How one vacation rental company’s audience helped them reopen with a bigger, warmer audience, ready to travel

Chances are you heard Florida’s beaches have reopened. Despite the initial 24-hour news bloviation, things seem to be normalizing, and the travel industry in the lightly affected panhandle of the state is ready to jump-start.

For Resort Collection, that means 1,000 rooms spread across the coast of Panama City Beach are ready to be enjoyed.

Thanks to a strong audience paired with a platform and strategy, they’ve hit the sand running. Here’s how.

Putting their own audience first

Most travel businesses experienced a “what’s next?” mentality as the pace of cancellations, refunds, staffing and financial decisions peaked. Even in the confusion and shock of the shutdown, Resort Collection had the clarity to realize this would pass.

Without normal channels of marketing, they knew reaching and nurturing their existing audience would be critical in the plan to reopen.

Striking the right tone

Keeping that audience in conversation during one of travel’s most challenging times ever would require empathetic outreach and careful messaging.

The Flip.to platform played a critical role, helping more than two hundred people share their stories with Resort Collection at the center during the pandemic-induced downtime.

It’s those storytellers who are so important to the company’s strategy. These are real people who shared authentic moments, and in doing so, introduced the VR company to a community that trusts them the most: their own friends and family.

Photo submission from Nykia O. showing 4 african american females enjoying the sun on a hotel balcony

The audience responds

The response was phenomenal, and grew the collection’s audience even wider. Beyond scale, these trusted connections were with a new, high-quality audience of like-minded individuals who mirrored the original storytellers—the right-fit audience for Resort Collection.

Now in active conversation, this new audience is primed as Resort Collection excitedly takes its first steps forward in more than a month.

Photo submission from Sheri S. a family of 4 standing in the middle of crystal clear waters of a beach

Authenticity and trust make better marketing

Resort Collection immediately noticed the stories generated by using the platform resonated with their audience.

How? For starters, they saw a spike in engagement and conversion, a testament to better conversations that are meaningful, timely and appropriate—all at a moment when people are deciding how and when they will be ready to travel again.

The platform put happy times at the front of mind for Resort Collection’s new and old audience alike.

In just 62 days, Resort Collection engaged 265 storytellers who shared their greatest travel memories. 401,876 friends and family were introduced to Resort Collection by a trusted friend or family member. 2,936 warm leads in conversation-an audience who are the perfect demographic.

As they’re phasing back into operation, the platform is now helping the collection immediately start welcoming this warm audience to their newly reopened properties.

And as units book and first guests arrive, they, too, will become storytellers, continuing to grow Resort Collection’s audience, and seeding the funnel in the same way.


Resort Collection recognized the most important lesson in the pandemic: keep your audience at the center. Sparking the right conversations with that audience, and nailing timing and tone are incredibly important.

By prioritizing these efforts, when the time is right for both your properties AND your audience, they’ll be there for you.

Industry take: a look ahead for property managers with Millenium’s Maurice Arbelaez

In May, we’re headed to the 2019 OPMA Executive Summit, our third since becoming members earlier a couple of years back.

And there’s good reason. We have the chance to reconnect with our travel industry friends, while also looking at the leading edge of an industry.

To this end, we caught up with Maurice Arbelaez, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing for Millenium Management, for his take on what’s in store for property managers nationwide.


Last year, you told us that you felt OPMA was “a key organization in helping the property management industry maintain high standards of service, guest experience and infrastructure.”

The OPMA Executive Summit seems to be a great outlet for doing just that. Going into the summit, what are some of the things you feel the industry will gain? What “big solves” do you feel lodging providers are looking at heading into OPMA?

As a maturing industry, we’re at a tipping point where the need to establish industry standards that ensure the highest level of service is no longer a want, it’s a must. Maintaining this quality helps exceed the expectations of all travelers, ultimately helping condo resorts and property managers compete as a whole with hotels and beyond.

To do so collaboration at all levels is crucial, and that’s exactly where the OPMA organization and this summit come in. Its members bring education and best practices to the forefront in every core part of the business, from marketing to operations, stemming from one big goal: bettering our industry together.

