HomeAway Reaches 1 Million Live Listings

Homeaway1Million

With recent news swirling around the Priceline Group’s announcement that it agreed to acquire OpenTable for $2.6 billion, the travel industry now turns its focus to vacation rental giant HomeAway and whether it might be the next big prize that a Priceline, Expedia or Google might scoop up.

Skift writers Jason Clampet and Dennis Schaal sat down with HomeAway’s CEO Brian Sharples to discuss this subject, and others surround the vacation rental giant including their place in the hospitality industry, potential strategic considerations, and the future of the vacation rental space.  Here are some of the key points highlighted in the interview. Continue reading

3 Trends to Help Understand Millennial Travelers

millennials

Millennials are constantly changing the way marketers look at the business landscape, and the travel industry is no exception to this rule.  These current 20-34 year olds represent the next rising wave of consumers across the globe, but what does this mean for your business?

Millennials bring their own unique set of expectations, behaviors and preferences in what they want and how they want it, and this extends to their travel experiences.

As an example, millennial travelers are quick to seek out the wireless connection upon arrival to the hotel while other travelers might make decompressing from their travels a priority.  Going hand-in-hand with this, while other travelers might collect stories to share one-on-one when they return home, younger travelers tell their stories online in real-time as they travel from one point to the next.

Skift and Amadeus, two leading travel industry news and research resources recently released three trends to help property owners and managers better understand this unique age group and their travel needs.

1. Explorers, Never Tourists
Millennials travelers want to explore their destinations and hate the idea of being considered tourists.  These travelers crave adventure and see out unique authentic  experiences while traveling.  ResortsandLodges.com travelers are no different.  Our travelers are not trying to book a room, they want to plan and book an experience.

Many millennials are craving adventure and seek out unique and authentic experiences while traveling.  Instead of taking the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, a millennial traveler will likely take the stairs and share a self-designed photo collage of the path to the top on Instagram.

2. Customization is Key
Millennial travelers favor an a la carte menu of logistics, amenities, and activities when planning their trip to create a highly personalized experience.  According to Skift, they value a distinctive experience that aligns with their individual identity and to display on social media.  They seek a stimulating “touch and feel” environment that still takes them to a different world.  This often includes unique excursions and international destinations that allow them to establish credibility on a subject or region.  Being able to share a display this knowledge and skill set publicly is of high value.

In addition to taking a customized trip, millennial travelers expect travel brands to provide them with personalized content, from airfare, accommodations and beyond.  For travel brand, along with price and value considerations, this personalized interaction is key to relationship building and increases the likelihood that the traveler will return on their next trip.

3. Technology Enables Communication and More
It’s no surprise this generation of travelers is more tech-savvy.  Having grown up with mobile devices and enhanced technology for the past decade or more, this group realizes the importance of communication through social media in an attempt to keep in touch with close friends and family.

Technology also provides an added sense of power as millennials access vast amounts of information any time they desire.  They can be savvy consumers in an unfamiliar destination by comparing prices, reading reviews and getting tips from blogs during their trip.

Millennial travelers are most comfortable combining the “best of both worlds” as they are channel agnostic.  They want the speed and convenience of an online purchase, and also value the comfort and security that constant connectivity brings, in the event they need assistance while traveling.

Priceline Continues to Add Key Pieces

Priceline

In a time when acquisitions, mergers, and partnerships have become the norm, one company in particular seems to be positioning itself as a future leader in the travel space.  That company is Priceline, and their recent acquisitions highlight an attempt to improve both ends (B2B and B2C) of the sales experience.

On June 10, Priceline announced the acquisition of buuteeq, Inc., a leading digital marketing platform for hotels worldwide.  Buuteeq’s cloud-based marketing software helps hoteliers manage their brand and drive bookings with responsively designed websites, robust user analytics, and intuitive content-management tools. Continue reading

ResortsandLodges.com Releases Enhanced Website

enhancedwebsite

The past six months have been full of growth and development at ResortsandLodges.com. The company entered the online bookings segment of the travel industry with the release of the RALBook availability search in January. Now, to ensure that millions of travelers around the globe are enjoying their travel research, planning, and booking experience on our site, we have officially released the newest version of ResortsandLodges.com.

“Our goals with the newest website release centered around providing better traveler interaction and a better way to display information,” said Nic Regis, UI/UX Designer at ResortsandLodges.com. “We wanted the design to provide a solid medium that helps meet goals for both our business partners and millions of travelers who use our website to plan and book unique experiences.”

“We also kept our iPad and other tablet using travelers in mind, which is reflected in our larger image size and some of the more interactive features in the new release,” added Regis.

