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14 Vacation Rental Industry Statistics that You Won't Believe

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

We probably don’t need to tell you that vacation rentals play a major part in the travel ecosystem these days. Airbnb and its peers showed homeowners that their real estate could be monetized by selling rooms to short term renters like hotels and it created a whole new market for travel as vacation homes soon became available to the masses on a short term basis.What started as a niche product for family reunions or vacations with groups of friends has turned mainstream, with booking sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com offering millions of vacation rental properties around the world. But just how big in the vacation rental industry? Where’s the industry heading in the future? And how did it fare during COVID? Get ready for 15 mind-blowing statistics about the vacation rental industry that will show you just how massive this segment of the travel industry really is. The US vacation rental industry’s total revenue is estimated to reach $13.3 billion in 2021. With a roughly 10% year-over-year vacation rental market growth rate, the industry will be close to $20 billion in 2025. The global vacation rental industry will grow even faster in the coming years.  By comparison, the hotel industry is projected to hit $110 billion in revenue in 2021 based on expert forecasts. How many people have stayed in a vacation rental? In 2021, user penetration is 13.1%, so around one in eight people have been vacation rental guests. By 2025, nearly one in five people will have stayed in a vacation rental. Why do travelers choose a vacation rental? According to a 2016 study, the top reason why people book a vacation rental is to have access to a kitchen, with 64% of respondents. 49% of respondents also said they would choose a vacation rental for more privacy. Travelers likely also opt for a vacation rental because they want more space. The average hotel room is around 325 square feet, while the average vacation rental spans more than 1,300. Who doesn’t want to spread out and relax while on vacation? Vrbo is one of the oldest OTAs for booking accommodations online. Founded in 1995, Vrbo (then known as Vacation Rentals By Owner) predates Expedia (1996), Booking.com (1996), and Priceline (1997), though it’s a bit younger than Hotels.com, which was launched in 1991 as Hotel Reservations Network.  Just how big is Airbnb? As of September 2020, the site had 5.6 million active listings in over 100,000 cities across the globe including the US, Europe and all markets combined. These listings include around 24,000 tiny homes, 3,500 castles, 2,600 treehouses, and 140 igloos - so there’s no “typical” Airbnb property. Airbnb also works with over 4 million hosts! Airbnb went public in 2020, with a valuation of more than $100 billion, making it the biggest IPO of the year. What made the company’s IPO even more impressive is that the company’s revenue was down 30% in 2020, due to the pandemic. Airbnb generated $3.4 billion in revenue in 2020, down from $4.7 billion in 2019. Vacation rentals fared better than hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of March 2020, global occupancy in hotels had dropped to 17.5% from 77% (a 77% decrease) during the same period in 2019. Studio and one-bedroom vacation rentals saw occupancy of 36.4% compared to 66.3% in 2019 (a 45% decrease), and vacation rentals with two or more bedrooms ran occupancy of 32.6%, which was down 60.6% in 2019 (a 46% decrease). If you think about Airbnb like one big hotel, you’d need a lot of front desk agents. On average, around 200 guests check into an Airbnb every minute! Speaking of hotels, hotel companies are trying to get into the vacation rental game. In 2019, Marriott debuted Homes & Villas by Marriott International, which went live with 2,000 properties. Today, the program includes over 25,000 homes worldwide. Although 2020 was a tough year for travel overall, vacation rental ADR actually increased over the course of the year. Vacation rental ADR hit an all-time peak of $202.50 in June 2020. There’s nothing like a trip to the woods! According to Vrbo, demand for cabin rentals is up 25% year-over-year, and demand for chalets is up 20%. And 61% of families responding to Vrbo’s survey said they were more likely to pick an “outdoorsy destination” than a city for their next trip. Properties in rural destinations are enjoying some serious surges in popularity. Some of Airbnb’s fastest-growing markets include Hudson Valley, NY (revenue is up 85% year-over-year); Big Bear, CA (up 73%); and Lake Tahoe, CA (up 67%). In contrast, demand for short-term rentals in New York City is down 55%. Vacation rental guests are staying a lot longer on their post-pandemic trips. Prior to March 2020, most vacation rental bookings were for one week or less (80%). After the pandemic, stays under 7 days were the minority - only 30% of all reservations - according to AirDNA.  What’s next for the vacation rental industry? At this rate, it seems like anything’s possible. Want to learn more about vacation rentals and property management? Check out our vacation rental resource center.

