Google is moving into vacation rentals, and the decision is expected to significantly change the way travelers search for and book vacation homes.
At the Onsite Property Management Association (OPMA) Summit at the Reunion Resort in Orlando last Tuesday, members were updated on the progress of an ongoing beta program between Google and the OPMA membership.
Google’s vacation rental beta program with OPMA is being facilitated through technology integrations provided by BookingPal, a channel management provider in the alternative accommodations industry. The partnership was initiated by BookingPal advisor, David Baggett, co-founder of ITA Software, which was purchased by Google in 2010.
According to BookingPal founder, Alex Aydin, Google had been monitoring the vacation rental sector for some time and decided to test its US vacation rental beta program first with onsite property managers due to the on-premises services these managers provide to guests. As a result, BookingPal reached out to OPMA, which represents 60,000 rental units, to gather a group of onsite managers for the beta program.
Since the program’s launch, OPMA members have seen $1.2 million in revenue from bookings through BookingPal.
Challenges for Google in Adding Vacation Rentals
During the session, BookingPal disclosed that the vacation rental beta program has encountered challenges along the way.
“The Google platform was not set up for vacation rentals, so they’ve had to make modifications,” Aydin told members.
For example, only one URL is currently offered for each Google card making it difficult to display key-level inventory. Other challenges include the ability to index each property geographically for search and mapping, connectivity with booking engines, channel limitations, and traffic limitations during the beta period.
Despite the challenges, Aydin expects the program to be fully operational in 2018.
Google’s European Launch
As Skift first reported, “Some Google searches have been revealing an option to comparison-shop vacation rentals.”
According to the article, “The results are limited to a small subset of alternative lodging inventory similar to traditional vacation rentals. Collectively we counted about 7,000 property listings. That is a mere smattering of the potential rental listings in Europe.”
Google told the Mercury News that it considers the functionality and offering type to be a “small-scale experiment.”
“This involves a very limited amount of inventory on a trial basis,” a company spokeswoman said. “We hope to expand to more inventory, inventory types, and partners soon.”
What Vacation Rental Managers Can Do
According to Aydin, a Google card will be required for each vacation rental. Vacation rental managers can get ahead of the curve by providing business information with unique URLs for each home or unit under management. Becoming an early “owner” of the business information for each property will provide an initial competitive advantage as Google rolls out its vacation rental product.
In addition, working with channel managers who are partnering with Google will make connectivity easier in the coming months.
What will this mean for Airbnb and HomeAway?
According to Aydin, “up to 90 percent of OTA online ad budgets are spent on online search engine marketing and optimization.” As Google dives deeper into the vacation rental sector, OTA’s cost of reaching travelers likely will be impacted.
However, another potential consequence for OTAs and online marketplaces affects the rates they are able to charge to travelers.
Airbnb charges travelers a 6-12 percent “guest service fee” on top of the rental amount, while HomeAway’s “service fees” can add over 15 percent to the rental cost for travelers.
Google’s results will display comparative pricing, possibly making it more advantageous for travelers to book directly with the property manager.
Wow, cant believe the percentage change on the Air BnB for travel costs!
Google is focusing big time on local businesses, be it vacation rentals or resorts and hotels. They are now streamlining the Google my business listing of every business.
They have now added the option to add booking URL’s and the properties can also add their property images and videos to make their listing more engaging. This helps the businesses to share more information with the customers.
Its Knowledgeable Blog. Keep It Up Guys
Nice Article Thank you
PS I tried to follow you on twitter from the top left bio. The link is http://www.twitter.com/https://twitter.com/vrmintel . Thought i’d let you know. All the best.
It help those website who is good ranking
The deck is about to be reshuffled, are you ready? We can help!!! http://www.abodeca.com
Dido the other comments and present disappointing state of VRBO, HomeAway and others. For the little guy, it’s important to be able to confer directly with the prospective guest who is unfamiliar with the area, the access, the conveniences, snow conditions and the like. The old VRBO format was good. Perhaps even better to have a very simple listing with only two photos, a price range and short description – then a link to the manager’s website or phone number where the owner can create his own format and policies.
I would NOT start making those cards yet. It goes against Google My Business’ guidelines.
Allyson of Google My Business stated the following back in January:
“As some of you may have noticed, we are running a pilot to test vacation rentals on Google. As part of this pilot, we’re surfacing a limited number of listings across a handful of selected regions
We want to clarify that this pilot is not available at scale and at the moment there have been no changes to the current Google My Business guidelines.
Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate when and how to support this business model. In the meantime, if you see a listing on Maps for a vacation rental, please feel free to report it through suggest an edit as ineligible. Internally, we will determine if these listings are part of the pilot or not. If they are, they will remain on Google Maps for the time being”
Best website to find home vacation rentals in florida usa state
Interested in knowing if anyone is “getting away” with setting up GMB’s for each home they manage? We are considering this approach but want to know if it’s been successful or a waste of time due to Google’s TOS.
