Price Accuracy in Listings

Don't let your listing prices feel like an infomercial

It’s well past your bedtime but you’re still sitting on the couch watching those terrible infomercials on TV. You know what I’m talking about–the infomercials in which normal people can’t perform simple tasks, like holding a bowl of chips or pouring a glass of milk.

At the time, these products seem brilliant. For only $39.99, you can triple your closet space and never have to worry about wrinkled shirts again! You whip out your credit card and are ready to buy…but your total ends up being way more than $39.99 after shipping and processing or handling fees. In the end, common sense gets the better of you. You stop the purchase and go to bed.

You have just stopped a purchase because of inaccurate prices. What you were promised at the beginning of the transaction is not what you were actually required to pay. This may not seem like a big deal for a relatively low-cost “Wonder Hanger,” but pricing accuracy is a huge concern for vacation rental travelers. In some cases, the difference between the initial price they see and the final price they’re expected to pay can be hundreds of dollars.

Why does pricing accuracy matter to me?

Pricing accuracy matters for you as a property manager for a few reasons:

  • Accurate prices lead to better conversion. Our research shows that listings see increased conversion when there is a minimal or no difference between the price listed on a search results page, the individual property page, and (finally) the booking page. This consistency between prices minimizes confusion, while inconsistent pricing can create distrust and cast doubts on other aspects of your listing.
  • It will give you access to millions more travelers. Accurate prices will give your properties the ability to be promoted on Expedia. If your properties don’t meet minimum accuracy requirements, your properties won’t be distributed to the four million travelers who visit Expedia.com every month.
  • You’ll be ready for new features and products HomeAway releases in the future. Setting up foundational price accuracy now will make it easier for you to use new features we’re planning to release in the not-so-distant future. This includes the ability to respond quickly and simply to market conditions with flash sales, seasonal discounts, and fee-free stays.

How do I make my prices show more accurately on HomeAway.com?

Below are some of the best practices that will enhance price accuracy across search result and booking pages for your listings. We recognize that not every best practice will work for every property manager, so start by implementing the practices that make most sense for your business.  

  • Set a nightly rate for your property. Setting a nightly rate, even if you don’t offer one-night stays, allows the HomeAway.com algorithm to accurately calculate the total cost of a booking.
  • Reduce the number of “seasons” you set. The more seasons you break your pricing into, the harder it is for the system to quickly and accurately calculate prices for each specific traveler’s request. (Some property managers have a season for each week and weekend in a year. Eek!)
  • Consolidate fees and narrow down your fee types. This not only helps increase price accuracy, it’s also a good marketing principle. If a traveler sees you’re charging them four different fees but another property includes only two fees, they’ll likely go with the other guy.
  • Avoid percentage-based fees. Percentage-based fees and discounts are calculated differently by different vacation rental management software, especially when multiple discounts are applied to a single booking. This can contribute to inaccurate pricing.

What we’re doing to help

If you use a HomeAway Software product, you’ve already benefitted from some back-end changes we made to improve your price accuracy on HomeAway.com. Although you may not have noticed these changes in your software, they’ve made a significant impact.

In one case, a particular listing’s initial price displayed in search results was 16% less than the true, final price a traveler had to pay. The back-end changes we made brought the two prices within 0.1% of each other, achieving 99.9% price accuracy.

It’s our goal to make listing prices as accurate as possible to give travelers the best booking experience. We’ve taken the first steps with these initial back-end changes to our HomeAway Software products, and your implementation of best practices can narrow the gap even further!