By The Hospitable Team
If you’ve been looking to amplify your presence in the online world of vacation rentals, this blog is your golden ticket — the Hospitable Masterclass with record-breaking attendance had Laura and Mark from Google Vacation Rentals (GVR) guiding us through Google Travel’s new platform to boost bookings.
Our friends from Google Travel wanted to make their hot tips and insights even hotter by hosting the Masterclass live only — rest assured you can still find the best highlights in this blog. So, time to dive right into the burning questions, such as ranking higher in GVR searches and the nuanced differences between Google Business and Google Travel.
If you’re looking to stay ahead in the fast-evolving world of vacation rentals, this blog is your essential read. Grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and read on!
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What is GVR? A New Guest Journey.
So what is Google Vacation Rentals (GVR), and what’s all the buzz about? Laura explains, “Our job here at Google is to make this complex vacation rental journey easier,” aiming to connect travelers with businesses like vacation rentals, hotels, and more.
When a user enters a query in the main Google search bar to find accommodation in a specific city or region, for example, “vacation rentals in Chicago,” Google will display a vacation rental snippet and a map with all the available accommodation options in the area.
With Hospitable Direct’s integration with Google Vacation Rentals, you can get your own property listed on Google and benefit from increased website traffic from prospective guests.
Google does not provide you with a usual booking site. Rather, it is a comparison and research platform that takes into consideration a whole range of various aspects of the trip. “We show you different options…but we are not taking care of the booking,” she clarifies. The booking happens on your Direct Booking website.
Potential guests may also see other websites where your property is listed, such as Airbnb or Booking.com. This underlines the importance of pricing your direct listing effectively and using mark-up rates to encourage direct booking with a lower price, saving you on 3rd party fees.
This is where Mark takes over to delve deeper into the vacation rental aspect — he states that your Direct Booking website can become a part of a completely new type of guest journey… with Hospitable and GVR coming together for short-term rental hosts.
Mark underscores the direct benefits to hosts: “It allows Hospitable hosts to increase the reach and visibility of their property listings to millions of travelers…We are driving traffic to the landing page, driving direct bookings to you via the integration with Hospitable.” Head to our help article to find out more about listing your direct website on Google.
Most importantly, this service is free. “The property managers can capture this traffic at zero cost,” he enthuses. This direct connection is a game-changer for direct booking vacation rentals and hosting without intermediaries.
Google Business vs. Google Travel
Our experts from Google underline that while vacation rentals are indeed businesses, they don’t fit the conventional definition of a business location like a store or an office, “If there’s a person with the reception…We classify it as a business. But if it’s just a private property, we don’t.”
For those already having a Google Business profile, there is no direct migration or connection to GVR. This distinction is especially relevant for those who may have accumulated a significant online presence and reviews through Google Business.
Important Points for Vacation Rental Hosts
As we venture further into the world of GVR several nuanced aspects emerge:
- Reviews on GVR. Andrew from Hospitable explains, “We’re sending an aggregate review score from your other channels… We don’t own the actual written content of those reviews.” This means while the overall score is shared with Google, the detailed reviews aren’t.
- Order of Photos on Listings. Bobby from Hospitable confirms how images are sent to Google, “There’s no way to control the order of pictures. Sorting appears to be determined by the algorithm.” Google isn’t able to comment, but it has been suggested that sorting could be based on search terms and user queries.
- Dealing with Aggregators. Hosts sometimes find their properties listed on GVR by third parties without explicit consent. Mark from Google explains, “It’s likely that you have given consent before to a third party but just haven’t realized it.” Due to this, if you want to be removed from an aggregator, you will have to contact them as it is beyond Google and Hospitable’s control.
- STR vs MTR Nuances. When it comes to the type of rentals, GVR has specific guidelines. The platform is designed for short-term rentals (STR), not mid-term rentals (MTR). Properties with a length of stay longer than 30 days will not be available on GVR, as “it’s not a mid-term rental platform.” They also outlined that there was no plan to change this focus in the future.
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Another question called out during the session was in regard to pricing updates for your listing. Rest assured that they work the same as any other channel connected to your Hospitable account. So whenever we have a change in pricing, we push it to all channels at the same time.
Ranking Higher with GVR
Google Vacation Rentals (GVR) offers significant visibility and potential for direct bookings — Mark explores it further and offers valuable tips for hosts looking to enhance their visibility on GVR. Whilst he could not divulge the exact workings of the Google algorithm, he did emphasize some key points to consider.
The first step is ensuring price accuracy and comprehensive price coverage. “Accuracy and fidelity are really why we want to unlock the maximum opportunity for you,” Mark says. He emphasizes the importance of showcasing your property’s unique features, “highlighting the attributes of the property that make it special.”
He further elaborates on the significance of detailed, high-quality content, including multiple photos, clear titles, thorough descriptions, and amenities like parking, A/C, and internet. Mark notes, “These are key things that users look for, and this is what we call the high-fidelity content of the listing.”
Additionally, showcasing your brand and logo is becoming increasingly important, as mentioned by both Google and Hospitable experts. This helps build user trust and consistency between the GVR listing and your property’s landing page: “When they click through to your property landing page, they see exactly the same brands — a lot more user trust.”
Hospitable will soon add a feature that allows you to showcase your own logo on the GVR listing versus showing the Hospitable logo.
Google’s Vision of the Vacation Rental Industry
Laura from Google reveals, “We are heavily investing in the travel market and vacation rentals.” While she couldn’t share specific numbers, the direction Google is taking isn’t just about housing but on the entire travel journey of a guest.
The concept of “unified lodging” was also highlighted by Mark as a significant area of focus. This idea entails blending various types of accommodations, including hotels and vacation rentals, to offer a more seamless and diverse range of options to travelers.
The impact of such developments in the short-term rental market is potentially transformative. With Google’s vast resources, their deeper dive into vacation rentals could mean more visibility, streamlined booking processes, and enhanced user experiences for both hosts and guests.
Are you curious to learn even more about GVR? Don’t wait and head to our help article to find out more about listing your properties on Google Travel.
No direct booking website yet? Go Direct with Hospitable now and get full control of your vacation rental business!
Last year, we released 16 episodes of Hospitable Hosts Podcast. We’re excited to give you a sneak peek into the world of vacation rental property protection, guest screening, cleaning management, and smart tech!
We know that being a short-term rental host can be like a game of Tetris… guests, bookings, and cleaning schedules are constantly falling from the sky and you have to fit them all together perfectly. To help our hosts slot everything into place, we organize Hospitable Masterclasses that are jam-packed with inspiration and insight.