How to Rank Higher on Vrbo

Jan 11 2024

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What’s in this article?

As a vacation rental manager or host, improving your ranking on popular OTAs like Airbnb and Vrbo can significantly boost your bookings and revenue. Understanding the ins and outs of each platform is key. In this article, we’ll explore how Vrbo’s ranking works and offer effective tips and strategies you can implement to rank better and stand out to potential guests among the feisty competition.

How does ranking work for Vrbo listings?

Vrbo (previously HomeAway), one of the leading vacation rental platforms, utilizes a sophisticated algorithm to determine the ranking of properties in its search results. This algorithm takes into account a multitude of factors, carefully analyzing and weighing each one to provide users with the most relevant and desirable options.

While the exact details of Vrbo’s ranking algorithm are undisclosed, understanding the key areas that influence your property’s ranking can help you optimize your listing and increase your visibility to potential guests.

Listing accuracy and thoroughness

For starters, one of the primary factors that Vrbo considers is the overall quality and relevance of your property listing’s description. This includes items such as the accuracy and completeness of your property description, high-quality photos, and the availability of essential amenities.

Guests visiting Vrbo expect detailed and comprehensive information about potential properties so they can make informed decisions when booking a short-term rental.

Past performance

In addition to the quality of your listing, Vrbo also takes into account the performance and engagement metrics of your property. This includes factors such as the number of bookings, guest reviews, and response time to inquiries.

It also factors in your overall performance as a host so if you manage multiple properties, your host status will contribute to any and all of your property rankings. Past performance is a strong indicator of future performance. By consistently delivering exceptional guest experiences and maintaining positive interactions with potential guests, you can improve your property’s ranking and increase your chances of attracting more bookings.

Metrics within the market

Vrbo’s ranking algorithm considers the competitiveness of your property within its specific market. This involves analyzing factors such as the number of similar properties in your area, their availability, and their pricing. By strategically pricing your rental and offering competitive rates, you can enhance your property’s visibility and appeal to potential guests, ultimately improving your Vrbo search ranking.

It’s important to note that Vrbo’s ranking algorithm is dynamic and continuously evolving. The platform regularly updates its algorithm to ensure fairness, accuracy, regulations, and relevance in its search results. Therefore, it’s crucial for property owners to stay informed about any changes or updates to Vrbo’s ranking criteria and adjust their strategies accordingly to maintain a competitive edge in the vacation rental market.

10 tips for ranking better on Vrbo

So just how can you boost your vacation rental property’s ranking? By staying proactive and adapting to any changes in Vrbo’s algorithm, you can maximize your property’s potential and attract more guests to your vacation rental. Follow these 10 tips to improve your ranking on Vrbo:

1. Craft a clear, accurate, SEO-informed description

When describing your property, be thorough and detailed. Be accurate in the number of bedrooms and bathrooms your rental provides. Highlight the unique features and amenities that set your rental apart from others. Include details big and large, mindful of your target demographics. For example, if families frequent your vacation rental’s location, include any family-friendly amenities like cribs, high chairs, board games, playrooms, and baby-proofing measures.

Use impressive adjectives to create an enticing description that captures the attention of potential guests. For example, if your vacation rental is a beachfront villa, describe the breathtaking ocean views and direct access to the sandy shores. Emphasize the luxurious amenities, such as a private pool, jacuzzi, and outdoor barbecue area, that will make your guests’ stay unforgettable. Be sure to use inviting language, evocative descriptions, and most of all, actual offerings.

Additionally, consider mentioning any nearby attractions or activities that guests can enjoy during their stay. Whether it’s a vibrant nightlife scene, renowned restaurants, access to popular hiking trails or ski slopes, providing this information can help guests envision their perfect vacation.

2. Invest in high-quality photos

In the short-term rental game, a picture really is worth 1000 words (maybe more). It’s absolutely critical to invest in quality (ideally professional) photography to showcase your property in the best light. High-resolution images that accurately represent your rental can significantly impact a potential guest’s decision to book.

When hiring a professional photographer, ensure they capture the unique selling points of your property. If your rental has a stunning rooftop terrace with panoramic city views, make sure it is showcased in some on-top-of-the-world photos. Similarly, if your property boasts a beautifully landscaped garden, highlight this feature to entice nature-loving guests.

Remember, the goal is to make potential guests feel like they are already experiencing the comfort and luxury of your rental through your images. High-quality, accurate, and up-to-date photos can create a sense of trust and reliability, increasing the likelihood of bookings.

3. Lean into a dynamic pricing strategy

Consider adjusting your pricing strategy to increase your property’s competitiveness. Research similar vacation rentals in your area and offer competitive rates to attract more guests.

However, it’s essential to strike a balance between competitive pricing and ensuring your rental’s value is properly reflected. If your property offers unique amenities or is located in a prime location, it may justify a slightly higher price point.

Additionally, you may want to consider implementing dynamic pricing strategies that take into account factors such as demand, seasonality, and local events. By adjusting your rates accordingly, you can optimize your occupancy, maximize your revenue, and appear more readily in search rankings.

4. Give your host profile some love

Complete your host profile with accurate information about yourself and your experience in the vacation rental industry. A well-rounded host profile can build trust and credibility with potential guests, positively impacting your ranking. Whether you’re a homeowner or property manager, your profile should reflect whatever brand of hospitality you bring to the table.