More than ever, it feels like keeping a pulse on the direction of property management and marketing is a must. What are the expectations you see for property managers in 2019?

Building relationships with our travelers is at the core of what we’re all about as hospitality providers. Personal service and attention to detail is how we handle this on property.

For us, the same must be true in our marketing efforts and communication. We’re seeking to have better, more personal conversations with travelers, with the same personal touches they receive when they arrive.

We’re prioritizing marketing partnerships in these key areas to introduce our condo resorts to new audiences, and then keep in touch with them in more authentic ways.

In fact, word of mouth, reviews and social have been the most effective channels to create new business and loyal visitors. These audiences embrace authenticity, and have raised their expectations for us in travel—which is only set to continue in 2019.

As the industry grows and more big players get involved, how should property managers be thinking about their approach?

I see two key opportunities for property managers to take part in driving the industry.

First, define and uphold our standards, commanding recognition of condo resorts as a top player in the market. This will only be achieved by working together to ensure we’re positioned as a relevant player in the marketplace. (Which leads to the second point.)

Establish and develop collaborative partnerships with key players: thought-leaders in the industry, and those who aren’t afraid to challenge today’s standards and ideas to make them better. The OPMA organization and its members seek to do just this.

A common effort to better market our product; to maintain and grow stronger relationships with travelers; and to discuss and share synergies, challenge ideas and encourage growth, will solidify our position and relevance in the wider travel industry.


A heavy weight in the industry, Maurice has years of hospitality experience in everything from operations to marketing. For more thoughts from Maurice and Millenium Management, give him a follow here.

Plus, we’re always looking to spark ideas and conversations in travel. How do you feel about the trajectory of property management? What strategies and tactics will you be employing? Join in and don’t be afraid to let us know here.

Shaping an industry: four travel-pro-approved takes on VR for 2019

A few weeks ago we hit the VRMA circuit at the 2018 International Conference in ‘Viva Las Vegas.’ Not only was it a great time to catch up with old friends (and make new ones) it was also an insightful few days of meaningful conversation that got us thinking about where the VR industry has been, and where it’s going—from marketing to tech and beyond.

As we pondered these questions, we weren’t alone. In fact, we tapped a few of those folks we call friends on just what takeaways came out of the conference, but at an even higher level, how vacation rentals and property managers should be thinking about growth into 2019.

Here’s what they had to say:


VRMA International is a great space for vendors & property managers to exchange ideas. Going into this conference, what were you hoping to gain from these conversations? Any fun learnings that you were surprised by?

Alex Husner, CMO at Condo-World Resort Properties

This year’s VRMA International had the largest quantity of attendees in the organization’s history, as well as the widest variety of vendors and speakers.

Many of the panel discussions spoke to the complex nature of vacation rental connectivity. I found the most interesting conversations revolved around this issue, both at a global level for the future of the industry as well as for our own pursuits at Condo-World.

Despite unprecedented attention and investment funding being directed at vacation rentals, I’m concerned that there still seems to be a large disparity between the understanding of how our product differs from hotels, as well as how much our product differs from market to market.

Commoditization is clearly a priority of the major OTAs, which may be attainable…but if it comes at the expense of changing the core value proposition of a vacation rental to make it more like a hotel so it’s easier to sell, we need to be worried about the long term effects this will have on our industry.

One of the speakers used the phrase “constructively unhappy” in their presentation. Better, more flexible solutions can be developed as long as they’re growing alongside the needs of those who will use it. The more open communication that can be had between vendors and property managers at events like VRMA International are certainly a step in the right direction.

We’re big on seeing where the trajectory of travel is headed. At a high level, what are the needs and expectations you see for vacation rental marketing in 2019? What are the small changes that marketers need to be making today to adjust?

Paul Hanak, Director of Digital Marketing at ICND

Getting website traffic has dramatically changed over the last year. Not only are individual companies having to battle with the likes of HomeAway and Vacasa for search rankings, but they’re also having to fork out cash to invest more into Pay Per Click as well.

For the past couple years, Google has really focused on User Experience and actually made User Experience a ranking factor. Think about this:

  • Making your site secure with HTTPS… ranking factor.
  • Making your site mobile friendly… ranking factor.
  • Page load speed… ranking factor.

