VRBO Boost Program | How it Works and How to Use it Best

VRBO Boost Program | How it Works and How to Use it Best

Launched in 1995, Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner) was the first online platform to enable vacation or short-term rental bookings in the vacation rental industry. As on of the world's largest vacation rental marketplaces, Vrbo is home to over 15.9 million visitors per month, giving property managers an extensive amount of visibility to travelers.

Due to the competitive nature of today's market, simply getting listed on Vrbo won't cut it. Your listings must also be optimised to rank highly in Vrbo search results for high conversion rates and maximum bookings. In the same way as other online booking platforms, Vrbo has its own algorithms that affect the ranking of your properties in search engine results. The rankings factors determine how high your listings will appear on Vrbo during a traveller's search for properties.

So What is Ranking on Vrbo?

To match travelers with their perfect vacation rental, Vrbo uses machine learning to understand what travelers want for an upcoming trip. The ranking system looks at all the properties in the area, comparing amenities, number of bedrooms, location, reviews, and other criteria. Then, it ranks each property based on how well it fits the traveler's needs.

An individual traveler's preferences - including search filters, stay dates, and other personalization factors - are combined with this ranking to determine where your property appears in their search results.

What does “ranking” mean for property managers on Vrbo?

By combining what is shared about your property and what Vrbo knows about a traveler’s preferences, your property will appear at the top of search results for travelers who are most likely to book it.

You can make your search results stand out by doing the following:

Create quality content

First impressions count. Travelers' reactions to your photos, amenities, and descriptions determine your ranking. Your dashboard feed can provide valuable insight into what makes or breaks your property for travelers.

Maintain competitive rates

Your rank is also determined by the level of competition in your market. You shouldn't set prices just because they're low, but rather you should set prices that are appropriate for your property, area, and goals.

Strategic Fee Structure

Your ranking is also affected by the fees you charge. A good way to drive bookings is to charge minimal fees and keep them lower than your nightly rate. You can help manage your business, increase bookings, and rank higher in search results if you follow the Vrbo fee-setting guidelines.

Accept and Honor reservations

You can boost your market rank by promptly responding to inquiries and booking requests, accepting bookings or enabling Instant Booking, and maintaining a low cancellation rate. Even before a traveler makes a purchase, these actions demonstrate your commitment to creating great traveler experiences.

Earn great reviews

When you receive positive reviews about your property, travelers know that their vacation is in good hands. Reviewers who rate you four or five stars show that you care about your guests and will help you rank higher.

What is the Vrbo Boost Program and how does it work?

Boost is a program for Premier Hosts designed to help improve their listings' search position for select days. As a result, a property of their choice will appear higher in traveler search results. Listings that are signed up to the Fast Start program may also be eligible for early access to the Boost program if they meet the eligibility criteria.

By using the Boost program, you could show up at the top of the search results, as well as benefit from having more bookings added to your calendar. It is also a program that lets you earn and apply “power-ups” on certain dates to improve your visibility in search.

Premier Hosts earn power-ups every time they receive a booking, and after guests complete their stay. Power-ups can help improve a listing's search position during off-season or for upcoming calendar availability.

If you are a Premier Host, you will find the Boost widget in your dashboard.

What is the Vrbo Boost Program and how does it work?

How to use your power-ups

  • Log in to your account.
  • If you have more than one property, select the property you wish to boost.
  • Select the Boost widget, then select Choose dates to boost.
  • Use the calendar to select the date range you’d like to boost.
  • Select the number of power-ups you’d like to use.
  • Review your current and forecast search position.
  • Select Accept.
  • Review your boost summary.
  • Select Confirm.

To make things easier, Vrbo will present boost opportunities, or date ranges where Boost could help you get a booking. You can then redeem your power-ups to accept Boost opportunities. You can even set up a boost up to one year in advance of the booking dates.

Redeeming power-ups for a boost doesn’t guarantee a booking. However, once power-ups are applied and the boost is confirmed, the boost cannot be canceled and power-ups cannot be returned.

What is the best time to utilize Vrbo boost?

The best times to boost are during a low season when you typically don’t get many bookings or have a gap in your calendar.

Are power-ups lost if a listing is no longer Premier Host?

You'll no longer be able to use the power-ups if you lose your Premier Host status. However, you'll continue to earn power-ups as travelers book and complete stays at your property. So if and when you regain Premier status, you'll also regain access to all of the power-ups dating back one year.

