*This article is sponsored content from Vrbo ®, an Expedia Group company*
From Cyril Ranque, President, Travel Partners Group, Expedia Group
Alongside our hosts, Vrbo has set a high benchmark in vacation rentals for over 25 years. We have offered travelers a memorable vacation rental experience while giving our hosts access to a whole-home platform to grow their business. There is no doubt that vacation rentals are leading the travel rebound and 2021 has been our best start to a year in the U.S. We want professional hosts to be able to join us quickly and seamlessly as we continue this exciting journey.
Setting Up New Hosts for Success
This is the reason why Vrbo is launching ‘Fast Start’, a new program that increases the visibility of new properties in the first 90 days and displays a review score based on reviews from other travel sites. Vrbo performed well last year and individual property owners who joined Vrbo in 2020 made an average of almost $6,000 (U.S.) per property or 50% more than other travel sites. In fact, we are seeing great consumer demand on our site and this presents an opportunity for our partners and new hosts wanting to join us. With Fast Start, new hosts join a trusted global vacation rental brand whilst keeping their hard-earned review score, and receive increased visibility, to set them up for early success on our platform.
Vrbo Fast Start Qualifications
Any Superhost or host with 4.5+ review rating and who has earned more than $3,000 in the last year is eligible for Fast Start. New properties across all vacation rental segments and brands—from individual owners to multi-property accounts—will display a ‘New to Vrbo’ badge for 90 days and feature its review score based on reviews from other travel sites. During this time, the new property will have an elevated position in sort, and new hosts will receive dedicated, personal support. The program begins with a virtual kick-off call from a Vrbo expert for seamless onboarding and a property does not have to be exclusive to Vrbo. The program launches this month in the United States and will roll out globally in the coming months.
Promising First Results
Vrbo piloted the program with 1,600 U.S.-based hosts who recently came from other sites and wanted a quick way to ramp up their bookings. The impact of the Fast Start program for each property was positive, including:
- 25% increase in bookings,
- 50% increase in booked nights,
- 140% increase in gross booking value.
In 2020, Vrbo worked with hosts to encourage responsible travel during the pandemic, which is now reaping long term benefits for the vacation rental industry. In March last year, Vrbo encouraged hosts to provide credits to redeem when the traveler felt safe, or was able, to travel again. At the time, almost 95% of Vrbo hosts opted into this program. Vrbo also included a ‘local laws’ functionality where hosts can see local laws relevant to them in each region through Vrbo’s partner portal Discovery Hub. Vrbo also partnered with NoiseAware, a wireless noise monitoring service which notifies hosts and property managers when noise levels reach or exceed an appropriate level.
The pandemic brought unprecedented shifts in the travel landscape, but while travel dramatically slowed, travel planning did not, as 82% of families already have travel plans for 2021. Even travel experts expect that vacation rentals will remain a top choice for consumers going forward, contributing to economic recovery efforts in every corner of the world.
 Based on public information seen by 03/20/2021. Figure from during the pandemic to 31/12/2020.
 Pilot ran during pandemic. All US properties. Comparison between eligible properties using Fast Start versus eligible properties not using Fast Start.