Even the RankBrain algorithm that tracks if a user visits your site and bounces to find another is a key component. All of these metrics directly and indirectly affect how the user acts on your website. Google’s ultimate goal, and always has been, is to serve the user with the “best possible user experience” on the websites it serves to users.

The new trend, however, has switched to the E-A-T principle: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust.

A recent algorithm update demoted websites that didn’t seem trustworthy, despite the fact they had loads of information and content on their respective topics. While Google hasn’t come out and specifically said that E-A-T is a ranking factor, they are putting more stock into how trustworthy a website is based on the authors behind a website.

Takeaways?

  • Have a good reputation on the internet with good reviews from various sources.
  • Use trust signals on your website, ESPECIALLY your “About Us” page. (Team photos, smiling faces, guest reviews, community involvement, etc etc. are all great examples to instill trust into a user.)

Amy Hinote put out her recap of VRMA last month. One comment she made: “The accelerating pace of change in the vacation rental industry was apparent to all.” And she also notes something else that stood out to her: “the addition of representation from venture capital groups, private equity firms, global travel industry consultants, OTAs, urban short-term rental providers, and even Google.”

That’s a lot of new big players getting involved. For property managers, what does this mean and how should they be thinking about their approach? For travel tech?

Adam Norko, Director Short Term Rentals (STR) Sales at PointCentral

The short term rental space is growing and maturing at a rapid pace. As VRM Intel points out, this was very evident at the VRMA International trade show with the presence of large household names and deep investment pockets.

This is great news for the entire industry. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

However, change does bring challenges and difficult decisions. Property (perhaps we should start saying “Asset” instead) Managers need to be willing to embrace change and be very selective with their time and resources.

The focus needs to be on streamlining processes and improving the guest experience.

From a technology perspective, this means a focus on tech that reduces friction points in operations and guest experience.

This rapid growth also brings increased scrutiny. As we continue to compete with hotels, we need to be prepared to meet the same hotel standards. Regulations, guests, and homeowners are all demanding improved standards.

As an industry we need to improve our standards proactively rather than waiting to react to negative market forces.

The quickest improvement is the need to embrace safety standards, starting with controlling who has access to the homes through enterprise smart home control.

This small step improves safety, streamlines operations, and provides a great guest experience. At this point in the industry growth, it’s hard to find more “bang for your buck.”

What did you feel were the big solves lodging providers were looking for at VRMA? Do these point to bigger shifts in how vacation rentals are thinking about marketing?

Colin Morrison, System Consultant at NAVIS

More and more VRMs are looking for ways to decrease their dependency on more expensive channels so that they can reduce their cost of sale. While there is no “one perfect solution,” there was a strong contingency of experienced vendors at the recent VRMA conference who provide cohesive tools and strategies for growing the direct booking channel.

Hotels determined in August 2011 that the most profitable distribution channel is the direct channel and savvy hotels are starting to use metrics like “net RevPAR” as a way to analyze their business. The vacation rental equivalent of this is net RevPAU which translates to “Net Revenue per Available Unit.” This is calculated by dividing the sum of all gross rental revenue less the acquisition costs by the number of homes or units in a rental program. This could also be analyzed post owner split as a net-net RevPAU.

When the cost of sale by booking channel is analyzed at as part of an evaluation of a company’s effectiveness to drive revenue to the bottom line, even with the strategy whereby VRMs are passing OTA fees onto guests or shared with homeowners, the direct channel is still the most profitable channel in the Vacation Rental industry. The reason for this is the customized and relevant experience that the VRM can deliver to a direct guest as part of the guest journey from looking to booking and beyond.

Conversion is also the highest for this channel and there is a high likelihood that over 50% of guests who book directly on your site have reached out to your reservations team directly as well. Furthermore, direct channel guests have a high likelihood at becoming guests for life and the acquisition cost for repeat guests is far lower than new guests, so guest experience is paramount for a successful VRM.


The scope of these insights are reflective of just how diverse this conference was—there was something valuable for everyone to take away, from listening into the panels, down to personal conversations to be had.

