The pandemic accelerated technological transformation across the hospitality industry. Contactless has become a must-have, fitness centers have gone virtual, guest communications have moved to mobile, and self-service has become standard. While some hotels found themselves rapidly deploying new technologies, other hotels have been playing the tech-long game for years. Here are some of the world’s most notable high-tech hotels. We've covered the tech strategies of great hotel groups like Viceroy and Noble House who implement everything from contactless check-in to digital concierge but this article focuses on some more wacky tech implementations with a bit of focus on form over function. This list features some pretty cool hi-tech gadgets and hotel room amenities that go above and beyond the typical flat-screen tv. Some of the cutting-edge technology on this list may off-put more traditional travelers but will undoubtedly hit the spot for tech-savvy millennials. Rather than layer technology onto the operation, these properties embed technology into the fabric of the operation, making it a focal point and key feature. Some use it as an Instagrammable moment at a specific location while others structure their entire brand around the tech-enabled guest experience. Either way, technology is front-and-center at these hotels. Henn Na Hotel, Japan “The Robot Hotel” Tokyo has become the marquee high-tech hotel. The brand concept is “commitment to evolution,” which appears across its operation in the form of robots. Lots of robots! The brand claims to be the world’s first hotel staffed by robots -- and there’s really no disputing that, as guests are greeted by robots at the front desk. At one property, the front desk is even staffed by dinosaur robots and iPad kiosks, which is quite the experience. Other high-tech features at some locations include a robot barista frothing lattes, espressos and teas, as well as a 360-degree VR space for guests to immerse themselves in virtual reality experiences. The hotel is also fully enabled with Wifi powered facial recognition, which eliminates the need for a hotel key altogether. Guests can access the property, and their individual guest rooms, seamlessly using biometrics. Very futuristic, indeed! YOTEL, New York City The YOTEL brand has been synonymous with technology since it opened its doors near Times Square. The showstopper was a massive robot arm dominating the lobby, providing automated luggage storage for guests (as well as safety deposit boxes to store valuables). The YOBOT also provides self-service check-in, which puts the brand far ahead of today’s contactless guest experience. The rooms -- called cabins -- may be small, but YOTEL uses technology to deliver its promise to “give you everything you need, and nothing you don’t.” This includes Smart TVs so that guests can connect their own devices and choose their own entertainment. The guest rooms also use motorized beds as space-savers and motion-activated sensors for lighting and AC to reduce carbon emissions. It’s all about efficiency, delivering an outsized guest experience in even the smallest spaces. Blow Up Hall 5050, Poland The Blow Up Hall 50/50 is an impressive mix of form and function. Designed by BAFTA-award-winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, the hotel combines a restaurant, bar, gallery, and hotel into a unique vibe. There are several digital art installations, including a commentary on surveillance capitalism embedded right within the lobby. The property eliminates the traditional touchstones of the hotel experience: there’s no front desk. The guest’s smartphone provides access to the property, from check-in to room keys to staff communications. The phone also acts as a room finder: after opening the app, the assigned room lights up and the door unlocks automatically. It’s these small tech flourishes that reinforce the property’s sense of mystery and intrigue. Hotel Zetta, San Francisco At the center of Silicon Valley, the centerpiece of Hotel Zetta is most definitely its virtual reality room in the lobby. Designed by a local tech startup (naturally), the VR cube gives guests a fully-immersive opportunity to experience virtual reality. There are also Nintendo Switch consoles and Oculus VR headsets available so guests can experience next-generation technology in the comfort of their rooms. Other tech touchstones include a vintage Atari Pong table in the Zetta Suite, which is modernized to include both the classic game and a Bluetooth speaker to play personal playlists. Each guest room is also equipped with Alexa-enabled voice control in every room. Guests can order a meal from room service, set an alarm or learn about on-property dining specials. Kameha Grand, Zurich The Kameha Grand isn’t one of those kitschy places that you’re embarrassed to stay at. Quite the opposite: the high-end “lifestyle hotel” is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. And, with rooms designed by Marcel Wenders, it’s got all of the trappings of a luxury property. Rooms Our favorite rooms are, of course, the Space Suites. It’s the most futuristic room type on this list because it quite literally connects to space. The in-room TV features a live feed from NASA TV so that you can fuel those space dreams. The atmospheric vibes will contribute to that dreamy feel, with “outer space furnishings have been designed down to the smallest detail with a floating bed, pictures of galaxies, hovering astronauts and models of rockets.” Far out! Virgin Hotels The Virgin Hotel brand has always been tech-forward and guest-centric. Even prior to the pandemic, the brand empowered guests to control their own experiences right from the palm of their hand. Now, those features are dramatically expanded to be even more contactless. Named Lucy, the app allows guests to skip check-in, using their phone to select rooms and unlock doors. Guests can also use the app to order room service, adjust room temperature, control entertainment (in-room streaming and Apple Music), plan their trip around the city, or even follow custom exercise routines by Fitbod. Following on smartly with its brand promise, the app also offers three preset lighting modes for guestrooms: Get Lit for full brightness, Get in the Mood for dimmed relaxation, and Do Not Disturb for sleep. By putting all of these elements together into a single interface, Virgin Hotels puts the guest in control. 25hours Hotels Another brand that’s focused on high-tech without losing high-touch hospitality is 25hours. Thanks to an in-house multidisciplinary think tank, the Extra Hour Lab, the brand experiments with new ways of engaging with guests, both through digital and analog channels. That balance plays out in Cologne, where the record store greets guests alongside Perhaps that’s one aspect that distinguishes the futuristic, high-tech hotels: those that understand how to inject storytelling into the experience alongside the latest technology. Cityhub A hybrid between a comfortable hotel and a convivial hostel, Cityhub is futuristic in both its technology and its approach to hospitality. It’s part of a new wave of brands that blend categories and use technology to enable a more social experience. The Cityhub brand has an app but it also takes a cue from Disney and offers RFID wristbands. These bands are used not only for check-in and property access, but also at the bar, cafe or vending machines, where guests can serve themselves and charge their rooms. Without having to constantly pull out their phones, there’s a more personal element to the experience. Each “hub” has its own customizable lighting, temperature and audio streaming, so guests can control their vibe. There’s also an on-property social network, giving guests a digital lobby to meet and plan real-world adventures. The Atari Hotel, Las Vegas (coming soon!) A notable mention is the upcoming Atari Hotel in Las Vegas. This property will blur the boundaries between hotel and immersive experience, building on Las Vegas’ long history of blending entertainment with hospitality. The experience is straight out of Blade Runner: bright lights, massive marquees, and an “everywhere you look” focus on gaming. The Atari Hotel points to a far-more futuristic vision of hotels than anything else on the market today. It very well could be the first hospitality experience built just as much for the virtual world as for the physical one. Guests can host friends in their rooms for gaming marathons, with consoles, batteries, and spare controllers available for delivery. The Atari Hotel may redefine the category and establish a new mainstream travel trend: the gamer circuit. -- What are your favorite high-tech hotel amenities? Let us know if we missed any key ones like hotels with crazy underwater speakers, air conditioning activated by motion sensors, cool touchscreen applications, and more!
