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4 Vacation Rental Guru Predictions for 2014

Last year, I solicited the predictions from three industry experts: “What will be the biggest vacation rental industry story in 2013?”

Their answers were creepily, almost soothsayer-like in successfully pinning online bookings as the biggest talking point of the year.

And so with this kind of valuable foresight for 2013, I would be remiss to not do the same for 2014.

First, be sure to read my own 2014 prediction, then see below what “the real experts” have to say…

Jay William, Villa Marketers

Jay William, Villa Marketers

1. Jay William is the President and CEO of Villa Marketers, one of the most reputable (and longest-standing) agencies in the game. Here was his prediction…

2014 will be The Year Of The Giants Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum. Now that booking software is helping to hotelify vacation rentals we’ve opened up Pandora’s box.

The Giants Are Coming! Since rentals can now be booked like hotels, travel giant Expedia is joining the rental industry in early 2014. More giants will follow, but who? Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity or someone else? Google??? Don’t be surprised.

Once giants move in other travel agencies will follow the trending vacation rental market. Sites like Expedia have a gargantuan list of partners using their database of properties. So, there will immediately be a legion of new sites offering vacation rentals.

Google likes giants, they generally rank them higher than other sites. Its going to get tougher to compete. Properties listed on Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com and others may outrank you for keywords.

Expect more commission sites with “Free Listings” instead of traditional subscriptions. Big software enhancements to help you market and manage even better will be coming out in 2014. Hotels will push back and I foresee more V.R. laws emerging in 2014.

With teachers like Matt owners are becoming “enlightened”. The industry will see an “awakening” of owners who will do more in 2014, because they now know more. Villa Marketers has noticed a spike in educated owners developing their own websites and marketing to get back what they’ve been losing, and we see this rising in 2014.”

Matthew Hoffman, InstaManager

Matthew Hoffman, InstaManager

2. My next vacation rental guru is Matthew Hoffman from InstaManager, another company that I research on a number of levels. Matthew thinks 2014 will be The Year Of Technology Platforms. Here’s what he means:

“In 2014 we will continue to see tremendous growth in the professionally managed VR segment. Across the globe the adoption of technology platforms will remain on the rise in this sector as companies relinquish antiquated ‘off-line’ business practices and opt for a more ‘efficient ‘on-line’ approach to running their operations.

As I stated last year, shifting away from ad-hoc processes and adopting a more universal best practices approach will play a big factor in making vacation rentals more transparent and easier to book for the traveler.

Technology is the future of our industry. It’s the great equalizer that affords companies large and small the opportunity to bring their short term rental properties on-line and connect their data with the world.

The online traveler doesn’t want to wait days or even hours to find out the cost or availability of a vacation rental.

And every year that passes, the window of tolerance in which they are willing to wait grows shorter and shorter and the writing is on the wall. Several big players in the last year have launched pay-per-performance pricing models and on-line booking capabilities for property listings on their networks.

This isn’t new to the travel space, but it is something to be mindful of in the vacation rental space. The very nature of this implies there is already enough property data in real-time to offer these options to begin with. Travelers want access to information quickly and the faster you can get it to them, the more successful you will be.

Choose not to and I think you will start to find your company lag behind. That’s why the utilization of software has and will continue to be extremely important. It helps companies become more efficient and it helps them get their product to the travel shopper faster.

As some of you are aware, there are several great vacation rental technology options to choose from in the marketplace today. Just go to Google and see for yourself.

I also believe in the next few years a global leader will emerge in the VR technology sector. I would however encourage you not to wait until then. Those of you out there loyally committed to your excel spreadsheets should make a leap of faith in 2014.  See what’s out there. What do you have to lose? Make improving your vacation rental business your New Years Resolution and I will meet you in the winners circle.”

Shawn Convery, Kigo

Shawn Convery, Kigo

3. Shawn Convery, the CEO of Kigo, one of the industry’s fastest growing platforms. He’s calling 2014 The Year Of The Channel Manager and here is why…

“From our experience, here are some strong points to watch in 2014:

First, Inventory Sharing and following your guests:

As you might know, my company is unique in allowing our rental managers and portal customers to share inventory while syncing, prices, availability and content across the system.  Essentially, it allows partnering and the ability to book each other’s properties in real-time.  By receiving multi-destination inventory, it lets our customers build a vacation rental travel-agent-like personalized relationship with their guests and gain more revenue earning opportunities.  On the other side, it lets those who are distributing units to gain access to more booking demand.

