Escapia has published “Vacation Rental Market Trends” for the First Quarter 2009. This is worth reading twice! I recommend you download. This data should provide a helpful industry comparison point for vacation rental managers… and their online marketing strategies should benefit.
The report compares vacation rental bookings for 2009 to 2008. Some regional breakdowns are included. Clearly, the start of 2009 was brutal for many. Noteworthy:
- Rentals (Gross Bookings) down 25% in February compared to Feb 2008
- Rentals in Rockies down almost 40% (Jan 2009 vs Jan 2008)
- Last Minute bookings up 14% in February
The report also breaks down sources of business with some great industry statistic:
- 41% of all booking sourced to web
- “2/3rds of all the new guest that vacation rental managers find who don’t come from their owners are finding their vacation homes on the web.”
Other tidbits in the 10 page report that stand out:
- Demise of print and direct mail
- Low bookings from email (from failure to track?)
- High importance of listing homes on 3rd party sites
- VRMs generally enjoyed good reviews from guests
After reading through this marketing trend report a few times I am struck by how rare data and research like this is made available to the rental agency market. Thanks Escapia!
From an online marketing strategy viewpoint, a few thoughts come to mind:
The sources of business are hard to track, they are often intermingled. The problem is not with the tracking mechanism but probably with the fact that multiple sources are touching customers:
- Email marketing shows up as web
- Owners use web but are often sourced separately
- Repeat customers are seeing direct mail, advertising, email and web.
Third party listing sites are quite important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Dedicating human and financial resources to these is required. Our customer data also clearly shows that 3rd party sites are a key piece of online traffic and online bookings. Also, the booking window may not have shortened as much as many people think… Booking windows are important to know… they impact your online marketing, (especially packages, specials and email marketing).
A piece of good news for the vacation rental agency’s online marketing strategy is reviews: on average they are pretty good. Good reviews make managing your online reputation a lot easier… and managing your online reputation is important.