Hotel Vacation Rentals Software Articles
Hot on the heels of an IPO that saw Airbnb’s stock pop over 100% over its initial asking price, the hype around the home-sharing platform has reached a fever pitch. Airbnb’s splashy debut in the public market has brought renewed attention to the classic “Airbnb vs Hotels'' debate. Surveys suggest that Airbnb hosts do indeed pull guests away from hotel rooms. Goldman Sachs found that those who use home-sharing end up preferring it over hotels: 79% prefer traditional hotels but, once they experience a vacation rental, that number dropped to 40%. In other words, home-sharing siphons off 39% of hotels’ target market. Another survey found that 60% who use both hotels and Airbnb prefer Airbnb versus hotels Of course, these surveys are only snapshots that don’t necessarily reflect how people choose where to stay. If the price was identical between an Airbnb and a St. Regis, Viceroy, or Montage-type property hotel rates, where would you stay for your next trip? Likely the luxury property, right? But what if it was for a family reunion or bachelor party? The trip type certainly would influence your decision on where to stay. So is Airbnb vs Hotels even the right question in a world where hotel chains like Marriott are launching their own vacation rental services and Airbnb now owns HotelTonight? The Answer: It Depends The reality is that no one is exclusively a single category traveler. The same person might prefer an Airbnb on one trip and a hotel on the next one. To choose which one is right for a certain trip, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions: What do I care about? What combination of space, amenities, cost, service, and location are most important? What kind of experience do I want? Am I looking to be pampered or self-catered? Are you looking for a private room or multiple occupancy shared space with other renters and guests? Is this a business or vacation? Who else is joining me? What kind of experience do they want? Are there kids? What’s my budget? Is flexibility important to me or am I certain I won’t need to cancel or adjust my reservation? Do you care about hotel amenities like concierge or room service? How important is safety? Do I want 24/7 staffing to feel more secure? How do I feel about my contribution to any issues around housing being taken from locals by short-term rentals? What are the short-term rental laws? Where are you going? Airbnbs are limited in certain markets like New York City, so that makes it a no-brainer. Of course, the pandemic has added new dimensions to this discussion, as the NY Times rightly points out: “Social distancing, hygiene and refund policies may be the new game-changers.” What are the cleanliness procedures? Is there an additional cleaning fee? Is there flexible cancellation in the event of a surge in cases or a sickness? What are the capacity restrictions? Can I maintain an adequate distance from other guests? There's a lot that goes into choosing an Airbnb over a hotel. It’s not so straightforward! Let’s compare side by side. Comparing Airbnb vs. Hotels Side-by-Side Airbnb Hotel Security Each property is different Most often staffed 24/7, with locks and deadbolts on each door Consistency Varies. While Airbnb provides training to hosts, there are no guarantees of what you’ll get. And each property has its own House Rules. Brand standards provide confidence in the consistency of experience Business-friendly Airbnb for Work provides some basic guarantees for items like workspaces; check-in may be difficult overnight Brand standards provide the consistency ideal for business travelers; 24/7 staffing makes last-minute stays and overnight check-ins easier Quality Varies; user reviews offer insights into the quality of specific property Varies; brand name and hotel category offer certain quality guarantee Service Self-catered Depends on category; nearly always some sort of service on-site Value for Money Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; lower cost of things like WiFi and meals Depends on the number of guests, location, geography, dates, property type; often pay extra for add-ons and meals. Convenience self-service check-in at many properties has made it much more convenient, although there is rarely someone on-site to help With 24/7 staffing, its often easier to check-in and there can't be helped for any issues experienced during stay Cleanliness Hosts do all the cleaning with no guarantees by Airbnb Brand standards ensure a similar level of cleanliness Cancellation Policies Varies by host but rarely flexible or fully refundable Flexible, often with full refunds prior to 48 hours before arrival Variety All types of accommodations, including quirky options like teepees and Airstreams Fairly standard spectrum of options, as defined by the hotel category Trust Airbnb does not verify individual hosts, but user reviews provide a level of trust in the community Hotel brand is the placeholder for trust; you have an idea of what to expect based on the brand Safety, Privacy and Legality In a Morgan Stanley survey, more than 50% of people do not use Airbnb due to safety, privacy, or legality. From shifting local laws to hidden cameras and uneven safety features, Airbnbs are not all created equally. Hotels have operated under long-standing rules and regulations around safety, privacy and legal operations. Technology Differences Between Airbnb and Hotels In the early days of Airbnb rentals, it cemented its competitive advantage by a focus on the user experience that set it apart from historically clunky hotel booking experiences. There was an easy-to-use interface for searching and booking that made excellent use of visuals and maps. Reservations were managed digitally with few phone calls and user reviews were the currency of trust. A mobile app became the centerpiece of interactions between guests and hosts, while also making it easy to manage upcoming reservations, get directions and find house rules. Now, hotels have become much savvier with guest messaging, mobile apps, in-room tablets and keyless entry to provide an enhanced experience that differentiates it from Airbnb. No more horrible entertainment options thanks to Apple TV for Hospitality, no more front desk with keyless entry and contactless check-in, no more waiting on hold thanks to guest messaging software, no more antiquated booking systems with better booking engines. In many respects, hotel tech has advanced to push it past Airbnb, allowing hotels to offer a better experience than ever before. In general, Airbnb stays and hotel stays are on a convergence path solidified by Airbnb's acquisition of HotelTonight. When is Airbnb Better? Airbnb is ideally suited under certain circumstances: Trip types: group trips (friends, family reunions, bachelor/bachelorette trips) are perfect for Airbnb’s because they have more space and the cost can be spread among many people; trips to vacation destinations where there may be fewer hotels; extended stays, when feeling at home matters greatly. Traveler types: Independent travelers looking to save money on accommodations and self-cater meals; “live like a local” travelers that want to experience what it’s like to live in the destination; those who want more space and to avoid the crowds, such as pet owners and families with kids. When are Hotels Better? Other trips are better suited for hotels. The most obvious use case a business trips, as 68% of business travelers have had a negative experience using Airbnb for work and thus prefer hotels. Airbnb has made strides in this department come out there's still a level of inconsistency that turns off business travelers. Hotels are also often better for: Trip types: Urban getaways focused less on spending time at the property; family trips where the kids want access to amenities; wellness retreats that prioritize on-site spa treatments; pampered getaways where no one wants to lift a finger. Traveler types: Loyalty members that want to earn points; those who value consistency of experience; design-minded travelers that enjoy experiencing hotel properties Business Differences Between Airbnb and Hotels On the business side of things, there are some obvious differences between Airbnb and hotels. First and foremost, is the regulatory environment. Short-term rentals have a constantly shifting legal landscape, with many cities cracking down on rampant rentals. Airbnb’s long-standing practice of ruthlessly fighting regulations may be backfiring, as coalitions of residents and hotels have rigorously pushed back. A big portion of this fight was related to short term rental taxes and paying their fair share. Airbnbs in many locations now pay a similar accommodation tax to hotels. Similar to hotels paying taxes on income, hosts are also on the hook for all necessary taxes related to their operations. The operating models also differ greatly. Compared with hotels, which operate with continuous staffing, Airbnb has remote customer service that isn't exactly known as world-class. This keeps overhead lower and gives Airbnb an advantage on operating margin, as they can invest further in the technology-driven user experience. Airbnb also operates under an “asset-light” model, Which means that it doesn't own any of the properties listed on its website. It's a Marketplace the connects hosts with gas. On the other hand, hotel operators generally have a direct relationship with the property owner. In most cases, a property owner hires a management company to run the hotel. the management company then either pays a franchise fee to a hotel brand (based on the target demographic) or runs the hotel independently under its own flag. Airbnb's decentralized model, in which hosts list their own properties on the platform, disperse its listings across geographies. However, similar to hotels, there’s a concentration of urban listings, where density delivers more options. Airbnb is also quite strong in vacation destinations, which have a long-standing familiarity with vacation rentals. While there may be fewer hotels in these areas, there’s no shortage of Airbnbs. However, local pushback may threaten this strength, as many areas crack down on both legal and illegal rentals. When it comes to market share, Airbnb definitely dominates. It’s not only become more valuable than the top 3 hotel companies combined, but it’s also bigger by sheer listing count. As you can see in the graphic below from Scott Galloway, Airbnb eclipses all major hotel brands in total room count. It’s just no comparison -- and it’s that strength that propels Airbnb ahead of hotels on market share. (For comparison, Booking.com has 6.2 million listings). On the revenue side of the equation, the global hotel industry hovers around a $600 billion market size. That’s massive compared to Airbnb’s reported $4.81 billion in revenue. The disparity underlines one fact about Airbnb's market share: all listings are not created equal. Some are for entire homes available year-round, while others are shared rooms only periodically available. Therefore listing count does not necessarily equate to market dominance! Wrapping it Up There is no clear winner and unlike what most media likes to spew - the future holds opportunity for both Airbnb and hotels. In fact, some hotels may benefit from listing on Airbnb to gain visibility with a new guest segment. Hotels should also look carefully at nearby Airbnbs and iterate (or emphasize) product features that resonate more with why guests stay at Airbnbs (see chart above). For example, if a limited-service hotel doesn’t win on service they may need to need to win on consistency, security, self-catering options, and convenience to lure more guests. When it comes to Airbnb versus hotels, it's not an either-or decision; there are few “Airbnb only” travelers. Hotels can compete head-to-head with Airbnbs by finding property attributes that appeal to specific segments and trip types -- and then marketing that message directly to those travelers!
