Staying Competitive in a Changing Industry
As we enter the second half of 2016, it is clear that the vacation rental industry is evolving in response to changes in technology and traveler demands, shifting into areas completely uncharted and new. The rise of Airbnb, with its quick instant-book model, has in and of itself shaken things up considerably. Then there are other companies such as Booking.com, Expedia, and HomeAway who have ventured into new ground, compelling other companies to keep up and rethink how they market their accommodations. “Over the last several years, vacation rental owners have endured an onslaught of forced change as control of their vacation rental business has been chipped away,” explains a company called Vacation Rental Direct. As the vacation rental industry continues to change and evolve, adopting new businesses models, practices, and tools is increasingly essential to survival.
The article, “Why Distribution Matters in the Changing Vacation Rental Sector,” highlights how property managers and distributors are seeing their industry grow, along with how these new developments will affect their business in the coming years if they do not adapt. The complications for smaller vacation rental owners can be even more significant as titans of the industry grow even larger. For example, Expedia’s purchase of other companies, such as HomeAway, which also includes VRBO. While in the past Expedia focused their business on PMCs and other distribution companies, they can now use sites like VRBO to market directly to travelers. “All these changes are driving folks crazy,” says Matt Landau, who runs the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog. “They built their entire foundation on a corporation just bought by Expedia, and now everything is changing. It’s a time of reckoning.”
Smaller companies are now in a position where they must adapt and adjust their current models, in order to accommodate the changing industry and the current consumer behavior. Changes in cost structure and customer connectivity are two big challenges for property managers. These changes are in effect giving rise to new technology and distribution management solutions. These solutions aid managers who have the difficult task of keeping their properties listed at competitive rates, as well as, making sure they are all kept up-to-date. LeisureLink, for example, offers plenty of distribution management tools, along with revenue management tools to help smaller PMCs keep up with the demands and competition of the industry. Content syndication, integrated booking engines, consolidated accounting, and automated pricing strategies are all ways to improve effective distribution.
The article, “Tech Solutions, Guest Experience, and Customer Touchpoints for an Evolving Vacation Rental Market,” expands on the challenge of implementing the proper technology by offering three fairly simple tips to property managers looking to adapt: getting digitally up-to-date and being where your customers shop, limiting friction points for guests, and hyper-focusing on guest needs and wants. Following these tips requires hard work and innovation, but can help drastically in the long-run with maintaining a competitive edge.
Becoming digitally up-to-date is by far one of the most valuable improvements a company can make. The easier it is to list your properties on the increasing amount of OTAs, the easier it is for PMCs to fill their occupancy at competitive rates. The value behind automating the process of managing multiple listings across numerous distribution sites is significant, since it maximizes the exposure of your properties. Now with the ability to reach thousands of travelers searching for the perfect rental, you can focus on other meaningful company tasks.
In addition, travelers are now expecting quicker and more efficient ways to search and book their desired rental properties. Maintaining a high-speed and well-designed website is imperative in managing travelers’ rising expectations. If you ensure an easy-to-use and effective online booking process, consumers will appreciate the service they receive and are more likely to return to your site for future bookings. PMCs are urged to focus on transparency, efficiency and convenience in all aspects of the consumers’ experience – from accessing extensive property information and booking instantly online to a seamless check-in. Millennials are especially aware of what PMCs and OTAs can offer them so going above and beyond to ensure your guests are satisfied is incredibly important. This will ultimately earn you loyal customers, repeat business, and positive referrals so the upfront work will pay off.
Adaptation to change can be daunting and stressful, but as the vacation rental industry morphs and evolves, the number of opportunities increase ten-fold. Implementation of new programs and strategies are hard work, but they are necessary to keep up with the exploding industry and not just survive, but thrive. The proper tools are out there to help PMCs succeed and as things are shaken up more and more, vacation rentals owners will need to become more strategic and innovative than ever before.