VRBO and HomeAway want you to use instant online bookings – and now they’re putting their money into properties that support the “Book It Now” button.
While searching today I discovered that VRBO is using Google AdWords to drive traffic to their various landing pages with a filter already applied: online bookable properties only.
To view this in action, do a search for “Nags Head vacation rentals” and click on the VRBO Google Ad, then also the Google organic result (currently ranking #2 for me). VRBO sends the paid traffic from Google to a landing page that only has bookable properties – netting 422 results for guests to search from. The organic (non-paid) Google landing page that guests navigate to contains 604 rentals.
If a rental is part of the 182 rentals in Nags Head that do not have “Book It Now”, their rentals will receive less views, impressions and inquiries as a result of this filter. When viewing the landing page for Nags Head, guests will only see bookable properties. Unless a guest specifically removes the pre-checked box for “Booking Type: Book It Now”, they won’t even see the other properties during their web browsing session.
Based on my experience managing paid traffic for vacation rental companies, I can say with confidence that this is likely due to the higher overall conversion rates of this amenity compared to properties that don’t offer “Book It Now”. If you’re trying to maximize revenue through paid advertising channels, it makes a lot of sense for VRBO to only include properties that are more likely to generate higher conversions, bookings and revenue.
With the new changes to fees being added in the line-item checkout page for property owners and managers, this move will signal that VRBO is dedicated to pushing all of their properties to “Book It Now” by sending less traffic to properties that don’t support it.