With 2017 rapidly approaching, OneRooftop takes a look ahead at the biggest vacation rental industry trends to watch out for. This year has been a big one. With more hosts driving direct bookings, the opportunity to innovate and scale your business keeps on growing. OneRooftop’s goal will always be to empower small businesses with better website templates and new and improved software. We hope this guide to the latest trends in hospitality sparks some ideas for your very own vacation rental marketing next year.
The Guide to Major Vacation Rental Trends to Watch
1. Expectations of OTAs (and vacation rental professionals) are shifting
It’s not all bad, either.
At the Airbnb Open in Los Angeles, Brian Chesky announced what Airbnb has been up to the last couple years. In addition to being able to book a stay in someone’s home, travelers can now book an experience. These immersive experiences could be anything from learning how to print artisan wall paper to a helicopter ride over the Hollywood sign. There seems to be no limit to the ways for travelers to feel more local.
Chesky shared Airbnb’s plans to move into the flight-booking and rental car space. Kind of Expedia-ish, right? Well, yes and no. Airbnb’s brand sounds like it will stay pretty much the same. But there’s no doubt about it, Airbnb is going after the OTA crowd to own the travel industry. And to play to people’s expectations, OTAs will be expected to feel more local and to be just as fast.
Which brings us to the next point.
2. Instant Book
Back in 2015, it was news to owners and managers that guests wanted to book online. In the beginning of 2016, it became a big question about how listings would rank on HomeAway and Airbnb when instantly bookable. What some didn’t expect though was Airbnb’s anti-discrimination announcement as a push to make listing instantly bookable. After some pretty heinous profiling based on race, gender and sexual orientation from certain Airbnb hosts, the company said they would “accelerate the use of Instant Book” for everyone. It’s a brave story on one listing site, but OneRooftop is seeing the instant booking trend across all channels.
This doesn’t affect independent vacation rental software providers. If you host your website with OneRooftop or manage your reservations with OneRooftop’s software, you still control how you run your business on your own website. This includes the “request to book” option.
What hosts will want to watch for is, again, guest expectations. We are seeing a rise in direct bookings on vacation rental websites. If guests come to expect more instant bookings, hosts may be put under pressure to instantly approve bookings.
3. Mobile-First Software for Vacation Rental Management
Consumers buy almost everything from their phones. We knew that. Businesses are now turning to these hand held devices to manage operations.
Whether you rent out your homes to travelers as a full time job or as a second form of income, you know you’re always taking bookings on the go. You also know that vacation rental management gets complicated when you’re out of the office. As people work on the go more and more, vacation rental software needs to make the reservation manager and website builder accessible via smart phone and tablet.
4. Facebook Advertising Brings It All Back Home
Instead of asking how to rank better in HomeAway, what if vacation rental marketers asked a different question: How can my rental property’s advertisement connect to potential travelers with data-driven metrics? This year we’ve seen a rise in hosts who drive bookings directly to their websites with targeted marketing goals.
OneRooftop website and software users have really turned up the dial on direct bookings. While the usual suspects (email marketing, past guests, referrals, and SEO) remain a major source of business, there is a newcomer to the party this year. Facebook advertising will definitely be a vacation rental industry trend to watch in 2017.
5. Channel Management and Distribution
Channel management means a lot of things depending who you ask. Sometimes a channel manager just means a synchronized calendar so that your listings across all channels are accurate. As hosts grow their business they find that the management across channels can be very cumbersome.
Direct channel integrations, such as OneRooftop’s connection to Airbnb, allow hosts to push listing information to other listing sites. Listing information includes pictures, rates, descriptions and calendar availability. Stay tuned for OneRooftop’s channel manager, as our team intends to exapnd its connections to HomeAway and Booking.com in the coming weeks.
6. Storytelling Must Be Braver
Lee Clow, one of the the most well-known branding masterminds and advertisers in any industry, sat on stage at the Los Angeles Theater and told an audience full of hundreds of Airbnb Hosts one simple thing:
“Storytelling must be braver.”
What does this mean? Storytelling must be braver. The way you present yourself to travelers cannot be lethargic, neutral or complacent. To grow your business you need to meet people’s expectations and surpass even that! Local guides to your town and resort need to go beyond a list of links.
One story of brave and ambitious storytelling by a vacation rental professional was a Drone Tour over the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Rick Oster, an avid golfer, flies a drone over the course giving tips for the best strategy. He showcases all these videos on his website for golf fans to then book a stay at his home. See the drone tour at the Oster Golf Houses website.
So what’s it mean?
It means that you all have done an incredible job. That so many great things are happening across channels and with independents is because of your hard work.
We hear about your creative goals every day. We learn more and more about your ideas to grow bookings and communicate with guests better. It means that vacation rentals are growing as an industry. There is improved visibility.
We also hear you from a software perspective. Due to your feedback, OneRooftop has been able to make some of its biggest improvements to its platform yet.
Best part? This is just the beginning. We’re excited for what’s to come in 2017. And, we look forward to hearing your thoughts below in the comments.