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The Ultimate Guide to Hospitality Technology (2023)

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Did you know the average small business uses 40 different software applications, and the average hotel uses around 20? In an ideal world, every system in your hotel’s tech stack would help you automate tasks, reduce costs, grow revenue, and deliver a five-star guest experience. But we understand that getting up-to-date on the myriad of technology solutions available to hotels can be daunting! Where do you even start?In this article, we’ll introduce you to each piece of the hotel technology landscape, from revenue management to reputation management and everything in between. Drawing on insights from over 10,000 hotel software reviews written by hoteliers across the globe, this article will also highlight some top software vendors in each category. For more detailed testimonials and additional software choices, you’ll want to click over to the full list of vendors. Let’s dive in!  9 Hotel Operations Software Tools that Drive EfficiencyThis category of software includes the most essential technology for hotel operations: checking guests in, reconciling accounts, handling payroll, and getting feedback from guests. Your hotel’s size and complexity will determine which systems you need; small, limited-service hotels might be fine with a PMS and a payment processor, but a large resort could benefit from each category of software.1. Property management systems (PMS): The PMS is the central hub for hotel operations. In this system, staff can check guests in and out, create and manage reservations, pull financial reports, manage guest profiles, and more. According to user reviews and analysis of system functionality, the top PMSs are Cloudbeds, Clock, and HotelTime, though there are over a hundred more great systems on the market.2. Staff collaboration tools: Hotel staff are scattered across different floors, buildings, and shifts, so a communication platform is necessary to keep everyone on the same page. Systems like hotelkit, Monscierge, and ALICE can replace analog methods like walkie-talkies and logbooks, plus they can track tasks, reduce manual errors, and increase efficiency.3. Housekeeping and engineering software: These tools digitize the operations of your housekeeping and maintenance departments, with the ability to automate task assignment, monitor real-time status of rooms or issues, and track task completion. Top software in this category includes hotelkit, Flexkeeping, and ALICE.4. Guest feedback and surveys: Do away with the paper comment cards and give guests a digital platform to voice their feedback, such as GuestRevu, TrustYou, or Revinate. Not only are these tech solutions easy for guests to use, but they also allow hoteliers to customize, automate, and analyze guest comments and complaints.5. Accounting and reporting: If your hotel accepts payments from guests and issues payments to employees and vendors, then you’ll benefit from an accounting and reporting system like myDigitalOffice, M3, or Omniboost. A modern accounting system reveals opportunities to reduce costs and maximize revenue, plus makes your accounting team more efficient with automated reports and integrations with other on-site software.6. Payments Processing: Most guests prefer to pay for their reservations with credit cards, but a payment processing system is necessary to get the funds from the guest’s card into your hotel’s bank account. Payment processors like Profitroom, Mews Payments, and Adyen charge a small processing fee, but they make getting paid as seamless as possible.7. Labor management: Hotels have dozens, if not hundreds, of employees, so scheduling is no easy task. Software such as Hotel Effectiveness’ PerfectLabor™, M3, and UniFocus include forecasting, insight into labor costs, and integrations with payroll and timekeeping systems. 8. Meetings and events: Whether your hotel has one private dining room or several floors of ballrooms and breakout spaces, meetings and events software can support every step of the sales and planning process - and the event itself. Highly rated meetings and events software includes Proposales, Event Temple, and Blockbuster by Duetto.9. F&B and point-of-sale systems: The pandemic accelerated demand for features like contactless menus and online ordering, so there has been a huge wave of innovation in the F&B software space. Vendors like RoomOrders, Bbot, and Oracle’s MICROS can help restaurants modernize their operations, cut costs, reduce reliance on delivery platforms, and strengthen relationships with customers. 