One part of Expedia Group’s lodging business, the Vrbo vacation rental brand, is thriving in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, as travellers bypass Google and go directly to its websites to research and book.

Marketing through Google has been Expedia’s achilles heel in recent years, forcing bookings to be more expensive.

Market intelligence company SimilarWeb estimates that Vrbo currently gets about 83% of its traffic organically, and free, and around 17% through paid advertising.  Expedia Group didn’t advertise much in March and April because of the pandemic, but since then has been advertising Vrbo “delicately” because of all the free and direct traffic it has been attracting.

Across much of the travel industry, short-term rentals have recovered faster than hotels as travellers seek out non-urban destinations within driving distance of home, and stay away from big-box, urban hotels. As a result, average daily rates are rising faster than hotels for vacation rentals, where discounting is more rampant.

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