What are your thoughts on the trajectory of travel marketing? Join the conversation by saying hello or shooting me a note here.

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OPMA Summit: On knowing your audience and your industry

This May, we attended our second OPMA Executive Summit since becoming members.

 

Aside from industry insights, one of our favorite aspects of both OPMA membership and events is the chance to meet up with like-minded industry partners and friends who are also committed to advancing travel.

We reached out to a few for their thoughts on the spring summit and received some great thoughts on the event and OPMA’s advocacy network.

Take a look at their insights below:


Alex Husner, CMO, Condo-World Resort Properties on OPMA:

“The purposefully small group atmosphere allowed for great conversations and networking, and the ability to meet almost everyone at the event. The attendees represented many of the most well known and respected brands in the industry, traveling from as far east as Vermont to as far west as Hawaii!

One of the key takeaways I noticed with this group was an abundant support of collaboration between members…from sharing marketing successes to tackling legal challenges and homeowner relations—no topic was off limits!

This is a group of like-minded, innovative business owners and C-level executives that are all supportive of helping each other succeed. I’m excited to attend more events and learn from our industry’s best and brightest.”

 

Stuart Butler, COO, Fuel Travel on the vacation rental industry and the organization’s role in shaping travel:

“The condo-hotel space faces several unique challenges. Firstly, the fact that the management company has to juggle the priorities of the two stakeholders (the owner and the guest) means that there are constant decisions that have to be made that may benefit one party, while negatively impacting the other.

Having homeowners maintain the quality of their units also poses unique challenges in terms of the quality of the product and the guest experience. This can lead to negative reviews, which impacts ADR and occupancy. Finally, the lack of awareness that the consumer has regarding the differences between on-site and off-site renters is a major problem — one that is exacerbated by the fact that the OTAs and TripAdvisor don’t distinguish between the two.

OPMA is a very special and unique organization. The members—both managers and vendors—seem to have a genuine desire to want to work together to help drive the industry forward. OPMA has introduced us to a lot of new people with whom we can collaborate and solve the problems that the industry is facing.”

 

Maurice Arbelaez, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing, Millenium Management on the summit:

“OPMA explored common issues and challenges we share with other management companies and condo resorts operators, working to improve collaboration with other members to benefit both of us.

OPMA creates a vehicle to share and exchange ideas and best practices with other on-site management companies that experience similar challenges. Members also benefit from services that offer solutions to those challenges, enhancing the guest experience to surpass expectations.”

 


What are your thoughts on the challenges for the vacation rental industry? Join the conversation! We look forward to continuing to advance this dynamic industry together.

The memory-making business: building lasting relationships with vacation rental guests

Vacation rental properties provide travelers with a taste of home away from home that they can experience with the ones who matter most.

As you help guests make lasting memories with their loved ones, they’re creating stories they’re excited to share—with your property at the center. This is the perfect time to build lasting relationships with travelers, inspiring them to visit your property over and over again.

We love when vacation rental guests tell their stories of incredible experiences, so we’re sharing them with you! Here are some of our favorites:

Bald Head Island Property Management — Bald Head Island, NC

“This was our third trip to Bald Head but second trip with our friends and everyone’s kids. It is a one in a million kind of place, and we can’t wait to watch our kids grow up each year we vacation there!! It reminds us to slow down and truly enjoy the little things!!” – Hilary Y.

Hilary’s family has years of memories on Bald Head Island, and those experiences make it their go-to vacation spot. Not only have they shared their stories and become some of Bald Head Island’s most powerful advocates, but they’ve brought back friends to make new memories together.

And if one story wasn’t enough, check out some more incredible memories from travelers to Bald Head Island below:

 

Finger Lakes Premier Properties — Canandaigua, NY

“The combination of the relaxing comfort of a spectacular home with a stunning landscape and vista, made for a most memorable long weekend. We will definitely return!” – Ginny U.

Finger Lakes Premier Properties is inspiring new travelers to visit through the stories of their guests. Ginny is already planning to return in the future and by sharing her travel story, she warmly introduced family and friends to create memories of their own.