7 Revenue Management Tech Systems that Improve Yield StrategyThe goal of revenue management is to sell the right room to the right guest at the right price, and revenue managers leverage a variety of software to achieve their RevPAR goals.1. Revenue management systems (RMS): The secret weapon of any revenue manager is the RMS; this system analyzes historical data, market supply and demand, and forecasts to recommend the rates most likely to maximize revenue and profitability. You might also hear revenue management software like IDeaS, Duetto’s Gamechanger, or Atomize referred to as “yield management systems” or “pricing engines.”2. Channel managers: A channel manager is the link between a hotel’s property management system and distribution channels like Booking.com, Expedia, and the GDS. Channel managers such as SiteMinder, Cloudbeds’ myallocator, and D-EDGE’s Smart Channel Manager allow hoteliers to make changes in one system, their PMS, rather than managing rates on each channel individually.3. Central reservation systems (CRS): Larger hotels or hotels that are part of a chain or group might use a CRS to centralize all bookings, whether they’re made by call center staff, the hotel’s own website, or a third-party channel. The CRS will then send reservations to the PMS for room assignments. Popular CRSs include Pegasus, Windsurfer, and GuestCentric CRS.4. Rate shopping and market intelligence: A key to revenue management success is selling competitive rates, but how do you know what your competitors are selling? Rate shopping tools, like OTA Insight, Siteminder Insights, and D-EDGE RateScreener, do the heavy lifting for you and present competitor rates and market forecasts in user-friendly dashboards and reports.5. Parity management: OTAs ask hotels to provide rate parity, meaning selling the same rate across all channels, and, as a hotelier, you don’t want OTAs to sell cheaper rates than your hotel’s website. Parity management tools, like OTA Insight, FornovaDI, and Triptease give hoteliers access to dashboards that monitor rates across all channels in real-time.6. Business intelligence: Revenue managers love data, but sometimes all that data is too much for Excel to handle. Business intelligence tools offer better solutions for slicing, dicing, and visualising data through dashboards and reports suitable for studying historical performance or predicting the future. Top BI applications include OTA Insight, Scoreboard by Duetto, and ProfitSage.7. Upselling Software: Driving incremental revenue per guest is possible with upselling tools that automate the entire process - and use profile data and historical trends to serve the most compelling, personalized offers to each guest, like room upgrades or F&B items. Tools like Oaky, EasyWay Smart Upselling, and GuestJoy also enable hoteliers to start the upselling process before the guest arrives on property. 9 Guest Experience Platforms to Improve Satisfaction ScoresHow do you create a five-star guest experience in the digital age? A plethora of systems exist to delight guests, from contactless check-in solutions to modern in-room entertainment.1. Guest messaging: Messaging platforms allow hotels to communicate with guests via their preferred platform: text messaging, email, or even apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Top-rated systems like Monscierge, Whistle, and EasyWay support automated messaging and one central dashboard where staff can respond.2. Keyless entry: Keyless entry software enables a guest to unlock their room or other secure areas like gyms or pools with a wave of their smartphone. Systems like Mobile Access by ASSA ABLOY, FLEXIPASS, and Openkey.co offer integrations with PMSs for a seamless arrival experience.3. Guest apps: Digitize your in-room directory with a hotel app like ALICE, INTELITY, or Duve. These downloadable apps put everything guests need to know at their fingertips, from contact info and directions to room service menus and local recommendations. 4. Contactless check-in: In the wake of the pandemic, guests prefer a contactless arrival process, and software like EasyWay, Canary, and Duve make it easy for hotels to pivot to a fully digital check-in. Functionality includes ID scanning, digital registration cards, upselling, payment processing, and arrival time coordination.5. In-room tablets: Just like the smartphone replaced our digital cameras and rolodexes, an in-room tablet can replace your rooms’ telephones, directories, room service menus, TV remotes, thermostats, and more. Tablet providers like SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and INTELITY are even proven to increase guest satisfaction and revenue.6. Energy management: These systems have two goals: decrease your hotel’s energy costs and reduce your hotel’s environmental impact. Vendors like Verdant Energy Management Solutions, Telkonet, and EcoStruxure are designed with hotels in mind and seek to not only decrease costs, but also enhance the guest experience.7. Guest room entertainment: Today’s guests want more than local cable channels on their guestroom TVs; systems like Monscierge ZAFIRO IPTV, and Sonifi provide interactive content and entertainment for all types of hotels, plus additional marketing and engagement opportunities you couldn’t get with traditional TV.8. Mobile ordering/F&B: Bbot, RoomOrders, SABA F&B Ordering, and other systems provide an essential piece of technology for hotels and restaurants: mobile ordering. With this software, guests and customers can access menus, place orders, and pay from their smartphones, and F&B outlets can better manage order fulfillment and deliver an end-to-end contactless experience.9. Hotel Wi-Fi: What was once a premium add-on is now an essential amenity at hotels, especially with a growing segment of travelers working remotely. To offer reliable high-speed internet access, hotels can partner with vendors like Cisco (Meraki), Percipia, or GuestTek that offer implementation services and ongoing support. 