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Tablets Play Second Fiddle to Phones In Online Booking Statistics

2min read on how mobiles are surpassing tablets in online traffic / bookings and how they have both reduced desktop for researching  vacation rentals.

In January we posted an article on the use of mobiles and potential for increased conversions via a phone call (yes that’s where people talk to each other).

We thought it might be helpful to show how important this has become and how mobiles (phones) are supplanting that all important tablet which featured so heavily in Christmases past and how both have reduced desktop use for researching rentals.

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Increase Bookings With Practical Immersive 3D Plans And Tours

3min read on how you can increase bookings by using immersive 3D tours for your vacation rental.

Use visual content to convert more bookings

We all want to engage, delight and easily convert visitors browsing our listings and then entice them back year after year. This is getting harder all the time but there is one simple way to help our beautiful holiday properties sell themselves and providing incredible visual content is actually one of the easiest things we can do. Allowing viewers to see, explore and understand your listing is the only way they will form a true connection to win them over.

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REGAIN CONTROL : Why your own vacation rental website matters.

5min read on why having your own vacation rental website matters.

I found myself realising that we don’t have a definitive page explaining why a website isn’t just a luxury for vacation rental professionals, but instead should be seen as a necessity.

Many managers recognise the growing need for a website, and while we may think everyone understands why, the simple matter is that this industry is so complex that often the obvious answers are shrouded behind obtuse reasons.

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3 Reasons VRBO Is Making It More Necessary Than Ever to Work with a Property Manager  

Andrew McConnell discusses 3 reasons why it looks like now is the time to work with a professional vacation rental manager.

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26,000 Clicks Later – The 32 Most Read Vacation Rental Articles From Our Newsletter

Since VR Weekly’s inception before Christmas, the newsletter has received 110,000 opens and over 26,000 clicks to articles we feature.

Our goal has been and is still to “make vacation rental professionals better” by curating useful content every week. The positive response we’ve received from both owners, managers and content providers is overwhelming. Thank you.

Therefore, I thought I’d share with you the 32 most read articles over the last 24 publications and 250 shared links – just incase you missed out.

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Debunking Guest Service Myths & Do We Only Use 10% Of Our Brains?

I was browsing a scientific magazine this weekend and came across a section entitled “Mythbusters”.

It struck me that the repetitive nature of claims or that suggested by trusted people or institutions can carry more weight and makes it all the more believable.  Don’t believe everything you read. What might start as an incorrect observation can become a false “fact” that is widely accepted. This is the evolution of a myth, and our lives are full of things that just aren’t true. Such is the subject of legends and myths, but also carries across to the more mundane facts and can influence our decisions and direction. This even happens in the vacation rental industry.

We have compiled a few fun facts below on myths that have been busted or are in the development stages!

1. A penny dropped from the top of the Eiffel Tower could kill someone!

Apparently it hits terminal velocity after about 15m and would hardly break the skin and would sting somewhat, hurting less than some of the recent changes in this industry!

2. You need to drink eight glasses of water per day.

Research shows that health can be maintained with much lower amounts and your body can absorb the water from all manner of fluids and foods. Plain water is not necessary.

3. All guests are happy to pay a Guest Service Fee and understand why its needed!

Guests when questioned show a definite negative attitude to being charged more than they would if they booked directly with an accommodation provider and saving money. Odd that!

4. You need to eat five portions of food per day.

The WHO recommend 400g of fruit and veg per day, but there is scant evidence that any particular volume is required and many countries have different recommendations as they do for alcohol intake. No doubt we do need some to maintain our strength in the face of adversity!

5. All guests want to book online through OTA’s (HomeAway, Airbnb, OwnersDirect etc).

As hotels are the main sufferers of this myth, their guests may make a good analysis. Despite the mass adoption of internet, social media and media, online travel channels are estimated to represent just 45% of all travel bookings in 2015. (Source: PhoCusWright). Seems like one lot of people not heading off to an OTA to make their bookings. The stats for VR are much higher still.

6. People are more likely to commit suicide in the winter.

Although there are small variations, apparently April and May head the Northern Hemisphere charts. No jokes please about jumping off cliffs this year if you see no more enquiries.

7. All owners and managers are happy to present their vacation rental home with nightly prices, instant payment, standardised terms, not speak to guests, offer easy cancellation terms and have no recourse for damage.

Replies of no more than 500 words can be added to this blog. Please avoid the need to use too much bad language!

8. Sharks don’t get cancer.

Contrary to what you may have heard at your local dietary supplement retail outlet, sharks do get cancer. There is nothing special about their cells and researchers have been studying cancerous tumours on sharks for years.  I think we are talking the aquatic variety here.

9. Guest Service Fees are there to help the guest!  The tiny question mark on VRBO says: “This helps VRBO provide a safer and more secure booking experience, coupled with 24/7 customer support throughout your trip.”

