We all want bookings. Otherwise, what’s the point? Let’s take a look at the best websites to list your property on to get more bookings today.
If you’re new to the world of vacation rental property management it’s likely you have your eyes set on one of the following websites and it’s most likely that will be either Airbnb, Booking.com, or VRBO/HomeAway (acquired by Expedia Group in December 2015).
The more you dive into the weird and wonderful world of vacation rentals the more you will realize that a lot of these platforms are owned by big corporations. This means the diversity in the platforms is not really as it seems.
Many of these different platforms are more or less an exercise in marketing. Different platforms appeal to different audiences, but essentially they all pretty much do the same thing, just disguised differently.
Airbnb does have a simplistic user experience that seems to work for a lot of newbies.
It certainly doesn’t mean it’s the best, but it has become a common household name globally, and listing your property there is perhaps the easiest out of all these platforms. This means it has mass appeal.
However diversification is key to your sustainability in the world of vacation rentals.
That old saying
We’ve all heard the expression – “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This is a particularly true statement for people involved in vacation rentals.
Focusing all your efforts on one website, or booking channel can essentially mean that you can lose a steady flow of reservations almost overnight because you are always at the mercy of the people that operate that website.
With policies, operations, and search algorithms changing regularly, your listing may fall out of favor with the website and your sales will plummet.
Listing on multiple websites increases the complexity of your operation.
There will be certain pitfalls you want to avoid and this may be a reason you end up teaming up with a property management company so that you can diversify where your bookings come from and enhance your foothold in the market.
List Your Property Like a Pro
- Plum Guide
- Marriott Homes & Villas
Websites to List Your Property
Booking.com is perhaps the most popular website in the world for short-term holiday lettings. This website has an average visitor count of over 57 million visitors per month. There is no doubt about it – your audience is on booking.com.
Personally, it’s not the most beautiful platform and seems strongly set up for hotels however vacation rentals do well there as well and booking.com have certainly adapted their approach and attitude to cater for vacation rental property managers.
Booking.com regularly submits speakers for vacation rental summits and invites property managers to webinars and online communities.
Expedia attracts a lot of business guests due to the fact it creates package deals with flights. This is convenient for business travellers as Expedia acts as a one stop shop for their needs.
The major downfall of Expedia is that it takes away a lot of control and flexibility from the property manager and I would not recommend Expedia for a newbie to the vacation rental world. It really comes across as a platform aimed at professionals in the vacation rental and hotel industries.
Hotels.com is owned by Expedia and is one of the lesser-known booking websites. The fact is if you are on Expedia you will be automatically on Hotels.com. There is no clear advantage of this platform other than the fact it’s another way for guests to get to you.
You may not even choose to be listed on hotels.com but the fact you are listing on Expedia means you will be listed there by default.
You’ll find the more you list with these online booking engines the more likely you will find yourself listed on channels you didn’t even know about.
There is really not much you can do about this. It’s how this world operates and honestly, it does no harm to be listed in multiple online locations.
Essentially it’s about one conglomerate increasing its market share in an attempt to monopolize the industry. A lovely story we can all be part of.
Plum Guide is a dark horse in the world of vacation rentals. They are one of the smaller online booking engines but they are creating waves with their quality over quantity approach. Which is refreshing.
The good people at Plum Guide insist on scaling up quality assurance and ensuring their hosts reach a certain standard before listing with them.
It’s exciting to watch Plum Guide grow as they have carved out a niche within the vacation rental online booking market.
Instead of competing, they have created their own category. One could say they are the Brew Dog of the vacation rental world.
Brew Dog is a brewery and pub chain based in Ellon, Scotland with an annual turnover of more than 55 million GBP. Instead of competing with other mainstream breweries, they created their own unique category and as a result, they have excelled and taken the world by storm. Let’s hope Plum Guide do the same.
Everyone knows Airbnb from a guest’s point of view and from the point of view of the property manager. However, despite their friendly image, Airbnb can be tough and ruthless when it comes to how they handle their property managers and private hosts.
The platform clearly favors the guests over it’s hosts and is not shy about making that very clear to you. However they do their best to hide their attitude towards hosts behind corporate smiles and PC language.
With that said, Airbnb owns such a monstrous market share that if you are new to the business, they can almost become the oxygen that gets your vacation rental efforts off to a positive start.
Hosts can and do work very successfully with Airbnb. Their power in the industry cannot be ignored. They are heavy weight contenders that built their image based on appealling to home owners that want to make some extra cash on the side.
