Google Flight, Google Hotel, and then Google Vacation rentals. Google launched Google Vacation rentals in early 2019. Since then major online travel agencies (OTA) such as Vrbo and TripAdvisor, as well as key metasearch platforms like HomeToGo have partnered with Google to show their vacation rentals on this new platform. The latest one to join Google Vacation rentals is Booking.com.
Obviously, Google is creating a one-stop-shop for travellers. From inspiration for their next dream vacation to online travel bookings, consumers can get all the information they need within Google. This one-stop-shop experience will definitely change travellers’ habits in searching and looking for travel ideas and products. As a vacation rental manager, what does it mean for you? And, maybe more importantly, how can you show your vacation rentals on Google?
In this article, we will explore all these questions and help you to build a sound channel and marketing strategy in the long run.
What is Google Vacation rentals?
Back in 2018, Google redesigned its mobile and desktop hotel search experience, and began to include vacation rentals in hotel search results. Later on in March 2019, Google added a filter “vacation rentals” to make the vacation rental search much easier. Stepping into 2020, Google has launched “Vacation rentals” as a stand-alone product alongside “Trips”, “Things to do”, “Flights”, and “Hotels”.
Google Vacation rentals is now available on both mobile and desktop devices. Travellers can select their destination, date, and sort the results by lowest prices or highest ratings. Furthermore, to enable travellers to narrow their search, there are amenity filters, and users have the ability to browse photos, read reviews and see rates and availability of the vacation rental property.
The user experience is pretty much like that on any OTAs except when travellers decide to book a specific rental and click “Book Now” or “Learn more”, then travellers will be brought to the partner site to complete the booking process and pay.
Who can list on Google Vacation rentals?
Google Vacation rentals work with a few partners such as Expedia, Vrbo, Hotels.com, RedAwning and TripAdvisor. The latest partner is Booking.com. Interestingly, Airbnb has not integrated its vacation rentals on Google (yet).
If you have listed on those OTAs, your vacation rentals should already be listed on Google Vacation rentals. Or if you use a channel manager like Your.Rentals, then all these channels are available for you. As long as you select and activate these channels, your properties will be listed on Google Vacation rentals.
One of the advantages of using a channel manager is that you can easily manage your properties on multiple channels and synchronise the calendars, avoiding any double bookings. If you already have properties listed directly on those major OTAs and would like to use Your.Rentals, you can also easily copy the listings by just one button click. Should you have 5 or more rentals, we have a dedicated account manager to help you scale up your business.
What do the search results look like for travellers?
As a study from Expedia pointed out, 69% of travellers use search engines to start to think about a trip. Another study from Bing also highlighted that 70% of people use search engines as one of the sources when planning travel. Apparently, search engines like Google are playing a critical role in shaping what travellers see, get inspired by, and finally book. Therefore, even if you do not have the budget to bid against the big OTAs in terms of paid ads or do not have time and expertise to build up your SEO capabilities to drive organic traffic, you will still want your rentals to be visible at least in Google Vacation rentals.
For example, when travellers type “vacation rentals in Barcelona” on Google, they will first see some search ads, and usually these are ads from the big OTAs like booking.com or Vrbo. Then they will see another snippet with the big OTA logos and names. If they click on any of these names, it will bring them to the OTAs’ specific Barcelona landing page. These are the paid ads (below is the example).
When users continue to scroll down, they will see the vacation rental snippet with a few listings on the left and a map with price tags on the right. If users click these listings or choose to view more, then they will be brought to Google Vacation rentals page.
If travellers look further down, then they will come to organic search results. Again, it is usually occupied by those big OTAs with blog posts about destination ideas or specific destination landing pages with different accommodation options.
What if you have your own vacation rental website?
If you have your own vacation rental website and a company address, you can also consider leveraging Google My Business. Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. With local search being an integral element of a comprehensive marketing strategy, you should not miss out on this opportunity.
However, you may note that Google My Business also indicates businesses that are not eligible for the platform. One of the businesses not eligible includes “rental or for-sale properties such as vacation homes, model homes, or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification”.
However, when we check on the Google My Business community, we see different answers. Some property managers can show their vacation rentals there with a website but some cannot.
No matter whether you consider showing your vacation rentals by listing your business with a website and official company address on Google My Business, you will still want to make your website SEO friendly and searchable. Check out our article How Can You Drive More Direct Bookings From Your Website? to learn the tips.
What if you do not have a website but you are considering having one?
The purpose of creating a website is not only about visibility or branding, but also getting more direct bookings. So you can save the channel commission, keep the most of your booking revenue, and engage with your guests directly. That said, you should not replace OTA channels with your own website completely. This article has detailed what common mistakes vacation rental managers have when coming to direct bookings and shares tips on how to avoid them.
One major takeaway is that your website should be a bookable website. That means it should have a booking widget or booking engine that synchronises with your calendar to show guests what is available and what is not. It should also have the payment and transaction function to ensure you secure the booking and payment. Your.Rentals can help professional property managers to build and develop an effective website. If you have 5 or more properties, feel free to reach out to an Account Manager.
With Google Vacation rentals more established and Google’s ambition to create the one-stop-shop experience under Google Trips, vacation rental managers should diversify their marketing and channel strategy. On the one hand, your vacation rentals should connect to a channel manager that enables you to list on Google Vacation rentals. On the other, you should also create a bookable website to generate direct bookings. By doing this, you will have a holistic marketing strategy and channel for your vacation rentals, and that will enable you to scale up your business at ease.
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