If you own a vacation rental property, you want to get as much exposure as possible to keep it booked all year round. Vacation rental websites are a key way of getting your property seen by those looking for accommodation. They are easy to use for both you as the owner as well as the potential guests. With millions of vacation rentals available around the world, how can you make yours stand out above the rest?
A popular vacation rental site is Vrbo. In this complete guide for listing your vacation rental property on Vrbo, you will learn how it works, how to create an account, how to make your property stand out from other rentals , and how Vrbo can protect you and your guests. Most importantly, you will see how using a home-sharing site like Vrbo can boost your success as a rental property owner and increase your bookings.
What is Vrbo?
Vrbo stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner. Launched in 1995, it was one of the first companies to help homeowners promote their rental homes on an easy to use platform. Fast forward 24 years, it now has over 2 million listings available in 190 countries.
The vacation rentals aren’t limited to one type. Vrbo allows owners to list all sorts of properties, including cottages, bungalows, cabins, townhouses, villas, lodges, farmhouses and much more! They even list boats, yachts, castles and mills!
Vrbo provides guests with detailed photos and descriptions of the property as well as information about the owner and manager before booking. It also offers insurance plans and guarantees so that your money is safe, so you don’t need to worry about any fraudulent scams.
How Does Vrbo Work?
If you choose to list your property on Vrbo, you can control the terms and rates you want for your rental home. For example, you can decide whether or not to include a weekly price or simply charge per night.
Another advantage of posting your rental home on Vrbo is that your property will immediately be placed on all of Vrbo’s affiliated sites, meaning you will get even more exposure. Potential guests will further see your rental home on other popular travel sites, such as Expedia, Trivago, and KAYAK.
Vrbo For Vacation Rental Owners
Vrbo is excellent for owners who want to rent their entire home. Although many other vacation rental sites include renting suites or single rooms, if you intend to rent the property as a whole, Vrbo is a great way to find potential guests who are looking for a place they will have all to themselves.
Listing on Vrbo means you have total control over your business. Owners can set their rates, enforce house rules, upload photos and a detailed listing description, communicate directly with guests and receive reviews to showcase to other browsing guests.
Your vacation rental will be exposed to millions of travelers across the globe, meaning overtime you’ll increase your bookings.
Vrbo For Property Managers
If you cannot manage your rental property yourself, or are managing it long-distance, you may choose to hire a property manager. Their duties could include managing your bookings, communicating with the guests, handing check-in and check-out, overseeing cleaning and many other tasks.
Many owners find it useful to list their phone number on the listing, as well as the contact information of their property managers. This way, if a guest has a question or any inquiries, they can call and get in touch straight away. In fact, hosts can sign up property managers to Vrbo’s Glad to Have You features, which enables them to manage and oversee all your listings, and communicate with the guests.
On top of this, if you are currently managing ten or more properties, you’ll find Vrbo extremely helpful in keeping your bookings organized, as everything is on one centralized dashboard. All your bookings, calendars and payments are in one place.
Plus, if a guest comes across one property listing, they will automatically see all your other properties. This will indeed give your properties more exposure.
How to Create Your Vrbo Account
Creating a Vrbo account is simple and straightforward. Follow the steps below:
- Visit their official website (vrbo.com) and click on the “list your property” button in the upper right-hand corner.
- You will then be prompted to provide details about your property, including its size and address.
- After filling in your name, email, and custom password, you will receive an estimate for how much you could make renting out your home.
- Push “continue.”
- Verify the location of your property.
- Upload photos of your home.
- Fill out the security information required.
- Set up payment methods.
- List your rate.
- Publish your booking
How to Optimize Your Vrbo Listing
Many hosts assume that just because they’re listing on Vrbo, their property will automatically get traffic and reservations. Whilst this may sometimes be the case, it’s still your responsibility to make your property more attractive and a front runner in the competition. Now that your rental is now being exposed and marketed to more clients, here’s what you can do to stand out from the crowd:
Start with the basics
When you decide how to list your property, make sure that you include the property type (i.e., cabin, condo, etc.), any amenities that are especially noteworthy (i.e., pool, hot tub, free WIFI, etc.), which types of guests would enjoy the property the most (i.e., family-friendly, pet-friendly, couples, etc.) and the most relevant attractions nearby (i.e., theme park, beach, national forest, etc.).
