Market Dashboards

Number of listings: 5+

Daniel Rusteen has been a host on Airbnb for nearly a decade. He’s been using PriceLabs for nearly 8 of those 10 years and it’s helped him both as a host, revenue consultant and property manager. 

Key Takeaways

  • Daniel Rusteen – Background 
  • Challenges faced 
  • Reasons for choosing PriceLabs
  • PriceLabs best practices

About Daniel Rusteen

A CPA by profession, and former Airbnb employee, today Daniel Rusteen is an Airbnb super guest who spends his life predominantly living in Airbnbs across the world. He is an Airbnb Superhost and author of ‘Optimize your BNB’ – the best selling and most highlighted book for Airbnb hosts. 

His first listing on Airbnb in 2013 had him averaging about $100 a night listing his San Francisco ‘couch’. Post his work-stint at Airbnb he moved over into property management and revenue management, starting his own boutique consultancy company – BeloPM. 

BeloPM offers highly exclusive and personalized Airbnb property management, and manages not more than 5 listings at any given time. It specializes in listing optimization to keep occupancy and nightly rates high year-round.

In 2021, Daniel turned owner when he purchased a 4 bedroom penthouse in Medellin, Columbia – tripling its revenue from the previous owner. 

“The beautiful thing about PriceLabs’ Dynamic Pricing – even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing – you’re still going to make money!” – Daniel Rusteen.

Before PriceLabs

Pricing was managed manually, and often a ‘shot in the dark’

While Daniel did watch out for demand based on local events, holiday seasons and last minute discount pricing, all changes were made by him manually. His couch started at $35 per night, and when he noticed how popular it was, he kept increasing the price from $35 all the way up to $100 – a price at which he noticed demand and occupancy remained the same. He also took into account big local events, such as Salesforce – where he managed a price of $145 a night. 

But in his own words, “I was going in the dark. During a big event like Salesforce in San Francisco, I just tried different rates. Who knows, I could have gotten up to $170 a night instead of $145. I had no way of knowing.”

Daniel eventually discovered and started using a dynamic pricing tool.

Key challenges faced by hosts with regards pricing

As a property manager and consultant, the Number #1 topic of discussion that his  clients come to him for – is pricing.

The owner of the business spends considerable time manually optimizing pricing

Most of the hosts who come to Daniel for revenue management or property management services have been managing pricing manually. Rarely do they have someone on the team that is tasked with the ‘pricing’ responsibility.’ It’s always the founder or business owner who manages this, even spending up to two hours a day planning pricing – time that could well be utilized in other aspects of growing the business.

Owners feel lost & intimidated – trying to manage the right balance between occupancy and pricing

On the subject of pricing, most owners feel a bit lost or overwhelmed and lost. Clients might have anywhere between 1 to 30 listings. Either they aren’t exactly sure how they are setting their prices, or they have a manual system in place that’s laborious and still prone to error or they are sub-optimally using a pricing software but are intimidated by the multiple settings and features. One thing they know for sure is that they’re leaving money on the table!

Choosing PriceLabs

“The beautiful thing about PriceLabs Dynamic Pricing, it’s such a powerful tool that even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you’re still going to make some money!”

– Daniel Rusteen, Airbnb expert & best selling author of ‘optimizemybnb’

In early 2016, he tried out PriceLabs and there’s been no looking back since. 

Daniel is one of PriceLabs’ super users and these are his top reasons for choosing PriceLabs over other dynamic pricing tools in the market are the;

  • Investment cost of the software service: PriceLabs charges a flat fee rather than a percentage, making it the most reasonable option for anyone with a daily rate of $75 or more. The PriceLabs pricing plans are structured in such a way that the more listings you add, the lower the cost per listing.

On twitter when someone asked ‘What is the best investment you’ve made?’ and the answer was PriceLabs, I thought that’s so true, because it costs $20 and you usually make that back on your first booking!”

  • Higher Daily Rate variances: Daniel routinely monitors and tests multiple software tools in the industry and is of the opinion that PriceLabs varies the daily prices more than the others, and this is something that he personally prefers. The last minute booking date prices drop and the future booking dates go higher (typically) than the other tools. This is important to maximize your revenue as you’ll charge more during optimal times, and vice versa.
  • Customizations for every pattern: In Daniel’s own words “Once you have been using Pricelabs for a while you’ll start noticing patterns – with rates and occupancy – and you can start applying customizations that can help you maximize occupancy and revenue. I have yet to come across a pattern that I needed customization – that PriceLabs doesn’t have a customization for.” 
  • Responsive Support: Extremely responsive email support, with a minimal wait time, helps work processes move faster and more efficiently.

PriceLabs Best Practices from Daniel Rusteen

Daniel advises approaching PriceLabs in 2 phases.

Phase 1: For the first month, set up your base price and then every week after that just look at your base price and minimum price, and compare that to occupancy and see if you need to make adjustments.

Phase 2: Only after you’ve completed Phase 1 and you start noticing patterns coming in, do you start customizing your pricing – be it for weekends or last minute bookings – PriceLabs has multiple customizations for almost every pattern that you will notice.

Last piece of advice: MARKET DASHBOARDS!

Danny recommends that all hosts start with PriceLabs Market Dashboards. because they provide a ton of data that helps one make better  ‘Pricing decisions’’, based on market data and listing performance within a particular market or market radius.

Looking to amp up your pricing strategy? Check out Daniel Rusteen’s PriceLabs tutorial playlist on Youtube.

Get started with PriceLabs

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