9 Marketing Tools to Lower Acquisition Costs and Drive Direct BookingsOf course, you don’t need any of the software listed above if nobody knows about your hotel! Marketing software allows you to tap into new audiences of guests and build relationships with your existing guest base.1. Booking engines: For hoteliers seeking to increase direct business, a booking engine is essential. This software allows guests to book reservations on your hotel’s website by displaying rates and availability from your PMS, then integrating reservations into the PMS. Cloudbeds, Bookassist, and SiteMinder offer some of the best booking engines. 2. Reputation management: A reputation management tool helps you request, track, analyze, and respond to guest reviews across sites like Tripadvisor and Google and your own surveys. Some of the industry leaders are TrustYou, GuestRevu, and Revinate, and they can even assist in increasing guest review scores by revealing insights about guest sentiment.3. Website builders and content management systems (CMS): Outsourcing your website design isn’t necessary with a CMS; these tools allow you to build, edit, and organize website pages and content, and they support integrations with booking engines, payment processors, widgets and more. Smart CMS by Bookassist, Profitroom, and Net Affinity are some of the top website builders.4. Direct booking tools: If you want to increase direct bookings, then an app like Triptease, Hotelchamp, or TrustYou can boost the number of shoppers who complete bookings on your hotel’s website. These tools let you display personalized messages, snippets of guest reviews, price comparison widgets, and more - all of which give guests reasons to book direct instead of on an OTA.5. Digital marketing agencies: Don’t have the time or resources to handle digital marketing in-house? A digital marketing agency can lend their expertise to help your hotel succeed in search engine marketing, social media, content creation, and PR. Bookassist, Avvio, and Net Affinity are some of the leaders in this space.6. Social media tools: Whether you’re trying to build a new audience or stay in touch with past guests, social media is an important component of your hotel’s marketing strategy. Social media vendors like BCV, Sprout Social, and Travel Media Group can help you achieve your reach and engagement goals.7. Metasearch and ad tech: Metasearch channels, like Google, Kayak, and Tripadvisor, are powerful drivers of traffic to your hotel website - if you leverage them effectively. These sites require special connectivity and a bidding strategy, and tools like Bookassist, Avvio, and Koddi will help you manage budgets, track attribution, and understand market dynamics.8. Website live chat/chatbots: Potential guests shopping on your website want answers now - without needing to pick up the phone. A chatbot, like one from Asksuite, Quicktext, or Whistle, use artificial intelligence to answer guest questions quickly and accurately, plus capture leads and increase conversion on your website.9. Hotel CRM: Your database of guest email addresses is a gold mine - if you can leverage it strategically. A CRM system, such as Revinate, Profitroom, and dailypoint 360, allows you to capture email addresses on your website, send automated messages throughout the guest’s journey, create segments of profiles with specific characteristics, and analyze open rates, click-through rates, and conversion. F&B and MICEThe food and beverage and meetings and events components of the hotel industry have their own technology solutions too. Whether you’re trying to streamline your room service offerings or support citywide conferences in a maze of meeting spaces, you can find software to help you execute any type of service or event.1. Restaurant management: In order to run a restaurant smoothly, restaurateurs leverage point-of-sale software to manage stock in real-time, handle transactions, reserve tables, run reports, and more. Popular restaurant management software includes Vento ePOS, Oracle MICROS, and Lightspeed POS.2. Mobile ordering and room service: Contactless service is the latest trend in F&B, but it seems likely to become the norm. Mobile ordering systems, such as Bbot, RoomOrders, and SABA F&B Ordering, allow restaurants to upload digital menus, accept online orders, and receive contactless payments, and customers can feel confident in more efficient service and accurate orders and bills.3. Meetings and events intelligence: This category of software aims to help hoteliers maximize their meetings and events business by understanding market dynamics, uncovering insights about attendees, and optimizing pricing and space usage. Top meetings and events intelligence tools include Blockbuster by Duetto, IDeaS (SmartSpace), and Get Into More.4. Group sourcing and RFP tools: Without software to assist, the RFP process is tedious. RFP software, such as Proposales, MeetingPackage, and Venuesuite, moves this process online and helps you to automate it, making all the back-and-forth more efficient and helping sales teams reach their goals.5. Event management: Software doesn’t just help your sales team seal the deal, but also to plan and execute the event itself. Event Temple, Tripleseat, EVENTMACHINE, and others provide functionality to send proposals, get e-signatures, manage traces, communicate with clients, and create and edit BEOs and agendas. Looking for more resources on hotel industry software? Download the free 2021 HotelTechIndex Market Leaders Report.

