You want your vacation home to stand out to potential guests, so you’ve probably wondered: “How do sites like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO rank my property?”
The short answer: The search ranking algorithms used by vacation rental platforms take into account several factors, including how well guests are rating your property, how quickly you respond, and the price point of your property. A higher ranking, of course, means more exposure, which can in turn lead to more bookings and help you meet your revenue goals.
Here’s what you need to know about vacation rental rankings, and how to make your property rank high on Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.
How do I rank high on Airbnb?
In all, Airbnb layers 100 different factors into its search ranking algorithm to help link guests with perfect listings. The algorithm is confidential, however Airbnb dishes that the rankings take into account guest needs and trip details—which could include the types of listings travelers have added to their “Wish List,” previous trips, and if they’ve set a minimum or maximum price. To get ranked high, Airbnb is also considering five-star reviews, pricing, how quickly you respond to requests.
You don’t have to excel in every single category to rank well. Instead, Airbnb insiders suggest, focus your efforts on the areas that you have the most control over.
For example, search rankings favor vacation home rentals that have been reviewed and highly rated by guests. Good guest reviews are key to performing well in searches, but Airbnb says don’t sweat it if you’ve had a small number of negative ratings or some guests have skipped out on reviewing your property altogether.
New hosts will also get a boost from Airbnb, which can help establish your listing and help it pick up some momentum.
Another important factor that’s in your control and that can affect your Airbnb ranking is how your property is priced. Airbnb suggests competitive pricing within your market.
Interestingly, achieving Superhost status doesn’t automatically boost a listing. But, the factors that earn you Superhost status do help your listing rank high. These factors include having a like having at least 4.8 average rating; having at least 10 stays in the last year; responding to new messages within 24 hours 90 percent of the time; and having now cancellations in the past year unless there were extenuating circumstances.
How do I rank high on HomeAway and VRBO?
Travelers can choose to filter their search results by specific price points, locations, amenities, and other factors. From there, the ranking system that HomeAway and VRBO use pop up results that are most tailored to their needs.
The best way to improve your ranking metrics is by focusing on your Market Rank, which you can monitor from your dashboard. It looks at the amenities that you have available to guests, positive reviews, and the quality of the content on your listing—which includes high-quality photos and a description of your property and everything it has to offer.
To help increase your performance in search results, Brendan Yancy, HomeAway global product marketing manager, suggests enabling “Instant Booking,” making sure you are priced competitively.
“Also, update your property descriptions, photos, and respond to reviews,” Yancy says.
Other ways to boost your Market Rank is by consistently earning 4- and 5-star reviews, avoiding cancellations, and accepting and honoring bookings.
Tips to build your rankings
Now that you’ve got a good grasp on how vacation rental algorithms work, what extra steps can you take to make sure you’re ranked high? Megan McCrea—who is the President of The Nashville Area Short Term Rental Association and also does hospitality interior design and consulting through her business The Hospitality Creator—shared some tips with us.
For a successful vacation rental, you need to know your audience and guests. Who is your home ideally suited for and how can you market to them? For example: If your home has generous sleeping space, a big, great kitchen and outdoor amenities, it might make sense to focus on marketing to families. Family-friendly amenities could include, a pack n play, room darkening shades, high chairs, toys, and books, McCrea says.
Since reviews are critical to helping you earn 5 stars, surprise your guests with the unexpected, McCrea suggests. That could include bottled waters, local chocolates, mints, and snacks.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for a review, McCrea says.
“When we send checkout instructions (yes, I suggest that, too) I also include a blurb that lets them know we really value their feedback, we work hard to maintain our 5-star status and would love it if they’d leave a review as it really helps us. Notice how we put that little ‘5-star’ comment in there without asking for a 5-star? We’ve found that helpful but not pushy.”
With the understanding of how Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO rank your property, plus these actionable tips, you’ve got what you need to become a high-rated property.