A relatively late entry to the vacation rental marketplace, Expedia carved its way onto the scene with Expedia Group’s acquisition of HomeAway and Vrbo in 2015. Despite being under one roof, they each remain separate brands with Expedia more recently expanding deeper into the short-term rental space.
While traditionally Expedia has been optimized for traditional accommodations, this creates an opportunity for property managers. In direct comparison against a standard hotel, vacation rentals are typically less expensive with better amenities and a more authentic experience.
That isn’t just better value, it’s also a better fit for what many travelers are looking for.
As an early mover, your properties have less competition from other short-term rentals. But what more can you do to better position your listings to perform well and stand out?
Lean into the tried and true: facts, photos and local expertise
You already know that an eye-catching listing with beautiful photos, a great headline, and a detailed description is a strong starting point that also influences Expedia’s algorithm. Here are two factors the site uses:
- Offer strength: How your listings compare to similar properties in terms of average pricing, reviews and recommendations from previous guests.
- Quality score: Essentially a measure of your professionalism, such as how complete your information is, how often you initiate cancellations and your overall competitiveness on Expedia Group sites.
To underscore the importance of getting the basics right, Expedia offers a number of tools through their Partner Central dashboard to help you fine-tune your listings, such as:
- The content score, which evaluates property details, identifying areas where more information might be needed.
- The photo score, which helps optimize images by assessing the number of photos for each area, photo resolution, and other best practices needed to create a visually striking listing.
Adding points of interest to each listing is also a smart move and it’s one the company has tested itself: Travelers respond to facts and photos that go beyond basic requirements to capture their imagination.
“When (travelers) find pictures of slides or pools or places to go and things to see — this is where the delight happens because this is actually why people travel,” said Scott Jones, Expedia Group’s VP of Global Design and User Experience. With accurate details, engaging photos and reviews from other travelers, you create a stronger connection between the potential guest and what they’ll do on their trip.
Another tip? Take a critical eye to your listing and make sure that, where possible, it’s in line with what hotels have to offer.
“You should make sure that your listings reflect the essential amenities of a hotel, and you can meet the basic expectations of someone who is looking for a hotel (i.e. Wifi),” suggested MyVR product manager Brent McCullough. “You likely already provide (these basic amenities), but when you're structuring the listing, taking time to call out the items that might make people less worried can go a long way.”
Improve your visibility with promotions
To list your property on Expedia Group sites, you need to enable the Instant Book feature. This is an effective way to position your property for last-minute bookings as well as travelers booking well in advance who want a quick and easy way to confirm their reservation.
What other options do you have so your listing show up more prominently in search? Like other channels, Expedia has paid options that offer a quick solution:
- With Accelerator, you can increase the amount of compensation you pay to Expedia Group in exchange for better visibility over a set period of time.
- Promotions help bring in more bookings. For example, you can offer a discount to stir interest or a Value Add Promotion, which allows you to offer an enhanced package without discounting your rates. You can also run a Members Only Deal, which may be highlighted among Expedia Group’s more than 69 million members.
Your best long-term strategy is to ensure your listings are consistently at the top of their game. But for a temporary boost, these promotions are an effective way to respond to market conditions and get in front of your ideal customers before they book somewhere else.
Managing multiple properties on Expedia
Expedia offers great tools via their web-based dashboard, but it can be time-consuming to review all your listings on a 1:1 basis.
When you use a property management system such as MyVR, one of Expedia Group’s connectivity partners, you can tap into the Expedia Group Marketplace — a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) from Expedia that create a direct link to keep your inventory, rates and calendars in sync and up-to-date.