As a systems expert and data analyst for Luxury Simplified Retreats, my day is consumed by monitoring booking data, performance, and pricing strategies to maximize revenue and optimize listings for our portfolio of Charleston vacation rentals. Through our experience, we understand that a home's online performance, measured by rank, is a delicate balance of listing quality, pricing, service delivery, and consistency over time, and each listing platform (i.e. VRBO, Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.) has different parameters that factor into search results. Although ranking in the Top 10 Charleston vacation rentals takes time, these 5 tips can help your home's listing page on VRBO.com perform better overnight.
Pricing your Charleston vacation rental is getting easier thanks to tools such as MarketMaker, which generates recommended pricing rates for the owner. However, a competitive analysis on pricing is the best starting point to determine the nightly rate for your rental. Search similar properties in your area and take outside factors into consideration. Just because a property is listed for a certain price does not mean they are going to fetch that rate. The goal is to charge the maximum amount that is reasonable and worthwhile to both you and visitors.
Photos are one of the most important aspects of a listing. Your thumbnail photo is the first glimpse into the experience that can be had by booking your property and the goal is to use images that capture the personality and the reality of the property. Your listing can have up to 50 photos, so organize them in a way that walks the guest through the property like a virtual tour and shows the best parts of the vacation rental. Image quality matters, so take into account the image size and professionalism of your photos. The successful properties are the ones in which guests’ expectations from photos are met and exceeded upon arrival to the home.
HEADLINE & DESCRIPTION
The minimum requirement for headlines on VRBO.com is 21 characters; however, to achieve an excellent score and in turn a high rank, ensure that your headline has 70 characters. The longer description is your opportunity to elaborate on the home and in order to reach an excellent rating the description should be 400+ characters in length. We always highlight aspects of the rental the traveler would appreciate about the space: size, location, history, and design elements. Remember your guests are tourists, people visiting your city, so tell them about the benefits and proximity of your property to the attractions and locations of interest.
Calendar adjustment and attention is required daily for your Charleston vacation rental to perform the best on VRBO. Calendars unattended for weeks and months can even be removed from search results completely or lowered in the rankings significantly. Make sure that rates are current and availability is accurate. If the MarketMaker tool suggests price changes for specific dates or periods of time (i.e. event weekends, low seasonality, etc.), consider adjusting your rate to match the demand. Keeping your calendar up to date also allows you to enable instant booking & confirmation, making your property easier and more appealing for guests.
As a manager of a rental property on VRBO, your response time to questions and inquiries is critical in maintaining high performance. The target should be as fast as possible. Ideally aim for less than 24 hours, though the most attentive have designation of “within 1 hour” as their average response rates. Guests appreciate a quick response, it showcases initiative and attentiveness that guests can expect during their stay with you.
Reviews, especially early on, are crucial to the success of your vacation rental and page ranking. Always strive to deliver excellent service and experiences to your guests with the goal of receiving 5-star reviews. In the sharing economy, this is a driving factor for guests booking your home. Typically, if the user is this far along in their search, they have already confirmed interest in your rental and at this point, they are only looking for reasons not to stay at your property. Don't give them one by having a poor review.
Beyond these 6 factors, there are 7 other levers you can pull in VRBO to bring your vacation rental to the top of search results. We put a lot of time and strategy into listing performance with the goal of having our rentals appear in the top 10, in a market with more than 4,500 competitors. While we utilize tools to accelerate that process, nothing can replace the time required to monitor and maintain listings, time that many homeowners simply do not have.
Our dedicated team works full-time to optimize listings and maximize revenue for our Charleston properties on VRBO and other booking sites, in addition to the day-to-day operations of managing vacation rental homes. This is one of the many benefits of partnering with vacation rental experts for success. See how we've been able to achieve high performance for our homeowners in the case studies below...