blog post

5 Tips To Quickly Boost Underperforming Vacation Rental Listings on OTAs

Josh Parry
Josh Parry
July 10, 2023
5 Tips To Quickly Boost Underperforming Vacation Rental Listings on OTAs

In today's competitive vacation rental market, optimizing your listings on Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb & Vrbo is crucial to stand out from the crowd and attract potential guests.

OTAs serve as popular platforms for travelers to discover and book vacation rentals, making it essential for property owners and managers to optimize their listings to maximize bookings and revenue.

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Challenges faced by underperforming listings

Underperforming vacation rental listings on OTAs face several challenges that hinder their ability to attract potential guests and generate bookings. These challenges include:  

Low Visibility: One of the primary challenges faced by underperforming listings is low visibility. With the vast number of vacation rental listings available on OTAs, it can be challenging for a listing to stand out and be noticed by potential guests. Low visibility means fewer impressions and reduces the likelihood of bookings.

Inadequate Search Ranking: Listings that are not optimized for search engines may struggle to achieve a high ranking in search results. OTAs use complex algorithms to determine search rankings, taking into account factors such as keywords, relevance, and popularity. Underperforming listings often lack proper optimization, resulting in lower search visibility and reduced chances of being discovered by potential guests.

Ineffective Titles and Descriptions: Poorly crafted listing titles and descriptions can significantly impact a listing's performance. If the title is not catchy or lacks essential details, it may fail to capture the attention of potential guests. Similarly, if the description is generic, lacks detail, or fails to highlight the unique features of the property, it may not generate sufficient interest to convert potential guests into bookings.

Subpar Visual Content: High-quality visuals play a crucial role in attracting potential guests. Listings with low-quality or unappealing photos may struggle to capture the attention and interest of viewers. The lack of attractive visuals that showcase the property's features, amenities, and ambiance can result in potential guests overlooking the listing or not being convinced of its value.

Negative Reviews and Ratings: Poor reviews and low ratings can significantly impact a listing's performance. Potential guests often rely on reviews and ratings to assess the quality and reliability of a vacation rental. Underperforming listings may have a history of negative reviews or a lack of reviews altogether, which can deter potential guests from booking.

Inadequate Pricing Strategy: Pricing plays a crucial role in attracting guests. Underperforming listings may have pricing that is too high compared to similar properties in the area, making them less competitive. Conversely, setting prices too low may raise suspicions about the quality or reliability of the property. Finding the right balance and implementing a strategic pricing strategy is essential for improving listing performance.

Lack of Marketing and Promotion: Underperforming listings often lack effective marketing and promotional efforts. Without proper exposure and targeted marketing campaigns, the listing may fail to reach its target audience and generate sufficient interest. Marketing efforts such as social media presence, collaborations with influencers, and email marketing campaigns are necessary to increase visibility and attract potential guests.

To overcome these challenges, implementing effective strategies is necessary to boost the performance of these listings and improve their overall visibility and conversion rates.

Tip 1: Optimize Listing Titles and Descriptions

Importance of catchy and descriptive titles

An attention-grabbing and descriptive title is essential to make your listing stand out among the multitude of options available to potential guests. The key to headlines is influencing a page view!

The field should not be intended as a unit identifier for internal purposes.  You should avoid generic titles with basic information like the internal unit name, bedroom/bath count, or address as that information will be made known to the guest once they book.

What will really compel a potential guest to click on your listing versus the others on the page?

Utilizing keywords for search optimization

Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant and highly searched terms related to your vacation rental property.

Craft your written content with an informal, detailed, and enthusiastic approach; it goes a long way towards good booking conversion and building trust for guests shopping for vacation rentals.

Writing compelling and informative descriptions

Craft detailed and persuasive descriptions that highlight the unique features, amenities, and experiences that your vacation rental offers.

A property description needs to walk a fine line between providing enough details on the experience of the stay vs. providing an entire book that looks overwhelming!

Tip 2: Enhance Listing Photos and Visual Content

Travelers spend most of their time within the photo carousel when on a property display page. According to a report from Expedia released in 2021, listings with 30+ photos generate 65% of the bookings.

