Over the past few years, the concept of the “travel experience” has become increasingly popular. Rather than booking standard hotel rooms, many people are opting to rent apartments or vacation homes from people who live in the place they’re visiting.
This gives travelers a richer travel experience and an idea of what it’s like to live as a local. This type of experience isn’t easily replicated at a hotel.
And this sweeping travel trend has created lots of opportunity for people who want to rent out their homes to make some serious rental income. With sites like VRBO and Airbnb, it’s incredibly easy to list your apartment for rent and make some extra cash.
Are you planning on doing some travel for a few weeks and want to rent your apartment as a short-term rental? Do you have a second home you want to rent out for a few months?
Either way, it’s easy to do so. Keep reading for everything you need to know about renting and maximizing your listing on VRBO.
What is VRBO?
VRBO stands for vacation rental by owner. It’s a site that allows people to list and browse all sorts of vacation homes available for rent. Houses, apartments, condos, villas…you’ll find them all on VRBO.
VRBO started in 1995 but was acquired by the HomeAway family of companies in 2006. And since then, the demand for the “local travel experience” has continued to grow.
It’s similar to Airbnb in that travelers have their pick of a wide range of different places. However, with VRBO, they have to rent the whole apartment whereas, with Airbnb, travelers can rent private rooms within homes.
Luckily, there are tons of homes listed, so travelers’ options are endless and property owners can confidently list their home.
Also, VRBO allows renters to rate their stay and enables homeowners to respond to the renter. This unique feature can help you create a better experience for your guests, but more on that later.
VRBO is a subscription-based service, and there are two payment plans available for property owners. If you opt for a pay-per-booking fee, you’ll be charged 8% for every booking received through the website.
This is the suggested option for homeowners who plan to rent for less than six weeks per year.
The other option is to pay for an annual subscription, which is a flat fee of $499 upfront before you ever rent the place. This is ideal for people who intend to rent their home out year-round.
Because the website makes it incredibly easy for travelers to find the perfect home to rent, it’s important to make your listing stand out.
How Can I List My Apartment on VRBO?
Listing a property on VRBO is easy, but if you want your home to stand out, it will take some time and effort to create an incredible listing.
According to VRBO, homeowners who have listed their homes reach travelers in 190 countries and on more than 50 dedicated sites. Homeowners set their prices and availability and have the final say on who they want to rent to.
The company also provides top-notch reservation tools that make it easy to set up your rates and manage your bookings.
Creating the perfect rental property listing can take some time, but if it’s the difference between renters booking with you or choosing another listing, it’s worth the time and effort.
Ready to get started?
To begin creating your listing, log on to the VRBO website. You’ll be prompted to enter a few necessary details first, such as the number of bedrooms and number of bathrooms in your apartment.
Based on the specifics of your apartment, you’ll be given an estimate of how much you can make renting each year.
You’ll also need to fill in lots of details about your place such as the location, booking options, photos, house rules, and other quirks. You’ll also be asked a few security questions to protect your account.
The last thing you’ll need to do is decide on the payment method you’re willing to accept from renters, the pricing for your listing, and the rental agreement.
Complete your rental listing, submit it to VRBO, and they will review it. Once it’s approved, your listing will go live on the site.
How Can I Improve My VRBO Listing?
There are lots of ways you can improve your VRBO listing. The better the listing, the better the chances of it booking up.
It can take a bit of trial and error to create the perfect listing, but there are a few initial things you can do to set yourself up for success.
The first thing to do is to post clear, high-quality photos. Make your property look as appealing as possible and show all of its best features and amenities.
First impressions are everything, and if your apartment looks less than appealing to stay in, you won’t receive any requests to book.
It’s also important to proofread your listing to make sure it’s free of typos and spelling errors. A clean, error-free listing goes a long way by showing your professionalism.
Also, it’s important to be crystal clear about important policies such as your cancellation policy, deposits, guest expectations, maximum or minimum number of nights to stay, online payments, and the like.
When writing your listing description, ask yourself, “Would I click on this listing? Would I stay at this apartment?” It’s also a good idea to send it to family and friends before posting to see what they think. A little tweak here or there can make a big difference.
VRBO makes this very clear: high-quality photos and a well-written property description aren’t all you need.
VRBO states that “owners and managers who meet or exceed our Marketplace Standards often place higher in search engine results.” The higher you place, the more people will see your listing.
So how do you meet or those expectations? There are a variety of metrics that VRBO uses to determine how high you’ll rank:
Cancellation rate – It’s not fair to travelers to have their reservation canceled by the homeowner once it’s been booked. Unless it’s an extreme situation, you should always avoid canceling a booking. Travelers, on the other hand, can cancel orders, and that does not impact your cancellation rate at all.
Bookings – You make the ultimate decision on who you want to rent to, but you’ll rank higher if you accept most booking requests. This boosts confidence in travelers and makes renters more likely to want to stay in your home.