In this article, we’ll explain how you can make money and delight guests through a vacation rental business. Vacation rentals aren’t just a niche for family reunions or spring break parties; travelers are increasingly choosing extra space and privacy that comes with a home of their own over a traditional hotel room. Are you a homeowner that wants to get a piece of the pie and start your own short-term rental business but don't have experience as a property manager? This guide will walk you through the 8 essential steps to starting a vacation rental empire of your own. Let’s get right to it. Here are the 8 steps to launching your homesharing empire: Choose your first market Acquire and set up a property Make an operational plan List your property online Welcome your first guest Reflect and read your reviews Build your brand Add to your portfolio 1. Choose your first market If you’re going to launch a vacation rental business, you need to decide where to launch. If you're looking to make some extra income from your vacation home - you can obviously skip this step. Think about a few considerations when making this decision. Do you want to manage vacation rentals in the city where you live? Or a market that you know pretty well? Or maybe you want to try a totally new market that looks promising. Research tools like Transparent, AirDNA, Mashvisor, and Zillow can help you crunch the numbers. Success is largely dependent on supply and demand. Ideally, you want high rates and occupancy for vacation rentals relative to longer-term multi-family rental prices. Property management companies can succeed in any market but favorable "rent arbitrage" and growth in local vacation rental demand set you up to acquire multiple properties in shorter periods of time. We also recommend scouting out your competition by shopping around on Airbnb and Vrbo. Is there a lot of availability? How high are the rates? What about the review scores? If you notice less availability online, that could mean the market can support new entrants. When choosing a market, it’s important to keep local regulations in mind too. Some cities have strict laws around vacation rental ownership and operations, while other markets are less restrictive. 2. Acquire and set up a property Once you’ve settled on a market, now it’s time to find your actual vacation rental property. Depending on the market you’ve chosen, it may be a home, an apartment, a condo, or something else. But how do you actually get access to it? Purchasing the property is one option, but if you don’t have that kind of capital available, you can also lease a property or find investors to help you get started. You could also establish a vacation rental management company that manages properties for owners on a commission basis. With keys in hand, you’ll need to set up the property for guests. If your property is unfurnished, you’ll need to furnish it. If you’re managing a furnished property, you still may need to update the furniture, stock the kitchen with dishes and cookware, and purchase towels and linens. Equipping the property for guests might also mean setting up WiFi, cable, and utilities. 3. Make an operational plan Although it’s good practice to start your operational plan before inking the contract for your property, once you know the specifics of your property, you can finalize that plan. Running a vacation rental business is a complex operational challenge - especially if you’re running it remotely. Some property owners prefer to commission full-service vacation rental property management companies that handle all facets of operations but these firms do not come cheap - after all, running a successful vacation rental business is a lot of work. Whether you hire a VR management company or go it alone - thinking through each step will help you prevent in-stay issues and maximize your efficiency. Your operational plan includes processes for each step of the stay experience, including: Do you need help with full-service management property management services? How will guests book your property? What vacation rental management software will you use? How will guests check-in? Will you have a door code, a lockbox, or an in-person key handoff? How can guests get help during their stay? Who will help with maintenance issues? Do you have round-the-clock support? What do guests need to do upon check-out (taking out the trash, starting the washing machine, etc.)? Who will clean the property between guests? How will they know when guests check-in or out? And where will they do laundry? What is your vendor services strategy? Will you use 3rd party cleaning services or hire a dedicated housekeeper? Will you provide concierge services? How will you handle guest communication and encourage them to book with you again? Will you provide any guest services in stay or is it too much of a hassle? What will your channel mix look like and which listing sites will you focus on? Is Homeaway hot in your area? Airbnb? Maybe you plan to design a website to capture direct business. To be extra sure your operational plan will work, consider hosting a friend or family member for a test stay. 4. List your property online Now that you know how you’ll operate your vacation rental, it’s time to book some guests! Most guests book travel online, so the best way to market your property is through online channels. Popular vacation rental booking sites include Airbnb, Vrbo, Tripadvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia. Depending on where your property is located and who your ideal guests are, you might also find relevant niche channels that target specific traveler segments and geographical areas. In order to set your property up for success online, you’ll want to follow a few best practices: Take professional photos in good lighting, including photos of the bathrooms and exterior views. Set competitive prices, perhaps with the help of a dynamic pricing tool. Write a compelling, informative description. List your property on multiple channels. 5. Welcome your first guest Congratulations, you got your first booking! Now the real work begins. Your first few guests are the most important since they can determine the fate of your online reputation. It’s important to provide a great experience for all guests, but the first guests are responsible for writing your first online reviews. If your first guests have terrible experiences and write negative reviews, you might not get any more bookings from that channel. You’ll probably also need to issue refunds. On the other hand, if your first guests have fantastic experiences, those five-star reviews can help you score more bookings and charge higher rates in the future. 6. Reflect and read your reviews Speaking of reviews, feedback from guests isn’t just about earning that 5-star rating. Your guest reviews contain valuable insight into the guest experience - both the pros and the cons. By reading each review carefully, you can resolve problems and play up highlights that will make each future guest experience even better. For instance, if a review mentions annoying street noise, you can consider adding a “sleep machine” that will play white noise to block out the horns and sirens. Make sure to mention the new addition in your listing descriptions! Or, maybe a guest wrote that they loved the taco restaurant down the street. Consider creating a local guide so all future guests can take advantage of the hidden gems the neighborhood has to offer. 7. Build your brand Adding thoughtful touches like a sleep machine or a neighborhood guide won’t just lead to good reviews, they’ll also help you build guest loyalty. As your vacation rental business grows, you can start to build a brand - whether you put a logo and a name to it or just keep guests coming back to your Airbnb listing. Some vacation rental managers want to shift business away from platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo to save money on commissions, and focusing on repeat business is a great way to do that. In addition to maintaining relationships with your past guests, you can market your property to new guests through a dedicated website, social media profiles, blog posts, and partnerships with local businesses or travel agents. 8. Add to your portfolio When you’ve mastered your first property, you might be ready to expand your empire to include new properties or new markets. Of course, managing one property is plenty of work, so don’t feel any pressure to sign new leases or purchase new assets before you’re ready. But once you are ready, you’ll find that the processes and learnings from your first property often apply to additional properties, so the ramp-up is much easier the second and third time around. Before you know it, you’ll be running your own homesharing empire. Now that we’ve shared the 8 essential steps to launching a vacation rental business, we want to hear from you! Which step are you most excited about? Are you going to start laying out your operational plan? Or maybe you’re already brainstorming branding ideas. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or sending us a note.
Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020. Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis. The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts. Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience. But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables: Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees. In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech… 10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status. Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it. Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work. This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths. The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.” If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder. The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home. 10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last. In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team. Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%. Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis. “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report. Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members. During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates. 9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture. Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees. Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women. PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation. Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed. One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.” 8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list! If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own. EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible. An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy. We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities. If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions. 7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup. Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination. During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm. Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order. 6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients. Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program. One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!” If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon. 5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story. Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world. That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up. Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow. How would this impact you when you apply for a role there? Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training. Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny. Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have. During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays. If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will. 4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it. ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties. During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal. “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role. Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues. ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress. 3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place. Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe. hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker. Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector. 2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins. Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round. Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.” Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market. 1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm. Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made. Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before. Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition. Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal. Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID). It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume. Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in. Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.
Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated hotel software in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the Top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. The HotelTechAwards platform (by Hotel Tech Report) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products and companies that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The People’s Choice Award goes to a single company across all categories who demonstrates the strongest customer relationships during the HotelTechAwards. Cloudbeds had more than 550 hotelier customers come out to share overwhelmingly positive feedback about Cloudbeds products in the midst of a global pandemic. To have that kind of support from clients during the most challenging market in hotel history says all you need to know about Cloudbeds’ commitment to their partner properties,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Here’s the Official 2021 People’s Choice List: Cloudbeds SiteMinder RoomRaccoon Bookassist OTA Insight ALICE IDeaS Avvio Hoteltime hotelkit The key factors used to determine the annual People’s Choice Award include total verified customer reviews, geographic reach of reviews, and overall review sentiment and ratings. The best companies know that the most effective way to communicate their value proposition is to empower and amplify the voices of their happy customers. The People’s Choice Award recognizes companies whose customers really value the relationship and partnership. “Twenty years ago we lived in a world where hoteliers just used one of the three or four technology systems out there and typically just ended up using whatever system they had heard of before. Today there are thousands of SaaS choices in the market and dozens of great options available for most use cases but the market is moving so quickly that it’s hard for hoteliers to identify and keep track of the best products and companies. This award honors the companies whose hotel customers are the most vocal advocates of their products to make that process easy,” says Hollander. About the 2021 People's Choice Award The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. Early on as a startup, it’s easier for companies to maintain strong customer relationships with a limited customer base. But as a company grows its install base and scales globally, maintaining high customer satisfaction becomes increasingly more challenging. Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated product in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards acknowledging the achievements of top innovators across all categories who embody the values, transparency, and customer-centricity that lie at the core of truly great companies. View Ranking Methodology>>
Hotel Tech Report has announced winners in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews contributed by verified hoteliers during the competition. Winners are selected based on key performance metrics including product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more. Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing 10,227 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite tech products to run and grow their businesses. It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history. Winning a HotelTechAward is a huge feat with the 2021 competition being the most competitive year ever. Every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations. "The HotelTechAwards are the only prize in the industry that is completely and transparently customer-driven — it's the hoteliers that decide who is best, and it's their opinion that matters most." Gautam Lulla, CEO at Pegasus. "We at SiteMinder believe strongly in the essence of openness; it is what underpins the very core of what we stand for, and the HotelTechAwards, through the program's data-driven and transparent process, aligns firmly with this value.” - Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder “This honor has deep, personal meaning as it is decided upon by our clients and represents our passion and focus for providing the most sophisticated revenue technology and comprehensive support.” Dr. Ravi Mehrotra Founder at IDeaS “The HotelTechAwards are a powerful stamp of approval for any company to possess and for hoteliers to trust. We value the HotelTechAwards process, which collects thousands of verified reviews from around the world each year.” Alex Shashou, Co-Founder at ALICE “HotelTechReport is the leading platform for technology in the hotel industry, and its meticulous and impartial verification process makes this one of the most prestigious awards.” Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Co-Founder at SuitePad The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations, and guest experience. 2021 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood, and thousands of independents. "We originally created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust and the scope of the competition this year is a testament to how far the industry has come in the last decade. The HotelTechAwards rating process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data, and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands-on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 127 countries. Best Hotel Software Companies List >>
Hotels, apartments, and vacation rentals each have their unique characteristics but what about their software? The property management system is the core of the tech stack at any accommodation business, but, as we’ll discuss in this article, not all property management systems are the same. If you’re considering implementing a PMS or switching from your current vendor, this article will help you understand the intricacies of systems designed for specific types of properties. With the right software partnership, you can run your hospitality business more efficiently and focus on delighting your guests (or tenants). Very Different Guest Journeys Based on Length of Stay The apartment "guest journey" is relatively straightforward. Prospective tenants view an apartment they like with a leasing agent, decides to rent and then moves in. Prior to move in they complete a credit check and setup payment through an online payment portal that gets drawn upon in monthly increments. The next most complex guest journey exists in vacation rentals where prospective guests find a rental unit via an online travel agency like Booking.com or Airbnb. They'll often communicate with the owner via the platform they booked on and use a mobile check-in method like keyless entry upon arrival. Rooms aren't cleaned until the guest checks out and there are no on site outlets or amenities. Hotels offer the most complexity in guest journey with ultra high touch amenities delivered by often large teams of hotel staff. The hotel industry is all about guest service. Guests usually make direct bookings on a hotel website or via an OTA. They'll receive email or text message communication prior to arrival. Upon check-in, guests are greeted by a front desk agent and taken to their room by a bellman. Their room gets cleaned each night and they enjoy hotel amenities like room service, on-site restaurant and spa outlets and more. What is PMS Software? Let’s start at the beginning: what is a property management system anyway? A PMS houses all the organizational and administrative tools you need to run a multi-family business, hotel or short-term rental in real-time and automate core functions like booking and reservation management. Key functionality in hotels and vacation rentals includes a calendar where you can manage reservations, a booking engine for your website, a dashboard for housekeeping to mark clean and dirty rooms, a guest information database, and various financial reporting. Some PMSs have an integrated channel manager which handles connections to third-party booking sites. Many PMSs are cloud-based and offer mobile apps so you can manage your property from anywhere at any time. It's important to understand each of these journeys before diving into the core operating system of each, a cloud PMS, because each PMS is designed for both the complexity and jobs to be done of both staff and guest journeys. Where hotel property management software requires functionality like connecting to major international payment gateways an apartment reservation system might only require local payment processing since tenants are by definition locals. Hotels, Apartments and Vacation Rentals Are Converging We're seeing a major convergence in the real estate and hospitality industry where the guest experience in certain segments of the hotel market is looking more like vacation rentals and vice versa. Adding to that, companies like Sonder and Why Hotels are turning apartments into short term rentals and hotel rooms while Airbnb is now a major distributor of hotel inventory. It's not hard to understand why. The hotel business is all about delivering high guest satisfaction and incredible guest experiences - it's ultimately doing the same thing as the vacation rental business and even apartments. Hotel operations tend to be the most complex given the focus on guest experience and presence of front office teams. Generally speaking, the longer the duration of the rental, the easier the business is to manage meaning that apartments are the least operationally complex to run. The key difference between short term vs. long term accommodation software lies in the fact that apartment management systems generally focus on tenant functionality like community portals and subscription rent payments. For shorter term accommodations, hotel and vacation rental PMS software focuses on credit card and payment functionality, facilitating online bookings and rate management. Key differences in PMS software for Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals The daily operations of hotels and short-term rentals can be quite different, so it makes sense that property management systems would have unique functionality for different property types. But what are the biggest differences? Key points of differentiation include the room or unit type setup, the connections available in the channel manager, tools for daily operations, and integrations with third-party software. Room Types vs. Separate Units When we think about the physical layouts of a hotel, short-term rental apartments, and vacation homes, several differences come to mind. At a hotel, you’ll find a lot of rooms, but those rooms usually fall into a few distinct room types. Short-term rental operators might manage many apartments, but each of those apartments might be unique and located in a few different buildings. Vacation homes can have their own addresses and often have different sizes, amenities, and policies. In order for hoteliers and property managers to get the most utility out of their software, property management systems must account for these differences. Hotel-specific software like Hoteltime will be set up for room types in the same building, while vacation rental-specific software is built for unique individual units often at different addresses. While hoteliers probably don’t add new room types on a regular basis, short-term rental operators expand their portfolios regularly, so it’s important that their software allows for easy addition of new units. Daily Operations The who, what, and where for daily operations is another major point of differentiation between hotels and short-term rental properties - and their software. At a hotel, many employees from various departments will use the PMS on a daily basis. Front desk agents, housekeeping staff, back-office employees, and the leadership team might all use the PMS at the same time. Tasks range from checking in guests, tracking housekeeping status, upselling rooms, entering reservations taken over the phone, and running reports for leadership meetings. It’s important for a hotel PMS like Hoteltime to allow multiple user accounts and levels of access rights. A vacation rental PMS, on the other hand, is used by fewer people and for fewer manual tasks. Vacation rental reservations are rarely taken over the phone, and, usually, a smaller team of staff interacts with the system. Since short-term rentals often don’t have a front desk, it’s crucial that property managers can access the PMS on the go, like via a mobile app. Most short-term rentals do not offer housekeeping mid-stay, so that functionality is less important. However, it’s crucial that a PMS can support automated check-in instructions and other communications that allow the guest to complete a self-service check-in. Smaller hotels (under 20 rooms) generally require all-in-one affordable hotel management software but may be able to use vacation rental software to manage their properties. Check out our list of best hotel software for smaller properties. Channel Connections Not only do daily operations differ based on property type, but so do distribution strategies. If a PMS offers channel management functionality, you’ll notice that the supported channels vary with property type. Hotel-specific software will focus on connections to the big OTAs, like Expedia, Booking.com, and Agoda, plus to the GDS and travel agents. Most vacation rental-specific software also connects to Booking.com and Expedia, but connections to vacation rental booking sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Tripadvisor Rentals are essential. Hotel-specific software likely does not support connections to Airbnb, Vrbo, or Tripadvisor Rentals. Integrations Channel connections aren’t the only links between a PMS and other systems; property management software can connect to third-party apps that bring additional value to your operations. Hotel-specific PMSs will offer integrations with other hotel systems that usually happen via API, such as revenue management systems (IDeaS, for example), work order software (HotSOS), upsell software and point of sale systems (Micros). Vacation rental-specific PMSs integrate with a slew of vacation rental-specific software and apps, including dynamic pricing tools (PriceLabs), property-level security and monitoring systems (NoiseAware), keyless entry solutions (RemoteLock), guest communication tools (Hostfully), and more. Have we missed any major differences between property management systems? Let us know!
