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Airbnb rival hopes to revolutionise holiday home rentals in Europe

Home rental websites are overhauling their system to accommodate post-lockdown demand
Home rental websites are overhauling their system to accommodate post-lockdown demand Copyright Vrbo / Expedia
Copyright Vrbo / Expedia
By Sarah Palmer
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A new booking system from Expedia’s home rental platform is boosting availability across the travel industry.


Throughout the summer of 2021, prices rose across travel platforms to compensate for the industry-wide drought we have seen in the past 18 months. Many businesses seized the opportunity to either launch competitive channels or revamp existing models - and Expedia’s Vrbo platform is the latest to roll out its new format.

Airbnb has dominated the property rental market since its launch in 2008. Easy to use, secure and operating on a global scale, it set a precedent for others to follow.

Last year, Expedia levelled up its investment into Vrbo - specifically focusing on expanding into the UK and European markets. While this branch of the Group has existed for 25 years - making it one of the first of its kind - these more recent changes will ensure it is a more readily accessible platform.

How is Vrbo helping both rental property owners and holidaymakers?

Vrbo has just introduced a programme designed to help new properties being added to the rental market increase their visibility, called Fast Start.

In the first 90 days of being added to the site, newly listed properties are bumped to the top and reviews are pulled from other travel sites to score them. The initiative launched in the US earlier this year and has just rolled out globally.

Properties eligible for Fast Start are listings with a 4.5+ review rating and those which have earned more than €2,300 in the last year - or if the host is a Superhost. These will display a ‘New to Vrbo’ badge for the first 90 days.

The idea is to support those looking to list a property for the first time and to increase the availability of rental homes worldwide.

What does Vrbo stand for?

Vrbo (pronounced ver-boh) does what it says on the tin, as the acronym literally stands for ‘vacation rentals by owner’.

What can other property rental sites learn from Vrbo?

Hari Nair, SVP Account Management at Expedia Group, explains, “Fast Start removes the cold start problem new properties can experience when joining sites, tapping them right into the huge traveller demand our site delivers.

“It helps new hosts and our current hosts with new listings get on our platform quickly whilst keeping their hard-earned review score.”

By prioritising property owners in this way, Vrbo is opening up a world of accessibility to holidaymakers and landlords alike. As people rush to book their getaway now international travel has opened up again, this model ensures there are plenty of options on offer.

According to Expedia, Fast Start has made a proven positive impact when it comes to properties joining the programme, including a 25 per cent increase in bookings.

“Since inception, our data and insights from hosts participating in Fast Start show there are strong positive outcomes not only for the hosts but also for our travellers,” explains Kevin Locraft, VP Partner Success at Expedia Group.

“For over 25 years, it’s been Vrbo’s mission to pair homeowners and property managers with families and friends looking for a place to stay and spend time together.”

This is a value which has undoubtedly intensified during lockdown. Locraft adds, “That mission endures just as strong today as it did when we started, and we truly appreciate all of our hosts who are continuing this journey with us, at such a critical time for the travel industry.”

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