When you book a stay at a hotel, it's usually easy to decipher the exact location because, let's face it, the street address is typically printed right there on the hotel's website.
With vacation rentals, it's not quite as straightforward. You want to ensure the privacy and safety of your vacation home and your guests, but you also want your guests to be able to find where it's located — especially if that location is one of the biggest selling points. This is where Google Maps™ can come into play.
Why Add Google Maps™?
More detailed location information is one of the top requests from travelers when searching for a home to rent. Booking a vacation rental can take a little more work than booking a hotel, so you want to give your potential guests some insight into your location to help them determine whether your home is right for them and to make the process a bit easier.
HomeAway, VRBO and VacationRentals have responded to this request from travelers by adding Google Maps™ to property listings, but only
after making sure that owners can maintain complete control — meaning a home's address will never be displayed.
How do I Add Google Maps™ to My Listings?
- Log in to your account(s) on HomeAway, VRBO and/or VacationRentals.com.
- When you edit your listing, you will be prompted to enter your property address. This address will NOT be displayed on your listing.
- If you choose to display the house marker, physically place the house icon on the map to indicate your location and your proximity to area attractions.
- Set the zoom level at street, city or state, depending on how specific you want to be.
Is the Google Map™ Feature Free on HomeAway, VRBO and VacationRentals.com?
YES, the Google Map™ feature is included in your subscription on HomeAway, VRBO and VacationRentals.com. You simply have to enter your address in order to add your map to your listing.
Listings with maps also show up with a special icon in the VRBO search results. Additionally, you can place points of interest on the map with even more descriptions for your guests' use. This will help play up your proximity to local attractions.
How Can I Ensure the Safety and Privacy of My Home?
Condos: If you own a condo in a popular complex, it is likely already possible for your guests to determine your property's location with a quick Internet search. In that case, it's probably safe to display the house marker and set your zoom to street level on your Google Map™. In order to protect your home, however, you should never include your unit number anywhere in your listing or give it to your guests until you have received payment in full.
Single Family Homes: You can still display a map on your listing while maintaining the privacy of your vacation home, as this can be a concern especially for owners that live far away. If your home is recognizable from your photos and you wouldn't want the location information to get into the wrong hands, you may not want to display a house marker at all on the map, and you can always set the zoom to the city or state level. That literally means that your guests will not be able to zoom in past the level you have set. (Another tip for added protection is to include a photo of the back of your house instead of the front when selecting your exterior shot.)
What if Google Does Not Accurately Portray the Location of My Home?
We have heard from some owners that their homes are not depicted properly when using Google Maps™ for their own use. However, with the Google Maps™ on HomeAway, VRBO and VacationRentals.com, you are in complete control of your home's location because you are physically plotting it on your map.
If this is the case, just remember to point this out to your guests in your directions and your contract. If they see it in one location on your listing's map and another on Google Maps™ , they may get confused, or worse, they may show up to the wrong house when they arrive for vacation!
Google Maps™ are a quick and easy way to provide more information to your guests, potentially reduce the amount of questions you receive about your location, and boost the professionalism of your vacation rental business. And remember — you will retain complete control over what the traveler sees. The sites will never display the address of your property on your listing.
© Copyright HomeAway, Inc. 2012