How to choose a listing site (Airbnb vs. HomeAway/VRBO vs. FlipKey)
Vacation Rental Listing Site Options
You might be wondering which listing site is the best one to be on. Do I list on just one of them, do I list on all of them, where do I start? Between Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, Booking.com, FlipKey, and all the niche sites out there you have a lot of options to choose from.
As a vacation rental homeowner for over five years I think I've tried just about every single one of them! This is the same mistake I see new homeowners making all the time...trying to be everywhere all at once when you are first getting started.
You need a game plan on how to choose the listing sites that are going to be the best ones for you to start on and then grow from there.
Today, I will review my three step process to evaluating how to get started with listing sites.
Step #1: Evaluate Your Business Model
If you have decided that you will be doing a home share instead of renting out your entire property then this will be an easy decision for you, you will want to list on Airbnb since that is the listing site that accommodates home share business models.
Step #2: Think About Location and Your Ideal Guest
Starting with location this can be a great way to figure out where you first want to get listed. Airbnb tends to skew more towards the urban areas whereas VRBO or HomeAway tends to skew more to the traditional resort style and beach style vacations.
This could the first step that you use to determine which listing site you want to start with but then also think about the ideal guest that you are going to attract, if it will be more of a millennial guest then Airbnb is usually a good starting point for a younger demographic whereas HomeAway and VRBO are great starting points for a little bit older demographic, you know Gen X or baby boomer.
Another factor that you may want to consider is how long do you think your ideal guest is going to stay, is it more of a two or three night stay typically or is it going to be week long reservations?
Airbnb tends to be a little bit better for those short term stays and those last minute bookings whereas VRBO or HomeAway tends to be a little bit better for maybe the week long stays and trips that are planned well in advance. Take all of these factors into consideration when you're deciding the listing site that you first want to start with.
Step #3: Choose Your Platform(s)
When you are brand spanking new to this it is best to start small. My recommendation is to choose one for the first few months, this is where you are going to work out the kinks, figure out which messaging works best, what price points you want to be at, which headlines resonate best with your guests.
Once you determine these factors and how you're listing is best set up then incorporate one more listing site. My recommendation is to have two listing sites in the first year, typically that's going to be Airbnb and HomeAway or VRBO but you can do the research and choose what's best for you.
The reason I say to choose two listing sites is because this way you're not putting all of your eggs in one basket with one listing site because what happens if that listing site changes their algorithm or increases their prices or what if you got kicked off for some reasons? I have known that to happen and you don't want to have to start from scratch.
I say start with two because this also prevents you from getting spread too thin by being on multiple listing sites. If you're on too many then it's going to take you longer to earn those badges which are going to be really important to get more bookings, Airbnb has a super host and HomeAway has the premier partner badge.
You want to focus your efforts here first so that you can earn those badges, get recognized, and also concentrate your efforts so that you can work more favorably with their algorithm to get listed higher in those search results. My recommendation is typically going to be Airbnb and VRBO or HomeAway but go ahead and do your research and find out what works best for your market and your ideal guest.
When you're just getting started on the listing sites you'll want to know what steps you need to take to get your listing to the top of the search results and get seen and booked as quickly as possible.
Well, I've got you covered, my friend! You can grab my free marketing guide which will walk you through a 7 step process to set your listing up for success.
You can download my free marketing roadmap here!
In your first year, focus on quality over quantity! Be sure you do your research to ensure you're listing on the sites that work best for your market.
Let me know in the comments below if you are already listed on the listing sites or if you are deciding right now which ones you are going to be on.