3 Vacation Rental Guru Predictions For 2013 – VRMB
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3 Vacation Rental Guru Predictions For 2013


Jay William, VillaMarketers

There are a lot of REALLY smart people in the vacation rental game right now and I thought it would be great to get three of them down, on paper, predicting what we’re all about to see next. Below you’ll find the opinions of three gurus: it’s most interesting how their two views often overlap.

One of these gurus is Jay William, President & CEO, VillaMarketers. Having been involved with vacation rentals for a while now, Jay has a tremendous perspective on where the industry has been and where it’s going. And when I asked him what we should expect from 2013, here was his response:

“I think we’ll see more booking engines in 2013 being used and implemented across the board. Sites like Booking.com allow renters to book a vacation rental without having to verify availability or deal with the hassle of negotiating a rental. Within 2 minutes travelers can book a vacation rental: now that’s easy and travelers like easy.

I was speaking with our partners HolidayLettings.co.uk last month and they were just getting ready to drop their new feature of online booking. HolidayLettings is owned by Tripadvisor who also owns Flipkey (which already offers this option). It seems we are moving toward “Hotelifying” vacation rentals with VRBO sites offering “real” online booking.

Homeaway & VRBO announced their “Book It” feature in late 2012 so this is likely to be a feature implemented by more owners and used by more travelers in 2013. The entire industry is likely to follow the lead as smaller listing sites and owners implement this feature within their websites just like the big boys.

We’ve also seen an increase of request for automated booking systems from owners and managers wanting to simplify their booking procedures.

Although online booking is not a new concept, it is now becoming increasingly popular for booking vacation rentals.

Of course online booking has its challenges, as owners need to keep their calendars up to the minute, which is often overlooked by owners as they advertise on many sites. Technology is making online booking easier but it will not be foolproof and I predict there will also be plenty of double booked properties in 2013.”

[Note: I asked Tom Hale, CPO at HomeAway, what would be the most influential trend of 2013 and his response was, “It would have to be the year of “online booking.”]

Jonathan Murray, MyVR

In addition to Jay’s foresight, I also asked Jonathan Murray, Founder & CEO of MyVR.com, what he thought 2013 would bring, and he too believed it would be in the online realm.

“Everyone now has online bookings,” Jon revealed, “but online transactions are a still surprisingly low % in this industry according to several studies I’ve seen.

Jon confided in me that he thinks that 2013 is the year that online transactions take off for two main reasons:

1) He explained how there’s a huge movement towards the direct booking button. Instead of the typical back and forth between owner and renter, a direct booking button allows rentals to get booked immediately.  In fact, HomeAway just sent out a $50 incentive for folks to turn it on.  He points out that Airbnb has used it as well and several sites are now determining a property’s ranking based on whether or not they accept direct bookings, so there’s a huge inventive to turn it on.

2) Second, Jon points out that several listing sites are moving towards the free listing model, where owners can list for free, but must run the payment through the listing site in order to get paid. (Airbnb has been doing this a while, HomeAway has told investors they are working on that, HolidayLettings just announced it, FlipKey is using this model to win back owners who have previously canceled on them…etc.)

Jon believes these things will all push more and more bookings online, many of them of the direct booking nature.  And at his own company, Jon has had a ton of customers ask to add bookings to their websites, which he’ll be rolling out shortly to complement all his marketing tools and website builder.

Considering the strong opinions of Jon and Jay, I wanted to get some input from a representative of the online booking industry.

Matt Hoffman, Bookt/InstaManager

Matt Hoffman is Vice President of Vacation Rentals at Bookt and InstaManager. Here’s what he had to say about the niche he knows so well:

“For me, 2013 is the year of “Big data” and technology in the vacation rental industry. In a nutshell, ‘Big Data’ is the term used when extensive amounts of information are continuously aggregated, from a variety of sources which can be collected, processed and analyzed on an ongoing basis for the benefit – in the travel market – of both the buyer and seller of lodging.

Around the world a significant portion of the vacation rental market continues to utilize manual antiquated processes for managing their data (property details, rates, availability, etc). In a fragmented market where a large portion of the product (vacation rentals) is being managed “slightly different,” cloud based technology provides a concrete solution for “standardizing” how vacation rentals are managed and marketed globally.

As our industry grows (85 Billion in 2012), I believe this year — more then any prior — we will see a shift away from the ad hoc processes of old, as more and more companies, large and small embrace the future.  Recognizing there are challenges, the future in our industry calls for an agnostic approach where the technology available is driven not by the individual need, but the collective need. The collective needs starts with standardizing/streamlining the booking process.

Progressive companies like FlipKey/TripAdvisor or HomeAway have advanced these efforts by adding ‘Online Booking’ or ‘Book it’ capabilities thus, bringing the hotel search and booking process to vacation rentals. From here we witness the trickle down effect. Follow the leader so-to-speak where the need for capabilities such as booking engine technology becomes even more pressing for those who  previously  represented data “off the grid”.

For vacation rental professionals/companies, there is never enough time in the day. Enter vacation rental technology. As the barrier of entry for technology becomes more accessible, leveraging tools such as lead insight and booking engine capabilities will become common practice.  In turn, the days of unreliable property data (availability/ pricing) will become non-existent. 2013 will be a very exciting year.

And there you have it! These are three people in the industry who know waaaaay more than I do. And so if you were wondering about the most influential change of 2013, you need look no further. If you’re a vacation rental owner, get yourself some online booking engines ASAP. And if you’re a company offering online booking services, know you’re on the right track!


About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.


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