The second point would be Mobile, making your rental easy to browse and book:

Because of this trend, we only do mobile-responsive websites now. Property managers need to capture bookings where the guests do their browsing – which is more and more on mobile devices.  A year ago, I felt this was a customer’s afterthought – now it’s simply a must-have.

Third, consider Better Channel Management or the ability to fill vacant rental nights at the right price.

Using Channel Managers gives your properties more exposure and increases your ability to maximize your rental earnings. With more and more so-called “channels” to choose from, by synchronizing prices, availability and property content, channel managers make it easy to take more profit.

And lastly, I think 2014 will be characterized by Search Engine Optimization or SEO – highlighting the opportunity to make the most out of individual websites.

This may seem like an oldie, but many managers – under-equipped in SEO – stand a lot to gain here. Over the years, we’ve invested in strong SEO expertise, leading us to offer an SEO package to accompany our customers in building traffic from SEO and Social Media.  As everyone knows, there are no quick fixes in SEO, but from our experience, it’s a good long-term investment and a good way to diversify from over-dependence on the mega portals.”

Brian Egan, Evolve Vacation Rentals

Brian Egan, Evolve Vacation Rentals

4. The fourth guru on my panel is the visionary Brian Egan of Evolve Vacation Rentals. Brian thinks 2014 will be The Year Of The Breakout and here’s what he means by that…

“I predict 2014 will be known as a break-out year of growth for vacation rental based on the combination of three trends that have been maturing over the last 5-10 years.

First, the owners and managers supplying inventory to the market have far more (and better) options to choose from than ever before which will open up the market to the millions of homes that are currently languishing on the sidelines

Second, the largest listing sites have made great progress in terms of offering a world-class user experience on a global basis, making it easier for travelers to find homes to rent.

Third, awareness of the vacation rental industry is on the rise among consumers, with more and more of them approaching planning from a “VR first” perspective.

What do you get when you increase supply, decrease friction in connecting with consumers and add in skyrocketing demand? A great year to be in vacation rental!”

About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings. Google+ | More Posts (230)

  • loscuatrotulipanes

    Since I have such an amazingly savvy group of subscribers, I would also love to hear other people’s predictions for 2014! Post away!

    • Ann

      I predict that more and more cities will restrict resort rentals by owners. It is happening all around us here in the south. The big hotels and casinos rule. In the French Quarter in New Orleans only the hotels and B & B’s are allowed to rent for less than 3 months. Outside the Quarter it is a one month minimum for owner properties. I hope I am wrong but I see it happening.

  • Andrew Douglas Campion

    In my case 2013 was the year we successfully completed many of the bullet points listed above including getting professional vacation rental software (Instamanager) and getting our inventory distributed through various channels including homeaway, flipkey and airbnb.

    Personally for us 2014 will be the year where we take the next step into really providing the best level of customer service through your mantra “help don’t sell” and provide personalized guide books to all our guests, have a full time concierge service and start a fully fledged social media campaign that includes regular content creation and video blogging to stamp our authority on the local market.

  • Andrew Douglas Campion

    P.S I wanted to thank you Matt as I probably wouldn’t be heading in this direction if it hadn’t been for your blog, so Happy New Year! and I’m looking forward to your posts in 2014.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      My pleasure Andrew! Look forward to following your progress as well!

  • bob

    vacationrentalsbob I appreciate your advice and will consider applying it to my vacation rental business.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Thanks Bob!

  • rentmoreweeks

    I find some of this very confusing. I feel that a lot of this is just jargon.
    Do you remember when we advertised with listings companies not “channels”.
    I listed holiday properties not “inventory” and what the hell is a channel manager? Is it a thing or a person?

    Overall, it seems that we can expect more of the same with regard to bigger listings companies and more of them.

    If owners want to stand out from the crowd they would be better off doing as Andrew Douglas Campion (below) is doing and plan on taking customer service to the next level.

