Increasing Discoverability with a Google Business Profile
The world of vacation rentals is booming, with travelers seeking unique and convenient accommodations. However, with so many listings, especially in popular cities, it can be hard as a vacation rental property manager to get started in direct bookings to stand out and attract potential guests.
One effective way to do this is by setting up a Google Business Profile. A study conducted by Expedia found that 69% of travelers turn to a search engine when starting to think about a trip. This ranks above all other sources, including family, friends, online travel agencies (OTAs), and travel brand websites. That means it’s crucial to have a presence on search engines, most notably Google, the largest search engine in the world, in order for your listings to stand out and for you to attract guests who are searching for places to stay.
Furthermore, branding your OTA listings provide prospective guests with a hint that you may have a direct booking site. With a quick Google search guests can discover your Google Business Profile and direct booking site simply by typing in your brand name.
In this article, we'll explore the benefits of having a Google Business Profile, how to set it up, optimize it, and encourage reviews to enhance your rental property business.
Why Set Up a Google Business Profile?
A Google Business Profile, formerly known as a Google My Business listing, is a free tool provided by Google to help businesses and service providers establish their online presence. Vacation rental property managers can significantly benefit from this platform for the following reasons:
Increased Visibility: A Google Business Profile helps your property appear in local search results and on Google Maps, making it easier for potential guests to find your rental listings.
Trust and Credibility: Having an official Google Business Profile lends credibility to your property management business, instilling trust in potential guests who can see your contact details, address, and other essential information.
Valuable Insights: Google Business Profiles provide analytics and insights, giving you a clear picture of how your property is performing online, including how often users view your listing, request directions, and call you.
Engagement Opportunities: You can post updates, special offers, and respond to customer inquiries directly through your Google Business Profile, increasing guest engagement.
Brand OTA Listings: You can brand your OTA listings by simply using your brand name in your profile or bio. Guests may Google your business name to learn more and discover your direct booking site.
Establish a Separate Presence From OTAs: COVID showed us that overreliance on OTAs makes your business vulnerable to disruptions. Having an alternative way for guests to find and book with you creates a more sustainable business.
Free marketing credits: Often, Google will provide free credits for Google AdWords when you create a Google Business Profile.
Setting Up Your Google Business Profile
Getting started with a Google Business Profile account is quick and easy. Follow the steps below:
- Go to Google Business Profile and click “Manage Now”
- Sign in with the Google account you use for your business (or create a new account)
- Add your “Property Name” followed by your “Business Name”. For example, “North River Cabin (Berry Mountainview stays)”
- Select “Retail Store”
- For your business category, choose “Property Management Company”
- Add your business address. Please note that this address will appear on Google Maps
- Add your business phone number and Dtravel Merchant page as your website
- Click “Finish”
- Google will ask to verify your account by sending a letter containing a code to your business address within 13 days
- You can repeat this step for each one of your listings
- Add the services you offer to your clients (e.g. cleaning or airport pickup)
- Add hours (open everyday)
- Add listing description
- Add high-quality photos
Note: Individual listings on Google Business Profile listings fall into a gray area. This option is technically reserved for hotels or accommodation that feature 24-hour service. The reasoning behind this is that Google wants to prevent casual hosts from listing their apartments or avoid having a traveler knock on a door while the location is occupied by a guest.
Optimizing Your Google Business Profile
Add a Link to Your Direct Booking Website: Travelers using Google to plan their trip will want to be able to book so having a link to your direct booking website will enable you to capitalize on high intent travelers.
Add Photos: Showcase your listings by uploading high-quality photos. Include images of the exterior, interior, amenities, and local attractions to give potential guests a comprehensive view.
Write a Compelling Description: Craft an engaging and informative business description. Highlight what makes your properties unique and appealing or your brand story.
Keep Information Updated: Ensure your contact information, business hours, and any special offers are always up to date to avoid frustrating potential guests.
Respond to Reviews: Promptly reply to both positive and negative reviews to show that you value guest feedback and are committed to providing an exceptional experience.
Encouraging Reviews on Your Google Profile
Positive reviews can significantly impact the success of your vacation rental property business. Here are some strategies to encourage reviews on your Google Business Profile:
Ask for Reviews: Reach out to satisfied guests and politely ask them to leave a review on your Google Profile. You can send a follow-up email after their stay or include a request in your post-stay communication.
Provide Excellent Service: The best way to secure positive reviews is by delivering exceptional service and a memorable experience. Guests are more likely to leave positive feedback if they had a great stay.
Respond to Reviews: Engaging with reviews, whether positive or negative, shows your commitment to guest satisfaction. It also encourages more guests to share their experiences because they know you’re actively listening and engaging with feedback.
Offer Incentives: Consider offering small incentives like a discount on future stays or a free upgrade for guests who leave reviews. However, be cautious to avoid any unethical practices or incentives that violate Google's policies.
A Google Business Profile is a valuable tool for vacation rental property managers to boost their online presence, engage with potential guests, and gather valuable reviews. By following the steps to set up and optimize your profile, and by implementing strategies to encourage reviews, you can enhance the success of your vacation rental business and stand out in a competitive market.