Consider highlighting any previous background you have in providing exceptional guest experiences or accolades and vacation rental certifications you’ve received.

Furthermore, consider adding a personal touch to your host profile by sharing a bit about your interests and hobbies. This can help guests feel a connection with you and make them more likely to choose your property over others.

5. Feature those amenities

Highlight the amenities your short-term rental property offers, such as a fully equipped kitchen, private pool or jacuzzi, yoga studio, or stunning views. If your rental has a state-of-the-art gym or a game room with a pool table, emphasize these unique amenities.

Guests who prioritize fitness or entertainment during their vacation will be more likely to choose your property. By showcasing these features, you can attract guests looking for specific amenities, improving your ranking in relevant search results across search engines (maybe even capturing potential Airbnb or Booking.com guests).

Additionally, consider mentioning any special services or extras you provide, such as complimentary breakfast, airport transfers, or access to exclusive or community facilities. These added perks can make your property stand out from the competition and increase its desirability.

As it is with Airbnb, in Vrbo it’s also crucial that property managers check the actual amenities in the listing checklist. If you don’t check the amenities off, the OTA’s algorithm won’t pair your listing with a guest’s search. For example, if your property has air conditioning, even if you’ve mentioned it in your description, failing to check the “Air conditioning” amenity will preclude any guests who are filtering properties for air conditioning from finding your listing!

6. Be responsive and professional with guests

The guest experience revolves largely around property managers’ responsiveness. Not only do prompt responses appeal to guests eager to book or inquire about a property, but Vrbo considers host responsiveness when determining rankings. Maintaining open lines of communication and providing excellent customer service can positively influence your position in search results.

Make it a priority to respond to guest inquiries within a few hours, if not sooner. Promptly addressing any questions or concerns will demonstrate your commitment to providing a seamless booking experience.

7. Use branding and social media to reflect listing quality

Investing in robust guidebooks and a strong social media presence not only helps property managers appear professional — it can provide some heavy lifting and elevate your listing’s ranking. Just as you want your vacation rental to appeal aesthetically to guests, you should consider your branding and marketing materials as an extension (and the first impression) of your vacation rental business.

Carefully crafted branding and up-to-date digital marketing tactics across social media will increase your listing’s exposure. And professional, welcoming digital guidebooks can spark trust and appeal to those guests seeking a reliable, next-level vacation getaway. By highlighting detailed property information, house rules, check-in/check-out procedures, Wi-Fi instructions, nearby amenities, special features, and local recommendations, you can exceed guests’ expectations and entice them to book your property listing.

This is an example of what Hostfully guidebooks can do.
Hostfully offers guidebooks to help property managers and hosts deliver an A+ guest experience from the get-go.

8. Aim for VrboPremier Host status

Vrbo also rewards hosts who deliver quality guest experiences by awarding them Premier Host badges, assessed on a quarterly basis. You can check your performance status and identify areas of improvement.

This free, invite-only opportunity is a recognizable sign of prestige within the Vrbo community. To be included among Vrbo’s Premier Hosts, you must tick the following boxes, per Vrbo’s eligibility criteria:

  • Have a 4.4 or higher average review rate
  • Have a 95% or higher booking acceptance rate
  • Have a 1% or lower owner-initiated cancellation rate
  • Have 3+ Vrbo reviews
  • Have 5+ bookings OR 60 booked nights

Besides receiving the coveted badge, VrboPremier Hosts are also included within the Premier Host category when guests select the filter. Eligible hosts also receive priority 24/7 Vrbo support (within certain regions) and have access to Vrbo’s Boost program which does just that: boosts a vacation rental listing among searches. This increased exposure can lead to more bookings.

9. Offer instant booking

Yet another way to improve your ranking: enable instant booking. Many travelers prefer the convenience of immediate confirmation, and Vrbo recognizes and rewards hosts who offer this feature.

By allowing guests to book your property instantly, you eliminate any potential delays or uncertainties in the booking process. This streamlined experience can attract more guests and increase your chances of securing bookings.

However, it’s absolutely critical to ensure your calendar is always up to date to avoid double bookings. Utilize Vrbo’s calendar synchronization tools, a channel manager, or a PMS to manage your availability across multiple platforms.

Hostfully's dynamic calendar
A PMS synced with Vrbo delivers immediate guest notifications and prohibits double bookings across listing sites.

10. Encourage positive reviews

Potential guests trust past guests which is why positive reviews from satisfied guests can significantly impact your ranking. First, provide excellent service to ensure guests have a memorable stay, and then encourage them to leave reviews.

After each guest’s departure, consider sending a personalized thank-you message expressing your appreciation for their stay. Kindly request that they leave a review highlighting their positive experience.

You want to make it as easy as possible for guests to leave positive reviews by providing clear instructions and links to review platforms. Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, shows your commitment to guest satisfaction and can further enhance your vacation rental property and business reputation.

Conclusion

Improving your ranking on Vrbo requires a combination of strategic efforts and attention to detail. By writing engaging descriptions, investing in quality photos, marketing materials, and pricing strategies, and offering exceptional customer service, you can increase your visibility and attract more guests. Implement these ten tips to boost your Vrbo ranking — and vacation rental revenue!