In 2022, CiiRUS piloted a professional photography project with one of our customers who manages a large portfolio of rental properties. After implementing professionally shot photos, the portfolio saw an 18% increase in page views as compared to the same statistics in 2021 (Expedia – Optimization report of CiiRUS users’ account)

The impact of high-quality and visually appealing photos

High-quality, professional photographs have a significant impact on attracting potential guests and increasing bookings. Invest in professional photography or use high-resolution images that showcase your property's best features, both inside and outside.

Tips for capturing attractive property images

When photographing your vacation rental, ensure good lighting, clean and decluttered spaces, and highlight unique aspects of your property.

Capture amenities to provide potential guests with a solid visual representation. Photo quality, resolution, colorful captions, flow of the photos, and that your properties are ‘staged’ for photography are all key to setting yourself apart!

It is far better to ensure travelers see something warm and real vs vacant and clinical. For larger homes in your portfolio, you can explore Virtual Tour providers that can connect directly with an OTA platform.

Showcasing unique features and amenities through visuals

Utilize photos to showcase the unique features, amenities, and attractions near your vacation rental. Highlight key selling points such as a private pool, stunning views, or proximity to popular tourist destinations.

Including a virtual tour or video walkthrough can provide potential guests with an immersive experience and further enhance their interest in booking your property.

Tip 3: Price Competitively and Strategically

“Did you know that half of travelers indicated they would not book a property where fees make up >15% of the trip’s total?” – Expedia 2022 data. 

All years are not made equally! With changing traveler demand every year, it’s important to be fluid and flexible with market trends.

Researching and analyzing comparable listings

Conduct thorough research on comparable vacation rental listings in your area to understand the market rates and pricing trends. Analyze factors such as location, amenities, and property size to determine the appropriate pricing range for your rental.

Pricing should not be just about a real estate comparison!  Quality content, traveler feedback (reviews) and desirable amenities should perfectly marry the value of the unit and daily rates that comprise the quote.

Adjusting pricing to attract more bookings

Consider adjusting your pricing strategy to make your vacation rental more competitive. This could involve offering promotional discounts for specific periods or adjusting prices based on demand and seasonal fluctuations. Experiment with different pricing strategies to find the sweet spot that attracts more bookings without compromising profitability.

Utilizing pricing tools and dynamic pricing strategies

Evaluate where your business is on a spectrum of max occupancy to top dollar. Take advantage of pricing tools and software that can automate and optimize your pricing strategy. Dynamic pricing algorithms can help you adjust prices in real-time based on factors such as demand, occupancy rates, and competitor pricing.  

Tip 4: Leverage Guest Reviews and Ratings

“Did you know that on average travelers like to read seven reviews before booking?” IMN STR Forum 2023 Conference data point – Mint House

The influence of positive reviews and ratings

Guest reviews and ratings significantly impact potential guests' decision-making process when choosing a vacation rental. Positive reviews build trust and credibility, reassuring potential guests that your property meets their expectations.

Encouraging guests to leave feedback

“Property manager/owners that regularly "rate" travellers/guests have shown to receive 20% more property reviews.” - Expedia Traveler insights 2021

Request feedback from your guests after their stay and encourage them to leave reviews on OTAs. But also, rate them nicely based on various standards that you may have.

Satisfied guests are more likely to provide positive reviews and recommend your property to others.

Responding to reviews and addressing concerns

Engage with guest reviews by responding promptly and professionally. It is important to consider with replies that the future guests will be reading both sides of the story. Show potential guests that you are attentive and committed to providing a great experience, even after their stay.

Responding to reviews demonstrates your dedication to guest satisfaction and can positively impact your listing's reputation. Perhaps most importantly, the future traveler will be the one reading both sides of the story, so remain courteous and deferential in your responses to guest reviews.