Want to explore a plethora of types of accommodations? You’ve arrived at the right place. We’ve researched over 80 kinds of hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and more. By the end of this article, you’ll discover which accommodations are right for you. The classification of hotels is no easy feat so we. decided to make it easy for you. We’ve broken down this article into 7 categories (by type of hotel): Popular Hotel Types Chain Scales Star Ratings Niche Hotel Types Regional Accommodations Unique Hotel Concepts Hotel Alternatives The hospitality industry is changing rapidly. Vacation rental companies like Airbnb are looking more like hotels and hotels are looking more like vacation rentals with the invention of serviced apartments and apartment hotels. As a guest you want to know what each hotel has to offer. Does a 3-star hotel offer room service? Does a five-star hotel need a spa? What kinds of hotel amenities does a resort hotel have? Are budget hotels dirty? Ready to dive in? Let’s go! Popular Hotel Types These hotel types are the most common, and you can find them all over the world. Chain Hotel: Also known as a “branded hotel,” a chain hotel is affiliated with a brand that may have strict guidelines for amenities and design. Some chain hotels are part of a larger ownership group, while other chain hotels have independent owners but follow the same brand standards. Popular hotel chains are Courtyard, Holiday Inn, and Westin. Independent Hotel: A hotel that is independently owned and operated with no brand standards or guidelines. Boutique Hotel: A hotel that incorporates unique design and personalized service, often with a theme or local influences. Boutique hotels are usually small (under 100 rooms) and independently owned, though some boutique hotels are part of collections like Leading Hotels of the World or chains like the Curio Collection by Hilton. Pictured: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea Resort: A resort offers everything necessary for a vacation on-site, such as restaurants, bars, pools, spas, recreational facilities, kids clubs, and entertainment venues. Popular resort brands include Sandals and Four Seasons, though there are many independent resorts too. Airport Hotel: An airport hotel is located near - you guessed it! - an airport. Airport hotels usually provide free airport transportation for a seamless transfer. Conference Hotel: Catering to business travelers and groups, conference hotels have extensive function space, catering services, and event planners to suit trade shows, conventions, or other large events. All-Suite Hotel: A hotel which contains only suite-style guestrooms, which are guestrooms that have separate sleeping and living areas. Embassy Suites is a popular all-suite hotel brand. Extended-Stay Hotel: Designed for people who need a place to stay for several weeks or months, extended-stay hotels provide guestrooms with full kitchens and more spacious layouts than a standard hotel. Some extended-stay hotels also offer laundry events and social events. Motel: Short for a “motor hotel,” motels are often located next to a highway in rural areas and offer basic amenities at a low price. Pictured: Aparthotel Baden, Switzerland Apart-Hotel: Also known as a condo hotel, apart-hotels are made up of apartment-style units which can contain full kitchens and several bedrooms. Apart-hotels offer all the services of a hotel, like a front desk and housekeeping. Serviced Apartment: An apartment unit with hotel-style services available for nightly rentals, often catering to business travelers. Serviced apartments can be found in apartment buildings that also house long-term residents. Hostel: Popular among young budget travelers, hostels offer beds (usually bunk beds) in shared dormitories with shared bathroom facilities. Other on-site amenities can include lounge areas, bars, games, restaurants, and self-service laundry. Chain Scales The hotel industry uses “chain scales” to categorize hotel brands. Smith Travel Research developed the chain scale system and decides which chains fall into each category, usually based on the hotel’s average daily rate. Luxury: These hotels are the cream of the crop. Luxury hotels offer exceptional service, distinctive architecture, award-winning restaurants, and amenities like spas and golf courses. Luxury chains include Aman, Peninsula, and Ritz-Carlton. Upper Upscale: Like luxury hotels, upper upscale hotels deliver unique experiences with stellar service and amenities - but with a less eye-watering price tag. Upper upscale chains include Hyatt Regency and Wyndham Grand. Upscale: Upscale hotels are full-service hotels with solid amenities and classic decor, usually including a restaurant and a fitness center. Upscale chains include Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn. Pictured: Holiday Inn Boston Bunker Hill Area Upper Midscale: Ranging from traditional to modern, upper midscale hotels offer comfortable accommodation and basic amenities, like free breakfast and fitness centers. Upper midscale chains include Holiday Inn and Red Lion. Midscale: This segment includes both modern and legacy brands with basic design, sparse amenities, and, often, free breakfast. Midscale chains include La Quinta and Ramada. Economy: These hotels offer no-frills accommodation at a low price. Economy hotels are often found in rural, suburban, or airport areas and include limited amenities. Economy chains include America’s Best Value Inn and Motel 6. Star Ratings Star ratings give travelers information about the level of quality at a given hotel. Generally speaking, hotels with higher star ratings can sell higher rates. Star ratings are either assigned by a third-party rating entity, such as Forbes Travel Guide, or by a governmental body in certain countries, like Australia and the United Kingdom. 1-Star Hotel: A hotel with basic amenities, perhaps with shared bathrooms or no dining options. 2-Star Hotel: A hotel with basic amenities and slightly elevated decor, breakfast service, and/or public areas like a lobby or gym. 3-Star Hotel: A full-service hotel with a restaurant, front desk, intentional decor, and housekeeping service. 4-Star Hotel: An upscale hotel with on-site dining, premium amenities, and a signature look and feel. 5-Star Hotel: A luxurious hotel with personalized service, high-end dining venues, wellness facilities, and elegant design. 7-Star Hotel: Though it’s not officially part of the star rating system, a few “7-star hotels” in destinations like Dubai and Fiji have such over-the-top amenities that the 5-star designation just doesn’t cover it. At Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, you can expect Rolls-Royce car service, a suite with a private movie theater, and a private beach. Pictured: Burj Al Arab, Dubai In many European countries, you can find the HOTREC Hotelstars Star Rating System. This organization uses a rubric with almost 300 points of comparison to determine which category a hotel falls into. In addition to these categories, a hotel can earn a “Superior” designation if it falls between two categories. Tourist Hotel (*): These hotels include guestrooms with private bathrooms, daily housekeeping, and a front desk with limited hours. Standard Hotel (**): These hotels include toiletries, towels, linens, and a breakfast buffet. Comfort Hotel (***): These hotels include bilingual staff, internet, hair dryers, and laundry and ironing service. First Class Hotel (****): These hotels include minibars, a restaurant, a lobby, and an extensive selection of toiletries and personal items in the bathrooms. Luxury Hotel (*****): These hotels include 24-hour reception, concierge service, in-room safes, and nightly turndown service. Did you know? AAA uses a “diamond” rating system to evaluate the quality of hotels and restaurants. Check out our guide to hotel star ratings to learn more about these types of hotels. Niche Hotel Types Looking for something specific? These niche hotels cater to a particular type of traveler or embody a certain theme. All-Inclusive Hotel or Resort: Don’t want to worry about dining out while you travel? All-inclusive hotels or resorts provide all of your meals on-site. Most all-inclusives have several restaurants, cafes, and bars that are included in the room rate. Beach Resort: Set directly on the beach, beach resorts let you go from your room to the sand in just a few footsteps. Beach resorts usually provide beach chairs, towels, umbrellas, and watersports equipment. Pictured: Union Street Inn, Nantucket Bed and Breakfast: With an average of only six rooms, these charming properties offer a homey atmosphere, daily breakfast, and social interaction with other guests and the proprietor, who usually lives on-site. Many bed and breakfasts are luxurious or historic. Business Hotel: These properties cater to business travelers and are located near business districts, airports, or convention centers. On-site amenities include meeting rooms, business centers, and restaurants for breakfast on the go. Casino Hotel: Feeling lucky? Casino hotels have on-site casinos, usually in addition to restaurants, bars, spas, and shops. Las Vegas and Atlantic City have high concentrations of casino hotels. Eco Hotel: Staying in a hotel doesn’t need to hurt the environment. Eco hotels range in size and style, but they all have a focus on environmental-friendliness. Eco hotels might come with limited housekeeping service, organic restaurants, LEED-certified architecture, and sustainable decor. Family Hotel: Traveling with the kids is easier when you choose a family hotel, which are found in popular vacation destinations like Orlando. These properties offer family-friendly rooms with bunk beds or separate bedrooms, restaurants with kid-approved menu choices, childcare or day camps, and activities for all ages. Gastro Hotel: A hotel with a culinary focus, sometimes featuring a Michelin-starred hotel or an on-site vegetable garden. Pictured: Boulders Resort & Spa, Scottsdale Golf Resort: A resort with a golf course, perfect for golf getaways. Golf resorts are usually found in vacation destinations like Hawaii or Scottsdale. Heritage Hotel: Take a step back in time at a heritage hotel. These iconic properties are known for their classic architecture and rich history. In some countries, they may even receive an official “historic” designation from the government. Microstay Hotel: Need a place to rest your head for a