“If Airbnb stopped supporting me with guests today – could my business survive?”
This is a question that property managers have been asking themselves for years. If Airbnb changed their rules, raised their prices, or regulation forced a change to my model, could I survive?
Being dependent on one portal is a well-known pitfall of property management businesses. If your business is reliant on one company for bookings, you’re building a castle on sand. The more you grow, the more susceptible you are to minor changes causing a major collapse.
The frequently cited response to this problem is to do more and more to drive guests to book with you directly. Trying to cut your reliance on portals for your bookings is admirable, but perhaps a short-sighted strategy.
If you change your strategy to base your business around direct bookings, you are competing against the reach of billion dollar online travel agents who already dominate the vacation rental industry. This battle for the bookings is already over.
The good news is that you don’t have to beat them. In order to reduce your direct reliance on one company, the first step is to diversify your business across 4-5 major portals and your own website. Major OTAs provide such a strong stream of guests for property managers that it makes no sense to try to out-market them. By listing on several major portals and having your own website, you are already increasing your independence.
What makes your property unique?
The question vacation rental managers should be asking themselves now is: “When my guests book their next trip, will they remember my business or Airbnb?”
The challenge for property managers now is to add value to their business model. Whilst the battle for the booking is done, the next battle will be fought for control of the guest experience. Airbnb has already launched Trips. They want guests to remember them for the property they stayed in and the experience they had while on their vacation. Eventually, they want your great hosting skills to be considered just part of the ‘Airbnb experience’.
What can you do to provide an experience that separates your properties from being a product on an OTA’s shelf?
Think of this use case from vacation rental expert Matt Landau who talks about what made a recent vacation rental special for him and why he remembers the business: “Prior to arrival, the managers of the vacation rental I am staying in, asked what I was passionate about. I said, “I love outdoor adventure.” They then connected me with Patrick, a high-school teacher who loves hiking and running in the Hawaiian mountainside. They connected me with Kelly, a former surf pro who runs his own stand-up-paddle company… One superstrength of independent vacation rental owners and managers is our intimate understanding of (and appreciation for) our destinations. Curating our guest’s experience costs nothing. But it adds a disproportionate amount of value to their stay”.
The local knowledge and the homegrown network of experiences will make your guests’ stay memorable, turning the property into more than just accommodation and allowing your brand to grow. In addition to diversifying and adding value, your business needs to be supported by a solid foundation and a strong marketing strategy to turn bookings into long term customers, where major OTAs only serve as a funnel to provide guests.
5 keys for a stable vacation rental business
- Build relationships with your guests. A community of loyal customers provides more value than just their bookings. Their word of mouth will spread your business to new guests, who will leave 5 star reviews and become ambassadors for your brand. If you exceed your guests’ expectations you will motivate them to return to your brand directly and help create a new standard in vacation rentals industry, as more people seek out professionally managed stays. You can provide great experiences to your guests, by proving local tips and personal recommendations through a concierge app like Guidal
- Your relationship with your owners. Why do property owners choose to entrust their assets with you, rather than listing directly? Learn how to provide a better alternative for property owners and create value for them.
- Your branding and marketing strategy. Your brand will require a website, logo, ads, email templates, guest books, blogs and more. These assets are crucial to establishing your brand.
- Your local network. Linking your business with local service providers is crucial. You can generate revenue through affiliate or referral programs and establish your business as a local fixture.
- Unique selling point. Whether it’s local knowledge, specialty tourism, unique experiences – the best vacation rental management businesses offer something unique.
Think of these elements as foundations of your business. The stronger the basic structure is, the more likely your business is able to survive unforeseen changes and shifts in the industry.
Vreasy helps vacation rental managers build their enterprises into valuable companies with sustainable business model that can grow and adapt to changes in the industry.
The first step to diversify your lead sources is to connect your business to major portals. You can easily do that by connecting to the Vreasy Channel Manager that connects via API to the main channels
Speak to one of our team of experts to know more.
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