As a vacation rental homeowner you are more than likely already marketing your property on an array of listing websites. VRBO being the largest and most popular listing website out there currently. This will be our topic of discussion today (If your not listing on VRBO you should be) After doing some in depth research with many new clients and browsing VRBO listings it was amazing how many incomplete listings there were. This may be a hard realization but the days of just throwing up a VRBO listing and watching the bookings pile up are dwindling if not gone in most markets. You may ask why is this? The main reason is because with the industry growth and vacation rental popularity it has also increased competition in many marketplaces worldwide. More competition = More options for your potential clients to book. (You better stand out!!!)
Another issue I noticed on many listings is there was not a clear description, poorly written profile, volatile pricing, and bad photos. This alone causes many issues and leads to: Lower listing ranking, unprofessional owner/manager image and less clicks to your property page which results in lower quality inquires and overall less inquires. Below are my Top 10 Tips to Optimize your VRBO Listing which will increase qualified leads and bookings to your property.
Tip #1: Create a clear catchy title for your property that will encourage CLICKS
Its very important to keep your title updated per season, also update you current promotions and specials frequently. Your property photo and Title description are the first things people see in the VRBO search results. Make sure they stand out. Search on VRBO to see what others are running as specials as well. This is a good way to make sure you stand out and are offering something unique compared to your competitors.
Tip #2: Make sure you have a well written description that describes your property in detail
Tip #3: Make sure you have your best photo first on your profile picture. If you have a unique feature or something special about the property use this as an opportunity to showcase it. This photo will be the first thing people see in the search results.
Tip #4: Make sure you have the exact bedding of the rental listed in detail. This is almost the #1 question people ask when calling on a rental. Save everyone the time and list the bedding breakdown so its easy to see.
Tip #5: Make sure to accurately complete your properties features and amenities. Don’t put something down that your property doesn’t have. Sometimes people get click happy while going through the initial set up process. If your not near water don’t click Jet Skis and if you don’t have mountain views don’t get peoples hopes up. This will just encourage problems and poor reviews when all of sudden they arrive and they don’t have what they read about.
Tip #6: Detail Property Rates for every season. Often there is confusion on rates. If you have a very clear list of pricing for Nightly, Weekly and Monthly this will help cut down on rate questions. Also clearly state your night minimums during certain seasons.
Tip #7: Make sure your booking policy is very clear with details when payments are due and what your cancellation policy is. Keep it simple and straight forward.
I have found it to be much easier to have a strict booking policy like the one above. This will weed out people that aren’t serious. Stick the same booking policy for all reservations to maintain consistency. This will help you manage your vacation rental business. Keep it simple. If they are unsure because your policy is non-refundable refer them to purchase travel insurance. I suggest CSA Travel Insurance which is hands down the best out there.
Tip #8: Make sure your calendar is updated every time you finalize a reservation. VRBO’s new search algorithm takes into effect when the last time your calendar was updated. Rank higher and get more qualified leads for the dates you need booked by updating your calendar consistently.
Tip #9: Make Sure you have a professional video and 24 professional photos for your listing
Having professional photos is vital to getting bookings and more inquires on your property. Make sure you also add photo captions to every single photo so its very clear what is what. VRBO recently updated its photos to a max of 24 from 16. Make sure your listing has the max 24 photos otherwise your ranking is being affected. People love photos! Give them what they want.
Tip #10: Reviews are KING! Make sure that you are capturing reviews and having your guests post their reviews directly on your VRBO page. This is a huge deciding factor for when potential guests are considering your property over others.
In the VRBO search results the reviews play a huge part in a potential guests inquiry. Once a guest leaves make sure to CALL the guest directly. Make sure they had a great time at the property before you send them a link to leave a review. Pending they had an awesome time send them your VRBO review link so they can easily navigate to the property review page. This link will look like this:
http://www.vrbo.com/ (Insert your listing # here) /reviews/write