Posted on 25 December 2013.
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
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
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
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
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!”