Expert’s Comment

Asking travelers for a five-star review in advance is a good process; set the expectation that you’re wanting to earn this great guest experience and feedback. Use the feedback to your advantage when discussing with homeowners, cleaning teams, maintenance. There is tremendous opportunity for upgrading the unit or a process based on recurring feedback. For our property managers using CiiRUS Plus, we identify trends based on feedback to deliver to our partners to make them aware of things travelers loved and some constructive criticism! Anticipate any negatives to work into your description or photo captions. Surprise construction next to the property is no good! To ensure an active “ecosystem” on the listing make sure that you’re looking at fine-tuning your descriptions once a week.” 

Tyler Kirk, Director – Optimization at CiiRUS Vacation Rental Solutions.

Tip 5: Implement Effective Marketing and Promotion Strategies

Utilizing social media platforms and targeted advertising

Leverage social media platforms to promote your vacation rental listing. Create engaging content, share high-quality photos, and provide updates on local events and attractions.

Consider running targeted advertising campaigns on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach a wider audience.

Collaborating with influencers and local businesses

Collaborate with influential travel bloggers, social media influencers, or local businesses to create partnerships and generate exposure for your vacation rental.

Influencer endorsements and collaborations can help increase your property's visibility and attract new guests.

Engaging with potential guests through email marketing

Build an email list of potential guests who have shown interest in your vacation rental. Develop a targeted email marketing campaign to keep them informed about special offers, upcoming events, and personalized recommendations based on their preferences.

Engaging with potential guests through email marketing helps nurture relationships and increase the likelihood of bookings.

CiiRUS offers an easy-to-use Guest Relationship Manager/CRM that allows you to build out email and text message campaigns to drive conversions from potential guests who’ve expressed interest or booked in the past.  

Bonus Tip!

CiiRUS understands your needs and the importance of optimizing your underperforming listings on various platforms.

Here's a template that we roll out to our clients' when on boarding them on CiiRUS and to help them optimize their listings.


Optimizing vacation rental listings on OTAs requires a comprehensive approach. By optimizing listing titles and descriptions, enhancing visual content, strategically pricing your rental, leveraging guest reviews, and implementing effective marketing strategies, you can significantly improve the performance of underperforming vacation rental listings.

Importance of continuous monitoring and optimization

Remember that the vacation rental market is dynamic and constantly evolving.

Continuously monitor your listing's performance, analyze data, and make adjustments as necessary to stay competitive and meet the evolving demands of travellers.

Lightning round – here are three top takeaways that cutting-edge property managers will apply from this reading.

Respond to Guest Feedback: Monitoring guest reviews and ratings provides valuable insights into your guests' experiences and any areas for improvement. By promptly responding to guest feedback and addressing concerns or issues, you can demonstrate your commitment to guest satisfaction and enhance your listing's reputation. This proactive approach to guest feedback can lead to positive reviews, higher ratings, and increased trust among potential guests.

Adapt to Changing Guest Preferences: Traveler preferences and expectations evolve over time. Continuous monitoring allows you to stay informed about shifting trends, amenities in high demand, or changes in guest preferences. By adapting your listing and amenities to align with these evolving preferences, you can attract a wider range of guests and cater to their needs effectively.

Maximize Revenue Potential: Through continuous monitoring and optimization, you can identify opportunities to maximize your revenue potential. By leveraging data and insights, you can make informed decisions about pricing, marketing strategies, and property improvements. This holistic approach allows you to optimize your listing's performance and generate higher bookings, resulting in increased revenue.

Take action and improve listing performance!

Act today and implement these proven strategies to boost the performance of your vacation rental listings on the OTAs.

By optimizing your listings, you can increase visibility, attract more guests, and ultimately achieve greater success in the vacation rental industry.

To explore how our advanced tools and expertise can further assist you in optimizing your vacation rental listings on OTAs, book a demo with us.

CiiRUS provides hands-on consultation and optimization tools to put our customers ahead of their competition.

Join us, and start taking proactive steps towards improving your listing performance and maximizing your bookings and revenue.

Thanks! We'll be in touch! In the meantime, browse our full website for more information about CiiRUS.
Please check all required fields and try again. Thank you!
Josh Parry
Josh Parry
Josh is the Chief Marketing Officer at CiiRUS, where he has been working with vacation rental managers in various capacities since 2014. He is passionate about helping VRMs increase their revenue earning potential and operational efficiency.

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