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The 9 Most Futuristic High Tech Hotels in the World

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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 CityThe 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, PolandThe 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 FranciscoAt 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, ZurichThe 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 HotelsAnother 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. CityhubA 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!

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Hotel vs. Airbnb: Is that Even the Right Question?

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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 hotelsOf 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 DependsThe 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 HotelsIn 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, as68% 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 HotelsOn 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 UpThere 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!

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Vacation Rental Management 101: A Step-By-Step Guide to Launching Your Homesharing Empire

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

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 marketIf 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 propertyOnce 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 planAlthough 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 onlineNow 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 guestCongratulations, 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 reviewsSpeaking 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 brandAdding 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 portfolioWhen 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. 

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How to Use the Homeaway Revenue Tool (MarketMaker)

by
Adrienne Fors
2 years ago

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! 

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A Complete Guide to the Biggest Vacation Rental Websites

by
Adrienne Fors
2 years ago

Deciding to start a vacation rental business - or grow your existing one - is a big decision (especially in the wake of covid-19). But that’s just one of many decisions necessary to turn your goals into reality.  Many of the major hotel booking sites have been expanding into vacation rentals and vice versa as the lines blur between these categories of lodging.The vacation rental world is only getting bigger and more complex with new vacation rental websites popping up every day, and many property owners and managers feel overwhelmed at first. We wanted to eliminate the confusion and put property managers on the path to earning 5-star reviews with as few headaches as possible. That’s why we created our comprehensive guides to the most popular vacation rental websites: Airbnb, Vrbo, Tripadvisor, and Booking.com.  This can also be your guide if you're trying to understand which listing website can help you book the best vacation or getaway.Within these guides, you’ll learn about the basics, like logging in, setting up your property listings and getting support, as well as more complex topics, such as pricing models, service fees and promotional strategies. After reading about each site, you can make informed decisions about what’s best for your business. Do you list on all sites or just one? What can some sites offer you that others can’t? Which sites get the most traffic? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about selling your property on the top four short-term rental sites. Airbnb: Your Guide to Getting StartedThe first step in the Airbnb listing process is to create an account for your vacation rental property. If you’ve booked vacation rentals or Experiences on Airbnb in the past, then you don’t need to create a new account. Unless, of course, you want to keep your business separate from your personal account. If you’re wondering how to set up a new account or check if you already have one, then you’ll want to read our guide to how to log into Airbnb.Once you’ve logged in, then you can start building your listing. You’ll upload your photos, write compelling descriptions, set your rates, outline your house rules, and, when you’re ready, push the listing live. But all of those little steps can make a big impact on your listing’s attractiveness and your business’s bottom line. Our detailed guide to Airbnb FAQs covers all the specifics from refund policies to taxes. If you have any questions along the way, you can always browse Airbnb’s Community Center forum or contact Airbnb’s support team. They’re available via phone or online chat 24/7 and while they charge a hefty booking fee it's actually much better than what is charged by firms like Expedia and Booking to hospitality businesses for selling hotel rooms.Airbnb is one of the most popular travel sites in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for your business. Airbnb’s competitors can offer different features and commission rates, and some sites even target different types of guests.  