Make sure your title is unique
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.
Write a good description of the property
Paint a picture of what it would be like to stay in your home. Using phrases like “spend a romantic evening cozying up to the fireplace,” or “wake up to the spectacular views of the sun peaking over the tallest peak in the Pacific Northwest,” not only describes the experience the guest could have, but it also sets your property apart from other rental homes.
It is also essential to focus on the amenities that make you stand out from the competition. Mention the things that make your property unique from similar properties in the area. Just make sure you don’t get too wordy that your reader loses interest. The key is to choose the right words.
Upload lots of good pictures
For the best quality photos, Vrbo recommends uploading images 3840 x 2160 pixels or higher. A high-quality camera is vital. 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.
Respond straight away
Don’t let inquiries go unanswered for several days or wait so long to answer a booking request that the traveler has started looking elsewhere. Instead, quickly answer any question that an interested traveler may have. Immediately respond to any inquiries and approve reservations that are made.
Accept instant bookings
Allow your guests to book your rental instantly, without having to wait for a response. . A property listed with the “instant booking” guarantee will have much more traffic. Having a high acceptance rate will also give you a more top place on the search results on Vrbo. This will drive more traffic to your vacation rental and book up your calendar faster.
Avoid cancelations as much as you can
The less you cancel, the higher you’ll rank on the site. If you have a high cancelation rate, you will be lower on the search results, and guests will be less likely to find and book your property.
Build and showcase guest reviews
Improve your reputation as a homeowner with positive feedback and reviews from guests. Properties with the highest ratings will be on the top of the list when travelers are searching for homes. It is also the first thing that most potential guests will notice about a house. If your home has very few ratings or any low ratings, you may not be able to receive as many stays as you would if you have many high ratings.
How to Get Good Reviews on Vrbo
As mentioned above, good reviews are imperative to getting high rankings on Vrbo, as well as to getting more bookings. In this section, you’ll find out how to get more positive reviews, what you can learn from negative reviews, how you can get your guests to leave reviews after their stay, and why is it beneficial to review your guests as well.
Communicate with your guests
The traveler’s experience at your property begins long before their arrival. It starts the moment they request a booking. Guests like to know that their reservation is accepted as soon as possible, so they can stop searching for accommodation and start planning other exciting aspects of their trip.
Follow up with the reservation and reassure the guest that if they have any questions or concerns, they can contact you or the property manager directly. Personal, direct communication will make them more confident about their stay.
Once they have arrived at the property, continue to make yourself available in case of any emergencies involving the property or any inquiries they might have. Don’t leave them in the dark if they ask for a late check-out or a place to keep their luggage until their flight. Answering immediately will eliminate their stress, and you will be left with a great review.
Clean your rental thoroughly
Every guest deserves to arrive at a property in pristine condition. Whether you clean the house yourself, you hire an individual or company to do it, you are responsible if anything is missed.
Dirty corners, crumbs in the fridge, and hair on the sheets are a sure way to get a bad review. Pay close attention to the details when you clean so that when your guest arrives, they will feel as comfortable as they are in their own home. Wipe down all the door handles, check windows for smudges, and make sure there are no objects or items left behind from the previous guests.
And don’t forget about outside furniture as well. Patio sets and BBQs often get overlooked during cleanings. These items need to be ready for guests to use immediately on arrival. No one wants to enjoy a cold beer on a chair covered in bird droppings.
There are obvious signs that cleaning was rushed and implies that keeping your rental sparkling clean property isn’t a top priority for you as the owner. As a result, it may leave an unsatisfied guest leaving a negative review.
Maintain the property
Address property maintenance regularly. This might mean that you have to block out a week or two during the year to give the property updates and repairs. Peeling paint or a leaking roof are problems that won’t go unnoticed by your guest. They could even affect the quality of their stay. Regularly check filters, lightbulbs, fire alarms, and other essentials in the house may require attention.
Advertise the location
You’re not only marketing your rental property, but also the area. Include pictures of any parks, beaches, lakes or hiking trails nearby. It will attract more guests as they are automatically shown points of interests.
If your home is far from many popular attractions, then do some research on nearby activities they might enjoy that they may have otherwise not known. You can make a list or guide of places to eat, and things to see and do in the area.
