Friday, January 17, 2014

Which Vacation Rentals Sites To Use in 2014?

The new year has kicked off with a bang and I am seeing very strong demand for my vacation rental in Nice, France. Clearly, a lot of people are already making plans for their 2014 vacations.

Looking back at 2013, it was my best year ever in terms of rental performance. I was fully booked for almost the whole 12 months, helped by some long term winter renters both in the early and later part of the year. Overall , I had more renters opting for short stays ( Nice is a very popular short break destination), which pushed up the changeover costs a little, but all-in-all, I ended up with better net revenues than in any other year.

Undoubtedly, however, the introduction of commission only listings by both Holiday Lettings and Flipkey really helped me to fill gaps in my availability. I have always struggled with the right number of "paid" listings sites to use, but adding the commission only listings gave me a "no risk" option to secure extra bookings.

And I would have to say that both Holiday Lettings and Flipkey delivered for me. I know that some people have reported issues with using them, plus many owners don't like the fact that they lose some of the personal relationship with the renters, but for me, they added a lot to my portfolio in 2013.

But what about 2014? Well, one change that effects me is that Homeaway forced the switchover of  Homelidays to Homeaway.uk. Homelidays was always a good performer for me, as it is a French site and attracted a lot of French renters. (It also attracted a lot of Scandanavians, too.) I suspect that Homeaway.uk, if it works as all, is likely to attract mainly UK renters. For the moment, Homeaway.uk have agreed to give me a couple of extra months to see what response I get, so stay posted !

Other than that , there does seem to be a shift in the market to commission only listings: Homeaway offers one on its main site, but it is expensive at 10%.

Also, many of the sites are pushing that you use their systems for payment: increasingly, particularly on large sites, I expect that these listings will be given prominence.

The big sites ( many of whom are owned by Homeaway or Tripadvisor) are under increasing pressure to  increase revenues. Since the growth in new listings has slowed down, this means they will focus on getting more revenue out of their existing listings by offering various add-ons.

Having said that, the big sites get the most traffic and so, I plan to continue using them as a large part of my marketing. However, 2014 is probably also the year to start looking at other vacation rental site options to balance the mix.

It's going to be an interesting year: here's hoping it is even better than 2013!



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