Vrbo: Your Guide to Getting StartedLike on Airbnb, the first step to listing your property on Vrbo is to create an account and log in. Need help with this step? Check out our guide on how to log into Vrbo. By the way, Vrbo and HomeAway are the same company now and both are owned by Expedia Group. There’s no need to create two separate accounts or two separate listings; your listing will show on both Vrbo and HomeAway automatically.After logging in, you can begin to build your listing. The listing process is similar to Airbnb’s; you’ll write your descriptions, upload photos, check off all those little amenity checkboxes, and choose your subscription plan. Wait, what? You need a subscription plan for Vrbo? This must be one of the most frequently asked questions about Vrbo and HomeAway. Like other vacation rental sites, Vrbo charges a small commission on every reservation if you do not go for the subscription model. The subscription model costs $499 per year, so for hosts and owners who plan to rent full-time, the subscription can make good financial sense.If you have any questions along the way, you can always contact Vrbo support for assistance. When we look at user reviews for Vrbo and Vrbo’s competitors, Vrbo’s support team actually gets great ratings! That’s just one difference between Vrbo and other sites, though. If you’re planning to list a shared space, like a private room in a house, then a site like Airbnb or Booking.com would be a better option. The bread and butter of Vrbo’s business is traditional vacation homes and condos. Tripadvisor: Your Guide to Getting StartedFew travelers book hotels without checking the Tripadvisor reviews first, but Tripadvisor now lets travelers book directly on their site. And we’re not just talking about hotels, but vacation rentals too. Through the Tripadvisor Rentals program, which includes sites like FlipKey and Holiday Lettings, you can make your property available to book on this popular channel.After you’ve set up a Tripadvisor Rentals account, the listing process is quite simple. In fact, it might be the fastest onboarding process out of this group. Compared to Tripadvisor’s competitors, though, the site gets the least amount of monthly visitors, but it can still be a good addition to your vacation rental business strategy. Like other sites, Tripadvisor operates on a commission model, so there’s no risk in setting up your listing. You’ll only pay the commission on money you earn from reservations. In our guide to listing on Tripadvisor, you can learn more about Tripadvisor’s policies, features, and best practices. Throughout the listing process (and when you’re managing listings that are live), Tripadvisor offers plenty of support options in case you need assistance. The site contains helpful how-to guides, a database of support articles, and a team that you can contact by phone. Booking.com: Your Guide to Getting StartedIt’s impossible to write a guide to vacation rental listing sites without including the biggest of them all: Booking.com. This site attracts the most visitors of any travel site in the world, so it seems like an obvious partner for your vacation rental business. Well, not so fast! As you’ll learn in our Booking.com listing guide and our study of Booking.com’s competitors, there are a few reasons why the site might not be the best choice for your business. For one, Booking.com charges a 15% commission - that’s a lot higher than Airbnb’s 3% commission!Despite the cost, Booking.com can bring a lot of value to savvy vacation rental owners. Once you’ve logged into Booking.com and gotten acquainted with their host portal, called the Extranet, you’ll find a slew of market research tools, promotional options, and resources for running a successful hospitality business.Being a massive, global company, Booking.com also offers some of the best customer support out of the vacation rental listing sites. The company has offices in dozens of countries, so no matter what language you speak or what time zone you’re in, you can get great support at any time of day. The Booking.com support team can also communicate with you through the Extranet Inbox, which is conveniently available on desktop and in their Pulse mobile app.Ready to set your vacation rental business up for success? One of the most important steps is choosing which vacation rental listing sites to use. After all, these sites are responsible for bringing potential guests to your property - so it’s a good idea to choose wisely. You’ll also want to consider the time commitment necessary to manage multiple sites. But, after you’ve read our guides to each listing channel, perhaps you want to dive right in and partner with all of them. Whatever you choose, we wish you nothing but happy guests and 5-star reviews! 