few hours? Microstay hotels can be booked by the hour, which is ideal for travelers with long layovers or quick turnaround times that don’t align with the standard check-in and check-out policies. Patient Hotel: Patients traveling to out-of-town hospitals can benefit from a patient hotel, which is usually located within or near a medical facility and offers services and amenities for pre- and post-treatment stays. Railway Hotel: Located next to railway stations, these hotels offer convenient accommodation for train travelers. The first railway hotel, the Great Western Hotel in England, opened in 1844. Ski Resort: Set in ski destinations like Aspen and Park City, ski resorts are ideal for a vacation on the slopes and offer the convenience of dining, wellness facilities, equipment rental and storage, and lessons on-site. Pictured: Park Hyatt Tokyo Skyscraper Hotel: Looking for a hotel with a view? You can find skyscraper hotels in metropolitan areas around the world. The hotels usually occupy several floors within the skyscraper; the other floors might contain offices, residences, shopping, or dining. Spa Hotel: If you’re in the mood for a relaxing getaway, then a spa hotel might fit the bill. Spa hotels have world-class spa facilities and often incorporate wellness into their restaurants, decor, and amenities. Tennis Resort: Channel your inner Serena Williams and head to a tennis resort for an active vacation. These properties offer not only tennis courts, but also lessons run by on-site pros and restaurants where you can fuel up between matches. Wine Hotel: A trip to Napa or Bordeaux isn’t complete without a stay at a wine hotel. Often set directly on vineyards, these hotels incorporate a wine theme in their dining venues, decor, and even spa treatments. Regional Accomodations Some accommodation types are only found in certain parts of the world. Rather than choosing a chain hotel when you travel, you can get a taste of local culture at a region-specific accommodation. Albergo Diffuso: In an effort to lure tourists to small towns in Italy, the albergo diffuso concept offers accommodations in restored homes scattered throughout the town, giving travelers a unique sense of community. Bunkhouse: Similar to a hostel, a bunkhouse (also known as a camping barn) offers shared dormitory accommodations, shared bathrooms, and either a simple breakfast or a shared kitchen. Bunkhouses can be found in rural areas in the United Kingdom. Casa Particular: A staple of Cuban hospitality, the casa particular is similar to a bed and breakfast in that it offers travelers a room in a home and breakfast (additional meals too), plus basic decor and a low price. Country House Hotel: Popular in the English countryside, these tranquil hotels provide the ideal setting for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Country house hotels offer comfort food, afternoon tea, and activities like hunting and horseback riding. Gasthaus: This classic German accommodation offers guestrooms and a restaurant or tavern. These properties feature traditional architecture and are found in small towns throughout Germany. Hostal: Not to be confused with a hostel, a hostal includes private guestrooms or apartments plus a restaurant or cafe. Hostales are usually family-run and are located in Spain and Central and South America. Pension: Found worldwide, but mostly in Europe, pensions are modest guesthouses which provide guestrooms and meals. When booking your room, you can usually choose between full board (all meals included) or half board (breakfast and dinner included). Pictured: Riad de Tarabel Riad: Surrounded by an exterior wall, a riad features a lush courtyard garden and stunning Moroccan design and architecture. While a riad is simply a type of luxurious Moroccan home, many have been converted into hotels in destinations like Marrakech. Ryokan: A traditional Japanese inn which offers minimalist rooms with tatami mats instead of Western-style beds. Other ryokan amenities include communal baths and restaurants, and guests are usually requested to remove their shoes inside. Unique Hotel Concepts Why stay in a typical hotel when you can have a one-of-a-kind experience? These innovative accommodations prove that there’s more to the hotel industry than the big-box chain hotel. Boatel: Even those prone to seasickness can enjoy a boatel, which is just a fancy name for a boat that doubles as sleeping accommodations while it’s moored in a harbor or marina. Boatels can be small boats perfect for a family or out-of-service cruise ships that offer hundreds of cabins. Pictured: Capsule Hotel Hakodate Capsule Hotel: Also known as a pod hotel, a capsule hotel offers micro-rooms with single beds and shared bathrooms. These efficient hotels give budget travelers an affordable place to sleep with more privacy than a hostel, and they’re popular throughout Asia. Castle Hotel: Want to sleep like royalty? A castle hotel is housed in a real castle, often found in rural parts of Europe, that has been converted into a fully functioning hotel complete with running water, electricity, and WiFi (usually!). Hotelship: During high-demand periods when a city doesn’t have enough hotel rooms, hotelships come to the rescue. Passenger vessels like river cruise boats or ocean liners temporarily dock in a city to provide additional sleeping capacity. Hotel Barge: Set on canals in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and other European countries, hotel barges provide a few luxurious rooms and day excursions to wineries, markets, or castles. Pop-Up Hotel: A temporary hotel which is only open during limited dates or a holiday period. Some pop-up hotels are constructed for festivals or sporting events, while others can be part of elaborate marketing strategies for brands like Jack Daniels. Pictured: A Rotel in Germany Rotel: Short for “rolling hotel,” a rotel is what you get when you merge a tour bus and a hotel: bus in the front, hotel in the back. Rotels are popular in tourist destinations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Underwater Hotel: Forget counting sheep; at an underwater hotel, you can count fish as you fall asleep. Set in resort destinations like the Maldives and Singapore’s Sentosa Island, these luxurious hotels offer underwater rooms with sea views - literally. Hotel Alternatives Hotels aren’t your only choices when it comes to places to sleep during your travels. A growing segment of “alternative accommodations” puts a twist on the vacation experience with options available for every budget and style. Cabin: A home located in the forest or mountains, usually made from natural materials like wood. Cabins can range from simple accommodations to luxurious retreats in rural destinations. Campsite: Want to get back to nature? A campsite is as close to nature as you can get. Book your campsite, bring your tent, and enjoy a night (or a few) under the stars. Campsites have access to shared bathroom facilities. Farm Stay: For city dwellers, a farm stay can be quite an adventurous vacation. On a farm stay, you might wake up to the sound of roosters crowing and help your hosts harvest vegetables for your dinner, since guestrooms are either attached or adjacent to the host’s home. Pictured: Istra Premium Camping Resort Glampsite: If campsites had star ratings, then glampsites would surely earn five! Glamping puts a luxurious spin on camping with posh tents that incorporate high-quality materials, chic decor, modern bathrooms, Guesthouse: A simple accommodation which offers guestrooms within the host’s own home. Guesthouses can have up to a dozen or more rooms, and most provide free breakfast. Holiday Park: A group of mobile homes or cottages with community amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts. Homestay: A room for transient guests within the host’s home, which is a popular accomodation type in rural areas. Homestays usually include breakfast, and some invite you to dinner with the host family. Ranch: Ever wanted to be a cowboy or cowgirl? Ranches offer the quintessential Wild West experience, complete with horseback riding and plenty of nature. They vary in quality from luxurious resort ranches to working ranches where guests help with daily operations. Recreational Vehicle: The perfect road trip solution is a recreational vehicle (RV), which looks like a bus or large van on the outside, but features all the comforts of home on the inside, including at least one bed, a kitchen, a bathroom, and living space. Short-Term Rental: This new term refers to vacation homes or apartment rentals that travelers book for a short period of time, from one night to a few weeks. Short-term rentals can be managed by individual hosts or brands like Sonder. Studio: A single-room accommodation that includes a kitchen or kitchenette, a bed, and a bathroom. Studios can be found in guesthouses, apart-hotels, or as short-term rentals. Timeshare: This innovative solution to vacation home ownership lets you purchase a condo or villa for a certain time period (usually one week) each year. Some timeshares include use of just one property, while other timeshare membership programs allow you to redeem your week at your choice of several properties. Tiny House: A trendy, Instagram-ready, and efficient accommodation that offers a bed, a bathroom, and a kitchen in just a few hundred square feet of space. Treehouse: Ideal for the young at heart or anyone searching for a truly unique accommodation, treehouses offer a bed in the trees. These eclectic properties can be basic, open-air platforms or magical, luxurious palaces in the sky. Vacation Home: Simply put, a vacation home is a house rented for short-term use. A vacation home is a great solution for families or groups who want their own kitchen and living spaces and prefer not to book multiple guestrooms. Vacation Rental: The broader term for vacation homes, apartments, condos, villas, timeshares, treehouses and more that are booked for the purpose of a short leisure stay. Villa: Usually found in tropical vacation destinations, villas are like small, private resorts with multiple structures (standalone bedrooms, living areas, gazebos) and outdoor pools. Yurt: A halfway point between a hotel room and a tent. Yurts are permanent structures with walls and roofs, unlike tents, but they often lack electricity and climate control and use shared bathroom facilities. Ready to pack your bags? Let us know if we missed any types of hotels.
