Context: Before travelers can book a vacation rental property, they have to see the property on vacation rental listing sites. Roughly 75% of bookings go to the first 15 listings in search results, so yes, where vacation rental properties rank in those results definitely matters! Put simply: when you improve your vacation rental listing placement on the best OTAs, you will achieve more bookings.
Mission: Get your properties and vacation rentals to rank higher on Expedia!
Strategy: If property managers want their vacation rental listings to rank higher on Expedia, there are several things they can do to attract more travelers, increase conversions, and ultimately, improve placement in search results.
It’s no secret by now that online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia extol listings with high-quality content and near-perfect page scores. And there’s a method to the industry-wide content madness: according to Booking.com, properties with a 100% page score receive roughly 18% more bookings. TripAdvisor, meanwhile, notes travel shoppers are 150% more engaged on listings with 20+ photos.
Every OTA has different requirements, and it’s important for property managers to know what those requirements are in order to curate effective listings. On Expedia, everything in a listing impacts the website’s algorithms: photos, headlines, and even descriptions. You can absolutely use visual content to attract more shoppers, but also be sure to craft thoughtful headlines and inviting descriptions packed with details about your property and the surrounding area. (Click here to learn how to write better listing descriptions.)
Those foundational pieces are so important, Expedia provides various tools through its Expedia Partner Central (EPC) dashboard to help property managers nail their content. The Content Score, for instance, is an evaluation tool that pinpoints any parts of a listing that might need to be revised. Photo Scoring tools, meanwhile, promote optimal image quality with insights on resolution and other best practices (such as photo tagging, which gives you the chance to highlight your property’s coolest features).
Research shows that more than 90% of travel shoppers look at a property’s reviews before they click the “Book” button. Suffice it to say, reviews are a critical part of any listing: combined with all other pieces of content on the page, they paint a vivid picture of your rental and help potential guests experience your property before they ever step foot through the door.
Property managers can totally encourage their guests to leave reviews, specifically in post-stay communications and follow-up emails. But gathering reviews is only part of the process; you should also respond to every review, too, since Expedia values that level of commitment. Plus, every time you respond to a guest review, it’s another opportunity to showcase yourself as a host—especially if it’s a poor review, in which case your response can actually carry more weight than the review itself! (Click here to learn how to improve your vacation rental reviews.)
In the summer of 2020, the entire travel industry was scrambling to find the answer to one very important question: what do guests want during COVID-19? Flexible policies quickly emerged as a major differentiator, and that hasn’t changed. In fact, Expedia now encourages its hosts to select the most flexible cancellation policy they can. Some property managers balk at this idea and are understandably concerned that it could cause more cancellations. And while that might be true, ongoing research shows that upticks in cancellations are typically offset by large increases in bookings for listings with looser cancellation policies—a travel industry trend that actually came to light early in the pandemic and stuck around.
For Expedia, creating top-notch traveler experiences is always the primary goal.
You can certainly demonstrate your commitment to that goal with traveler-friendly policies, and you can bolster your case by making sure your pricing is appropriate. If your rates are competitive for your market, your listings will rank higher on Expedia. Does that mean you have to slash your pricing and book your properties for next to nothing? Of course not! It just means your rates need to be representative of your location and goals, because Expedia takes all of this into account when determining search-result placement.
Expedia relies on a few different scoring systems to measure your business’s standing in the marketplace, including:
That’s important to know because Expedia is not keen on cancellations or unsuccessful booking attempts. Again, the goal here is to create top-notch traveler experiences, which is why Expedia considers your Acceptance Rate—how frequently you accept bookings versus how frequently you decline them—when ranking your listings.
Fortunately, Expedia’s Instant Booking feature makes the booking process extremely simple. It allows travelers to book a property immediately, which not only saves time, but also keeps a host’s Acceptance Rate at 100%. Stellar Acceptance Rates, minimal host-initiated cancellations, and prompt responses to booking requests are the preferred ingredients in Expedia’s pre-stay cocktail; when you mix it all together, Expedia rewards you with a higher ranking.
To rank higher on Expedia in the long run, your best bet is to utilize the above techniques and always make sure your listings are on point. But you can also supplement your own efforts with Expedia’s promotions and merchandising opportunities for property managers, which will push your listings higher in search results and further solidify long-term success.
Promotions and merchandising tools are flexible, and the robust number of options throughout the year allows you to pick and choose opportunities that fit your business goals. Here are some examples of popular promotions property managers use to rank higher on Expedia:
It’s a lot of work to rank higher on Expedia, but if you follow these steps, your listings will climb in the search results. If you’d like help with any of the above strategies—or if you’re looking for a team of professionals to implement all of these strategies for you—contact VacayHome Connect today to learn what we can do for your business!