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Why Expedia Group is taking Vrbo’s Trip Boards to Expedia.com and Hotels.com

vrbo trip boards

Vrbo wants to be seen as the best site where to book large vacation rentals that are fit for family travel such as family reunions and intergenerational trips. To help decision-makers within a large group select, discuss, and pick a vacation rental, Vrbo launched three years ago a revamped version of its Trip Boards. Thanks to this feature, travelers can share, chat about, and vote for their favorite vacation rentals. The company says that travelers who use Trip Boards on Vrbo are seven times more likely to book. Now, during its 2022 EXPLORE partner event, Expedia Group announced that it was extending Trip Boards beyond Vrbo to additional business lines, enabling travelers to collaborate in the planning process on hotel, flight, and activity options. 

How Trip Boards help solve the pains of picking a vacation rental as a group (and generate more bookings for Vrbo)

Trip Boards is a very neat feature that Vrbo has created to enable families and groups of friends to save, discuss, vote for, and pick vacation rentals for an upcoming stay.

Why create a tool to help travelers collaborate on planning their trip

Vrbo wants to be a site wants to be the best site for family travel (at least when families need a vacation rental). The company says that it wants to solve complex family travel issues. For instance, Vrbo wants to make it easier for 2 families to decide on the vacation rental property that they are going to share for a family reunion. If Vrbo can help do that, there is a bigger chance that they will book the place on Vrbo. Also, by helping users save and discuss properties they like, Vrbo gets them to discover its supply and to remember it as a great place to book a vacation rental for another trip in the future.

As more than 70% of Vrbo’s supply consists of houses with at least 2 bedrooms, it makes sense that Vrbo would create a tool that makes it easy for groups to decide on which large house they want to pick. If you have several decision-makers, you need to allow them to collaborate easily around your offering. 

How Vrbo’s Trip Boards work

Trip Boards are a bit like a wish list, where you can save properties you like:

  • You can share your board with others and let them add properties they like
  • You and the people with whom you have shared the board can like a property card and leave comments under it. Then, everyone can see how many likes each property got and who made comments.
  • You can create a poll to see which property your friends and family like the most.
  • If people use the Vrbo app, they can even chat with each other about the properties they have saved on our one board

Vrbo: 2 properties added to a Trip Board, with user “like” and comment left under one listing card

Vrbo trip boards - compare listings

Trip Board creators can invite other people to use Vrbo to add, comment on, and vote on their favorite properties

Vrbo Trip Boards - How to invite friends

When logged-in users come back to Vrbo.com, they see the content of their previously created Trip Board displayed on the homepage

Vrbo trip board on homepage

From inspiration to a decision: Vrbo users can vote in a poll for their favorite vacation rental among listings saved in trip board

Vrbo trip boards on Expedia

When Airbnb and Vrbo compete to inspire travelers

Both Vrbo and Airbnb hope to eventually capture the final booking that users will be making by helping them get inspired. Where Vrbo’s Trip Boards is superior is where it allows users to collaborate with each other. It is helping groups and families move from the inspiration phase through the booking phase. Airbnb is not as focused on large groups traveling together, so it may not make immediate sense for them to launch such a feature.

As Vrbo is a family-friendly website with large properties, the use cases for Trip Boards are numerous:

  • Helping several siblings pick a place for a family reunion with their respective families
  • Helping a multi-generational family pick a place for the grandmother’s 80th birthday
  • Helping a group of female friends pick a nice villa for a low-key bachelorette weekend

Trip Boards act as mood boards, i.e. a visual tool that communicates favorite concepts and visual ideas. They also resemble Pinterest boards: As they can be saved for a long time, they also allow a traveler to just save places she likes in a neat way. How about creating a trip board on Vrbo to save cabins whose decoration you like and you want to take inspiration from when redoing your cabin?

Trip Boards are used by travelers in their planning phase before they are ready to start booking. One of their goals is to inspire travelers months before the trip actually happens.

In a way, Airbnb is also trying to act as a source of inspiration for travelers, way before they are ready to book. While a website like Booking.com is very transactional (Search, book, and pay), Airbnb has been trying to get travelers to use its app or visit its website while they are still unsure about the destination or the property type they are looking for. In 2021, it released its Flexible Search features that allow travelers to find properties in destinations they would not have thought of before. Its 2022 Summer Update showed how its whole homepage had been turned into a giant mood board that you modify by clicking on one of the 56 categories available (e.g. treehouses, amazing view, chef’s kitchens).

Trip Boards are coming to Expedia and Hotels.com

In 2022, Expedia Group will be extending Trip Boards beyond Vrbo to additional business lines, enabling travelers to collaborate in the planning process on hotel, flight, and activity options. Travelers who currently use Trip Boards on Vrbo are seven times more likely to book.

We have not received any detail about the exact implementation yet, but here are some thoughts:

  • Trip Boards are made to save options that can be discussed, something for weeks. How will it play with flights whose prices and availability are often more volatile than with vacation rentals?
  • Trip Boards are fanatics for large families and groups, which make up Vrbo’s core audience. As Expedia and Hotels.com are less family-focused, will the need for sharing and collaboration around travel options be as big?

Trip Boards is one of the gems of Vrbo’s existing tech platform. As Expedia Group is rationalizing its tech stack, it makes to try and spread the best features across all the brands belonging to the group. Trip Boards are unique to Vrbo, as they solve a specific pain that large families, its main user base, may often face. As Booking.com and Airbnb are less family-focused, they have not (yet?) developed such collaborative tools. Now, how will Expedia.com and Hotels.com adapt Trip Boards to make them relevant to their users? We cannot wait and see.

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Rental Scale-Up

Thibault is the founder of Rental Scale-Up. He owns vacation rentals in St. Barths and Bali. He also leads innovative projects for companies within the vacation rental industry. Feel free to reach out to Thibaut Masson on Linkedin.

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