Learning from 2017 to prepare for 2018: A Holiday Rentals Guide
2017 was a fascinating and exciting year for the holiday rental industry. Whilst 2016 was indisputably turbulent, 2017 seemed to be a year of innovation and adapting to change.
In this guide we have compiled some key takeaways from 2017 for the holiday rental industry, and how you can use them to prepare your business for the year ahead:
Key 2017 takeaways
On June 24th 2016, the UK was shocked by the national announcement of the referendum result. However, despite the dramatic fall in the value of the pound (which has since continued to recover), this did not appear to dissuade people from travelling in Europe in 2017.
In fact, ABTA research has revealed British holidaymakers have taken more holidays in 2017 than in the last five years, although Statista survey data suggests that these holidays are to cheaper locations and for shorter durations of stay.
2) Google update
After monitoring the holiday rental market for some time, Google decided to test a beta program in the US that displayed holiday rentals, as well as hotels, in google maps by allowing users to select ‘accomodation type’ in search.
Given that “One in three travellers (33%) say they’d prefer to stay in a holiday rental (a holiday home or apartment) over a hotel” and ~84% of searches are made via Google, this update could prove to be monumental for the vacation rental industry.
3) HomeAway changes
HomeAway’s New Revenue Management Platform was a big industry disruptor in 2017. In launching MarketMaker, holiday rental owners were essentially able to compare the price of their property with others listed on HomeAway. As a result, rental owners/managers could ‘accept’ the best pricing suggestion offered by HomeAway – essentially enabling the platform to dictate market pricing.
4) The rise of millenial travel
Millennials (those born in the early 1980s – 1990s) have had a large influence on the holiday rental industry. Not only are they predicted to spend £1 trillion ($1.4 trillion) on travel per year in 2020, but they are actively seeking accomodation alternatives to hotels. What’s more, millenials are much more likely to book online, travel as a group, be smarter about budgeting, and seek new cultural experiences.
5) Mobile trends
The percentage of holiday bookings made on mobile continued to rise in 2017, with roughly a quarter of all bookings made on mobile in US and Europe, and a * third in the Asia-Pacific.
*This is further estimated to be up to a 40% rise in all digital travel sales in the US by eMarketer.
6) Business Travellers
The business travel market has continued to expand with companies choosing to a variety of platforms to book business trips with. What’s more, many more travellers are choosing to mix business with pleasure (otherwise coined ‘bleisure’)
In fact, according to a survey by Booking.com, 49% of business travellers extend their work trip to further enjoy the destination. This increases to a whopping 81% of entrepreneurs, as found by Founder’s Card.
7) TV shows
The vacation rental industry took a step into the limelight in 2017 with the release of two tv shows:
– Vacation Rental Potential by HomeAway
– A Sense of Place by Matt Landau
8) Sustainable and responsible tourism
As revealed in the 2018 travel trends report by Abta, 70% of people now believe that travel companies should help provide holidays that are more economically and environmentally-friendly to the local community.
At the forefront of this movement was the release of Sir David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet II’, which was the most-watched programme in 2017. This not only encouraged travellers to explore alternative destinations but also prompted them to do so more responsibly.
9) Experience-based travel
Upon launching its ‘experiences’ feature in 2016, Airbnb has lead the way for holiday rental businesses to provide more all-inclusive experiences for travellers. Aligned with this, there is a growing pressure on homeowners to go that extra mile for guests, e.g. by providing digital guides and recommending local experiences.
10) Wellness breaks
Wellness breaks or “Wellness Tourism” are holidays orientated around fitness, health and wellbeing. Incredibly, wellness tourism is expected to grow by more than 9% per year at its current rate (this is approximately 50% faster than the global tourism rate)
Preparing for 2018
2018 is looking set to be a stimulating year for those involved in managing holiday rental properties. Managers need to be prepared for changes in legislation,such as the European Union’s update to the Payments Service Directive (PSD 2) on the 13th January 2018, and the General Data Protection Regulations on the 25th May 2018.
Aligned with the takeaways highlighted above, here are some key pointers to consider for your holiday rental properties in the year ahead:
Brexit – If you have holiday homes in the UK, there will likely be a significant number of Brits opting for a ‘staycation’ as a result of the weak pound. Give your advertising and marketing a spin on the benefits of ‘staying local’ e.g. less travelling and saving money.
Millennials – What about your properties will millenials find attractive? And how are they likely to find you? These are just some key questions you need to identify in your buyer personas.
Mobile – It is vital that you ensure your website, vacation rental software, and booking apps (if you have them) are fully responsive to mobile. Your software, in particular, must have a secure and simple payment system to allow guests to book easily.
Business travellers – Typically a hotel-focused market, the move of business travellers into the holiday rental market is huge. Not only do these guests tend to stay longer, but will book to stay regardless of the time of year. See our business travellers could boost revenue blog for a guide on optimising for these travellers in 2018.
Sustainable tourism – Adapting your home to be more eco-friendly is a primary learning point from 2017. Simply having recycling facilities, encouraging guest to shop locally and educating guests on how to conserve water and energy in the home (e.g. in a digital guide) can go a long way. Both in terms of guests appreciation, and in terms of demonstrating you as a considerate business. See Hostfully’s guide for more tips.
Experience-based travel – This is an important lesson you can learn from Airbnb, in terms of both guest-satisfaction and in reducing costs. However, this requires a lot of research. For instance, surveying guests on what they enjoyed (and what they didn’t) alongside trialling different collaborations with local community members.
Wellness breaks – A lot of activities fall into the category of ‘wellness’ for instance, massages, exercise and healthy eating. Even if you don’t want to fully- embody this genre, it’s always beneficial to touch upon it. For instance, mentioning the local spa, great running routes, beautiful views or swimming facilities. Your guests will likely be on holiday to relax, after all.
Shows and events – Although watching or participating in TV shows may be way to learn about the travel market and raise awareness of your properties, one of the best (and simplest) ways of doing this is to follow market leaders such as Skift, Travolution, TravelMole, Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA), Serviced Apartment Summit Europe (2018)
How did you perform?
In addition to looking at industry trends, the best way to prepare for 2018 is to reflect upon your own performance in 2017. Consider:
– How many online bookings you made
– Your website conversion rate
– How well your website is optimised for search engines (SEO)
– Optimising your vacation rental software
By integrating a holiday rental software into your website such as iPro, you can streamline all of your online booking processes – from contact, lead & booking management, to email automation. This can lead to up to 250% growth in one year.
Want to find out more? Then request your free demo today! Make 2018 your best year to date.