Enhanced Search Options

EnhancedRALSearch

Some of the most visible changes travelers may notice when they begin planning and researching their next trip on ResortsandLodges.com are the new enhanced search options.  In addition to using the classic ResortsandLodges map to search for their next vacation, travelers can also click into the individual resort type icons located below the map and search area as seen in the image above.

Check out what else is new on the enhanced ResortsandLodges.com Website.

ResortsandLodges Launches Enhanced Marketing Center

Client Center1

ResortsandLodges.com recently launched its enhanced marketing center, making it easy for clients to track campaign performance, manage online reservations taken through the RALBook availability search, and ensure that the information on client business listings is up to date.

The new marketing center features simplified navigation, and within the Activity, Business Listings, and Reports tabs, ResortsandLodges.com clients have the opportunity to personalize their unique business listing, track campaign performance, and so much more! Here is a small sampling of what the new marketing center allows properties to do:

Real-Time Chat & Support
Benefit – Allows properties to quickly connect with knowledgeable customer support specialists.

Robust Lead Management Tools
Benefit – Allows property managers to quickly identify and connect with their hottest qualified leads.

Streamlined Account Management
Benefit – Update high-resolution images, video, deals, packages, and listing information all from one screen.

Online Bookings
Benefit – Properties can sync all of their available rooms through the RALBook availability search, as well as manage and approve reservations through their newly enhanced marketing center.

Travel Widgets

NewWidgets4

Also new to the ResortsandLodges.com Marketing Center are website widgets available to display on a property’s homepage. If a property has been featured in any of our Top Lists, that property can attach a “Top Property” widget to their homepage. This is an easy way to show third-party validation as a top property, and links travelers back to the Top List in which a client is featured.

Similarly, the ResortsandLodges.com Traveler Rating Widget signifies that a client’s business listing has an average traveler rating of four stars or more (on a scale of five).

If you have a ResortsandLodges.com premium business listing, and would like to check out your enhanced Marketing Center, click here.

If you are interested in learning more about getting listed on ResortsandLodges.com, click here.

VRMA Trends: Q2 Rental Trends to Watch

VRMA11

VRMA recently released its Q2 Vacation Rental Industry Trends for 2014, which focused on two new industry trends, as well as some nuances on trends already observed.

Consolidation
This was one of the new trends discussed in the quarterly review, but is certainly not a new concept in this segment of the hospitality industry.  HomeAway and TripAdvisor have been buying up smaller companies in the vacation rental space for years.  Their appetite for acquisitions is so insatiable that each company has its own page on Crunchbase dedicated to the topic. Continue reading

Survey Says: Top Vacation Rental Listing Sites

Listing Sites

As vacation rentals continue to grow as a vital segment of the travel and hospitality industries, it is important to gauge the feelings of rental owners and managers with regard to listing sites, that make it possible to showcase their properties to millions of travelers around the world.

In this vain, NeedMoreRentals.com carried out one of the largest independent surveys of holiday/vacation rental owners and managers relating to their use of popular listings sites.  The company surveyed 684 respondents in 47 countries.  Here are some of the finding from ‘Listings Sites – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’.

Which listing sites are used by survey respondents?

  • A total of 102 listing sites were noted for marketing their properties.
  • The leading sites by overall numbers were HomeAway.com, VRBO, Airbnb, FlipKey, HolidayLettings, Booking.com, OwnersDirect, HomeAwayUK and House Trip.

On which sites do advertisers not complete listings and why?

  • The leading sites for incomplete listings are Airbnb, HomeAway, OnlyApartments, Booking.com, HouseTrip and Wimdu.
  • The main reasons for unfinished listings are that they are time-consuming, can be complicated, they are not free, they do not integrate with an owners calendar, and there is no help to list multiple properties.

What are the biggest concerns about listing sites?

  • The most common concerns owners and managers have with listing sites are spiraling cost, lack of enquiries, hidden guest details, payment not being received until after the guests’ arrival, and the listing process being too time-consuming.

To learn which listing sites provide the best level of customer service, produce the most leads, and which sites are not recommended for vacation rental owners and managers, click here.

Mobile Strategies to Engage Travelers

HSMAI

Today, communication with your guests when they are on the road (and spending the most) is not just commonplace, but essential.  It is estimated that in 2014, 40% of leisure travelers and 36% of business travelers use mobile search engines to find hotels, and 58% of spending on travel is done once the travelers has left home.

By the end of 2016, there will be more online searches on mobile than on traditional desktops.  People now treat mobile devices as extensions of themselves, communicating with friends, family, companies and brand whenever and however they choose. Continue reading