A couple of calls to the service support numbers showed that no staff knew where the dishwasher tablets were or how the french window lock worked or where the TV controls were, let alone were prepared to call me a taxi.

10. A toilet’s flush will change direction depending upon which hemisphere it is in.

Simply not true.  Toilets aren’t affected by the Coriolis Effect but could be handy for some recently proposed changes!

11. The money generated by Guest Service Fees are helping promote the OTA site and assist in the development of more bookings.

Number 9 above says its to help guests, so which myth are we to believe! One suspects that its to actually make more profit, but thats not a myth its a fact!

12. We only use 10% of our brains.

Often stated in self help books, this is not true. Every part of our brain is used and are highly specialised, especially the one that spots the myths that are banded around by certain corporations.

Airbnb Spreads Its API Wings: Airbnb Announces 10 New Vacation Rental Partnerships

Airbnb just announced new API partnerships, from the four appointed last year.  The list shown below will show a few familiar names. We will look at this in more detail over the next two weeks.

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COO Tom Hale Leaves HomeAway: Where have all the management gone?

Is a little like the song, by Peter, Paul and Mary

Where have all the management gone, long time passing?
Where have all the management gone, long time ago?
Where have all the management gone?
Gone to NewCo’s everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

COO Tom Hales Leaves HomeawayJust this week we heard that Tom Hale (COO) has left the HomeAway fold for pastures new. We haven’t seen an official announcement but a transcript on VRIntel can be seen here:

http://www.vrmintel.com/coo-tom-hale-leaves-homeaway/

who appears to have confirmed this with the company.

The release below highlights the ongoing management shuffle from last year when Brent Bellm, the previous COO resigned as well.

HomeAway, Inc. Announces Executive Leadership Changes

AUSTIN, Texas, April 23, 2015 – HomeAway, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWAY), which celebrated its 10th anniversary in February, today announced changes to its organization that position the company for continued success over the next decade. These changes also advance and expand the responsibilities of key executives.

The attacks on HomeAway brought about by the imperious changes to the HomeAway platforms, (VRBO in particular being the main US protagonist) may have accelerated any decision making at personal or board level. Who knows?

What is clear, from the recent business reports, analysis and contributions from owners/managers, is that the changes are not welcomed from asset managers and many guests. SEO issues, “best match”, re-ranking on Book Now etc are all contributing to the problems.

This an extract from Tnooz, last year?

How Expedia will help HomeAway battle Airbnb – Tnooz

Today’s Expedia Inc’s acquisition of HomeAway, the vacation rental platform, for $3.9 billion (mostly in stock) could be understood as an alliance of mutual interest against Airbnb, the peer-to-peer short-term rental giant. It’s true that executives only mentioned Airbnb once by name during their conference call today explaining the acquisition.

Noted Sharples:

“We know there will be some owners who don’t like the changes. We know the most important thing to owners and keep them happy is to deliver them more revenue and more bookings.

So we are going to be able to make these changes under the air cover of a greatly expanded distribution network with Expedia. In the end, suppliers are going to find that… there’s no other platform they can get as many bookings and revenue….”

Khosrowshahi (Expedia)

“The value we see is that HomeAway is moving through a transition from a classified listings-based model to primarily a transaction-based model, and we think we can add a lot of value there because, [at Expedia Inc ourselves], we’ve spent the past five or six years optimizing the transaction process for conversion growth leading to be the ability to boost variable marketing and combine that with better customer experience, adding up to a really good formula….

“To some extent we see HomeAway at where we were in year two of our journey, of where we were three or four years ago.

“We have a saying at our company: ‘In the end, math wins.’

“In this deal, we think it’s on our side.”

Does the management agree and if they do, then presumably the future is bright and there will be less changes at the top. But the road is paved with issues.

In the meantime, while no-one is looking, the proverbial rodents may be leaving the ship. Lets hope not and it comes back on course!

OTA Marketplace Review: Tansler

This site came onto our radar after HomeAway customers flagged their property as being listed:

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Company overview

In December 2015 Tansler won the General Catalyst Award for Travel Innovation and The Most Innovative Emerging Company at the Phocuswright Innovation Summit with an Auction site for Vacation rentals. The overriding drivers for guests are: the commentary of “Save time. Save money. Haggle free” in addition to their site strapline “Their Place Your Price”. They are pitching again next month for more awards. Read more →

Crash Course In Online Marketing Channels For Vacation Rentals

It’s hard to research listing website independence for longer than a few minutes without running into a myriad of acronyms like SEO, PPC, SEM and more. As a vacation rental owner and marketer, you’ve got a lot going on to running your business and digital marketing flash cards don’t come with most rental homes.

Today, I’m here to give you a crash course on the various digital marketing channels for vacation rental owners and marketers. After reading this post, you’ll have a fantastic understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of each channel or source of traffic, where to get started with some reading resources and how to best create a plan of attack for improving your digital marketing.

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