Where (and How) to Market Your Vacation Rental

Choosing where to list your vacation rental property can have a huge impact on your occupancy rates and revenue. By marketing on multiple sites, you have the opportunity to reach more travelers. There are a lot of booking sites to choose from, but to get started with marketing your vacation rental property, we recommend Airbnb, HomeAway/VRBO, Expedia, and your property manager’s website.

If you do choose to market your rental property on multiple sites, there are some common best practices (like great photos and a detailed description) across platforms. The only site where you might need to change your strategy is Expedia because you’ll be competing with hotels and resorts for potential guests.

Taking the time to create a listing that stands out travel sites across the web can give you a big advantage. Here’s everything you need to know about how to do just that.


How to market your vacation rental on Airbnb

On an average night, there are about 2 million people staying in Airbnbs around the world. Established in 2008, this online rental marketplace has become popular among all types of travelers. By marketing your vacation rental property on Airbnb, you can reach the site’s 150 million users and offer them a memorable travel experience. Airbnb lets you select specific features about your home to highlight so guests can easily find which rentals are right for them when perusing listings. When you’re marketing on Airbnb, you need to make sure you stand out among the 5 million other listings on the site. Your property will be competing with thousands of vacation rentals and with single or shared rooms in other homes.

First things first: Photos are a key element of each Airbnb listing. We suggest hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your property (if you need help finding one, Airbnb can match you with a local photographer here). Airbnb recommends that you take photos of the inside, outside, and neighborhood. You should also highlight any unique amenities your home might have, like a pool, funky artwork, or a treehouse. With these photos, you’re hoping to grab someone’s attention as they quickly scroll through the site. You should also have a good photo of yourself on your profile with a true write-up about your life. Include details about what you and your family like to do in the neighborhood. This might help guests see you as a real, friendly person rather than a stranger.

Another way to get their attention? Decorate your home with a modern, updated design. Guests are seeking a home away from home that still offers them a unique experience they wouldn’t get anywhere else. Trendy homes with local touches tend to attract more travelers.  

You’ll also want to be descriptive in your listing. Are you close to any nearby attractions? Make sure you include that information along with the best way to get to those popular sites (like by foot, bus, Uber, etc.). Be descriptive about your neighborhood too. Let guests know if you’re in a quaint, quiet area or if you’re in the heart of a bustling downtown street.

And don’t forget about your reviews! Travelers are looking for top-rated listings. It can help you stand out and look like a communicative host if you respond to every single review you get, whether it’s positive or negative.


How to market your vacation rental on HomeAway/VRBO

Your property listing only has about 8 seconds to grab someone’s attention on HomeAway. A good HomeAway/VRBO listing will tell travelers a story about your property and entice them to book your rental for their trip.

Similar to Airbnb, the photos you post are crucial to getting potential guests to notice your listing. HomeAway recommends that you tell a story with your photos and “create a scene in which the person can imagine themselves being part of.” Take photos of the bedrooms, bathrooms, living areas, outside areas, and any local attractions nearby (like the mountains, a neighborhood park, or a busy downtown street). Also take photos of any stand-out amenities you provide, like snacks, beach chairs, or bicycles.

When you’re writing your listing for HomeAway or VRBO, start with a great headline. You want to write something that speaks to who the home is best for, shows off the features of your home (like an oceanview or a private pool), and talks about the amenities. For example, try something like “Cozy, Family-Friendly, On-Mountain Cabin with Jacuzzi!” Don’t waste space in your headline mentioning how many bedrooms and bathrooms your home has. HomeAway will include that information right below the headline, so focus more on telling a story about your property.

For your description, the same “tell a story” strategy applies. Don’t write something like “This cabin has great views of the mountain.” Your goal should be to help your travelers picture themselves living there, even if it’s only for the weekend. So instead of that description above, paint the picture of how your guest can drink their morning coffee on the porch with panoramic mountain views as their backdrop. And be sure to describe the neighborhood. Include which attractions, restaurants, and bars are nearby and anything else that stands out about your part of town.


How to market your vacation rental on Expedia

In 2015, Expedia purchased HomeAway for $3.9 billion. This means that since the acquisition, more and more vacation rentals have been popping up on the popular booking site. This also means that most of the tips we mentioned about marketing on HomeAway still apply. However, one big difference is that when you’re marketing your rental on Expedia, you’re competing with hotels. The good news for you as a vacation property owner is that travelers prefer rental homes to hotel rooms. In TurnKey’s 2018 Consumer Travel Survey, 54% of travelers said they prefer to stay in vacation rentals compared to just 23% who said they prefer hotels.

When listing on Expedia, it’s important to have a descriptive headline for your rental. For example, if your rental is located in Seattle, travelers might be searching for a property near the popular Pike Place Market. By using the headline “2 bedroom condo across from Pike Place Market,” in your listing, you have the ability to meet potential guests’ needs better than a listing that just says “Hyatt Regency.” And just like with the other sites, photos are extremely important. Hotels are using extremely professional photos in their listings, so we recommend you do the same. Take photos of every room, as well as of the outside of your rental property.


Your Property Manager’s site

If you hire a property manager to help you with the day-to-day management of your rental, it’s likely that the company has listings on their own site as well. They’ll typically also help you create a listing that stands out on multiple booking sites across the internet. At TurnKey, we have a professional copywriting team that expertly crafts all of our clients’ listings. They’ve created a set of listing guidelines from extensive research, data analysis, and interviews with industry experts. Depending on your property management company, you might also be able to get their help replying to questions to create a better guest experience (which ultimately leads to better reviews!). TurnKey has a guest experience team that guests can communicate with 24/7. If you’re getting a lot of questions per day, hiring someone else to take care of the responses can give you time back in your day.


How to succeed on every site

Maintaining your listing on all of the above sites can be tedious. If you update one or change the rate depending on the season, you’ll need to update all of them to make sure each potential guest has the correct information. A good property manager can help with that (check out this list of the 50+ sites TurnKey will list your property on to help you reach 95% of online travelers!).  By letting a third party handle all of your listings on Expedia, Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway, and more, you don’t have to worry about a thing!

Need help marketing your vacation rental? Schedule a consultation with our team to get the most out of your vacation rental listing.

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