Online travel agents have become an integral part of many travelers’ “search and book” routine. It used to be so much more tedious to book travel, requiring a phone call or an in-person visit to a physical travel agent. Now, travelers can self serve all the way from research to booking. If you're like most travelers, you've used an OTA without really thinking much about it. The website works well, with lots of choices and a relatively smooth booking experience. But if you’ve ever wondered what an OTA actually is, how OTAs make money, why travelers like you use OTAs and what the biggest OTAs are, then this is your place. We've compiled some of travelers’ most frequently asked questions around OTAs and answered them all in one place. Let’s get curious! What's an OTA? “OTA” stands for Online Travel Agency, which is a travel agency whose primary presence is on digital channels. Consumers can use a website and/or mobile device to search and book travel -- all without the traditional “gatekeeper” travel agent. OTAs connect to the full breadth of travel providers, giving travelers access to all of the inventory that they may want for their next trip. Online travel agents are the travel industry's largest source of bookings and often use package deals including airfare and hotels or special offers like flash sales to drive more bookings to airline and hotel partners. These massive travel websites like Booking and Expedia have millions of monthly visitors. Large hotel groups (like Hilton and the like) have been consolidating and building new subbrands, which means that they have a lower reliance on OTAs; travelers can find many types of accommodations on the global brands’ own websites. Yet, many independent hotels rely entirely on OTAs to drive their bookings as they don’t have a booking engine of their own. Either way, OTAs have a breadth and depth of travel inventory that covers all segments, geographies and groups of travelers. It's also important to understand what ARE NOT online travel agencies. Metasearch engines like TripAdvisor and Google Flights, for example, are not OTAs. Having said that, Booking.com (formerly Priceline.com) does own metasearch player Kayak so there are some overlaps (although with different brands). In the United States Expedia is the dominant player while in Europe it is Booking.com. How do OTAs make money? Most OTAs make money by taking a commission per booking, which is anywhere from 5% to upwards of 25%. The actual commission rate is negotiated on a brand by brand, property by property basis. In general, larger hotels and bigger brands with many properties use their leverage to negotiate lower rates. So when you book that boutique hotel on an OTA, it's likely that they are paying more on commission than the name brand Hotel down the street. Most OTAs also make money through advertising, in which hotels pay to be prominently placed above organic results in relevant traveler searches. This model, which is also used by metasearch sites (see What is metasearch? for more), is generally on a pay-per-click basis. Why do travelers use OTAs? Over a fifth of travelers say they use OTAs to book all or part of their travel. And OTAs (and their metasearch cousins, often owned by major OTA groups) remain popular among all age groups. OTAs are positioned across many touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Why is that? At the highest level, there are three main reasons why many travelers book their trips on an OTA: Choice. Online travel agencies are a “one stop shop” for all things travel. From flights and hotels to short-term rentals, cars and vacation packages, you can pretty much find any type of product that you want on an OTA. Price. OTAs have done an excellent job of developing a perception of value -- even though they aren't always the lowest price or the best value. The real value here lies in comparison shopping. It’s easy to compare options on an OTA and that type of information is very valuable to consumers. Convenience. OTAs are the Everything Store for Travel, available on any device. It’s a convenient place to book your car rental, hotel and flights in a single reservation. It's so much easier to deal with that single point of contact -- especially when things go wrong and you need help. Rather than calling multiple numbers to puzzle together a new itinerary, you only have to call one number to get it done. Now let's assume and to get a bit more of a granular and geeky view into what consumers want from OTAs. A recent research report from Jul 2020 asked this very question in its title, Why do people purchase from online travel agencies (see geeky graph below). While it was based on a limited sample size of users from a budget hotel brand, the results suggest that travelers use OTAs due to a perception of greater trust, safety and quality: Hygiene. Travelers want to be assured of the relative cleanliness of the service or product. By using a reputable online travel agency, travelers have an expectation of a certain level of quality. The attributes of the brand make a big difference in the perception of quality. Privacy and security. Privacy and security are also important. And, just like hygiene, Travelers have a certain level of trust in the OTA brand to deliver a quality experience that won’t expose them to privacy breaches or physical harm. Reviews. Social proof has a major impact on why travelers use OTAs. A feeling that others had a good experience goes a long way in pulling more consumers into the OTA ecosystem. What are the drawbacks of OTAs? There are also some disadvantages of using OTAs, which travelers must be aware of. For one, travelers often are lured by low prices on many online travel agencies. Yet, once they try to book, they find out that the price includes hidden fees or added restrictions that wouldn’t be found by booking directly with an airline or hotel. Niche OTAs, which can pop up seemingly overnight, often hide the true cost of a trip during a given search to entice consumers to click through. The worst actors will actually appear to offer the lowest price all the way through to booking. However, once you check-in to their flight or hotel, you may discover unexpected fees. All of a sudden, that “steal” of a price actually becomes more expensive than it would have been book direct. Examples of these tactics periodically pop up, such as when one online travel agency was accused of using improper charges and bait-and-switch fares. The tactic can mislead consumers, who see an OTA as the cheapest option in search results and thus click through to book. Another major drawback is customer support. Not all OTAs are created equal on this front. Especially when it comes to regional ones, travelers often face less-than-ideal support. For the average trip, when everything goes well, this is far less of an issue. It's when things go wrong that support matters greatly. No one wants to be stranded without anyone to help! This can be exacerbated during disruptions come out when travel suppliers prioritize direct workers over others. When booking directly with a hotel or airline, travelers will deal directly with the company for any issues that arise. So it’s not always cut-and-dry that an OTA will be able to provide you better or more effective support than a travel company -- and in some cases (especially with more niche/regional OTAs) there’s spotty support that can cause more frustration than the price savings. What are the top online travel agencies? When choosing where to book, most consumers opt for one of the top OTAs: Booking Holdings and Expedia Group. That’s not really difficult to do, as these two companies own the bulk of online bookings. With many brands that span categories and regions, Expedia and Booking have all corners of the globe and all travel niches covered: Expedia Group In addition to its namesake OTA Expedia.com, which sells all categories of travel to a global audience, the company operates sites that span hotels, ground transportation, cruises, vacation rentals, metasearch and business travel. Hotels.com. Expedia’s hotel-focused OTA is most well-known for its generous and straightforward loyalty program, which rewards a free night for every 10 nights booked on the platform. Vrbo. Short-term rentals are the core of the Vrbo offering, which recently merged with HomeAway to become Expedia's main destination for vacation rentals. Egencia. Corporate travel managers use Egencia to support their business travel needs. With self-service options for travelers and compliance tools for managers, the focus is on savings and ease-of-use. trivago. The “trivago guy” became a worldwide sensation after appearing in commercials without a belt. The hotel metasearch platform provides hotel price comparisons across its 55 localized sites. Orbitz. This OTA has a strong focus on North America, where travelers can search flights, hotels & travel bundles. Orbitz for Business is the OTA’s corporate travel arm. CheapTickets. As a subsidiary of Orbitz, Cheaptickets is for discounted hotels, flights, local events, travel bundles and cruises. The site’s Vacation Value Finder assists travelers in finding the best deals. Travelocity. The Roaming Gnome has been one of the most successful marketing campaigns in travel. The OTA is also known for its Price Match Guarantee, where it will match any price from a competitor. Hotwire. This is an opaque deal site specifically for hotels. Travelers can see star rating and cost for their search dates, and then make non-refundable reservations based on an overview of the hotel’s category. Wotif. The Wotif portfolio includes Wotif and LastMinute, which offers flights, hotels, packages and last-minute deals to travelers based mostly in Australia and New Zealand. ebookers. This regional OTA serves travelers primarily from the UK, as well as around Europe. Travelers can search and book flights, hotels, car rentals, activities and packages. CarRentals.com. Travelers can book rental cars from the