In the Zone: Searching for Vacation Rentals in a Human(e) Way
In our last article we talked about why searching for vacation rentals by location often doesn’t work, and also why listing them by location also doesn’t often work! We discussed the challenges posed in searching for a vacation rental by location, when the location and names familiar to guests are not part of the mailing address or physical location of where a suitable vacation rental is located.
At the end of the last article, we asked how a vacation rental listing site can create a system that helps a guest to have a good and accurate search experience, if accurate location data doesn’t help them find where they want to be? Based on the fact that there are so many properties listed in the wrong locations on the major listing sites (for a variety of reasons), we don’t they think have solved this issue at all.
In fact, one of our goals from the beginning has been to never let the problems that exist on major listing sites that result in properties being listed every which way, and often incorrectly, occur on UnitedVacation.Rentals. We want to be known for the accuracy of our property listings!
No one said developing a listing site was easy!
Here is what are we doing about the challenges we outlined in the last article:
- First of all, we are going to ignore the US post office, because their approach has been completely destructive to the situation. For example, there are thousands of vacation rental homes in the United States with a mailing address that has nothing to do with where they are actually located.
- We use place names in the United States as defined by the US Geological Survey, and the United States Census Bureau, and their equivalent in other countries, because they are the authorized agencies tasked with making such definitions. These types of location names are designed to be more specific and accurate than mailing addresses.
- In addition, we will use information contained on Google Maps, and other online Mapping systems, which are based on the USGS and USCB (and their equivalents in other countries). This is important because these place names actually show on maps of the area, especially when viewed at a bit of a distance. So using our example, if a user of an online map can see where Disney World is, they can then also see the communities that are right next to it. Because these community and place names are real and do exist, they are easily found in online searches, and if such a search is done, they reveal themselves to be much closer to Disney World than many of the more commonly known names like Kissimmee or Orlando.
- In rare instances, if a defined place name is not provided by the above agencies, then we may create one for use on this site, but it will be a descriptor which explains what it is referring to. An example may be “Highway 27 Vacation Community Corridor” or something equally descriptive that can still be effectively searched online.
What have we done to date?
Up until now, here is how location searches work on the site:
To Search: A user begins typing‘Where do you want to go’ in the search box, and then Selects from the choices provided in the Pop-Up Menu, (adds other details if wanted) and clicks Search.
This is a location based search (Where do you want to go?) and will work for any Neighborhood, City, County, State or Country you want to use as a search term. Just start typing and choose from the choices as soon as they appear.
If what you are looking for does not appear in the pop-up, it is because it doesn’t exist on the site, in which case you have your answer; there is nothing to find.
We know that owners have been speculating about the search terms that appear, and heard that some are suggesting it is based on mailing addresses, but for all of the reasons explained above, it isn’t. It is based on the five location divisions explained above using official place names. Any of them will work.
This being the case, it is extremely important that Owners properly complete their listing information on this site, and do so accurately! Nothing is more frustrating for us then being asked by a listing owner why their property doesn’t appear in search results, and discovering that they haven’t completed their listing information accurately. Search results can only be as good as the data they are based on, and that is ultimately always up to the owner!
We understand that Guests who are unfamiliar with an area are not necessarily going to know the names of Neighborhoods, Cities, and Counties. Hopefully they do know States and Countries if they want to visit the area, but you never know.
Even though we have an excellent map search facility on the site, we still want guests to be able to enter search terms that they are familiar with and have the site provide them with what they are likely looking to find.
We think we have come up with a terrific way to accomplish this!
Up Next: Introducing Zones
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