New research by travel market researchers Phocuswright finds that growth of bookings of private accommodation has exceeded growth of the total US travel market every year since 2013.
Data originate from a survey of managers of private accommodation properties for rent.
Some key points:
In 2016, average rental rate increased by 71% year-on-year, and occupancy increased by 60%.
Nearly 70% of bookings of private accommodation are done online.
Distribution channel shares of gross bookings:
- Rental sites 30%
- Online direct 28%
- Offline direct 24%
- OTAs 11%
- Travel agents 7%
Top online intermediaries for booking of private accommodations - % of property managers using:
- VRBO 93%
- HomeAway 84%
- FlipKey 57%
- TripAdvisor 52%
- Airbnb 47%
- VacationRentals.com 43%
Use of mobile sites by managers of private accommodations has increased from 30% in 2012 to 69% in 2016.
Search engine marketing, direct customer marketing and "other online marketing" (all considered "very" or "extremely" effective) are more often used than social media marketing or offline marketing.
Survey respondents rated offline marketing "least effective" with only 13% finding it very/extremely effective.
Recommendations by Phocuswright for marketing of private accommodation:
- Use a mix of e-mail, Web sites, OTAs, SEM, guest holiday apps.
- Offer prospects data and tools for decisionmaking.
- Have the flexibility to offer shorter stays.
- Find a way to fill shoulder and off-season periods.
- Integrate technology solutions:
- Credit-card processing
- Concierge services
- Inventory management
- Pick the right partners.
This research was sponsored by property-management-systems (PMS) provider HomeAway Software. I've skipped over much of the PMS-specific content of the report. If interested, you can view the full report by following the EXTERNAL ARTICLE link, below.
The terms "direct customer marketing" and "other online marketing" aren't defined in the report. "Direct" in an online context implies e-mail. So maybe "Other" includes everything besides search, e-mail and social media.
I'm surprised at the lack of enthusiasm that survey respondents showed for using social media to promote vacation rentals. Of managers of small properties (1 to 10 units) who responded to the survey, 33% said they don't use social media for marketing, and 21% said they've tried it and find it "not effective at all"
I'd have thought that social media would be a natural fit with a sharing-economy thing like the renting of private accommodation to vacationers. It would have been of interest to know how the other 79% of small-property managers rated social media.
Although fairly thin, this report suggests some actionable items for those doing vacation rentals:
- Be easily bookable online.
- Use multiple rental sites.
- Have a mobile-friendly Web site.
- Be visible in search.
- Focus on direct-response marketing.
- Don't bother with offline marketing (e.g., print).