Chapter 4

How to Optimize Your Vrbo Listing

Last updated: March 2024

Vrbo is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-known platforms for connecting hosts with travelers who want to rent their vacation properties. With more than 15.9 million visitors to their website in 2023, having their property listed on Vrbo is a must for vacation rental owners who want to make the most of their business.

However, the vacation rental marketplace is getting crowded these days, and simply listing your property on Vrbo isn’t enough. To truly succeed, you need your listing to shine brighter than the rest. But how do you achieve this?

We’ve compiled 12 proven tips to help optimize your Vrbo listing. These tips aren’t just about making your property look appealing; they’re about understanding the platform, leveraging its features, and creating a listing that doesn’t just attract guests—it captivates them.

Read on to learn how to turn your Vrbo listing from just another option to a must-book destination.

Don’t see the form to download our Ultimate Guide to Listing on Vrbo? Click here.

Why you should optimize your listing on Vrbo

The reason is simple: increasing your positioning on Vrbo search results is a great way to increase your revenue.

Vrbo’s search engine helps travelers quickly find what they’re looking for, so you should keep your guests in mind when optimizing your listing. You’ll have to think about what kind of traveler you’d like to attract and what they might be looking for when they search. Everything you do to persuade guests to book will have an effect on your rankings.

How to rank higher on Vrbo

The competition to attract guests on Vrbo may be tough, but you can use many methods to improve the visibility of your property. Try these helpful tips for owners listing on Vrbo.

1. Enable instant bookings

Allow your guests to book your rental instantly without having to wait for a response. According to Vrbo, listings that offer instant booking rank higher than those without this feature. Pair this with the fact that 90% of guests prefer to book instantly online, and it’s a total no-brainer.

Instantly accepting bookings and payments over Vrbo makes for a convenient experience for both sides, too. Guests are happy their accommodation request is processed quickly, and owners are pleased to instantly have the nights blocked out of their calendars. It’s a win-win, no matter how you look at it.

Traveler checking phone

2. Create a catchy title

The property headline is the first thing guests will see in Vrbo search results, so you have to make it count. Start by assessing your competition first to see what others in the area are writing. Then, write something equally as engaging but different.

It helps to highlight your property’s strengths. What does your home have that none of the others do? Use your uniqueness to draw in potential guests.

There are many other ways to encourage bookers to click on your listing, whether that’s with an urgency-fueled “Late Summer Special” or Valentine’s couples deal; eye-catching offers will also help you stand out from the crowd. However, ensure you’re updating those accordingly after the “deal” is over, or you risk having your property listing look outdated. Here are other helpful tips:

  • Don’t include information that is easily found in the description.
  • Avoid writing in all capital letters. This could put off a sense of desperation and come off as aggressive.
  • If you have a brand name for your vacation rental, you should include it as well.

3. Write a killer description

An excellent description is a crucial ingredient of any successful Vrbo listing. Use the space to focus on all the great amenities of your vacation rental: air conditioning, free parking, an outdoor pool, etc. Include them in a way that highlights how they will make your guests’ stay more enjoyable. Just don’t get too wordy that your reader loses interest.

The key is to choose the right words, not just a lot of them.

It can be especially helpful to paint a picture of what it would be like to stay in your home. Use phrases like “spend a romantic evening cozying up to the fireplace” or “wake up to the spectacular sight of the sun peaking over the Rocky Mountains” to describe the experience your guests will have in a way that will make them want to book your property. Plus, it’ll also set your property apart from your competition.

4. Respond to guests quickly

One of the main factors affecting your Vrbo listing quality score is how long it takes you to respond to inquiring guests. While Vrbo suggests responding within 24 hours at most, quicker responses (i.e., no more than a few hours) are likely to affect your guests’ satisfaction and your listing score positively.

⭐ Extra Vrbo listing tip: Get vacation rental software and automate autoresponders to minimize your workload, maximize your guest experience, and boost your Vrbo listing.

Man checking phone

5. Ask for traveler reviews

Properties with the highest ratings will be at the top of the list when travelers are searching for stays on Vrbo. It’s also the first thing that most potential guests will notice about any Vrbo listing. That means it’s more important than ever that you ask each guest to review their stay at your home. Gather as many reviews as possible to reach the coveted five-star status.

Remember that your review score is calculated by taking an average of your total existing reviews. If the rating is nearer to the half star than a full star, that’s what your average will show up as. Aim for a total score of at least 4.75 to have five stars displayed on your profile.

6. Publish perfect photos

On Vrbo, the first photograph you show has to be your best—or you might drive bookers away.

Anyone who has booked any kind of accommodation online will know that photos can make or break a listing. We’re talking about recent, high-quality, well-staged, professional vacation rental photography. Think of it as a one-time investment that will pay off year after year when your booking calendar is filled right up.

