With more than 490 million travelers visiting TripAdvisor every month, the site is one of the largest online travel agencies (OTAs) in the world. The potential audience makes TripAdvisor Rentals a smart addition to your channel management strategy, but what can you do to maximize exposure for your short-term rentals?
By analyzing general best practices and advice from TripAdvisor itself, we’ve compiled these tips to help your properties rank higher in search results and close more bookings.
What TripAdvisor’s “search guru” says
The best information comes right from the source, and TripAdvisor search guru DJ Gaker shared behind-the-scene insights to help you fine-tune your listings.
He said there are two broad factors that lead to a happy traveler:
- Finding a property they like, and
- Having a positive experience by booking through TripAdvisor
“We use two different models to help us sort properties,” Gaker explained. “The first tries to predict how likely a listing is to generate an inquiry or booking request and looks at information like rates, reviews, longer descriptions and photos.”
Basic details such as location, number of bedrooms, and amenities are just a foot in the door. To close a listing, he said, successful property managers need to consider what they can do to get travelers excited and confident about booking. Reviews are an important part of this strategy.
The second model looks at factors that provide a positive booking experience from start to finish. “The most important element of this model is the owner’s acceptance rate (the percentage of booking requests they accept),” Gaker said. “If an owner declines a booking request or lets it expire, that translates into a really poor experience for the traveler. As a result, the listing would drop in the rankings.”
Gaker’s top five tips for property managers?
- Accept booking requests (if you aren’t already using Instant Book)
- Convert inquiries — generating interest isn’t enough on its own
- Keep your calendar and rates up-to-date
- Ensure your rates are in line with (or better than) the competition
- Make guests happy
New to TripAdvisor? Not to worry: Gaker said they rely on historical data and comparable properties to help create a baseline. “Generally, our data tells us that new listings deliver a good experience, so they tend to rank quite well,” he explained.
Double-down on getting honest reviews
TripAdvisor has leveraged “the world’s largest travel community” into an army of reviewers who’ve contributed more than 760 million reviews of restaurants, activities, services, and accommodations. These form the basis of recognition programs such as the Traveler’s Choice and Certificate of Excellence — both of which can add credibility and visibility to your listings.
However, as Gaker indicated, reviews are also day-to-day fuel for a vacation rental listing. For example, they feed into TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index, which aims to quantify what travelers really think by looking at the quantity, quality, and recency of reviews.
A global survey by TripAdvisor also found that more than half of travelers won’t book a place that has no reviews, and 78% rely on the most recent feedback. A steady flow of reviews can:
- Testify to the accuracy of your listing
- Underscore the quality of your short-term rental
- Inspire confidence about the type of experience you offer your guests
- Generate excitement as guests share stories and advice
- Give you an opportunity show you’re engaged by responding to feedback
Travelers say reviews don’t need to be perfect, just honest. What matters just as much, if not more, is how effectively you respond.
Know who you’re talking to
One secret to getting good reviews: Do an effective job of setting expectations. With an accurate listing, good communication, and a visit that meets or exceeds what they’d envisioned, you’ll be well-positioned to get a great review every time.
In general, people are drawn to the space, amenities, privacy, personality, and value that vacation rentals typically offer. If you know who you want your home to appeal to, you can tailor your listing’s headline, description, amenities, and photos to fit their needs.
What about Instant Book and Viator?
TripAdvisor doesn’t require Instant Book, but they do recommend it. In an exclusive webinar with MyVR, they revealed that, on average, Instant Book increases interest by 18%, bookings by 10%, and overall revenue by 15%.
Travelers prefer the immediacy of Instant Book and almost half expect it. So, while turning it on may not have a direct impact on a property’s rank, TripAdvisor said it helps to create a positive feedback loop that can give you a boost: Your acceptance rate goes up, which improves your performance on the site, which leads to higher search placement.
In the same way, signing up for Viator — TripAdvisor’s commission-based travel agent program — won’t directly impact your rank. But the potential net effect, happier customers who leave better reviews, can factor into search rankings.