Take an Independent Approach to HomeAway and Airbnb
How to keep control while using the big listing sites
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In spite of the big listing site giants such as HomeAway and Airbnb tightening their grip on the vacation rental industry, it is still possible for independent owners to use them and keep control. Here’s how…
HomeAway’s decision to impose guest fees; Airbnb’s unannounced delisting of selected property owners; Airbnb’s payment of occupancy taxes on behalf of owners without any consultation…these are all recent examples of how the big listing giants HomeAway and Airbnb appear to be calling the shots in the vacation rental industry.
‘Book Now’ button compulsory?
Then there is the ongoing controversy over the so called ‘Book Now’ button. HomeAway would like all transactions to take place online and for all subscribers to adopt the ‘Book Now’ button. They argue that this is necessary to avoid impatient vacation seekers moving on and looking elsewhere if they can’t book there and then. What it means for vacation rental owners is further loss of control of their property and who might be allowed to stay there.
While vacation rental owners are not compelled to use listing sites such as HomeAway and Airbnb, owners who do not use them could be denying themselves access to a huge potential online audience and a wide marketing reach. Many owners are reliant on these sites for a majority of their bookings. As a result, the sites are in a position to dictate terms and changes in conditions without consulting owners. Particularly vulnerable are those vacation rental owners who do not have their own website or a direct payment system.
The independent owner
You may have seen and heard a lot of recent discussion about the idea of the ‘independent’ vacation rental owner. An idea which we here at Homes an Rooms promoted since day one of setting up our property management software (PMS) services for owners, new and existing. In fact, the services Homes and Rooms provide help any ‘independent’ owner remain independent. Whether they use listing sites or not.
We do not advocate dropping listing sites for those who already subscribe to HomeAway and Airbnb, or any other site that brings bookings. So long as it is cost-effective and provides the owner with guests. There is little doubt that they give vacation rental owners access to a huge potential online audience which they could not otherwise reach. One big drawback is the issue of repeat bookings.
For obvious reasons, the likes of HomeAway and Airbnb would like all repeat bookings to go through them. Besides the extra commission they earn, it puts them in control of your guests.
Website is essential
The independent owner who has their own website, plus a secure system for accepting direct payments online is in a much stronger position to control who stays in their property and when they stay. They are able to seek and secure repeat bookings independently of any listing site they are registered with. So, when Mr Jones and his family have a great vacation in a particular property and want to return year on year they are not making future bookings via the listing site but directly with the owner.
Save paying 10 percent
That owner could receive around 10 percent extra on those repeat bookings – the booking fee the guest would ordinarily have to pay the listing site. So the owner makes and keeps more of the profit from the property. Or, they might decide they can afford to offer as much as a 10 percent discount to repeat guests as an inducement to come again. If, for example, the owner held their own guest contact data and records and had their own guest communications facility, they could market direct to former guests without any referral to HomeAway and Airbnb.
These things and more are all possible through the services provided by Homes and Rooms to their subscribers. A professional owner website and secure direct payment facility are only the start. There’s also a reservations and booking calendar with automatic capability when required. And the ability to provide potential guests with realtime information on prices and bookings – automatically if you wish – and to extend this to any listing site you register with. Plus, the ability to communicate with guests and any staff you may have.
Retain control of your property
In short, the Homes and Rooms service provides everything an owner needs to run his business and retain control and independence while still taking full advantage of the services offered by listing sites including HomeAway and Airbnb.
If you’re not already a Homes and Rooms subscriber, why not sign up for your free trial today and we’ll set you on the road to independence immediately?
New to the business of owning a vacation rental or lacking information about listing sites? Find out more about them and what they provide on our earlier blogs. Try these: