2023 Expedia Guide: How to Drive More Visibility & Bookings for Vacation Rentals (Part 3)
IV. 7 Ways to Drive More Bookings on Expedia
Once you’ve whipped your listings into shape with everything you learned in part 2 of our 2023 Expedia Guide, it’s time to bring them to market. Here are seven ways to convert more travelers on Expedia.
1. Maintain a Dynamic Pricing Strategy
Static seasonal rates are old-school. Today, travelers expect prices to fluctuate and are willing to pay a premium on busy dates and for added conveniences.
To ensure you’re always priced competitively, maintain a dynamic pricing strategy, regularly adjusting rates according to changes in market demand, occupancy, time of year, day of week, local events, and competitor behavior. This will attract more bookings during slow times and drive higher rates during busy times, helping to ensure you never leave money on the table.
When you first list on Expedia, consider setting prices slightly lower than normal in order to establish a presence and rise up in rankings. When all else is equal, the difference of just a few dollars can convince travelers to choose your property over others. And the more visibility you receive, the more bookings you will attract, which in turn will improve your visibility. It’s a virtuous circle. As demand strengthens, you can bring up your rates.
2. Practice Revenue Management
Revenue management is the practice of managing rates and inventory to maximize revenue by charging the right rates to the right guests at the right time. Expedia offers numerous tools to help you manage pricing and maximize revenue.
When you sign in to Partner Central, click Revenue Management. Under this tab, you’ll find real-time market demand data and forecasts, occupancy and rates in your region, competitive set averages, and destination insights. Utilize these tools to set your rates for the coming days, weeks, and months, and then fine-tune them as new data comes available. To keep on top of new opportunities, sign up to receive notifications.
3. Maintain Flexible Policies
Cancellation, deposit, and refund policies are intended to protect you, but if they deter high-value travelers from booking your properties they may be doing more harm than good. Today, many travelers insist on having the flexibility to change dates or cancel bookings without penalty if their plans change. On Expedia, users can filter properties based on policies like “totally refundable” and “Reserve now, pay later.”
Consider charging premiums for flexible policies and offering a discount for nonrefundable rates. In a recent STR survey, 60% of respondents said they would be willing to pay for flexibility with their accommodation booking. Also, bear in mind that if you cancel bookings or relocate guests frequently, it can negatively affect your visibility.
While you may receive more cancellations with a flexible policy, you should also receive more bookings. And with so much last-minute travel these days, it’s easier to replace canceled reservations.
4. Participate in Promotions
Expedia offers a variety of opt-in promotions to help you attract more bookings, target high-value travelers, and fill need dates during slow periods. Depending on the promotion, it may involve a discounted rate or extra commission. You can target specific audiences based on booking or travel dates, length of stay, and location so that only they can see and book your offers. Offers appear only if you have rooms available for the desired travel dates, and you can set restrictions like blackout dates and sell limits.
You can access promotions under the Marketing tab in Partner Central. Here are some of the most popular promotions with vacation rental hosts:
> Members Only. Offer a discount exclusive to Expedia loyalty members. Members generate three times more bookings and more than twice the gross profit per customer on average as non-members. These offers give your listings an extra pop by displaying a “Member Price” tag and strike-through pricing. Expedia loves them because they provide an incentive to join the loyalty program. Offers typically feature at least 10% off the published rate. The bigger the discount, the higher the enticement to book.
> Mobile Offers. These offers show up only to travelers using a mobile device to search Expedia. For Expedia, driving app usage is a top priority. App users drive more than 2.5 times more bookings and 2.5 times more profit than non-app users. And usage is growing rapidly. App downloads grew by 58% in Q2 2022 relative to the same period in 2019.
> Package and Opaque Channels. According to Expedia, travelers who book package deals reserve twice as far in advance, pay 30% more in rate on average, stay longer, and cancel half as often as standalone bookings. For property managers, packages enable you to bundle stays with Expedia’s affiliate network of more than 500 airline partners, 175 car rental companies, and 35,000 activities. To be eligible, you must participate in the Expedia Collect program.
5. Join a Campaign
In addition to promotions, you also have opportunities to hitch on to the various campaigns Expedia runs throughout the year to target specific regions, traveler types, travel dates, and reservation dates. In return for a pre-set minimum discount, your properties can be featured in these campaigns, which are promoted massively through advertising, email, print & television media, promotional filters, and social media. You can view current campaigns under the Marketing tab in Partner Central.
6. Boost Your Visibility with Accelerator
Expedia’s Accelerator tool enables you to climb the organic rankings in the sort order without discounting your rate or paying upfront costs. You participate by paying an incremental commission on bookings ranging from 1% to 25%. The higher the commission you pay, the better your visibility. Accelerator promotions are customizable, allowing you to target travelers by region, travel dates, or reservation dates and to black out your busy dates. You can view the potential impact on your property’s sort order in Partner Central and make adjustments or pause the program at any time.
7. Buy Your Way Up the Sort Order with TravelAds
TravelAds are sponsored listings that allow you to bid for a premium spot in the sort order, including the top spot. You can customize the copy and photos in your ad and target your audience by length of stay, check-in days, and region. Because it’s a cost-per-click program, you pay only when a traveler clicks on your ad. You can set a custom daily budget and maximum cost-per-click allowance. Your ad will be displayed in addition to your regular listing and will only appear for dates when you have availability. Learn more about Expedia TravelAds.
Final tip: Don’t Go Overboard
Be careful not to participate in too many promotions or offer such high commissions and discounts that they consume a disproportionate amount of your profit margins. Start small and keep a close eye on performance, adjusting parameters or opting out as needed to meet objectives. If you’d like some help with managing your promotions on Expedia, contact us today.
Part 4 of our 2023 Expedia Guide will be published soon. Stay tuned!