Smarter search results for better matches

Search results are designed so travelers can find their ideal property quickly and you receive the most relevant inquiries and booking requests. Our goal is to show to travelers those listings that will most likely lead to positive outcomes for both of you: money in your pocket and the perfect vacation rental for your guests.

There are a few very important things for you to know about best match:

  • Best match is a system that is continually evolving as we get more data and insights to deliver increasingly relevant results for each traveler. We’re just getting started but we’ll be upgrading the system over time to maximize bookings for you. See what we’ve learned so far >

  • Offering and using online booking are critical to your performance in search results based on best match. Since the goal of best match is to maximize bookings, it is important for us to have good information about the bookings you’re getting. When you accept an online booking, it is clear that your listing has successfully matched a traveler’s needs and resulted in a booking. Learn more about online booking >

  • Not all search results are the same. Today, searches look different based on whether or not a traveler has entered dates and which dates they enter. When a traveler enters dates, it indicates a higher likelihood to book (after all, they know exactly when they want to travel!), which is why more than 80% of inquiries and bookings come from dated searches.
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How Best Match works

The best match system for ordering search results takes into consideration a number of factors, and they are always evolving, so it is impossible to provide a definitive list. The list of factors that are considered today will develop over time as we learn from our data, but the goal of best match will remain the same: more bookings. These factors fall into two main categories:


  • Traveler preferences. Traveler preferences may include dates and availability, location, reviews, or price of a property. We’re working towards looking at the device or location a traveler is searching from, past searches, and other factors to customize results.*

  • Booking experience. The booking experience refers to how quickly and reliably your listing can be booked by travelers. It can be indicated by factors such as calendar accuracy, response score, and acceptance of online bookings.*
*This list of factors is illustrative of the diverse factors that may be considered at any given time.


What we've learned

We’re continually learning which factors are most likely to lead to successful bookings - and using that information to upgrade the best match system to maximize bookings. Here’s what we know so far about components we’ve considered that have been proven to deliver more bookings:


  • Listing views from search results - When travelers click on a particular listing in search results, it’s a clear indication that they like the property. This could be for a variety of reasons including price, location, a great headline, a strong thumbnail photo, or number of reviews. Many of these factors are under your control - so be sure to keep your rates competitive with similar listings in your area; use a descriptive and attractive headline for your listing; make your most appealing photo your thumbnail photo; and get as many reviews as you can.

  • Contacts - The number of times you’re contacted by travelers with an inquiry or booking request is another signal of how well your listing is matching what travelers are looking for in a vacation rental. Make sure your listing has 24 appealing photos and a detailed description including amenities, answers to frequently asked questions, and near-by attractions to help turn lookers into bookers!

  • Availability - When a traveler searches without entering dates for their trip, we look at the dates that other travelers searching in that same geographical area enter. If your property is booked for those popular dates, it might appear lower than those with more availability. When a traveler searches with specific dates and your property is available, you’ll likely notice your listing appearing higher in search results for these travelers. Dated searches are more important because over 80% of demand comes from date-based searches, so where your listing appears in non-dated searches is not a good indicator of likely performance.

  • Calendar Accuracy - Using data about how many inquiries and bookings requests are turning into bookings on your calendar, we can determine when a listing’s calendar may not be accurate and may deprioritize those listings in search results. If you have more than one property, make sure you are advertising each individual unit to ensure you have accurate availability on your calendar.

  • Response score - How quickly and frequently you respond to traveler inquiries and booking requests is a critical component of best match, as it is a strong indicator of whether or not a traveler will have a good booking experience with your listing.

  • Acceptance of bookings - Listings that have a record of accepting a lot of booking requests are likely to accept future ones. Accept as many bookings as you can to optimize your placement in best match, and log in to your dashboard and see your booking acceptance rate to help you understand how many of the last 10 booking requests you’ve accepted. A low booking acceptance rate can also indicate things like an inaccurate calendar.


INSIDER TIP: Curious how we evolve best match? One of the practices we use here at HomeAway, called A/B testing, is a common practice for websites in which a change is made for a small percentage of site visitors, while the rest of the visitors see the website without the change. When we run A/B tests for best match, we typically do so for about three weeks and then use statistics to determine whether or not the change - like prioritizing listings with high response scores, for example - was successful in getting more travelers to book. If it is, we factor it into best match. In all cases, we do not make adjustments to the algorithm until the change has been statistically  proven to be positive in delivering bookings.

Why did you make the change? 

We introduced best match to HomeAway in the Summer of 2015 because searching more than 1 million listings can be time consuming! Before we rolled out best match, search results were determined by listing quality score and all travelers were shown the same properties in the same order. We realized that potential bookings were being lost.


Best match makes it easier for travelers to find the property that best suits them, making them more likely to book. Listing quality score factors such as guest reviews, photos, and online booking are still important to travelers and many are considered in best match. But best match looks at an even wider range. Your listing quality scorecard is meant to be a guide to determine how your can improve your listing


Have other questions?

See answers to our top FAQs on best match or visit our Help Center.