Response rate – VRBO wants to improve the travel experience, and that includes responding to travelers within a timely manner. If a traveler emails you, it’s best to respond within 24 hours, whether you want to accept them or not.
Decline rate – Keep your decline rate as low as possible. Travelers get frustrated when they request a booking only to receive a notification that it’s unavailable. A high decline rate will lower traveler confidence in your listing.
Reviews – If your home has lots of negative guest reviews, don’t expect to rank very highly in VRBO search results. So if you know your property deserves good reviews, encourage your renters to leave positive feedback.
VRBO will automatically receive a review request when their stay is complete. Encourage travelers with a simple note or email to leave honest feedback. The better your reviews, the easier it will be to increase revenue.
To see your current metrics, click on the Ranking Metrics page of your account. You can also visit the Marketplace Feed in your account to view the win/loss posts.
This will give you a good idea of how your property compares to similar properties in your area.
How Much Money Can I Make Renting With VRBO?
When you sign up with VRBO, they’ll give you an estimate of how much you can make renting your home or apartment.
But if you put some work into it, you can make more than that estimate. There are a few ways you can do this.
For starters, you can raise your rates when necessary. During peak times and special events, if rental listings in your city are in high demand, raise your prices.
If your listing has tons of interest and booking requests, that’s also a sign that you might be able to charge a bit more.
The goal is to create an incredible travel experience for renters. Be professional with every interaction you have with them, starting with the first inquiry or email.
The better the experience you can create, the faster your calendar will book up.
If you have a good listing, you should be able to meet VRBO’s estimate. But when it comes time to price your listing, make sure you don’t forget to add in your extra expenses.
Account for your subscription fee by adding that into the rental listing price.
Some homeowners like to leave welcome baskets, new sheets, and fresh bath towels, which can be accounted for when setting your prices.
If you plan to provide those items, make sure the rental price reflects those accommodations.
Other homeowners provide little things and essential items like soap, bottles of water, and snacks. Make sure you take any items that you use to stock the place into account when you price the listing.
VRBO Tips for Homeowners
Getting ready to list your apartment on VRBO for the first time? Here are some tips to keep in mind and some things you can do before listing, during the booking period, and after the stay has ended.
Have the Correct Rental Insurance Policy
It’s crucial that you know what rental coverage to have. VRBO suggests that all homeowners have a particular type of vacation rental insurance. Why isn’t regular homeowners insurance enough? VRBO’s official policy on the issue is:
“Most vacation rental owners carry either homeowners or landlord insurance policy, both of which have significant coverage gaps. Homeowners insurance is designed for an owner-occupied property, while a landlord policy is designed to be tenant-occupied. Vacation rentals typically have triple use throughout the year, mostly being occupied by paying rental guests, but at times enjoyed by the owner, and at times possibly unoccupied. You need a vacation rental insurance policy that can cover all three occupancies.”
Before you list your apartment on VRBO, or any other rental site for that matter, make sure you have the proper insurance.
Prep Your Home Before Your Guests Arrive
Create a checklist so that you can do all the things you need to do before your guests arrive. For starters, have the apartment professionally cleaned. That’s a must that should be on everyone’s list.
Prepare gift baskets or welcome baskets with some small amenities and extras. These gestures go a long way with renters and are a great way to make a solid first impression.
Write out special instructions for things such as alarm systems and audio and video systems. And don’t forget to share your Wifi password; your guests won’t be too happy if they can’t connect their devices or use their phones.
Every homeowner has a different way of preparing for a guest. To make things easier, VRBO has this handy checklist that you can download so you won’t forget anything!
Ask Your Renters About Their Stay
Ask your renters for honest feedback about their stay once it concludes. Then use that information to make improvements and positive changes for future travelers. And don’t just look for good feedback – encourage them to detail anything that was an issue.
With that information, you can even create a renter FAQ for future renters to look at if they have questions. Also, having an FAQ means that it’s less likely your renters will need to contact you, which may be important for some homeowners.
Keep good records of all of the questions you ask and all of the feedback you receive. That way, you can always expand upon your FAQ if need be. Make it easy to follow by grouping similar questions and answers together.
Ask your guests if they want you to email them the FAQ before they arrive at your apartment. It’s also wise to leave a copy of the FAQ in your apartment for guests to reference while they’re there.
The key to success is to provide them with as much information as possible and to gain as much feedback as possible in return. It’s also a good idea to make a list of emergency contact information, complete with any and all phone numbers your guests may need during their stay.
Listing your apartment on VRBO is a great way to earn rental income if you’re going to be traveling for a while or have a second home that you only visit on occasion.
Renting local apartments is a growing travel trend, as it’s a benefit to both the renter and the homeowner.
If you put inthee time and effort, you can make a lot of money renting your apartment on VRBO.
Do what it takes to create a great listing. Respond to inquiries and questions within 24 hours.
Create a great guest experience by providing welcome baskets and other essentials that will make them feel at home.
Ask for feedback and use that feedback to make improvements. Your guests will appreciate it!