2023 Expedia Guide: How to Drive More Visibility & Bookings for Vacation Rentals (Part 1)
I. Expedia: Connecting You to a World of Travelers
Listing your vacation rental properties with Expedia can vastly expand your reach, driving higher visibility and more bookings not only on Expedia.com but on Expedia Group’s global network of brands and affiliates.
But navigating all the options on Expedia can be time-consuming and confusing. And without proper attention to your listings and promotional opportunities, you can easily get lost in the crowd.
We’re here to help. At VacayHome Connect, we’ve been helping property managers manage listings and promotions on Expedia for more than ten years. As the leading full-service channel manager for vacation rentals, we’re a trusted connectivity partner to Expedia Group and other top distribution channels.
In this 2023 Expedia guide, we’ll show you how to optimize your listings on Expedia and drive more visibility and bookings as well as rave reviews from your guests. Whether you operate a single property or a large portfolio, we’ll share everything you need to know about amplifying your presence on one of the most popular travel sites in the world.
2023 Expedia Guide: Why List on Expedia?
Launched in 1996 as an online travel portal owned by Microsoft, Expedia was spun off as a public company in 1999. Today, Expedia Group is a multi-billion-dollar company that owns and operates online travel agencies (OTAs) around the world, including Expedia.com, Vrbo, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Orbitz, Travelocity, Trivago, Wotif, and others.
For millions of travelers, Expedia sites provide the ability to book flights, accommodations, car rentals, cruises, activities, and packages all in one place. For vacation rental property managers, there are many good reasons to partner with Expedia. Here are a few:
- You’ll benefit from Expedia’s massive global brand awareness and trust, as well as billions of dollars in sales and marketing spend, reaching millions of travelers across 75 countries you could never reach on your own.
- You’ll gain access to more than 154 million members of Expedia’s new One Key loyalty program, which has expanded to include all Expedia brands, including dedicated short-term rental sites like Vrbo.
- Expedia has bounced back from the pandemic stronger than ever, generating its highest-ever quarterly revenue and lodging bookings in the third quarter of 2022.
- Growing its vacation rentals business is a top priority for Expedia. The site now boasts more than 1.8 million listings, placing them side-by-side with hotels in search results.
- When you list with Expedia, you’ll appear on its affiliated sites without requiring a separate account for each, including Hotels.com, Travelocity, and vacation rental sites like Vrbo, Abritel in France, and FeWo-direkt in Germany.
- You will also have the opportunity to bundle stays into packages with more than 500 airline partners, 175 car rental companies, and 35,000 activities.
But the Commissions! Are They Really Worth It?
In return for generating bookings, Expedia charges a percentage of the retail price from suppliers as a commission. Commission rates can vary by booking site, region, type of booking, and type of accommodation, but for vacation rentals they generally fall in the range of 10% to 30%. Most hosts can expect to pay a base commission of about 18%.
While that may seem like a lot, the new bookings generated should easily offset the costs, and the higher demand will allow you to increase rates. While attracting direct bookings should always be your top priority, the marketing costs of attracting direct bookings can exceed commission costs with no guarantee of bookings. With OTAs, there are no upfront costs; you only pay for actual bookings.
And many travelers will never book directly. They prefer to use a travel site they know and trust, where they can also book flights and other aspects of their trip. By satisfying those needs, Expedia has become a dominant operator. Together with Booking Holdings, Expedia Group represented 92% of the OTA market in the US in 2019.
There’s also the “Billboard Effect” to consider. A study from Cornell University found that a significant portion of travelers discover hotels on OTAs and then book directly on the hotel’s website, generating 7.5 to 26% in incremental bookings. Think of OTA commissions as a one-time fee to acquire new customers, and then turn them into loyal direct bookers on future stays.
For vacation rental property managers, listing on Expedia is a vital part of a diverse distribution strategy. The real question is can you afford not to be listed?
II. 2023 Expedia Guide: Getting Started on Expedia
Creating a property listing (also called a property profile) on Expedia is free. You pay only when bookings are realized. When scrolling through accommodations in a destination, travelers will see your listing and can click to see your full profile.
To list your properties, visit Expedia’s welcome page and sign in. If you’re not a member, you’ll be required to create an account. Then you will be guided through a list of questions. This can be a fairly lengthy process, so be sure you have all the information close at hand before you begin.
Here is some of the information you’ll be asked to provide:
- Property type, address, and contact details
- Basic information about your property and rooms
- Details of amenities
- Rate plans and information for each room type
- Photos of your property, rooms, common spaces, and amenities
- Details about fees, deposits, and policies
- Dates you’re available to welcome guests
You will also be asked to accept Expedia’s business terms, commission rates, and payment terms and confirm tax and regulatory information.
Good to Know
- Depending on your property type, you may be redirected to Vrbo to complete your listing.
- If you are listing multiple properties, you can speed up the process by using the bulk options.
- Expedia offers two main payment options. With Hotel Collect, guests pay the lodging provider directly. With Expedia Collect, guests pay Expedia, and Expedia submits payment to the provider by virtual credit card or bank transfer.
Fast Track to Set-up
During setup, you will be asked if you work with a connectivity provider such as a property management system (PMS) or channel manager. These tools can save you a lot of time by enabling you to create and manage your listings on Expedia and other distribution channels from one centralized platform. If you don’t currently, you can add a provider later. For details, visit the Using Technology to Connect to Expedia section at the end of this 2023 Expedia guide.
Expedia Partner Central
Once you have successfully registered on Expedia, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on next steps and a lodging agreement. Thereafter, you can manage all aspects of your listings from Expedia Partner Central. You will also have access to helpful tools, data, and insights.
There are more helpful resources in Expedia’s Resource Center and Help and Support Center, including contact information if you need to reach Expedia staff directly. And the Partner Central App allows you to manage listings from your mobile device.