Why Embrace Peer-to-Peer or By Owner Rental at your Property?
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) or “by owner” vacation rental listing websites such as VRBO.com, HomeAway.com or Flipkey.com, are the most recent technologically advanced incarnation of “the local realtor”, that long-feared specter of the destination resort. Traditionally viewed as a threat to rental program inventory, the accepted response has been defensive in nature as properties circle the wagons and restrict access to services and facilities to their own program members. Unfortunately, this approach also leads to guest service concerns when the unsuspecting renter discovers that the vacation experience is not what they anticipated and directs their blame (and social media clout) at the property.
Now these same websites, originally launched as an alternative business opportunity for individual owners, have become heavily dominated by professional rental management companies who use them as billboards. Unlike your property’s direct website, many management companies don’t bother to update the availability on the rental calendars, figuring that, once they have contact with a potential guest, they are likely to have a comparable unit available in that same time frame or can possibly sell a different set of dates. However, this strategy may also turn off clients who feel the owner is engaging in false advertising practices and drive them to book with someone else.
How can you turn this situation into a win/win prospect for both your property and your rental program owners? Resorts and destination properties are beginning to embrace these sites as an opportunity to drive business, instead of viewing them as competition. Many also find that their P2P bookings are tapping into a completely separate channel from their property’s direct website. Consider sponsoring your owners’ participation as a rental program benefit. By posting and managing the listings for their owners, sales inquiries can lead to direct business as well as upsells, upgrades and a better overall on-property experience for the guest.
Guests are searching for location, for price and then for availability. Many guests will spend hours combing through all the units on several different sites in order to determine the perfect vacation rental. Your inventory should be available to them within this competitive environment but it is important to identify your owner’s listings as providing access to the resort’s services and amenities, benefits not available when renting outside your preferred program.
As adoption of these P2P vacation rental websites by resorts and destination properties increase, expect to see more sophisticated integration with property management systems. While still in their relative infancy, the strong growth of traffic to these sites will drive the integration, thus offering more efficiency in maintaining accurate inventory and streamlining the booking process.
Managing yet another marketing channel for your rental properties may sound overwhelming in terms of additional workload to your already busy team. But for those properties that adjust their perspective to welcome participation and view these sites as opportunities instead of threats, they’ll find a very powerful marketing outlet to reach the vacation rental traveler.
Springer-Miller offers a complete resort management software solution, including vacation condo timeshare owner management tools. Take the manual work out of the process and provide great customer service to the owners in your program with Springer-Miller’s condo timeshare owner rental software. Contact us to learn how this system can work for your resort.