  • How about this for a prediction? 2014 will become the year when it no longer becomes profitable to run a vacation rental as the following play out:

    – the agencies take a bigger share of fees

    – the market gets flooded with properties from amateur operators via C2C sites like Airbnb

    – Local authorities clamp down in a desperate search for tax revenues and start charging licence fees on a mass scale

    – Owners are forced to deal with agents to survive

    2014 will be the year of the mega agencies and it will be the year property managers and vacation rental owners are squashed under the weight of competition.

    I am not saying this is necessarily bad – it’s great for the traveler, and it will force some players out of the industry and the strongest will consolidate and survive. But it will definitely be the year that the bloated inefficient market players bite the dust.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Like the thought Michael: competition is definitely a good thing!

    • Ricvhardv

      You know Mike, its already happening. We can see it already, the only difference in opinion or terminology is that PLC’s (HA etc) not agents will take a much bigger % of the fees.

  • Kirby Winfield

    Matt,

    I think the above are spot on. Especially the entry of the OTA giants into the space. But there is a long way to go to “OTA-ify” inventory and I think they’ll be tentative as long as branded and consistent quality across inventory are lacking.

    I took a few flyers on my predictions, they’re a bit wackier than those shared here but if you’re up for a lark here they are: http://www.dwellable.com/blog/5-Crazy-Prognostications-for-Vacation-Rentals-in-2014

    Happy new year to all!

    Kirby Winfield
    CEO, Dwellable

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Great stuff Kirby. Love the article…

  • Pingback: 2014 Vacation Rental Prediction: Smart Home Control Goes Mainstream | PointCentral()

  • Trent Blizzard

    I have my doubts about 2014 being the year of the giants… people have been saying that for years and years. #1) I think that VRowners/managers are adverse to their HUGE commissions #2) I think the inventory is hard to commoditize like a king/queen hotel #3) I think Expedia doesn’t want to “herd cats” and work with lots of small pain-in-the-ass inventories and individual owners. #4) I think VR Owners want money-up-front and want to vet/own the relationship with their guests.

    Here is a replacement prediction: Full adoption of inbound marketing and permission marketing. Marketing platforms like Hubspot are bound to make huge inroads into the market once savvy VRMs learn how effective they really are. VRMs will finally tie together their websites, social media, email marketing and call centers with their past-guest lists and start reaping the bonanza. Forget Expedia, go for Hubspot instead.

    • Jay William

      Hey Trent,

      Truth be told we both have our doubts of what the market will actually bring in 2014. If I could accurately predict the future with 100% certainty, I’d play the lotto 🙂

      All I can do is look around and see what’s happening everyday I’m at work in Villa Marketers and project what might come. At least it has brought up some great conversations AND an opportunity for the pros to hash it out openly providing insight into each others character

      I actually hope that I am wrong because if it becomes a big business takeover it wouldn’t be good for everyone.

      The fact that Expedia is coming into the VR business this year is unprecedented and groundbreaking news for both industries, regardless of doubts 1 Giant is coming to the market in 2014, for sure.

      The real questions are, will there be more to come? Based on experience big sites emulate each other especially when a certain concept is working and profitable. If there are more to come what will happen…. (hypothetically of course)?

      Here is a demonstration of just one result that would happen in that scenario.

      For those of you reading this click this link ( https://www.google.com/#q=lake+berkley+resort ) its a Google search of a resort called Lake Berkley. This is a small vacation rental resort in Orlando that once had very little competition. Booking.com has begun booking vacation rentals there and now they appear in Google’s 1st page search results, with VRBO, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and now Booking.com comes up TWICE, once at the top on Google’s paid ads and again in Google’s organic search results (see for yourself).

      Will Expedia take its place in search engine rankings, just like Booking.com is doing? I think that answer is pretty obvious.

      As much as I disagree with it, there are plenty of owners who are willing to whore out their vacation rentals for pennies and there’s no lack of agencies willing to take advantage of that.

      Keep in mind I had to keep it short out of respect for the other contributors, so I couldn’t elaborate on all my ideas.

      Your second point is true. It has been hard to commodify and in the past this has been a challenge. However Booking.com is already making headway with booking rentals like hotels. They are doing so well they are expanding their VR departments you can see their hiring here ( http://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/10206703 ) As far as “herding cats” click the link above and read the job description it spells it out, the hiree will have to work with owners and managers for inventory. Even though owners/managers are adverse to their huge commissions Booking.com is successfully charging a basic commission of 15% + to their VR property partners.

