Expedia is one of the biggest vacation rental platforms in the world, with millions of guests from all over the world visiting it on a regular basis to make bookings. Throw in Expedia’s family and subsidiary sites, and you’ve got access to a huge proportion of the vacation rental market.
But given the sheer size of the platform, how do you make your listings stand out? How do you rank higher in Expedia search results? And more importantly, how can you get more bookings on Expedia?
Make your properties instantly bookable
We’ve written in the past how Instant Booking properties get many times more bookings than Request Booking properties. Part of that is of course down to consumer demand – guests just don’t like request booking! But it’s also about how platforms support (or don’t support) request booking. Many OTAs and Sales Channels either de-prioritise, or flat out don’t support request booking properties.
Expedia is one of those. Using Your.Rentals, property managers can list their properties on dozens of sites, including Expedia without needing an account on each platform. However, you can only do this if you enable Instant Booking for your properties. Otherwise, Expedia, and many other channels won’t allow you to publish your listings at all. And if you’re wanting to get more bookings on Expedia, you need to actually be able to get your listings visible on there in the first place!
Be wary of Expedia’s cancellation policy
Part of the reason Expedia is so popular with guests is because they require high standards from their hosts, particularly when it comes to refunds and cancellations.
Whilst Expedia do support several different cancellation policies, according to the company themselves having a flexible (or ideally free) cancellation policy is a key way to get more bookings on Expedia and a higher ranking in search results.
Many property managers are understandably cautious of having a flexible cancellation policy because they’re concerned it might lead to more cancellations. We’ve crunched the numbers on this, and whilst it is true that listings with more flexible cancellation policies do see slightly more cancellations by guests, this is offset by the large increase in bookings that these listings receive. Ultimately, if you’re looking to get more bookings on Expedia they recommend that you select the most flexible cancellation policy you can as the rewards definitely outweigh the risks.
A quick note on cancellations though: Expedia are very strict when it comes to cancellations by the host. If you’re not able to honour a booking for whatever reason (perhaps there’s an issue with the property, or you’ve accidentally double booked), you must arrange alternative accommodation for your guest. If you can’t do this, you risk paying a hefty fee. To avoid double bookings, make sure you’re using a Calendar Sync so your availability is updated on every site you use.
Use high quality photos in your listing
First impressions really count. And, if you’re planning on getting more bookings on Expedia, you need to make a good first impression. The first thing your potential guests are going to see when searching for a rental property is the photos, so you need to ensure that yours stand out. Nobody is going to click to view a property if the first photo they see is a grainy sideways picture of an out-of-focus toilet.
According to Expedia themselves, you should have at least 4 high-resolution photos for each room and a key feature available at your property. Photos are a major contributor to your overall listing score. Higher scoring listings appear higher in search results and are more likely to be booked by guests.
At Your.Rentals we recommend a minimum of 20 photos for your property, though make sure they’re of value to your guests. Many property managers use artsy shots of things like flowers or fruit bowls to try to give an air of sophistication to their listings. There’s nothing wrong with this, and injecting some personality into your photos is a great idea. But, you need to make sure you’re not doing this at the expense of providing useful information for your guests. Nobody wants to click through 30 photos of tasteful throw pillows when they just want to make sure the kitchen is big enough for them to cook in. In Your.Rentals you can add labels to your photos to identify which aspects of the property they show. This makes it easier for guests to find what they’re looking for.
More bookings lead to more bookings
Perhaps a slightly frustrating concept but it’s true. The more bookings you already have, the easier it is to get more bookings in future. This is especially true when you factor in reviews as well – listings with more (positive) reviews will appear higher in search results and are more attractive to guests.
In order to get your first few bookings, Expedia recommends setting your prices more competitively when you first start listing on the platform. Many property managers are reluctant to discount their properties as it cuts into their revenue but you have to be prepared to play the long game when it comes to listing on a large marketplace like Expedia. If you really want to set yourself up for success, you need to be able to rise up the rankings, and you won’t be able to do that without getting the first few bookings under your belt.
Set your prices slightly lower early on, get a few bookings and positive reviews and then increase your prices later once your listing reputation has solidified. In Your.Rentals you can adjust your prices and we’ll send these rates to every channel you use. You can also set seasonal rates so that your property is cheaper during the low season and more expensive during busy periods.
Write a good description of the property and surroundings
When guests are searching for properties on Expedia, they’re rarely just looking for a bed for a night. They’re looking for an experience, and every aspect of the trip from the journey they take to the things they do when they get there form part of that experience. When creating a property listing, you should of course select all amenities and facilities you offer and be as thorough as possible. But the written content is very important too.
Write a good description of your property in a way that is both informative and persuasive. You don’t need to be an expert writer to know what guests want to hear. Think about what the guest might want to do at the property and what will help them to understand instantly whether your property fulfils their needs. Don’t just write that “the property has a kitchen” – that’s probably a given. Instead “the property has a spacious kitchen with a dining area suitable for up to 12 people” is instantly much more useful to guests.
Expedia also recommends including a description of the surroundings in your property description. You might want to include a summary of the immediate neighbourhood such as “the property is located on a quiet street with minimal traffic and lots of green space nearby”. Additionally, you should offer more practical information like “the property is easily accessible by public transport or via a 10 minute drive from the train station”. Finally, you should attempt to sell guests on the kind of things they can do when they stay at your property like “the property is just a short walk away from a beautiful sandy beach” or “you can be in the heart of the city’s nightlife in just 5 minutes”.
When you create a listing in Your.Rentals, we’ll instantly translate your listing and its description into multiple languages so your guests can understand what you offer no matter where they come from. Or, you can add your own manual translation if you prefer, which allows you to create tailored content for different languages.
Expedia is a very competitive marketplace but it’s still very much worth the effort. Getting more bookings on Expedia really doesn’t have to be difficult. By making a few small adjustments to your property listing, you can soon rise up the ranks, impress guests and start receiving bookings!