You will also want to make sure that the location of the listing is accurate to the location itself. Don’t imply that it is in an area or close to an attraction that it is not. That will only lead to critical reviews, and your guest may feel that you were dishonest.
Include free amenities
You might not think that little soaps, lotions or a complimentary hair dryer make a difference to your guests, but they really do, especially if they forgot something at home. Other free gifts that are much appreciated by guests include snacks like small chocolates or candy, crackers, coffee and tea, fruit, bottles of water and even a bottle of wine.
After a long day of traveling, your guests might be exhausted and dehydrated. A small snack and drink will be just the thing to bounce them back. Try leaving a snack that is local in your area for even more points. Guests love these little details, and they will be more likely to recommend their stay to future travelers through a review or to their friends and family.
What If You Receive Negative Reviews?
It’s important to know how exactly to respond to a negative review and make sure you take on board what they are saying. If it was due to miscommunication, you could politely respond to the review by explaining the situation and offer your apologies for any inconvenience it may have caused. Otherwise, if something really was wrong on your end, you can use that review to improve the stay for your next guest.
For example, if a guest complains that the cleanliness wasn’t up to par, make sure to clean the rental better next time and pay more attention to detail. Always address negative reviews professionally and reassure the guest that the problem will be handled. It is even a good idea to list the steps you plan to take so that it doesn’t happen in the future.
How can you get guests to leave you a positive review?
Even when guests are satisfied with their stay, some forget or do not feel motivated enough to leave a review. So how can you encourage them to do so? Start by promptly requesting a review during check-out or a few days after their departure Do not wait a few weeks, as they may have forgotten the details of their trip by then.
Simply send them a friendly note saying that you hoped that they enjoyed their stay and follow up with a request for a review over text, email, or through Vrbo. Mention to them that you’d love to hear how their experience went, and that you’d be happy to host them again in the future.
Should you also leave your guest a review? Yes. Reviewing your guest will also prompt them to leave you a review in return. It will help them get accepted faster the next time they request a booking while also help future homeowners know what to expect from this guest, whether it be positive or negative.
How to Do Promotions on Vrbo
Including promotions on your Vrbo property is a great way to get more bookings. There are many ways you can promote your home through discounts. For example, you can give a nightly discount to guests that want to stay a full week or a bigger discount for those wishing to book an entire month. You can do this easily by logging into your account and accessing your calendar.
Once you are there, select rates from the drop-down menu and click the gear icon, and it will open your settings where you will find the tab for “Base Rates & Discounts.” You can then enter the percentage of the discount you would like to give for seven days or more, or 28 days or more. Remember to press “save,” when you’re done.
Many homeowners wish to include seasonal discounts such as winter promotions. If you want to promote discounts on specific days, such as for a seasonal discount, you can adjust your base rate for those specific dates in a few simple steps.
- Navigate to your dashboard.
- Click on your “calendar.”
- Click on “rates.”
- On the top left-hand side of the page, click “year view” so you can see multiple months at the same time.
- Click on the first and last day of the season on your calendar, thus highlighting all days of the season.
- Select your nightly rate type, the pop-out panel of the right side of the screen.
- Enter the dollar amount you would like to charge during that season.
- To charge differently per night, you can click on the calendar within the pop-out panel and click on days that you would like to change the rate of and enter the dollar amount.
- Click the “save rate.”
Military Discounts on Vrbo
If you would like to include military discounts in your rates, you simply need to include that information in the listing description. Individual owners are responsible for giving discounts to service members as Vrbo does not handle it.
Previously, when you sent a quote to the potential guest, there was a section where you could enter the discount rate. That is no longer the case.
To give a military discount or any other discount applied specifically to the individual guest, you must edit the quote you send to the inquirer.
For example, if you charge $100 a night for your home and offer a 15% military discount, you give them the quote of $85 a night after learning they are a service member.
You can edit your quote by:
- Logging into your account.
- Clicking on the “inbox” icon in the left navigation menu.
- Choose the inquiry you wish to address.
- Scroll down to the quote section of the message.
- Click on the pencil icon.
- When the quote opens, edit the rental amount.
- Click “save” and inform your guest of the changes made.
Vrbo Fees for Owners
Regardless of where you decide to list your home online, there will be service fees both for owners and guests. Fortunately, Vrbo gives owners different options for how they choose to be charged, based on the estimated income you’ll make from your home.