major brand names, as well as smaller regional outfits. The niche OTA covers 29,000 locations in 197 countries. Expedia Cruises. The cruise arm of Expedia Group gives consumers the control and flexibility to book cruises, which can be more complex than typical travel. There are also a chain of retail outlets, so cruises can get expert assistance face-to-face. Booking Holdings Headquartered in Amsterdam, Booking Holdings is best known for its flagship brand Booking.com, which sells all types of travel to a global audience in 43 languages. The global conglomerate also operates niche websites serving specific segments in travel and hospitality. Priceline. This OTA is focused primarily on North America and is known for its discounts and deals. The latest is Pricebreakers, a semi-opaque shopping option that shows travelers three hotels, one of which will be assigned after booking. Agoda. This OTA is strong in Asia, offering over 2 million hotels, homes, resorts and hostels across the continent. It also sells flights. Kayak. Kayak is a metasearch price comparison tool for flights, accmmodations, packages, and rental cars. Kayak has 60 localized sites in over 24 languages. Cheapflights. The brand promise is right there in the name: this is the place to find cheap flights. The site is actually a subsidiary of Kayak and applies its parent company’s metasearch model to flights. Momondo. Another subsidiary of kayak, this site is a flight fare and travel search aggregator. Travelers can find and compare prices for flights, hotels, rental cars and package deals. RentalCars.com. This Booking platform for rental cars has options in 160 countries, as well as nillions of verified reviews to inform travelers. OpenTable. Booking’s push into the full traveler journey led it to acquire OpenTable, the world's largest restaurant reservation platform. It exists as a standalone brand, where diners can make reservations online at restaurants worldwide. Airbnb The dominant short-term rental player now also offers boutique hotels on its platform. And while the pandemic has shifted its vision somewhat, the platform is now an OTA that competes directly. Ctrip Until recently, Ctrip was focused primarily on Asia. This changed with the purchase of Trip.com, which gave it a global footprint on major North American and European markets. Google Hotels Okay, so technically this is not an OTA as the business model is strictly “pay for performance.” But Google Hotels is the elephant in the room: a major competitor from the dominant search engine where the vast majority begin their travel searches. It's mere presence changes the calculus for OTAs worldwide. That's not to say that these sites are perfect, or that there aren't local alternatives. Verified reviews aren't always the most positive (see some here) -- but at least with the major companies, travelers are more likely to get responsive support and accurate pricing, with less likelihood of being scammed or otherwise misled. For a full list, check out our list of the top hotel booking sites for 2020.
Looking for opportunities to boost your vacation rental’s revenue? Your daily rates might be a good place to start. A great way to maximize your opportunity for revenue and bookings is to implement a dynamic pricing strategy, which means setting unique rates for each individual day - based on market demand, competitor supply, and your own historical data. If your prices don’t adapt to changing market conditions, you could be leaving money on the table. For property owners and managers who use Vrbo, the MarketMaker tool can be a solid addition to your pricing strategy and vacation rental marketing toolbox. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what MarketMaker does and how you can use it to optimize your Vrbo listings. What is MarketMaker? Homeaway's Revenue Tool Explained (now Vrbo) MarketMaker is Vrbo’s revenue management and competitor research tool. It’s available to all Vrbo hosts in the Owner Dashboard. MarketMaker is free of charge. To access MarketMaker, simply log into your property dashboard and select “MarketMaker” from the menu on the left side of the page. The tool itself compares your property’s current rates and occupancy with the average rates and occupancy in your market or competitive set. A competitive set is simply a group of similar properties that Vrbo’s algorithm has chosen. This comparison helps you determine whether your rates are too high or too low and if you are capturing your fair share of bookings. If your property has lower occupancy than the market average, for example, that could be a signal that you have an opportunity to increase bookings. What information does MarketMaker show? When you first open MarketMaker, you’ll see your properties at a glance. You can quickly notice each property’s average daily rate compared to the competitive set or market as well as occupancy percentage compared to the same competitive set or market. The data is from a time range selected on the top of the page: 30, 60, 90, or 180 days, or a custom range. By default, all of the properties in your account will show, but you can also search for a specific property or apply filters, like number of bedrooms or location, to show a subset of your listings. Next, we can drill down on one property in particular. By clicking the number of “opportunities” or the arrow on the far right of a given property’s row, we can see rates for that property on specific dates. These dates show rate recommendations that Vrbo suggests based on competitive set data. Vrbo can recommend higher or lower rates, whatever the algorithm determines your property needs to maximize the opportunity for bookings. When you click on the property’s name in the “Property” column, you can explore MarketMaker’s graph view. The graph looks overwhelming at first, so let’s explain exactly what you’re seeing. The graph contains data for one of your properties and that property’s market or competitive set. On the top, you can see the calendar, your current rates, and whether your property is available (white), booked on Vrbo (green), or unavailable for another reason (gray). In the graph, you’ll see a few lines, which you can toggle to show or hide: Blue line: Your current rate Green rate: Average rate of properties in your market/competitive set which have been booked on Vrbo Gray line: Average rate of properties which remain available on Vrbo Yellow line: Number of searches for your market on Vrbo The graph also contains two stacked bars: Light gray bar: Current occupancy of properties in your market, based on Vrbo data Turquoise bar (above the gray bar): Forecasted occupancy of properties in your market, based on Vrbo’s historical data, seasonality, and trends When you hover over one date on the graph, you’ll see the actual data points that correspond to each line and bar. How do you use MarketMaker? You can use MarketMaker in two ways: to make targeted rate adjustments and to gain a better understanding of market trends. MarketMaker offers rate recommendations when its algorithm detects a gap between your current rates and the market’s occupancy or rate trends. These rate recommendations can be found in the “opportunities” section. While looking at either the portfolio (list) or graph view, you may notice properties with “opportunities.” On the graph, the “opportunities” will be shown in blue just above the calendar row. Using MarketMaker’s recommendations, you can adjust your rates up or down - in line with market demand and trends - without needing to do all the research to come up with those recommendations on your own. The other way to use MarketMaker is to study market behavior. The graph view displays some great data about market demand in terms of search volume, and you can also get a sense of your competitive set or market’s occupancy trends. These findings can help you determine high and low demand dates so you can adapt your own strategies - both on Vrbo and on other channels - to capture as much demand as possible. Knowing which dates are in high demand can lead you to change not only your prices, but also your minimum stay requirements, fees, and content to be most competitive. What are MarketMaker’s limitations? While MarketMaker certainly presents some compelling information, it has one major limitation: the data is pulled only from Vrbo, and the changes you make to your rates will apply only to your Vrbo listing. For hosts who list properties on Vrbo only, that’s totally fine, but many hosts use additional booking channels besides Vrbo. In some markets, Vrbo represents just a small slice of all searches and bookings, so we recommend that you take the data with a grain of salt. Another limitation of MarketMaker is that it requires manual input. You can only make use of MarketMaker’s rate recommendations by acknowledging each recommendation manually, and if you have several properties, the time needed to click through these recommendations and stay up-to-date can add up quickly. Airbnb’s Smart Pricing tool offers similar rate intelligence functionality, but it’s fully automated. Property owners and managers who use third-party dynamic pricing tools, such as PriceLabs or Wheelhouse, spend much less time adjusting rates, since these tools also adjust rates automatically. However, some hosts may prefer to stay in full control of rate adjustments, so the manual nature of MarketMaker could be a benefit. Overall, MarketMaker is a nice addition to the Vrbo host dashboard, but it’s important to remember its limitations. MarketMaker can provide several benefits to property owners or managers who use Vrbo exclusively, but for hosts with larger portfolios or listings on multiple sites, the manual work needed to apply its recommendations is simply too big of an undertaking. The market data, however, can be beneficial for any host, especially to show search volume on high and low demand dates. Have you used Vrbo’s MarketMaker? We’d love to hear about your experience with this tool!