The Beach Club — Gulf Shores, AL

“This is our second year to stay here and we love it. We have a big group of parents and kids that come down for a high school baseball tournament and lots of memories have been made each year. Not only is the resort perfect the beds and pillows are the best!” – Michele W.

From the little touches to the overall experience, every moment a guest spends at your vacation rental is a chance to impress and build lasting relationships. The Beach Club Resort is taking care to continue being a part of Michele’s travel stories worth sharing.

Tahoe Getaways — Lake Tahoe, CA

“Very friendly and responsive staff. We will definitely be booking all of our trips through you guys!” – Jason L.

Tahoe Getaways took the chance to truly shine during Jason’s stay with the outstanding guest experience given by its staff. These interactions make all the difference and have made repeat guests out of these travelers.

Thomas Beach Vacations — Myrtle Beach, SC

“My family and I have been coming to Myrtle for almost 70 years! We have photo albums full of memories but nothing compares to that first moment when you see the ocean and smell that salty air!” – Jan R.

Jan’s family has decades of favorite moments in Myrtle Beach, making the destination a second home. By sharing her stories on to family and friends, she’s also introducing Thomas Beach Vacations to new audiences that are the perfect demographic for their property.

Garrett Realty Services — Destin, FL

“My husband and I are walking our young granddaughter down to the waters edge so she can get her toes wet. We’ve stayed at Beach Crest two years in a row now and love it.” – Roseanne L.

Roseanne’s story is a perfect example of how travel stories span generations. The memories she and her family have kept them coming back and make for compelling, authentic introductions between the property and her family and friends.

Newman-Dailey Resort Properties — Destin, FL

“Mother’s day weekend in Destin with my amazing daughter!!” – Paula B.

Paula’s story reminds us of what makes travel truly special: incredible experiences with the ones who matter most. The trip is one they won’t soon forget, and it’s a story worth sharing.

Turquoise Place — Orange Beach, AL

“The beautiful room with the amazing view was the best part of our stay. Having two indoor pools to choose from was also a very big part of our vacation, given that it was so cool outside over spring break.” – Brett J.

Through providing a truly extraordinary guest experience, vacation rental properties build relationships that last. Not only has Turquoise Place made Brett and his family satisfied guests, but many of their travelers have become advocates to the tune of thousands of introductions.

Honeymoon Hills — Gatlinburg, TN

“Absolutely beautiful views, and great cabin. We enjoyed our time. Hot tub was perfect and the heart shape tub was such a great idea. This picture was our first morning here in Honeymoon Hills as a married couple. Great weather, coffee, my spouse, and look at that view, Perfection! Thank you guys for a great experience.” – Veronica B.

Veronica and her husband made once-in-a-lifetime memories at Honeymoon Hills. By sharing their stories, she and other guests have helped create thousands of rich introductions to the property.

Flip.to joins OPMA, together sparking new conversations in travel marketing

Advocacy platform pairs with Onsite Rental Management Association to foster education and partnerships in the diverse vacation rental market

ORLANDO, FL — February 14, 2018 — Flip.to—the advocacy marketing platform that helps reach, inspire and convert travelers worldwide—announced its membership with the Onsite Property Management Association (OPMA), a nonprofit and advocate for the rental management and condo hotel sectors representing a select 53,000 resort accommodation units. Flip.to will work in tandem with a collection of minds together aimed at bettering the travel space.

Flip.to is thrilled to be joining the OPMA’s exclusive roster of 37 suppliers personally invited to share membership with management companies across the US and globally who are focused on shaping the landscape of hospitality marketing and growing the industry as a whole. OPMA provides a network of partnerships, educational opportunities and a forum for cooperative efforts to advance the rental market, emphasizing collective growth and mutual support.

“It’s easy to see where OPMA and Flip.to are aligned, with advocacy a cornerstone to both our identities,” said OPMA Chief Marketing Strategist John Dalton about Flip.to. “Likewise, they have a drive to constantly improve marketing as we know it today. The Flip.to team has a deep understanding of not only the travel industry, but also the specific marketing challenges rental managers face daily, so we’re glad to welcome them on board,” said Dalton.