We are in a small area in beautiful Deep Creek Lake, Maryland with tire slashing competition. Wondering if this could help us get a leg up as well as prepare for the Google VR rollout.
My clients have enjoyed a very high on the first page of Google for a while thanks to Google My Business. Now I’m seeing them barged out of the way by the for several key phrases because of this introduction of Google’s vacation rental price checkers, which favours individual properties over agencies.
As I see it, the only way to get a presence in the vacation rental search function is to market properties through a Google partner such as booking.com which is too costly for agencies to use.
Has anyone found a way in? How does one become a partner?
This is great news! I’m with both VRBO and Airbnb and what Google proposes would be a breath of fresh air.
We need a web site that travelers can click on a map and find vacation rentals ( private homes )in that area. all you need is a phone number or email address so travelers could contact the owners.
these owners are willing to pay $1000 a year for the ad and there are milions of these homes in this country alone. VRBO and homeaway used to do this but anymore.
These kinds of websites are popping up all over. I know this one in Florida is doing very well:
There are many regional sites that offer the “back to basics” old school options. Such as NewYorkRentalByOwner.com for those interested in booking direct with the homeowner.
As others have mentioned there is a big push underway to reshuffle the deck and give people (owners/travelers/property managers) a better choice.
If travelers can remember “BookMyVacationRentalAtYourPlace.com” it may be an option.
On the other hand our clients and travelers just simply say Vacation Rentals – done.
please call 407- 258-2373 . floridarentals.com -we work same way vrbo and homeaway use to do
Here is https://www.a1vacationhomes.com/ with a clickable map to find vacation rentals and we show the phone number and email inquiry so travelers could contact the owners. This is how everyone used to work a couple of years back.
Also they have good rankings on Google searches for vacation rentals by owner, vacation rental by owner, vacation homes etc.
Use this site and give them a chance.
1984 where Big is “all”.
Big is not always good……try and find your website on major search engines……makes you wonder if “vacation rental” in your website is a Scarlett Letter……
So why being cozy now with algothrims/robots is good for you Bro?????
Very very excited for this!!
How does one obtain a “Google card”? As it appears one will be required for each vacation rental.
Hi Paul I presume they mean ‘Google My Business’ (GMB) listing.
To have a verified site a card is sent to each address with a code that you need to verify the account and you can mange your ‘cards’ properties via the GMB dashboard.
At least that is why we are doing ere in Sydney Australia
Google Italia blocked/closed all my listings/Google Place on Google My Business. The reason? They are not public places with someone there. So someone could knock at the door while a customer is in there..
Are they changinfg direction on that now?
This is a breath of fresh air to be able to book direct from the owner to guest. Not happy with the changes by VRBO, Home Away, Trip Advisor, etc. how do I get more information to join?
I so agree with you! I was a long-time user of vrbo, back when they were a mom and pop page…and as they got bought out by bigger and bigger sites (read: conglomerate) their policies just don’t work for us anymore. I have a site for our vaca rental but am still trying to figure out why it’s not coming up in a google search….
How can one fantastic rental property that has been in the vacation rental business in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico since 1985 (that’s before the Internet)get on board with Google’s new program?
Google’s program works with OTA’s. If you distribute your property with a Google approved partner than your property can show up in search.
It will be difficult for this program to work properly with the current rules Google has set. If you read the Guidelines for Google My Business inclusion they do no allow rentals:
Pulled from there terms & conditions:
“Rental or for-sale properties, such as vacation homes, model homes or vacant apartments. Sales or leasing offices, however, are eligible for verification.”
It works in destinations like Paris because they have many rentals in one location, like a hotel. For a property management company with rentals dispersed (like most) it will not work until Google implements a major change with terms and how GMB registration improves.
You can create a micro-site per rental and register the profile to create a hack but this still goes against the current terms Google has set.
I can’t wait! We need a breath of fresh air.
The fear of failing that companies like VRBO/HomeAway/ Expedia have brought to the table for their loyal owners is a wake up call for anyone who books their properties through them.
Their new search metrics that drop you in the listings at their will.. transaction fees, and eliminating customer contact prior to booking have left many owners in jeopardy of losing their properties.
I would definitely like more info and would welcome the opportunity to take part in the test program!
Hi Vince…me again! Will you be coming to Europe in the near future & do you see Google taking on Facebook’s version Lodgify…
We certainly do see plans for expansion to Europe. We are setting up test markets in 2018, We see many of these opportunities in partnerships with owner/manager focused sites. Hope all is well in Normandy!
I just wanted to clarify one item. This beta program is a partnership between Google and BookingPal. OPMA, through their relationship with BookingPal, has enabled the membership to participate in this program.
Bring it on Google! VRBO/Home Away has become the big bully on the block taking business away from established vacation rental companies and hogging up all the top search results.
I’m really excited for this, and am interested to see how it will affect not only bottom line bookings but also our current Google adwords and SEM performance.
Will you include properties in Mexico?
We include properties from all over the world. Then break it down from there.