Founded more than 20 years ago back in 1995, Vacation Rentals by Owner (also known as VRBO), is one of the originals when it comes to vacation rentals. Now part of the ever-expanding HomeAway family, VRBO is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-known platforms for connecting hosts with travelers who want to rent their vacation properties.
Yet, due to the increasing popularity of VRBO and other sites like it, rental owners are also experiencing an increasing amount of competition when it comes to receiving inquiries and confirming those bookings in the calendar.
If you’re keen to find out the solution to this problem, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we take a look at the nine most important things you can do to optimize your VRBO listing to increase booking conversion. Take note of these top tips to help your listings stand out from the crowd and achieve a fully booked reservation calendar.
1. Opt for online booking and payments
According to VRBO, listings which offer online booking attract around 50% more reservations than those without this feature activated. Pair this with the 90% of guests who prefer to book online and it’s a total no-brainer. Taking bookings and payments over the internet 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.
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 that none of the others have? Use your uniqueness to draw potential guests in. There are many other ways to encourage bookers into clicking on your listing. Whether that’s with an urgency-fueled “Late Summer Special” or a Valentine’s couples deal, eye-catching offers will also help you stand out from the crowd.
3. Keep a quick response time
One of the main factors that can affect your VRBO listing quality score is how long you take to respond to inquiring guests. VRBO suggests responding within 24 hours maximum. Even quicker responses (i.e. no more than a few hours), however, are likely to have a positive effect both on your guests and your listing score.
4. Collect top traveler review
Reviews are one of the top resources travelers on VRBO use to help make their final decision regarding a vacation rental property. That means it’s more important than ever that you ask each and every guest to review their stay at your home. Gather as many reviews as possible in order to reach the coveted five-star status. Bear in mind 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 in order to have five stars displayed on your profile.
5. 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 recent, high-quality, well-staged and 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.
6. Use quotable rates
VRBO has created quotable rates to help travelers receive the best results based on how much they want to spend for their vacation. For owners who activate this option, not only will your listing quality score improve, but your property will also show up in these types of results!
8. Have an up-to-date calendar
There’s nothing more frustrating for travelers than trying to book 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. Though it’s recommended you do it at least every 30 days, if not more frequently.
9. Offer lower rates for the first few bookings
For hosts who are new to VRBO, offering a slightly lower nightly rate than your nearest competitor can be a great tactic to secure those first few bookings. Plus, it can really help build up your review bank! Set cheaper rates at the beginning and you’re sure to see bookings fly in quickly. Just don’t forget to update them a little further down the line. There you have it, our top 9 tips for an optimized VRBO listing. When you follow this advice, you’ll enjoy more inquiries, more bookings and a better position in VRBO search results – result!