The Flip.to platform empowers guests to share the high points of their stay throughout their traveler journey. Along the way, travelers introduce family and friends to resorts and vacation properties in an authentic and trusted way, reaching new audiences at an incredible scale—ahead of competitors and other dominant players. The platform earns and tracks new bookings while growing brand awareness, web traffic and warm leads.

Flip.to has made strides in enhancing the marketing efforts of hospitality providers across the travel industry, seeing incredible success in the vacation rental market. Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing, Maurice Arbelaez, of Millenium Management Corporation—founding member of OPMA and fellow customer of Flip.to—echoed this sentiment along with the value of membership for the advocacy platform.

“Flip.to is an example of an industry partner providing incredible value, promoting authentic perspectives on the resort from a trusted source—our travelers. This is key for professional management companies like Millenium who uphold the highest level of service, guest experience, and infrastructure,” said Arbelaez.

“Likewise, these are the values that define OPMA, which is why their organization is key in helping leaders in our industry maintain these standards. We’re excited to work together with partners who not only provide top-notch solutions that help highlight these clear differences, but also share a mutual interest in bettering the industry as a whole.”

Flip.to kicked off their participation with a speaking session at OPMA’s 2017 leadership summit late last year. On attending, Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships at Flip.to, said, “We saw firsthand the significant value of membership with OPMA, from learning even more about the challenges within the industry to forming new connections and partnerships with those who hold a shared vision for the rental market. As we look forward to seeing the strides OPMA continues to make for rental management companies around the world, we’re excited to now be a part of it!”

 

To learn more about OPMA membership and its efforts within the rental management and condo hotel industry, visit www.theopma.org or contact John Dalton at jdalton@theopma.org.

To learn how Flip.to is helping vacation rentals reach, inspire and convert travelers each and every day, see who we’re working with.

We asked: HomeAway boosts fees for 2018—but what’s the cost?

If you’re at all tuned into news circling the vacation rental industry, it was hard to miss HomeAway’s announcement on new 2018 fees making waves last week. We first came across it in Amy Hinote’s latest piece on VRM Intel.

The tldr:

  • HomeAway will increase subscription fees 25% (from $399 to $499 per listing)
  • In addition to this increase, for direct bookings from guests who previously used HomeAway in their travel research, they’ll charge a 10% transactional fee

In other words, for direct bookings made where HomeAway can attribute similar searches on their websites, they stand to take a piece of the pie—what they’re calling performance credit for “off-platform” bookings. Amy sums the cost increase in a way that puts it in perspective: this adds up to over $700k from an average vacation rental management company managing 250 properties.

But in the long term, what’s this big news really mean for rental managers at large?

Now that the initial story has had a little time to settle, we asked around to some of our friends (and foremost authorities in the industry) to see their initial thoughts, and recommendations for a path forward.

Take a peek at their insights below:


Alex Husner, CMO, Condo-World Resort Properties

“While I understand the reasoning behind wanting to prevent leakage of bookings off HomeAway’s platform, the most recent announcement has the potential to be a paradigm shift for what is deemed acceptable in vacation rental/OTA partnerships. HomeAway is learning from Expedia’s early days and is working to apply this hindsight as quickly as possible. Had technology been as advanced years ago as it is now, Expedia would have asked to match back email addresses/dates and to be paid a commission for any bookings that originated from a search on their site. Could Expedia do that now with their hotel clients? Sure…but the hotel/OTA relationships are far too involved and strained at this point to attempt something like that. HomeAway is still at a relatively new stage in their relationships with VRMs, many of whom are highly vested in the company from both a software and advertising perspective and consider themselves at mercy to any changes the company wants to make.

Between the addition of the booking fee a couple years ago, to removing the ability for VRMs to communicate with guests during the booking process, and now implementing a match back process to automatically recoup any bookings made off platform — HomeAway is making it hard for both guests and VRMs to want to do business with them. With this newest announcement, VRMs could potentially pay double commission and LOSE money if a guest searches on HomeAway but then books on another OTA. (Example: 10% to HomeAway and 15% to Booking.com = 25%… which is well above the average commission fee for most PMs).