      One thing I’ve learned in this business is to never lump owners together they get mad about that 🙂 Some owners have a mortgage while others don’t, some are financially well off while others are strapped. Some use their homes as a 2nd home while for others it’s strictly an investment. Each owner and situation is different and so are the financial income requirements.

      Your “replacement prediction” piggybacks on my last prediction. I already predicted that here on Matt’s blog as my final point. I’ve also already predicted inbound marketing in 2014 called the ” Year Of Enlightenment” here http://rentmoreweeks.com/2014/01/02/holiday-rental-marketing-in-2014-the-good-and-the-bad/

      With blogs like Matts and Villa Marketers owners are learning about online marketing / inbound marketing for free. We are helping and teaching them every single day.

      Mainly everything we discuss is about inbound marketing but not all owners and managers are familiar with that jargon.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      What’s also interesting is that Google is starting to reward niche experts (away from massive directory-type sites). I’m betting that if you (the individual VR owner/manager) do what you do very well, since that is ultimately what users are looking for, your rankings will supersede the “giants” as we once knew them.

      • Jay William

        “If” owners/managers do what they do “very well”, then they will be giants in their own right!

    • With the top player in the industry (HomeAway/VRBO) having a $3b market cap and Google having investment in them, I think it is safe to say that the year of the giants isn’t prediction, it is reality.

  • Margreet van Egmond

    Hi all,

    I have been out of this business for some time, but got interested again. I miss in all your predictions the actual commitment of the companies to your clients. The tourism industry thrives on repeat customers and in our small office in Barcelona (80 apartments) we welcomed nearly 40% repeat customer on a yearly basis. We had made the process easy by installing a standard procedure; offering client numbers and preprogrammed discounts with the client numbers. Capting new customers is easy but having them come back to your agency nowadays is more difficult. If you succeed in winning the confidence of your client, you will fly through 2014.

  • James A. Stillman

    These predictions regarding 2014 market are very much interesting with the quotes and opinions of different experts and one of the technological thought was great as the world has already moved towards innovation ad interventions.

  • Siim Metsla

    Instamanager seems little “scammi” to me. Im the CEO of PANORA.

    After not delivering what they promised (after signing the contract that has 500 cancellation fee) they tried to charge my credit card few more months and then asked also 500 dollars cancellation fee, even if it was clear I never used their services, also because my solution for my vacation rental website couldnt work, because they didnt deliver what I needed. They say they get back to me. Then the accounting manager contacted me in the busiest holiday season here in Italy. I didnt reply and then they closed account and now ask like 350 plus 500 cancellation fee, even if ive never used their service. This is bull shit!

    Was nice if they at least tried to solve the problems I had (I resend the email whit all the problems I had so they had all the info to act):

    – Paypal standard was not supported, and it wasnt made me clear before the contract,

    they use wordpress, but you are there as a user, not as admin, so I was thinking is a nice thing, but if you cant have access to anything, it doesnt matter.

    – and their plugin was slow and not so responsive (even if in their server).

    So my conculsion is, the sales people was very nice (daaa), and then later the software guy needed to get back to me with the issues, but nothing!

    It seems that more competition is needed for them than just kigo.net, chalet?.com 😉

    So Im not happy, was thinking they could wave the 500 cancellation fee etc, seeing I havent used the service, but nothing, now they are saying, if I dont pay, they need to send the info to a “collection agency”. This is the worst experience I have had ordering services online, and trust me I have lot of experiences.

    I can confirm also, they sell FlipKey etc, so you will have discount if you are part of their services but its not free for sure. Its confusing anyway at the beginning. They want also % from the bookings, oo this is nice. And also channel manager is nice but if also the portals your info goes wants money, how you offer competitive prices???

    Problem is there arent many alternatives. Havent find one good yet, so thinking to create my own system – so used wordpress, woocommerce and custom booking plugin. If you need a rental website that is working, contact me truh linkedin. Website I created: http://www.rentalmilan.com

    Greetings.

  • steveroy

    These experts opinions are great.vacation rental management software also helps alot in such affairs.

  • Thanks for cool and lovely post. thanks