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Checklist for Building the Perfect HomeAway Listing

VERSION 3  Click to view article history
Created on: Jul 18, 2012 4:07 PM by meredith - Last Modified:  Mar 11, 2014 11:13 PM by







Your headline might be the single most important bit of text in your listing, so it's critical that yours is not just good, but GREAT.
A 5-Star headline:
  • Use maximum characters available
  • Conveys the competitive advantage of the home
  • Clearly defines the property type (ex. villa, apartment, home, cabin)
  • Highlights an opening or availability (ex. April 10-17 Open)
  • Offers a special (ex. 7th Night Free, Summer Specials, Spring Deals)
  • Denotes non-repetitive location info (besides the website location info)
  • Highlights an amenity or feature (ex. hot tub, deck, BBQ grill, WiFi, etc.)
  • Describes the suitability of your home for certain groups of travelers (ex. family friendly,  pet-friendly)
  • Specifies the distance to a nearby attraction (ex. beach access, theme parks, ski slopes)
  • Uses correct spelling and consistent capitalization and punctuation

Thumbnail Photo

When choosing a thumbnail, select a photo that is different from the others in your destination. Choose a picture that showcases something specific to your vacation home, like your living area, balcony, or hot tub.
The best thumbnail photo is:

  • Colorful
  • Well-Lit
  • Properly Staged (ex. no clutter, vases/fruit on the tables, etc.)
  • Well-Framed (object of photo is obvious, nothing interfering with focus)
  • Clear (taken with digital camera)
  • Identifiable (can tell what the photo is of)
  • Showcases Feel of Home (photos clearly depict the style of furnishings, etc.)
  • Showcases View, Location or Amenity
  • Unique or Exceptional


A picture is worth a thousand words and the Internet is a visual medium. Photographs are the most important selling features of your listing.
Your listing should, at minimum, include photos of the:

  • View from your home
  • Exterior of your home, building or complex
  • Living Area
  • Kitchen
  • Dining Area
  • Master Bedroom
  • Each Additional Bedroom
  • Amenities (Pool, Hot Tub, etc.)

Outstanding photos that will visually sell your home are:
  • Colorful
  • Well-Lit
  • Properly Staged
  • Well-Framed
  • Clear
  • Well-Grouped (photos are grouped in a logical order; walk the traveler through your home)
  • Recent (no date stamps)
  • Representative of the Feel of Your Home

    Photo Captions

    Photo captions are your chance to give renters more information about the specific features of your home.
    Terrific photo captions:

    • Exist for each photo (something written below each photo)
    • Use the all the characters available
    • Offer specific details about the photo (details about amenities, not just name of room)
    • Contain area or property type keywords (include location keywords for search engine optimization)
    • Use correct spelling, consistent capitalization, and punctuation

      Property Description

      The property description is a short summary that should paint a clear picture of your vacation home and the extras that you offer.A standout description:

      • Offers the property's selling points in first sentence
      • Describes the home, not the location
      • Details the property type and size (ex. 4-bedroom villa, 2500 sq. ft. home)
      • Specifies bedroom info and bed setup (ex. size of beds, amenities in each room)
      • Lists amenities
      • Describes the home's suitability for certain groups (ex. kids, family reunions, couples)
      • Capitalizes select keywords for emphasis
      • Uses eye-catching numerals
      • Speaks to the traveler using “you” and “your”
      • Uses correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation

      Location Description

      The description of your vacation rental property's location is a vital component of your ad and should not be overlooked. An outstanding location description:

      • Uses the map feature
      • Offers the nearest mode of transportation (ex. bus, train, etc.)
      • Clearly describes where the property is located
      • Details the car necessity (do you need to rent a car?)
      • Offers distance to nearby cities (are there other cities you can visit during the stay?)
      • Describes the distance to the beach, mountain, lake, etc. (main natural attraction)
      • Specifies the distance from metro cities (distance for driving guests)
      • Names nearby landmarks or attractions
      • Lists area activities
      • Lists upcoming events

      Availability Calendar

      Many travelers start their search for a vacation rental with a specific date in mind. While browsing vacation rental portal websites like,, and, these travelers look at the availability calendar to determine if your property is open for their dates.Make sure your calendar has been updated within the past week

      Rental Rates Table

      Next to destination, price is one of the most important factors for travelers when choosing a vacation rental. For this reason, HomeAway includes a structured rate table in each listing to make it easy for travelers to find and compare properties by price. If you do not currently use the structured rental rates table, you may be missing out on potential renters.
      Your rates table should include:

      • Name of your rental periods (ex. Spring, Peak Season, 4th of July Week)
      • Rates for at least the next year
      • Nightly rates
      • Weekly rates
      • Monthly rates
      • Clear minimum stays
      • Holiday rates (with specific dates)
      • Reservation/security deposit info
      • Fees and taxes
      • Payment methods accepted

      Amenities Table

      It may take some time and thought to complete, but the amenities section is a very important part of your vacation rental listing. Renters will often use this section when comparing two vacation homes side-by-side.
      To effectively showcase your property's amenities:

      • Fill out the table completely
      • Specify bathroom details
      • Specify bedroom details
      • Use the “Notes” section to further explain property features


        Think of reviews from past guests as additional marketing for your home. Your future guests will have the information and the assurance they need to make a decision which should result in more inquiries.
        For reviews on to be the most effective:

        • Get reviews from at least 3 past renters
        • Write an Owner Response to each review

        Further Details

        The Further Details section is your opportunity to share any information that didn't fit elsewhere in your ad. A outstanding Further Details section will include:

        • Additional area info
        • Additional property info (layout of home, history of home, etc.)
        • Other area activities
        • Golf or ski info
        • A link to personal site or virtual tour
        • Testimonial(s)

        Contact Info

        The owner contact information should be the most straightforward part of a vacation rental listing, but you'd be surprised how many second home owners make serious mistakes.
        Complete contact information should include:

        • The owner's name
        • A phone number
        • An alternate phone number
        • The best times to call
          The more complete your listing is the more comfortable renters will be inquiring about and ultimately booking your vacation home.


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