How to Optimize Your VRBO Listing: A Comprehensive Guide

The 2024 VRBO market trends indicate shorter lead times, more quality competition, and increased price sensitivity among guests. To ensure your listing stands out on the VRBO platform and attracts more bookings, it’s crucial to optimize your listing effectively. Recently, a VRBO webinar identified several actions that can help hosts increase profitability.

Instant Booking: A Surefire Route to Success

Instant booking is essential for a great account acceptance rate. For example, the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge market has an 89% instant book reservation rate, Gulf Shores boasts an 80% rate, and the Outer Banks has a 70% instant booking rate. Enabling instant booking can significantly enhance your chances of securing reservations.

Timely Request to Book Responses

All reservation booking requests must be accepted within 24 hours. Prompt responses not only improve your chances of booking but also enhance your standing with potential guests.

Aligning House Rules with Business Needs

Your house rules should be aligned with your business needs to ensure that host cancellations can be made without penalty. Clear, well-communicated rules can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure a smooth experience for both you and your guests.

Understanding How Cancellations Affect Your Listing Visibility

Host cancellations diminish traveler trust, making it essential to maintain low cancellation rates. Upholding all confirmed bookings is crucial for maintaining traveler trust in the VRBO marketplace. Owner-initiated cancellations, such as those due to double bookings, inaccurate pricing, or incorrect calendar settings, can impact your search results visibility. Note that guest-initiated cancellations do not carry penalties. To maintain Premier Host status, your account cancellation rates must not exceed 1%, reflecting your overall account rather than individual property rates.

What Are Waivable Cancellations?

Certain circumstances allow for cancellations to be waived without penalties. These include:

  1. Natural Disasters: Must be fully refunded to the guest.
  2. Property Damage: Such as pipes bursting, must be fully refunded to the guest.
  3. Traveler Requested Cancellations
  4. Property Sale: Must be fully refunded to the guest.
  5. Government Regulation: Must be fully refunded to the guest.
  6. House Rules Failure
  7. Late Payment

Supporting Documentation for Waivable Cancellations

Supporting documentation is required on a case-by-case basis when requesting waivers for cancellations. This documentation can include photos, videos, text messages, emails, WhatsApp conversations, bills of sale, government regulation paperwork, and announcements. Waiver requests must be made within 30 days of the cancellation.

Cancellation Fee Structure and Temporary Suspension

To avoid last-minute cancellations and inconvenience to guests, VRBO has a structured cancellation fee system:

  1. More than 30 days before check-in: 10% fee
  2. 48 hours to 30 days before check-in: 25% fee
  3. Less than 48 hours before check-in: 50% fee

Listings impacted by cancellations will face temporary suspension for 10 days unless a waiver is requested, with a 7-day temporary suspension period per cancellation.

Premier Host Metrics

In 2023, over 34% of VRBO hosts achieved Premier Host status. This title is based on several metrics:

  1. Acceptance Rate: Must be more than or equal to 95%. This changed from 90% on January 1, 2024.
  2. Cancellation Rate: Must be less than or equal to 1% of bookings. This changed from 5% on January 1, 2024.
  3. Average Review Rating: Must be more than or equal to 4.4%. This changed from 4.3% on January 1, 2024.
  4. Completed Reviews: Accounts must have completed 3 or more reviews.
  5. Total Bookings/Nights: Accounts must have completed 5 accepted bookings or 60 accepted booked nights.
  6. Timeline: The current timeline for Premier Host status is from August 1, 2023, to July 31, 2024, with quarterly reviews.

Benefits of Premier Host Status

  1. Premier Host Badge: Visible on all listings under the account.
  2. Premier Host Filter: Guests can search for listings by filtering for Premier Host status, which many travelers prefer due to the higher level of guest satisfaction and host professionalism it indicates.
  3. Higher Search Position: Premier Host accounts receive higher rankings in the search algorithm, leading to more potential bookings.
  4. Priority Host Support 24/7: Dedicated customer support agents provide faster resolution times for issues.

By following these guidelines and optimizing your VRBO listing, you can increase your visibility, attract more bookings, and enhance your profitability in the competitive vacation rental market.

Barb is the president of NASTRA and has spent her professional career in hospitality and real estate. After acquiring her first short-term rental in 2018, Barb moved her focus to legal advocacy after she sued the city of Nashville over a permit issue. Over the last three years, she has mentored more than 2,800 new STR hosts and is the Community Leader for Airbnb in Nashville, as well as an Airbnb “Ask a Superhost” Ambassador. Barb has appeared on numerous radio broadcasts, television shows, and podcasts to talk about her love of hosting. She also manages and co-hosts a number of short term rentals across Tennessee and Arkansas. Barb and her husband Pat own a hotel brokerage, development and consulting company. Look for her upcoming podcast series, “Women of Airbnb.”

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