As a vacation rental owner, you’ve probably already taken the time to make sure your vacation home or condo is on all the major listing sites. But just because your property is listed doesn’t mean that it’s getting seen. And if your rental isn’t getting seen, then that annual subscription fee you may be paying probably feels like a waste of money. While sites like HomeAway are constantly changing their algorithms to better reflect user needs, there are steps you can take to help your property listing rank higher in these search results. If you want to get more bookings, here’s what you need to do to optimize your HomeAway listing.
The Booking Experience
Just like internet search engines take user experience into account when it comes to search results rankings, HomeAway factors the booking experience into a property’s search results ranking. They note that the “booking experience” includes things like taking online bookings and an accurate calendar. However, it really does include a lot more than just those two things. So, as you work to optimize your vacation rental listing, don’t forget to consider how the total experience will be for potential guests. When you strive to give them a great booking experience, your property will be ranked higher in search results and you’ll get even more bookings.
Accept Online Bookings & Payments
Convenience is the name of the game anymore. As technology continues to advance, it’s become easier than ever before for consumers to get what they want when they want it. The majority of travelers who look at your property listing will want to have the ability to book and pay for the rental immediately, much like they would with a hotel. The booking and payment process should be as simple and quick as possible. If your vacation rental listing doesn’t have this capability, the process could take up a significant amount of a guest’s time. This can be off-putting to guests who are more than likely interested in getting their vacation details squared away in a short amount of time. Taking the time to enable online bookings and accept online payments for your rental will make your property a lot more accessible to an increased number of potential guests.
Show an Accurate Calendar
It’s essential that you keep your property calendar up to date at all times. As most guests will include their potential dates when they start their search, you want to make sure your property is showing up when it’s available. If you aren’t regularly updating your calendar, you may be missing out on bookings. In addition, the process of keeping your calendar up to date on a regular basis indicates to the listing sites that your listing is active. This will help your vacation rental to show up higher in search results.
Respond to Inquiries Quickly
If you’ve been ignoring guest inquiries that come in through HomeAway, your property ranking will suffer for it. As mentioned, the user experience is incredibly important. So if it becomes obvious that you rarely respond to inquiries or take a very long time to do it, this signals to the listing sites that you aren’t providing a great booking experience. Make guest inquiries a priority to give your property a better chance at a higher ranking.
Have an Eye-Catching Headline
As guests scroll through vacation property search results, you’ll only have a split-second to catch their eye. Your property headline needs to be intriguing enough that guests are compelled to click on your listing. While this can be tough, you’ll essentially want to write a headline that captures what’s unique about your home or condo and any special amenities as well as its proximity to local attractions, what type of property it is (condo, home, etc.) and whether it’s best suited for specific groups of travelers (families, couples, travelers with pets, etc.).
Post Beautiful Photographs
As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” You’ll want to make sure that your property photos are well done and accurately represent the property. This may mean that you’ll need to hire a professional photographer. Most vacation owners find that this expense is one that’s well worth it. Guests are more inclined to click on listings that show off great photos. You’ll also want to ensure that these photos do a nice job of showing off all the different aspects of your vacation home or condo. If your guests arrive to find that your listing photos didn’t accurately convey your property, you’ll likely hear about it in your property reviews.
Write an Accurate Listing
Just like with your property photos, your property description needs to accurately represent your home or condo. It should highlight all those things that make your rental special, like all the great amenities it features, how close it is to local attractions, etc. Try to tell a story with the description that shows guests what they can expect from their vacation when they choose your property. Make sure to break the description down to short, succinct paragraphs as opposed to one, long paragraph. Having the description broken down this way is more aesthetically appealing and it results in more guests reading it.
Validate Your Address
While some vacation rental owners are wary of providing their property’s address to listing sites, having a verified address will boost your results ranking. Listing sites will only provide your address to guests who are confirmed. So while your listing will show a map with a pin representing your property’s location, they will not show the actual address. A validated address will also help to ensure that your vacation home or condo is showing up in the right set of listings to those guests who are interested in staying in your area. So, if you haven’t yet provided HomeAway with a correct and verified address for your property, now’s the time to do so.
Activate Quotable Rates
Guests can search through property listings by location and availability dates, but they can also search by rates. When you activate quotable rates on your HomeAway listing, this will ensure that your property shows up for those guests who are searching by their desired rates. Having quotable rates improves your listing score and subsequently your results ranking as it provides guests with an extra element of convenience as they look for the perfect vacation property.
Get Reviews & Keep Getting Them
Most travelers are hesitant to book vacation properties that don’t have any reviews or ratings. You’ll need to be proactive after your guests leave to secure reviews for your vacation rental. You can reach out to them personally asking for reviews or you can set up an automated review funnel, which will help to keep negative reviews off of listing sites. HomeAway takes your property reviews into account when determining where it shows up in search results. Not only are you aiming to get a good number of predominantly positive reviews for your vacation home or condo, but you’ll want to make sure that you always have current reviews up as well. If all of your property reviews are older, the listing sites will not consider them to be as relevant as recent reviews.
Focus on Your Guests
The long and short of optimizing your HomeAway listing is to focus on your guests’ needs, wants, and preferences. Make sure it’s always up to date, accurate, and with items enabled like quotable rates and online booking capability and make sure you always get back to your guests quickly. The better time a guest has with their booking experience, the higher your property will be ranked, and the better search ranking means that you’ll get more bookings.
If you have questions about getting your Breckenridge vacation property on the major listing sites, feel free to give us a call at (970) 528-9700. Our team can help you maximize your vacation rental revenue.