Chapter 3

How to Optimize Your Vrbo Listing

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 3 million monthly visits to their website, having their property listed on Vrbo is a must for vacation rental owners who want to make the most of their business.

Yet, as we all know, nothing is without drawbacks. Vrbo’s increasing popularity also means that the competition is more challenging than ever these days.

Many hosts assume that just because they’re listing on Vrbo, their property will automatically get traffic and reservations. While this may sometimes be the case, it’s still your responsibility to make your property more attractive and a front runner in the competition.

Make no mistake: owners will need to be on top of their game to ensure their vacation rental ranks well in the search results.

Now that your rental is now being exposed and marketed to more clients, here are some Vrbo tips and tricks for owners to stand out from the crowd.

Why you should optimize your listing on Vrbo

The reason you should optimize your listing is pretty straightforward – increasing your positioning on Vrbo search results is a great way to increase your revenue. Their search engine helps travelers to quickly find what they’re looking for. So it’s a good idea to 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.

So read on if you want to know how to make sure you always rank in the first position! Let’s take a look at the most essential tips and tricks to optimize your Vrbo listing.

How to rank higher on Vrbo

The competition may be as tough as it comes, but luckily, you can use many methods to improve the visibility of your property. Keep reading to learn our top 10 tips and tricks 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 online booking attract around 50% more reservations than those without this feature. Pair this with 90% of guests who prefer to book online, and it’s a total no-brainer.

Vrbo listing tips

Instantly accepting bookings and payments over Vrbo makes for a convenient experience for both sides. Guests are happy their accommodation request is processed quickly, and owners are pleased to have the nights blocked out of their calendar. Thus, will impact your visibility and rank you higher on Vrbo search results.

2. Pen a catchy title

The property headline is the first thing guests will see in Vrbo search results – so you have to make it count. That’s why it’s a great idea to assess your competition first and write something different to them on purpose. Play with your 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.

Don’t include information that is easily found in the description. Also, you should 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 the successful Vrbo listing recipe. Now is the time to focus on all the great amenities of your vacation rental: air conditioning, free parking, an outdoor pool, etc. Make sure to include them in a way that highlights how they will make your guests’ stay more enjoyable. Just make sure you don’t get too wordy that your reader loses interest. The key is to choose the right words.

Try to paint a picture of what it would be like to stay in your home as well. 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. Keep response times swift

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 than that (i.e., no more than a few hours) are likely to affect your guests’ satisfaction and your listing score positively.

Vrbo tips for owners

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

5. Collect top traveler reviews

Properties with the highest ratings will be on the top of the list when travelers are searching for homes on Vrbo. It is also the first thing that most potential guests will notice about a 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. Don’t forget to take advantage and ensure you upload all 24 photographs that each Vrbo listing allows.

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. Clean and declutter any space, tidy up, straighten out your décor and remove personal items and “junk” will make the property much more attractive.

Taking pictures in natural light and realistic perspective is also important—highlight unique features in the house. 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 the property itself, and the outdoor area 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 booking cancellations by guests can be a pain, but you know what’s worse? Having to do it yourself!

There’s nothing that OTAs hate more than hosts canceling their guests’ reservations, even if they have a legitimate reason for doing so. We are 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; it will just use the information to pinpoint a rough location on the map search.

How to get more bookings on Vrbo

Remember to use location tags as well, such as “Downtown”, “Rural” or “Waterfront”. These labels will help potential guests find your property when filtering their searches, increasing its visibility in the process.

They’re also a breeze to set up, so if you’re not using them, you’re missing out big time!

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 which 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.

How to boost a Vrbo listing

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!

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!

Over to you

The competition is fiercest than ever on OTAs, and Vrbo is no exception. It will come as no surprise then that preparation is needed if you want to reap the rewards of appearing on the platform entirely.

Fortunately, our top Vrbo listing tips will help you compete on equal terms. You’ll enjoy more inquiries, more bookings, and a better position in Vrbo search results when you follow this advice. Now, do you want to become a truly successful host on this platform? Don’t hesitate to download our Ultimate Guide to listing on Vrbo below!