⭐ Extra Vrbo listing tip: Vrbo now allows you to upload 50 photos to each listing. Take advantage and upload as many photos as possible from different angles. Just be sure to follow Vrbo’s photo guidelines.

Vrbo tips and tricks

For the best quality photos, Vrbo recommends uploading images 3840 x 2160 pixels or higher. The content of your photos is also important. Before taking pictures of your property, think about what your guests would want to see. Cleaning and decluttering any space, tidying up, straightening out your décor, and removing personal items and “junk” will make the property much more attractive.

Taking pictures in natural light and realistic perspective is also important—it’s what allows you to highlight unique features throughout the property. Showcasing the charming details of your home will add to its appeal. You still need to make sure, though, that you get clear pictures of the house that include spaces the guest will want to see before arriving, such as the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.

Don’t forget to include photos of the property itself and the outdoor spaces, such as the backyard or patio. Photos of the view or the small details are a nice feature, but don’t let them overshadow the property itself.

7. Avoid cancellations at all costs

Dealing with guest booking cancellations can be a pain, but you know what’s worse? Having to cancel yourself as a host!

There’s nothing OTAs hate more than hosts canceling their guests’ reservations, even if they have a legitimate reason for doing so. And we’re not exaggerating: one or two close cancellations can be enough to tank your listing’s quality score. Good luck recovering from that!

If there is absolutely no way for you not to cancel the reservation, it might be wise to try and strike an agreement with your potential guests so that they cancel it themselves. Who knows? They might come back to your rental at some other point in time, and this way, you won’t have to bear with that black spot on your record.

Just remember the less you cancel, the higher you’ll rank on the site. If you have a high cancellation rate, you will be lower on the search results, and guests will be less likely to find and book your property.

8. Include location information

Providing a verified property address for your rental will help boost your Vrbo listing’s ranking. No need to worry, though—Vrbo won’t share your exact address with users; they just use the information to pinpoint a rough location on the map search.

While that will help guests filter properties by location, you should also include location information in your property listing title or description. Depending on where you live, you might use terms such as “downtown” or “waterfront.” These labels will help potential guests find your property when filtering their searches, increasing its visibility in the process.

Laughing guests looking at map

9. Always have your calendar up to date

There’s nothing more frustrating for travelers than trying to book a property and finding out the calendar hasn’t been updated in months and is fully booked. Keeping your availability accurate will help you achieve more bookings and maintain your listing’s quality at the same time.

If you don’t update your calendar at least every 60 days, Vrbo will stop displaying it on the listing page. That’s just for keeping it listed, though! If you want to have proper visibility, we recommend that you do it at least every 30 days, if not more frequently.

⭐ Extra Vrbo tip: Keep your calendar up-to-date and fully synchronized with other listings sites with a vacation rental channel manager.

10. Offer lower rates for the first few bookings

Getting started on OTAs can sometimes be the most challenging part of the job. The truth is that most guests will automatically discard any listings that haven’t had any past bookings. If you’re just getting started on Vrbo and want travelers to book your property in this early phase, you’ll need to offer them something enticing.

A great tactic to secure those first few bookings can be offering a slightly lower nightly rate than your nearest competitor. You might only convince a few people to choose your rental, but that’s all it takes! Once you gather your first 4 or 5 reviews, things will get considerably easier, and potential guests will be much more inclined to opt for your property.

For hosts new to Vrbo, setting cheaper rates at the beginning will ensure that bookings fly in quickly. Just don’t forget to update them a little further down the line.

11. Become a Vrbo Premier Host

Who doesn’t need a boost from time to time? The best hosts on Vrbo can join the platform’s Premier program, which recognizes and rewards excellence much in the same way as Airbnb’s Superhost does.

There are a few perks to being recognized as a Premier Host by Vrbo, one of which is having access to their Boost program. Boosts are a bit like “power-ups” in video games in that they will give you a short-term advantage over your competitors.

Every time a guest checks out of your property, you will gain a Boost, which you will then be able to use to make your listing rank higher than it would normally do!

Vacation rental host

12. Join the Fast Start Program

Vrbo knows how hard it can be to get started as a new host, which is why they recently launched their Fast Start program. What is it, you might ask? Simply put, it’s designed to help new owners grow their businesses on their platform

Vrbo does so by offering increased visibility to those who join, but they’ll also let you import your reviews from other sites or platforms, like Airbnb or Google My Business. Make good use of this opportunity, and you might find yourself turning into a Premier Host in no time!

Optimize your Vrbo listings now

Listing on Vrbo is a great way to promote your property to potential guests. However, you need to work hard and optimize your listings to ensure you appear at the top of local searches.

These Vrbo listing tips will help you compete with others in the area so you can enjoy more inquiries, more bookings, and a better position in Vrbo search results when you follow this advice.

Now, if you want to become a truly successful host on this platform, download our full Ultimate Guide to listing on Vrbo below!

Don’t see the form to download our Ultimate Guide to Listing on Vrbo? Click here.