Have you ever wondered why some listings soar to the top of the search results on VRBO, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor, but other comparable properties land on page 20? It’s not just magic, there is a formula to these listings, and the algorithm scans listings for certain features to rank them in a user’s search.
If a listing has those features, it will rank highly, and if the listing has most or all of those features it will soar to the top.
After taking note of what does and doesn’t work, we’ve been able to compile a few key tips to make sure your listing is attractive and capable of pulling more vacationers. Here’s 8 key tips for performing well in the search engines and translating those results to bookings.
1. A Great Headline
What’s in a headline? A lot, since it’s the very first thing people seen as they browse listings.
A strong headline will motivate travelers to click your listing and page views is crucial to gaining bookings for your property.
Think about the guest when you write a headline: what do you need to know to find what you’re looking for? What makes this listing unique and desirable?
Listings often do well with basic terms in the headline and other details added if there’s enough characters left. Lead with location and property type then add:
- Nearby attractions
- Additional features (#of the bedrooms, views)
2. Beautiful Photography
We cannot stress enough that attractive photos attract listings. Plain and simple. Listings with pictures will always do better than those without, and professional photography will give you a major boost, leading to double the booking rates.
Professional photos are also better lit, clear and composed than a regular camera or a smartphone in the hands of the average homeowner. Photos should not only give a clear image of what to expect, but it should also tell a story of how to move through the space. Before travelers drop their hard-earned money on your property, they need to see what they’re getting into.
So, if you aren’t a skilled photographer yourself, it pays to hire one. For sites like Airbnb and VRBO, you’ll need a minimum 24 high quality pictures to rank highly. Your primary image and the following three features will determine the first impression your guests have.
Here are some things to look at as you evaluate your current pictures:
- The amenities that boost profits in the area
- The headline
3. Alluring Pricing
Your prices appear alongside the headline and images, so here’s a few things to consider: if you’re out of range for your market and type of property, they’ll never click your listing to even see if it commands that price.
The best ingredient is to stay competitive and stills get your night’s worth. Asses these key factors when you are thinking of where on the scale to price your property:
- Competitive rates
- Occupancy rates
This recipe for success will help your accurately price your rental so you earn more booked dates on your calendar.
4. Positive Reviews
Trust is everything when you’re renting an independently owned property you’ve never seen before. Ratings and consumer reviews help travelers know if the listing they’re viewing is really a good place to stay.
Strong ratings will have 4 stars or more and positive reviews will help you secure those guests you need. Sites display reviews differently, for example Airbnb shows them directly in the search results whereas HomeAway and VRBO show them on the property’s listing.
Regardless of where travelers run into this info, you’ll need to pay close attention to gaining strong ratings. Encourage guests after checkout to provide feedback. You might even prompt them on specific things they enjoyed, like the walk to the beach, the deck or the game room and kitchen. This will help you snag more guests.
5. It’s all in the Details
Travelers have needs and before that click “Book” on that beautiful cabin with the mountain view they also have to make sure that their necessities are accounted for.
Always include key details, no matter how simple or basic they seem, so travelers aren’t left wondering or doubting if there’s a fridge on the home. Think about these topics:
- Bedroom count
- Bathroom count
- Maximum occupancy
- Pet policy
These details should be at the forefront so your travelers can see them easily and choose to book with you.
6. Stellar Descriptions
If your listing were a house, the photos are your foundation, the key details are the framework, and the description would be the rest of the house. This is where you can use your creativity to help the guest see what it’s like to stay in your rental and what they’ll have access to beyond the standard bullet points:
- Sleeping arrangements
- Key features (game room, kitchen appliances, etc)
You also want to create a few hooks of what makes the experience of staying at your property special. Think about what you’d enjoy doing as you stay there, like:
- You can see the sunrise from the balcony
- Enjoy locally brewed coffee in
- Sleep well with black-out curtains
7. An Accurate Map
Property maps are very helpful to prospective guests because they can ease their concerns and feel better prepared about where they’re staying. They can see if they’re in a beachfront property or a few miles out. Is the home right off the highway, or located in a gated community?
Many sites will automatically include a map of the general area, but check it to ensure that it’s accurate. If something is wrong or simply missing it can create hesitation or make a guest less than satisfied once they stay.
No one likes to be deceived, so baring all the information on the front end helps guests to find the properties that fit them and feel much more comfortable about what they’re getting themselves into.
8. List of Amenities
Everyone loves to know the fun stuff and see what they’re going to “get.” A full comprehensive amenities list will let travelers know exactly what to get in your home, and it’s a quick and easy solution to asking questions about what’s available in the home.
- Washing machine
- Beach towels
Let nothing go unnoticed! If you have a hair dryer, include it. This could jeopardize a booking and you want to let all prospective guests know that you’ve got them covered. Boost your conversion rate by getting specific on what’s at the house. It can be the difference of a family choosing the home with board games and an X-Box over one that didn’t list them at all.
These are all basic and standard parts of a proper listing and even the newest investor could put together a vacation rental page, but it doesn’t mean it will be the most attractive. Precision, effort, creativity and style will help you go from a listing that meets the minimum requirements to one that inspires excitement and bookings.
It’s important to do a stellar job at accomplishing these goals if you want to make vacationers excited about your listing and turn your property into an area favorite. At B&B Fusion, we help investors like you craft better listings and assess your current listing to see where you can improve and draw in more travelers!