For travelers, researching, shortlisting and booking a vacation rental is now easier than ever before. And for owners, the rise of home-sharing sites like HomeAway means that anyone can list their property and become a host in a matter of minutes.
As a result, competition is rife between owners looking to stand out from the crowd and achieve bookings. When you’re up against hundreds of your rival neighbors, your listings have to do the hard work for you.
Read on to discover our top nine ways to optimize your listing on HomeAway.
1. Accept online bookings and payments
Not only do travelers prefer listings that accept online bookings (over 90% want to be able to pay online), but HomeAway has actually set up its pricing strategy to reflect this and cater to this need. Owners on annual subscriptions can pay $399 in fees to have online booking enabled and to show up higher in search results, otherwise the price increases to $549 without.
So if you don’t want to be penalized by guests and HomeAway themselves, you’d better start accepting online bookings and payments for your rental!
2. Respond to all inquiries – immediately
While responding within 24 hours is proven to positively impact your HomeAway listing quality score, modern travelers have come to expect instant or near-immediate responses to their inquiries. That’s why it’s more important than ever to provide your potential guests with the best customer service possible – even more relevant if you’re in an oversaturated rental market.
Don’t forget that your response score takes into account response rate as well as time. This is calculated from finding the percentage of responses you’ve sent to your last 10 inquirers or bookings.
3. Complete your host profile
When guests have a toss up decision between two similar properties, it’s likely they’ll choose the more stand-out host. Don’t lose out on bookings because your competition have bothered to add details to their profile!
Make sure you upload a clear, smiling photo of yourself, write an interesting owner biography and do everything you can to persuade curious guests to book your property over another.
4. Make the most of your property listing
Your HomeAway listing is your main opportunity to grab lookers’ attention and convert them into bookings – so you’ll need to make it as complete as possible. Upload up to 24 of your most well-staged, recent and high-quality photos to truly show off your property. HomeAway recommends keeping the files large for best results – e.g. 3840 x 2160 pixels.
Also, ensure you have a catchy headline and carefully written listing descriptions to appeal to more potential guests.
5. Avoid canceling bookings
Canceling bookings is a big red flag for HomeAway and can hurt your ranking as a result, so be careful to this with caution. If you are worried it might be a scam booking or spam inquiry, you can mark it as spam in your HomeAway inbox without suffering the consequences of canceling.
6. Gather great reviews
On HomeAway, reviews are as important (if not even more important) than anywhere else on the web. Reading recent good reviews can be a fantastic persuasion tool for potential guests who are unsure which property to go for.
HomeAway listing quality considers two factors for your review quality score: the number of reviews and their age. To get the best score in this category, you need at least 12 reviews (and don’t stop when you hit that number!). The newer the reviews, the better – so make this a focus and remind each guest that stays with you.
7. Keep calendars up-to-date
An accurate, constantly updated calendar is key for obtaining new bookings as it lets travelers know if your property is available (or not) during their selected dates. What’s more, HomeAway may remove listings from search results if you don’t update your calendar in 60 days.
If you have multiple listings, such as across HomeAway and your own vacation rental website, you can always recruit the help of a channel manager to help keep calendars and availability updated across all external listings.
8. Verify your location
Accurate location information is essential for optimizing your HomeAway listing. All you need to do is provide HomeAway with a valid address for your property. While your exact address won’t ever show up on your listing, this information will help travelers orientate themselves with map search results when thinking about booking your property.
9. Activate quotable rates
Enabling quotable rates on your HomeAway listing will help your property to show up in searches related to your area or rate. Quotable rates give more flexibility to travelers, providing them with instant quotes related to their booking dates – without the need to contact you directly.
Follow the above steps and you’ll soon achieve an optimized HomeAway listing, show up higher in guest search results and get more bookings for your vacation rental.