Vrbo: The Best Benefits of Boost

Vrbo: The Best Benefits of Boost

1. Attract travelers and drive bookings

As previously mentioned, your listing's search position determines how travelers see your listing in search results. One of the great things about Boost is that it helps you increase your visibility with travelers when you need a booking.

Premier Host lets you boost your visibility on specific listings during a range of dates of your choice, up to a week at a time. No matter how you use it, Boost will help you earn more bookings, whether you use it to counteract slow periods or take advantage of peak periods.

2. Earn “power-ups” for bookings and completed stays

Each time you charge a service fee or commission on an eligible listing, you will earn a power-up. You'll also earn power-ups with every booking accepted. Upon booking, you earn 20% of your potential power-ups, and the remaining 80% after the guest checks out. If a booking is canceled (regardless of the reason), you can keep the 20% power-up for accepting it, but you cannot earn the remaining power-ups.

It is important to remember that power-ups are listing-specific and can only be used to boost the search position of the listing where they were earned. Therefore, if you own several properties, for example, you cannot use power-ups from one listing to boost another listing. Furthermore, you cannot exchange or transfer power-ups with other property managers.

Finally, be sure to use your power-ups while you can. They expire on a rolling basis, one year from the date they were earned. Vrbo sends a notification prior to your power-ups’ expiration date. Eg: power-ups earned on November 13, 2020, will expire on November 30, 2021.

3. Choose your own dates to boost

You can set up search-position boosts for whenever you choose. You can also choose to use Boost for a single day or several days in a row, up to one week at a time.

Depending on the length of time, the boost's "strength" will vary. For instance, if the search is just for that single day, you will see a greater increase. If the stay or search is for three weeks and that one day is included, you'll get a smaller boost.

You can schedule boosts for qualified listings up to one year in advance of booking dates. No matter when you set them up, boosts will continue until the listing is booked, or until those dates pass. You will lose boosts if you don't use them within one year, so be sure to take advantage of them.

4. Utilize Boost in a strategic way

You may be able to close gaps in your calendar by boosting during historically slow seasons. Additionally, you might be able to boost the same listing, often with overlapping dates. You may find an opportunity to promote a Monday-Wednesday stay and another to promote a Tuesday-Saturday stay. Boost will recommend boosting those dates to the "max boost" level in order to take advantage of both opportunities - without the need for additional power-ups.

Note that when there are no opportunities to boost, that doesn’t mean you don't have power-ups. It means you don't have any times where Vrbo thinks you should be using Boost.

5. Boost can improve your search position

You can determine how effective your search position will be by using the slider in the tool. Adding more power-ups will improve results.

e.g. in some cases you can select any window from 1-7 days and apply all power-ups that are available to you). For each booking date, you’ll be limited to a maximum search-position boost (“max boost”) along with a cap on how many power-ups you can apply.

After power-ups are applied, VRBO will immediately boost your listings' search position until a booking is made or the night passes. You can boost your listings for up to seven consecutive days at a time.

You cannot change or cancel a boost once it has been applied to a listing, unless you apply more power-ups, if you have not yet reached your maximum.

6. Stand out from the competition

Appearing higher in search results gives you greater visibility and an advantage over the competition. But some partners worry if their boost will be effective if others decide to boost at the same time.

While it’s true your average search position could be affected if this happens, only Premier Hosts have access to Boost, with a limited supply of power-ups. So even though it could happen, it’s unlikely every partner in your market will use their power-ups on the exact same dates.

How can Hostaway help?

As one of Vrbo’s preferred connectivity partners, we focus on offering our customers a high-quality connection to help them grow their businesses on the Vrbo platform. Because of our close partnership with VRBO, Hostaway users will gain major benefits. Hostaway and Vrbo teams work together to ensure a constant and reliable connection, as well as to add new features, fields, and tools that deepen our integration.

VRBO Preferred Connectivity provides:

  • Increased API connectivity (our 2-way connection integrates rates, availability, guest data, descriptions, photos, amenities, titles, policies, fees, and more)
  • A reliable and monitored connection
  • Increased collaboration between the Hostaway/VRBO teams
  • Continuous improvement of our connection including the continued addition of new fields that map between systems.
  • Faster and easier troubleshooting

If you would like to save time managing your properties on Vrbo, contact Hostaway to learn more about its VRBO integration and allow our team to assist you from start to finish.

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