I’ll be honest. When I search something in Google, I seldom look past the top three search results. I have a strong hunch that I’m not alone in that habit.
The same is often true when searching for a vacation rental home on a listing site. I say “often” because finding a place to lay my head carries a little more weight than finding the answer to the question, “How much potassium is in a banana?” Still, when we’re looking for our vacation spot, we are browsing the internet for a simple reason: we honor speed.
So as a host, how can you boost your rental’s juju to appear on the first page in the different marketing channels? Each listing site is a little different. Some things are in your control and some things are beyond having a beautiful home or high resolution photography. OneRooftop is happy to walk you through the different ways of optimizing your profile for each of the major marketing channels.
On Airbnb’s help page, the company says they “want to reward hosts that deliver a great experience to guests” by putting them higher in the search results order. To give you a quick rundown, they say it depends on the quality of your listing and the ease of booking with you. These are two things that are in your power. The final criteria are tougher to control as they are all about guest preference.
Having a strong and descriptive listing name is important, as is posting your best photo for your listing’s profile picture. In addition to having a pretty appearance, Airbnb wants to see that you are getting a lot of reviews and that they are positive. Finally, Airbnb has requested that hosts verify themselves in a number of different ways: do every form of verification. You’ll be glad you did when you start to get more bookings.
For the next criteria that is in your control: make your vacation rental easy to book. Respond to inquiries within 24 hours—even when that means flat out denying a guest. It might feel rude, but it is a response and that guest will surely find another place to stay that weekend. That’s how this stuff works. I say all this because Airbnb measures your response speed over a thirty-day period and then uses this data to determine your listing rank.
Finally, guest preference is indeed tough to control. Although, it is helpful to be informed so you don’t beat yourself up too much. Locations and bedroom counts that are desired will rank higher. (See what I mean? You can’t say you’re a three-bedroom apartment if you’re a studio.) Sometimes people search a whole city, while others will hunt down a spot in a specific neighborhood. But some good news is that Airbnb is social. So if a potential guest has a mutual friend with you, you’ll be brought to her attention sooner than some stranger.
Let’s face it. People really enjoy perusing through beautiful photos. FlipKey’s help page says that having more than 20 photos for your listing page gives you much more of a fair shot than if you don’t. Having enough photos will take some curation on your part and so they actually recommend going through and updating photos on a somewhat regular basis.
To keep updating your profile (this includes changing out photos, yes, but also adjusting your prices to stay competitive with everyone else in your area) you could create an editorial calendar for yourself. It’s like if you worked in a restaurant. You wouldn’t do inventory of your vegetables once you’re running low on tomatoes. Rather, you want to do it at regular intervals to make sure you’re ready for changes. Staying consistent with your updates will make your vacation rental feel much more like a business and boost your chances of getting discovered sooner.
VRBO, HomeAway, VacationRentals.com
Since VRBO is in the HomeAway family, they offer a subscription service to vacation rentals that are listing. Having a subscription means you can advertise on several HomeAway network sites and be brought up to the center of attention. Upgrading from Classic to Platinum will help you improve the ordering of your search results.
That said, VRBO will provide you with a score card that provides immediate feedback on how to improve your listing. In that way, The HomeAway network channels ask hosts to be diligent about updating their profile just like every other listing site. Have enough pictures, get good reviews, and respond to all inquiries within 24 hours. You just get to advertise, too, if you’d like.