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Vacation Rental Software vs. Hotel Software (What's the Difference?)

by
Hotel Tech Report
10 months ago

‘Hotel tech’ has been a catchall for the various segments of hospitality. It’s even in our name: Hotel Tech Report, where we distinguish between property types as a means of connecting hospitality professionals to the best software for their property.In a recent session on the future of property management software at HomeAway’s RezFest, the conversation around the trajectory of vacation rental technology highlighted how the needs of the industry diverge sufficiently from hotels to merit its own category. In comments reported by PhocusWire’s Jill Menze, one solution provider preferred the term “vacation rental software” to reflect these divergent needs: “The answer is simple: We aren’t property management software companies,” says Vinny Dicarlo, chief operations officer at Ciirus Vacation Rental Software. “We’re using the concept of ‘property management’ based on what hotels or long-term rentals were doing. We should change the term; it should be vacation rental software.” Vacation rental websites and hotel booking sites are converging as is the software used by each segment of the industry. Indeed, many of the technology solutions overlap between these two segments of hospitality -- but there are some critical distinctions. With this view in mind, what exactly is the difference between vacation rental technology and hotel technology? Hotel Management vs. Vacation Rental ManagementTo understand how technologies differ, we first need to understand how the products themselves differ: Hotels Vacation rentals Hotels priced per room Vacation rentals priced per unit Multiple room types, bookable individually or as a block One room type per booking (either shared room, private room, or whole home) Leans towards standardized Leans towards individualized Large databases of previous customers Small (or non-existent) databases Amenities may be extra Amenities usually included Upsells common Upsells rare Highly collaborative staff, large teams Less staff, small teams Ongoing recruitment of new staff Employee light On-site amenities require software No on-site amenities to manage via software In-house housekeeping and maintenance Mix of in-house and third-party (depending on size of property manager) GDS for broad distribution, plus direct booking Specialized booking channels for short-term rentals, direct booking less frequent Loyalty/CRM across properties Loyalty/CRM limited to vacation rental management company brand More guests; more complex reputation management Fewer guests; increased importance of quality of reviews  Vacation Rental Management 'Jobs to Be Done'Efficient operations matter to vacation rental profitability. Systemized operations keep the rental in top-shape for each new booking, with automations and checklists helping to maintain a consistent guest experience.Since most vacation rentals are whole homes, there are far more things to manage when making a vacation rental “guest ready” than with a standard hotel room. The size of checklists is much longer, as is the list of items that need to be checked and potential maintained regularly: individual hotel rooms rarely have hot water heaters, while most vacation rentals do, for example. The average vacation rental requires more operational finesse. Given this complexity, vacation rentals have far different needs for their property management software when compared to hotels.Other areas that vacation rental software must distinguish itself from standard hotel technology: Integration with other services. From third party cleaning services to maintenance and repairs, good vacation rental software facilitates the logistics of managing many vendors in one place. Also: must work reliably with various smart home devices for remote management. Guest communications. Constant and consistent guest communications is essential for vacation rentals. Whether pre-booking or for an emergency during a stay, 24/7 support via multiple communications channels is different for vacation rentals than hotels. Intelligent routing and AI-driven support help property managers be more responsive to guest communications. Check-in/check-out management. Without a front desk to welcome guests, there has to be a process in place for key/code management, welcome packet, and overall welcome. Proper vacation rental software makes this happen. Website and marketing. Direct booking is also a focus for vacation rentals; however, these sites often do better when fully integrated into a property’s management software for seamless bookings and real-time calendar updates. Mobile too. Works well on mobile, since many property managers