Removing the ability to communicate with guests has also been troublesome for us—if HomeAway were to truly facilitate the booking from start to finish, we would have no problem with not being able to communicate with the guest. But to provide a lead—and then restrict what information can be sent, and how it can be sent—creates a customer service and operational nightmare.

Total OTA revenue only makes up 3% of Condo-World’s annual sales— but there are many in our industry who rely specifically on HomeAway/VRBO for up to 70% of their sales. All of our listings are pay-per-booking, so we are going to continue on with 2018 as normal and then evaluate the true effect of these changes at the end of the year.”

 

Stuart Butler, COO, Fuel Travel

“This is a greedy move and one that could backfire. There’s no way I will recommend that my clients participate in this new model. The notion that HomeAway claims 10% commission for bookings where a consumer at some point made a search on HomeAway is nonsense. We know that consumers shop around and look at the same property on multiple sites. What if they all did the same thing? Imagine if a consumer finds your property on the local CVB site, then shops you on HomeAway, TripAdvisor, and another local portal, before finally booking on your own website. Are you to give 10% commission to all four of those touch points? What if they also saw a retargeting ad for your property and that vendor also took another 10%?

My advice for rental managers is to boycott HomeAway. Spend your time crafting an amazing book direct strategy by creating a frictionless, mobile-first booking experience, applying psychological sales tactics through the funnel, and providing unique value and incentives to guests who book direct.”

 

Matt Raab, Director of eCommerce, Sterling Resorts

“I believe the move is intended to drive PMs away from their subscription program and onto their pay per booking program. When Expedia took over it was expected that the way HomeAway collects revenue would eventually mirror Expedia. The transition started with the introduction of pay per booking, then elimination of subscription levels, and now the latest changes. Within a year or two subscriptions either will not be economical anymore in comparison with pay per booking or be outright eliminated as an option.

Diversify and develop brand loyalty. We will be staying on the same path we began down long ago—with integrated software and connections partners most third party websites are easy to add as distribution channels. We utilize as many that make sense to us in terms of cost and rental policy.

With the right technology partners, there is not a manpower burden, and it makes a significant impact on the percentage of revenue that originates from HomeAway. Once the guest is booked, however—from any channel—the goal is to collect data, impress the guest, and rebook direct. This sector is where the most exciting new technologies and services are being developed.”

 

Even early on, the news is hard hitting. A vacation rental owner and manager in the Southeast went on to add this:

“Bold move for sure because they risk owners who will leave because of the increased pricing. Also, curious how they will access Vacation Rental Managers data to know who to “charge” other than Escapia and V12 users, as they can potentially access those databases because they are HomeAway PMS’s.

As a VR Manager, we are not, and will never be, in a position to pay websites which a guest visits prior to ultimately booking direct with us. That is ridiculous.

Our path forward will be to educate all homeowners as to why they should put their units with professionally managed companies who can help them better navigate the ever changing vacation rental market.”


We have a feeling this story is far from over. Got perspectives on this (or anything else bubbling up in the VR industry)? Join the conversation.

In the meantime, get the full scoop in the original VRM Intel article, and for more like this give Amy a follow here.

 

Flip.to on the road: property managers winning with OPMA

A big focus at Flip.to in 2017 has been better understanding the ins-and-outs of the vacation rental market. It’s a segment within our industry that faces all of the same, yet also entirely different challenges than other accommodations providers.

Issues range from regulations and split ownership, to homeowners’ associations and conflicting marketing messaging due to third parties. Navigating that space adds layers of complexity that any operator could easily do without.

When we learned about the Onsite Property Management Association (OPMA) and its efforts to advocate for property managers, we were immediately intrigued. Flip.to became members in short order and participated in our first OPMA summit in our hometown of Orlando this past November.

What we took away is that OPMA has made great strides for property managers—and are working hard on loads more to be done. Topics covered included recent legal victories, paving the way for a better guest experience, all the way to the importance of adopting a mobile-first approach, well, everything.

Our resident video-documentarian and fellow Flip.to contributor to the blogosphere, Hunter Garrett, joined me at the OPMA conference and put together these highlights of our 2-days at Reunion Resort. Enjoy!