Millions of travellers use search engines like Google to find and book accommodation every day. And, the number of searches with the intent of finding vacation homes is continuously increasing.
To respond to this demand, Google has created Google Vacation Rentals, a product that integrates short-term rental listings into Google’s travel search function.
Vacation rental listings from select OTAs and a handful of Google’s software partners now appear directly in search results, giving property managers the opportunity to tap into a vast pool of potential customers.
If you’re ready to diversify your vacation rental marketing and distribution, expand your visibility, compete on the highest levels alongside hotels and grow your property management company, here’s everything you need to know about Google vacation rental search.
Google vacation rental listings are different from organic search results (unpaid search results ranked by Google’s algorithm) and Google Ads (paid advertisements that appear in Google). And while they may look similar, they’re also different from Google Maps and Google My Business results. So what are they and how do they work?
Google Vacation Rentals are part of the search engine’s efforts to improve the search experience and make it easier to plan and book trips through Google. In 2011, the company introduced Google Hotel Ads, which display the availability and rates of hotel rooms directly in search results. Their next travel product was Google Flights, which works similarly, facilitating the purchase of airline tickets.
And, as of 2019, vacation rental listings also appear in Google search results, making it easy for travellers to find and book alternative accommodation. Short-term rental listings are pulled from select listing sites or provided by Google’s trusted vacation rental technology partners, such as the Rentals United channel manager.
“Google are great at optimising their products. We’ve seen this with how they think about travel, whether that’s airlines or hotels – they continue to optimise those channels to be as great as they possibly can be. They’re doing the same with vacation rentals.”Jay Whiteley, Senior Director of Distribution Partnerships and Performance Management at Evolve
There are two ways that travellers can find vacation rental listings on Google.
When travellers type a query such as “vacation rentals in Myrtle Beach” into the Google search bar, this is what they see:
On the left is a list of individual vacation rental properties with their respective information (number of bedrooms, number of guests, and pricing). On the right is a clickable map displaying the nightly rates of rentals throughout the city.
Once they see these results, travellers can refine their search by entering the dates and number of guests. Or, they can click on the “View all rentals” button to see more options. Then, they are taken to a Google Travel Search page that functions as a meta-search (a search engine within a search engine).
It looks something like this:
Here, travellers can refine their search even more (without leaving the Google interface) by adjusting the price range and using filters such as rating and amenities. They can also sort the results by best match, lowest price or highest rating.
When travellers click the ‘Learn more’ button next to a listing, they are taken to the rental’s Google listing page, where they can browse photos, read reviews and find out more details.
If they want to book the rental, travellers need to click on the nightly price displayed in blue or the ‘Visit site’ button. Then, they’ll be redirected to the website where they can finalise the booking.
Another way that travellers can find vacation rentals on Google is by browsing the Vacation Rentals tab in Google Travel.
Google Travel is Google’s travel metasearch product that acts as a one-stop shop for all things travel, including flights, hotels, things to do, and of course, vacation rentals. It works very similarly to other travel metasearch engines like Kayak or HomeToGo.
When a traveller goes to the Google Travel page, they can click on the Vacation Rentals tab (called Holiday Rentals in the UK) to search for and browse vacation rentals. Google even provides them with suggested destinations based on their location and past searches.
Once travellers put in their destination, the date of their trip and the number of guests, they’ll see the same list of vacation rentals we showed you above, with the listings on the left side and the map on the right.
Finally, the third way that travellers can find vacation rentals on Google is by performing a search on Google Hotels.
For this, a traveller needs to go to the Google Travel page, and click on the Google Hotels tab.
There, they’ll be presented with a search bar where they can type in their travel details. By default, Google will serve up hotel search results. However, there’s another tab next to ‘Hotels’ that travellers can click to search for vacation rentals instead.
Once the traveller clicks on ‘Vacation Rentals’, Google shows them vacation rental results for the same search instead of hotels.
Now that you know what Google Vacation Rentals looks like and how travellers can find listings, let’s look at some of the reasons why you may want to consider expanding your distribution to Google.
“Our goal is to generate as much revenue as we possibly can for the homeowner. The way we look at it is: where can we find incremental bookings or incremental guests? Google acts as a direct booking source for us, continuing to help us build the Evolve brand. If we can get the booking on Evolve.com, we have a better shot at converting that guest and making sure that they have a 5-star booking experience.”Jay Whiteley, Senior Director of Distribution Partnerships and Performance Management at Evolve
Currently, there are three ways that property managers can get their rentals to appear on Google:
If you’ve listed your properties on one of the Google-partner OTAs, your listings may already appear in Google Travel search results. However, when a traveller finds your listing on Google Vacation Rentals and clicks through to the OTA’s website, they will finalise the booking there. This means that you’ll have to pay a commission to the OTA.
On the other hand, if you get listed on Google Vacation Rentals through a software provider like Rentals United, travellers will be redirected to your own website and book directly – which means zero commission fees.
And what if you don’t have a website? In that case, you can still accept commission-free direct bookings from Google Vacation Rentals via Rentals United. When a guest clicks on your Google Vacation Rentals ad, they’ll be redirected to the Rentals United Book Direct page where they can complete the booking.
Rentals United is one of the few vacation rental channel managers that Google has chosen to work with. This means that by connecting your properties to Google through our platform, you’ll start seeing them appear in search results in no time.
With Rentals United, vacation rental managers can send traffic from Google directly to their website. This allows your potential guests to get acquainted with your business and your brand.
Let’s look at an example. Evolve (the second largest property management company in the US) is using Rentals United to distribute its 18,500 listings to Google.
Here’s what one of Evolve’s ads looks like on Google Vacation Rentals:
And here’s what Evolve’s listing details page looks like when the traveller clicks ‘Learn more’:
Finally, when the traveller clicks the ‘Visit site’ button, they are redirected to Evolve’s website where they can finalise the booking. See the full search and booking process here:
For more information about getting listed on Google, check out our Google partner page.
“We really look forward to working with RU to ensure that we have the best, most robust content on Google for all of our homeowners. That’s why we partnered with Rentals United for the Google connection and all our other connections.”Jay Whiteley, Senior Director of Distribution Partnerships and Performance Management at Evolve
Many property managers have high expectations for Google Vacation Rentals as a distribution channel – and for good reason.
Not only is Google the world’s largest search engine, but it’s also becoming a one-stop shop for travellers looking to book trips.
Gaining a new source of global exposure for your brand and your listings, as well as a supplier of commission-free direct bookings, is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
If you’re already working with Rentals United, all you need to do is follow the steps above to connect your properties to Google.
If you’re not a Rentals United customer yet, don’t hesitate to book a call so we can show you how to connect and activate your listings on Google as soon as possible.
Getting listed in Google Travel is different depending on whether you’re a hotel or vacation rental manager. To get listed on Google Vacation Rentals, you need to work with one of Google’s approved connectivity partners, such as Rentals United. Alternatively, if you have a big enough portfolio and a tech team, you can build a direct integration with Google.
Currently, there is no way to add individual vacation rental properties to Google Maps or Google My Business. This is to protect the privacy of the vacation rental owner. However, if you work at a vacation rental property management company that has an office, you can add it to both Google Maps and Google My Business.
There are three ways to list a vacation rental on Google: by listing on one of Google’s partner OTAs, by working with a Google-approved connectivity partner like the Rentals United channel manager or pursuing a direct integration with Google.
Are you ready to build a tech-based distribution strategy? Discover how our enterprise-level Channel Manager can get you more bookings.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for accuracy, depth and comprehensiveness.