Today, we’re very happy to announce the immediate availability of Insider Guides. Launched in partnership with Gogobot, this new, free product enables vacation rental owners and managers to create custom online guides that enable authentic, local experiences for travelers.
Most of us are familiar with the binder of “things to do, nearby restaurants, and helpful information” found in almost every vacation rental in the world. Because owners and managers are familiar with the property and the area, they can save travelers time, point them at the best restaurants, and highlight hard to find “off-the-beaten-path” experiences that really make a vacation rental stay special.
However, the binder approach does have a few drawbacks. They take a lot of work to assemble, usually involving printouts, or menus, or handwritten notes and maps. They are hard to keep up-to-date as new restaurants and attractions open (or close). Your guests can’t see it before they arrive or access it on a smartphone because the guides are not online.
Insider Guides make it easy to build a visually compelling, online guide that is rich with information (like addresses and locations) and enhanced with reviews submitted by one of the most passionate travel communities on the planet: the 2.5 million-strong Gogobot community.
What is an Insider Guide?
There are two key elements to an Insider Guide: The first is a list of points of interest (POI) on your VRBO.com or HomeAway.com listing. These POIs have thumbnail photos, distance to your property, and your star ratings and reviews. All POIs are displayed on your map creating a quick and easy way for you to market your property and the activities, attractions, and restaurants around it. This is designed to entice travelers with exciting and fun attractions and search engines with SEO-friendly reviews. See the screenshot below to see how POIs appear on your listing or visit a listing on VRBO.com or HomeAway.com.
The second is the Insider Guide itself. On this page, there is more information about each place (the address, for example), larger photos, and more interactive and social features. This guide is designed for the traveler to use when planning their stay or while they are on vacation.
Travelers can view the Insider Guide on a mobile device, tablet or PC, or download it into the Gogobot iOS™ or Android™ smartphone app. There are map views, a print view (very handy for your binder!), and options for travelers to create their own trip plan or share it with friends or fellow travelers.
The screenshots below show the various views of the Insider Guide or see an example of one here <link>
Creating a Guide
Creating a guide is simple. As an owner or a manager, you simply head to the listing editor in your dashboard to get started.
Once you’ve named your guide and uploaded a photo, you can quickly add places from Gogobot’s extensive database, write your own review, provide your own ratings, or upload photos. Only your ratings and reviews will show up on your listing - so make sure you take the time to add your personal and local knowledge. Gogobot built this part of the product, and it’s really slick because they provide you with suggestions that can really get your creative juices going.
Since there is no one who knows your property quite as well as you do - each guide is as unique and special as you make it. Some owners and managers will curate a list of popular attractions, while others will add “off the beaten path” attractions like the blueberry patch, flea market, coffee shop, or hike. These unique and special attractions are what unlock the deep local knowledge that will make for truly delightful and relevant experiences - which in turn will result in great reviews, happy travelers, and more bookings.
How can you take advantage of an Insider Guide?
Once you’ve created your guide, it’s up to you to determine when to share it with your guests. Some of you will include it in all of your communications from your first inquiry response onward. Others will want to provide the link to travelers only after booking. We’ve provided a helpful “shortcut link” to make it easy to embed the link into your inquiry or ReservationManager™ response templates or any email you send to your guests.
Not only does an Insider Guide allow you to market your property, but it also reduces the time you have to spend answering those frequent questions guests always ask: where is the nearest grocery store? What activities do you recommend? What are the best restaurants? With an Insider Guide, the answer is simple: check the link!
How do I get started?
You can get started building your guide right now. Many owners and managers have already started (see below for some examples) so don’t delay. Here are a few tips: Make sure you add reviews and ratings! Use the photos that Gogobot provides, or add your own for that personal touch. Send it to your friends who live in the area to get them to comment. And best of all, since you have a VRBO.com or HomeAway.com listing, Insider Guides are included free of charge.
Here are some resources to help you create a great Insider Guide:
And here are some examples to inspire you:
Enjoy creating your Insider Guide, and make sure you send us your thoughts and feedback!
Chief Product Officer