are out in the field. On-the-go property management is typical so functionality cannot be limited. There's also a lot of coordination between parties that are not stationed on-site, which creates the potential for lapses in communication that affect the guest directly. Whereas hotels have crews on property, vacation rentals often do not.For example, what happens when the property manager forgets to tell the cleaners about an early check-in? The guest is frustrated, and, despite the team’s best intentions, the property looks disorganized. Vacation rental software alleviates these issues through automation and functionality that enhance transparency across the vacation rental operation.Image Source Pricing Software for Vacation RentalsHotels often have teams of revenue managers and data analysts; vacation rentals much less so. The most profitable property managers leverage tools, such as BeyondPricing, to accurately forecast the types of properties in the highest demand among a destination’s key demographics. While hotels also use this type of data-driven dynamic pricing, vacation rentals have unique needs that require specialized pricing optimization and revenue management.Since vacation rentals don't have many room types, revenue management is even more important. There's no making up lost revenue from a mispriced room; If unit is booked, it needs to be booked for the highest possible price. The only way to do this is to have dynamically priced inventory that accounts for both local availability and inbound demand.Pricing optimization must also be as seamless and automated as possible. With fewer staff resources at vacation rentals, tools must be more automated than their hotel tech counterparts. Short Term Rental Demand and Hotel Demand are Converging but NOT the SameWhile demand data matters to both hotels and vacation rentals, it matters in different ways. For example, it's much harder to know how many vacation rentals may be in the pipeline for a given market. Property managers could look at total permits issued, and any limits imposed by the city. But some rentals may be incognito, so there’s less understanding of how inventory will impact future pricing.Another difference with demand data is which types of properties are popular with which demographics. As vacation rentals are less standardized as far as amenities, design, and guest experience, there are deeper nuances when it comes to demand data.For example, if Chinese demand is increasing locally, it’s important to not just work to gain visibility in local booking channels but also to tweak amenities during periods of high demand to accommodate traveler preferences. Data delivers these insights, especially for off-peak demand generation, says Dicarlo: “It’s all about Asia and working with a channel in that market. If I didn’t have data, I’d assume Chinese people travel in summer, but they travel in February or March.” The way traveler data is aggregated is also quite different with vacation rentals, said HomeAway President John Kim in another session, as there’s a different imperative for larger booking platforms to facilitate better use of data: “We have to combine all data from travelers so we can build useful products in all of these environments and change quickly for interactions we haven’t even yet seen.” The thread here is that the way data is captured, presented, and acted upon is different enough to merit standalone solutions for the vacation rental industry. Agility Matters in the Growing Vacation Rental IndustryFreedom from legacy technology allows vacation rental software to be nimble and evolve alongside -- or even ahead of -- the growing industry. Old technology hinders progress, as hospitality operations mold to limitations rather than grow with innovations. Vacation rentals need the agility to integrate and build a software backbone that supports each unique operation. Ciirus’ DiCarlo sees this ability to change as a core differentiator, saying: “There have been hotels since day one. That industry is set in stone. To get them to change how they do business is very hard. [Vacation rental software has] the ability to change because we’re not a 4,000-year-old industry or old technology. If we use data correctly, the way we do business isn’t set in stone.” For property managers looking for the best vacation rental software, we’ll continue to offer a comprehensive view into solutions targeted to this growing segment. In an industry challenged by change, candid insights into hospitality solutions foster transparency and encourage partners to serve such a dynamic industry better. Agility pays dividends in today’s hospitality industry! Browse honest reviews to find the ideal vacation rental software or hotel software for your property.