VACATION RENTAL COMPANIES TURN TO INTERNET SITES FOR NEW BOOKINGS
Mark Ozawa, President of Integrated Hospitality Consulting
More and more vacation rental owners and operators are turning to Internet travel sites to increase reservations and revenues. They understand that travelers who have used these sites to search for traditional hotels and resorts are realizing that terrific accommodation options such as condominiums and villas are now available to them. As a result, successful vacation rental companies are gaining new customers and market share from their work with 3rd party Internet sites.
We recommend that your Internet strategy include both general travel web sites as well as specialty ones. The general travel sites include suppliers like Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, and Orbitz. These sites have built top-of-mind awareness among travelers. At the same time, there are a number of niche sites that target certain markets or traveler types, including some that specifically target the traveler interested in a vacation rental. For instance, IAC/InterActiveCorp, which owns Expedia, Hotels.com, and Condosaver.com, recently launched VacationSpot.com. This new site takes vacation rental inventory from the three sites and presents the properties on a site specifically targeting the vacation rental consumer.
Successful properties use 3rd party Internet sites to target first-time customers. Through effective property and accommodation descriptions, they distinguish themselves from other properties listed on the sites. In understanding how sites rank the order of properties displayed, one can maximize the likelihood that their property appears as one of the first listed within the search results. In some cases, we have worked with properties to group their inventory from different buildings into “pseudo” properties to make it easier to market and manage their inventory.
Although the number of reservations booked from the sites is a good measure of success, it is not the most important. Many travelers first become aware of a property because of a listing in an online travel agency site, such as Expedia, then end up making a reservation through the property’s own web site or reservations department. It’s important to track the number of people that found you through an Internet site but booked elsewhere, then combine these results with actual Internet booking figures to help you tune your strategy.
Keep in mind that 3rd party Internet sites will not publish your phone number or web site address, so you must make it easy for a traveler to locate you on the web if they have a question. Your property web site should appear at the top of the search results when a shopper enters your property’s name in their search engine.
It is easy to work with the IAC/InterActiveCorp companies. The contact for VacationSpot.com, Expedia, and Hotels.com is Sara Shusta, Director of Vacation Rentals – email@example.com. Sara is happy to talk with you about participating in their sites.
Mark Ozawa is President of Integrated Hospitality Consulting, a boutique consulting firm whose services include audits of properties’ electronic distribution presence and assisting properties increase their electronic distribution results. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-847-1326.