Our previous guide introduced Google Vacation Rentals, and explained what it is. Now we’re going to dive into how to use this top-funnel traffic tool to increase both clicks and bookings for your short term rental listings by over 10%, according to Rental Scale-Up.
Vacation rentals (or holiday rentals depending on your location) appear on 3 main Google products. Those are:
If you’re not already familiar with Google Vacation Rentals, the first place you may notice interactive accommodation appearing on Google is on a Google search page. In the image below you can see accommodation options appearing on the search page for the search term "accommodation in London". Selecting anything on this widget sends you to the dedicated Google Travel product (shown further down this page).
According to Bing, search engines are used by 70% of people when planning a trip.
When searching on Google Maps for the same search term "accommodation in london" you will see many more results with pins on the map showing the rough location and nightly price of each option. The listing page is squeezed into the left-hand-side panel.
You can access Google Travel either by selecting anything on the accommodation widget which appears on the Google Search page, or by visiting Google Travel directly on this URL: google.com/travel.
Once you search for Vacation rentals (or Holiday rentals) in a certain location (eg. London in our example below) you are presented with a much more Airbnb-like experience. You can filter by amenities, price, property type, reviews etc. The property results on the left-hand-side provide richer information than you see on Google Maps or the Google Search widget.
Selecting a listing on Google Travel is also more Airbnb-like than on Google Maps (above). A potential guest can view reviews, images, and more detail under the About tab. Listing pages are much lighter on content than traditional booking sites, however.
Google Travel works well across any device, for example travelers looking for a vacation on the go would see this:
It’s easy to use the Google Travel booking engine, simply type in your destination and dates of travel. You can even use the tool’s filters:
We already know the benefits of using this service: visibility, distribution, no commission, reputation building, and an even footing alongside hotels, but how easy is it to get started?
Google Vacation Rentals doesn’t finalize bookings on the search engine, instead the tool directs guests to your website, meaning you won’t be charged fees. With traditional OTA fees charging guests between 6-18% fees and hosts fees of up to 25%, this is a huge benefit for both large enterprise property managers and smaller property managers.
Your direct booking website prices will be significantly cheaper for guests to book, without you losing out on any revenue. Having your own website also removes some restrictions traditional OTAs may have, for example, you could offer guests more flexibility, discounts plus extras. You can run your rentals by your own rules, including booking and refund policies.
For growing property managers, Google Vacation Rentals can increase visibility through Google’s global distribution, reaching 3.5 billion people searching per day, and a presence on the first search page. This allows you to build your vacation rental brand and scale at pace. You may rank alongside larger managers and hotels, putting you on a level playing field.
All of the above applies for larger enterprise property managers too, but you’re likely already well known in the travel industry. Still, you can benefit from ranking alongside major hotels and rentals on OTAs without having to pay the fees, and for a big company this could save millions which can be reinvested elsewhere.
Bookable being the key word. You can create a Google My Business profile at any time, and you should. However, Google My Business listings will not appear on Google Travel, or as bookable listings on Google Maps and the Google Search accommodation widget. Potential guests won't be able to search for a date range, view prices etc.
To take advantage of the enormous search volume on Google, your vacation rentals must be integrated with, and listed through the Google Vacation Rentals platform.
You’re not able to list directly through Google Vacation Rentals, but getting started is so simple. Below are the three ways to get your properties on Google Vacation Rentals:
Assuming you have less than 5,000 properties and prefer bookings to go directly through your direct booking website to save 10-20% in fees and get to own the guest journey, your best option is #2. Work with an approved third-party connectivity partner, such as Uplisting.
So what do you need to do for your properties to appear on Google products and accept booking through Google? The process is straightforward on Uplisting.
With Uplisting you can list your properties on Google and take advantage of their enormous search volume in minutes. It really is that simple.
Despite the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, we all do! If we come across a website that is poorly made, hard to navigate and generally not great, we’re unlikely to trust it and therefore won’t buy the product on offer. It’s also been reported that 40% of people abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
As Google Vacation Rentals directs travelers to your website, it’s essential to have a well made, quick and easy to use site waiting for them, to increase conversion rates.
Uplisting ensures your direct booking website ticks all these boxes, and more, automatically.
Be specific. Google ranks properties based on their search criteria relevance. So, if you have a balcony or a designated workspace in your property make sure to highlight this. The latter is specifically beneficial in relation to the digital nomad trend, with 1 in 4 remote workers taking extended trips. Use this market opportunity and draw in that audience by appealing to their needs.
Take reviews seriously, because Google does! The more positive reviews your listing has, the higher it will rank against other local properties, increasing your bookability. Data suggests that reviews over 4.7 can boost occupancy in your rentals by 5% compared with those reviewed 4.6 and lower. Leave a card with your details on to remind guests to review their stay, or send an automatic email/message after they’ve left. You could even go the extra mile by having a little treat waiting for them on arrival, such as locally sourced produce, to increase your score!
Become known. Google doesn’t just rank listings based on relevance and distance, but also prominence. The more Google knows about you from the web, the more you could be seen! Blogs, articles, interviews, and backlinks to your website, all help Google understand who you are by seeing who you are associated with.
There are many benefits of using technology in vacation rentals. By enlisting the help of property management tools, you can display your rentals to millions on the world’s top booking sites and, with the help of time-saving automation, efficiently add more properties to your portfolio.
Smart pricing systems update your listings according to changing demand, ensuring you benefit from busy periods and attract travelers in quieter times with lower rates.
Short term rental property management software can also send automated messages to guests. This has a host of benefits but most importantly for Google Vacation Rentals, it can send messages to guests after they check out reminding them to review their stay.
Home tech tools can help you manage tasks such as bookings, payments, and guest messaging smoothly in one place. So, as more bookings come in from Google Vacation Rentals, vacation rental software can help you continue to provide top quality services to your customers.
It’s really easy to power up your own booking site using Uplisting, where you can benefit from fee-free bookings through direct traffic. So, if you don’t already have your own website for your vacation rental business, we advise setting this up as the first step to get the most out of Google Vacation Rentals search engine and to rank alongside major providers and hotels.
Uplisting is a property and channel management software built specifically for helping short term rental managers scale their businesses. You can now list on Google Vacation Rentals by partnering with us!
We’ve built an all-in-one property, channel management and automation tool to help property managers scale seamlessly.