Fee per booking
There is a one-time annual fee or a fee per booking. If you book your home for less than six weeks out of the year or estimate that you will make less than $10,000 from your vacation rental home, then the fee per booking option is the best option.
Vrbo will determine the percentage per booking that they will be charged based on a variety of factors. However, the rate will stay between 5% and 9%. Every time a guest books your home, you are then charged that small fee by Vrbo.
If your home is booked up for most of the weeks out of the year, or you estimate making more than $10,000 on your vacation rental, then you should opt for the annual fee. Every twelve months, you will pay $499 to list your home. This one-time, flat fee covers all the service fees that would otherwise be charged to your account when a guest makes a booking.
Is it worth paying these fees to list your house on Vrbo? The answer is a resounding yes. The amount of advertising you get from us Vrbo is phenomenal when you think about all the affiliate sites connected with your account. Guests can find your house on Expedia, KAYAK, Trivago, and many more. Yet you only have to pay a small fee through Vrbo.
As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to decide what the cancellation policy on your rental home is. Vrbo includes five options that you can choose from when you first list your home. These options include the following cancellation policies:
- Relaxed: If your guest cancels 14 days prior to the scheduled booking, they are refunded the full amount. If they cancel at least seven days before the reservation, they’ll get a 50% refund.
- Moderate: Guests have 30 days prior to the start of their stay to cancel and receive a full refund. If they cancel at least 14 days before the stay, they get a 50% refund.
- Firm: Guests are allowed to cancel their book for a full refund up to 60 days before the stay and if they cancel at least 30 days before they get a 50% refund.
- Strict: Bookings must be canceled at least 60 days before the start of the stay to receive a full refund.
- No Refund: Once a booking is paid for in part or full, there are no refunds offered within any timeframe or for any reason.
You will have to take into consideration which option is best for your property. Stricter cancellation policies may protect you as the owner a little better. However, keep in mind that more relaxed cancel options are usually more popular among potential guests.
The percentage that is refunded to the guest is based on how much the guest has already paid at the time of the cancellation. It does not include the total amount.
If you do not refund the total amount (i.e., if your policy only allows for a 50% refund after a certain amount of days), you will be charged the serving booking fee from Vrbo based on the remaining amount of money. For example, if you charge $100 a night for your home and you give your guest a 50% refund, Vrbo will charge 5% to 9% of the $50 that you keep.
Additional Information for Owners:
How Do I Cancel My Vrbo Account?
If for any reason you no longer want to list your rental property on Vrbo, it is relatively simple to cancel the listing. The following steps explain how to do it:
- Start by logging into your account.
- Select the listing you want to cancel if you have multiple properties listed with Vrbo.
- Click on “My Account.”
- Click on “Property Details.”
- Switch the auto-renewal option off to prevent your subscription from renewing.
- Click “Hide Listing,” or if you are approaching it from the Property Manager dashboard, you select the “Status” drop-down menu and click “disable.”
- You will then be prompted to select your reason for hiding the listing, and you’ll have the chance to leave further feedback with Vrbo.
- Finally, click “Hide Listing.”
After hiding your listing, you will want to make sure you cancel all scheduled payment requests by logging into your account. It is also essential to keep in mind that if you have any guests already booked, you will want to send them your contact information so they can still stay in touch with you before their stay.
How Do I Contact Vrbo?
If you have any questions about how to use your Vrbo account, you can call: 1-877-202-4291 (U.S.) or visit help.vrbo.com. On their website, you will find frequently asked questions that may help you find the answer without having to contact customer support.
However, only so much can be done online and sometimes the only solution is to talk to a real person that understands your situation. If that is the case, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Contact Us” button. You will find a variety of topics and questions frequently asked by homeowners. After picking an item, you will be directed to a phone number of the branch of customer service that specializes in that problem.
Why Should You List Your Property on Vrbo?
Listing your property on Vrbo is a great way to drive traffic to your property listing. Your property will be displayed not only on Vrbo but on a variety of its affiliate sites, such as HomeAway, Expedia, Trivago, and KAYAK, giving it plenty of exposure. Your number of guests will increase, giving you a much higher profit as a vacation rental homeowner.
Vrbo is also safe to use and allows you to screen guests who wish to stay in your home, giving you peace of mind. If you’re looking for a way to increase the amount of paying guests in your rental property, create an account today on Vrbo.