Vrbo is targeting alternative accommodation hosts in Canada, France and the U.K. with its campaign to attract more owners, in particular those on Airbnb.
The Fast Start program began in the U.S. in March 2021 and is designed to help experienced hosts - and "Superhosts" - who haven't joined the site yet increase their visibility and earnings.
With Fast Start, hosts who have a review rating of 4.5-plus and who have earned more than $3,000 in the past year receive an elevated position in sort on Vrbo for the first 90 days they’re on the platform.
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Expedia Group-operated Vrbo claims the program can yield a 25% increase in bookings, a 50% jump in booked nights and 140% boost to the gross booking value for hosts (based on a sample size of 1,600 hosts in the U.S.).
The move is part of an ongoing battle between the two alternative accommodation giants to capture the wave of interest in the sector that began as some travel restrictions were eased mid-2020.
An Expedia official says the introduction of the campaign in the U.S. was "very successful" and "thousands of hosts have joined" Vrbo since its launch.
Properties that list on the site are indicated by a “New to Vrbo” badge that displays their review score based on reviews from other travel sites. While individual reviews are not shown, the scores are provided from the hosts themselves or from data scraped by Vrbo.
The designation is available to individual owners or multi-property accounts, and Vrbo provides dedicated support in getting hosts signed up. Hosts do not have to be exclusive to Vrbo to participate.
Hari Nair, senior vice president of account management at Expedia Group, says: "Fast Start removes the cold start problem new properties can experience when joining sites, tapping them right into the huge traveler 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."
Recently, new analysis from Transparent illustrated a contrast in the alternative accommodation space related to host size and both the quality and number of reviews for their properties.
Looking at data from July from Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com and Tripadvisor, hosts with fewer properties have higher review scores and more reviews per property than those managing many properties.