However, as Airbnb has grown exponentially, they have become increasingly corporate and have essentially lost their image as a friendly option for generating passive income.
They are now in the realms of the other giants of the online short-term letting world and serve hotels and every other type of vendor you can imagine.
Airbnb have lost what made them unique, but are perhaps too big to fail at this point.
TripAdvisor is a company that was hugely trending at one point, but recently they have fallen into oblivion.
Should you list there? Yes, you should, as you have no reason not to. They are still a well-known name and carry with them a degree of credibility as people do seem to trust their reviews.
If you ask me, TripAdvisor has suffered a major identity problem. If Airbnb aren’t careful they will suffer a similar fate.
A possible reason for the fall of TripAdvisor is the fact it is owned by Expedia and it appears obvious Expedia have one thing on their mind and that is to eat up the competition and increase market share. In this case at the expense of TripAdvisor’s identity.
I see a reemergence of TripAdvisor however and that’s why I think it’s important to be there.
TripAdvisor will become the alternative option and it will have it’s day again. It needs new leadership and a clear vision.
As of now, you could be on TripAdvisor to book a room or find a local vegan restaurant demonstrating a clear lack of focus.
The vacation rental world is waking up to the ambition of Chinese people to travel more. Agoda give you access to this market.
The problem with Agoda is that you are positioning yourself in a market you most likely know nothing about. Pushing your properties with the same attitude that you use on other websites like booking.com and Airbnb.
This is naive and it’s likely your property will just sit somewhere in obscurity on the online world that is Agoda.
Agoda is a platform to be understood and not a platform to be passively used in the hope you get some bookings.
The issue is Agoda don’t have the resources to support you on your journey, so this is very much up to the host or property manager to uncover Agoda’s secrets.
MisterBandB is a gay friendly online space for gay people looking for hosts that embrace and completely accept that they are gay guests.
Sure I’d like to live in a world where this attitude is just the norm but the fact is that there are enough gay people out there that feel more comfortable booking through a gay-friendly platform.
It would be a challenge to host a property that is not gay-friendly but the fact you as a host are on a gay-themed platform shows that you are actively reaching out to them and this is the appeal of it.
I’m delighted MisterBandB exists and is pursuing it’s mission to create a more inclusive world though the world of vacation rentals.
MisterBandB does particularly well with vacation rentals in Tel Aviv especially in the summer when Tel Aviv host their Gay Pride parade.
VRBO or HomeAway, much like TripAdvisor this is another company experiencing an identity crisis. However they do focus on vacation rentals, they just don’t know if they are based in the UK or the USA or if they are called VRBO or HomeAway.
I don’t mean to be a critic, but whoever is in charge of their branding should be fired. Honestly how hard can it be to get that right?!? Just pick a side people.
If you have being paying attention to the article, it will be of no surprise to you that VRBO is owned by…. you guessed it Expedia.
Expedia like taking over companies and destroying their brand apparently.
VRBO is however an excellent example of how different online platforms suit different countries.
For instance, VRBO is great at getting guests for Italy and less great at getting guests for Israel. It’s good to know and encourages us all to diversify.
Marriott Homes & Villas
You may not have heard about Marriott Homes & Villas and that’s ok. This platform is not accessible to the public in terms of hosting your property. Unlike the other popular platforms, you must be selected to work with Marriott Homes & Villas.
Happy Owner through its parent company Sea N’ Rent is one company that has been selected.
Marriott Home & Villas is more like Plum Guide but on steroids. The level of detail you have to go through as a property manager to get approved by Marriott Homes & Villas is mind-blowing.
However this is why if you see a company that has properties approved by Marriott Homes & Villas you can take it as a massive positive indicator in you choosing to work with them.
See one of our Marriott Home & Villa’s property rental listings in Tel Aviv.
As with Agoda Trip.com (formally called cTrip) is an online booking platform based in China meaning it is the go to website if you want to attract more Chinese tourists.
This website is basically the Chinese equivalent of Booking.com. It’s not for newbies. To be listed here you’d really want to be working with a property management company.
In the near future, we will see more and more companies hosting their properties directly with Trips.com because the Chinese enthusiasm for international travel is forever increasing it makes sense to take the time to invest in understanding this platform.
If you get anything from this article, please take this gem with you. The single best place for you to list your property is your own website, whereby you develop your own brand.
Your website is what will differentiate you from your competition. It will enable people to book with you directly (meaning you earn more) and it will increase the likelihood of you getting repeat business.
Now if you wanted to be listed everywhere most likely you will need to work with a credible property management company.
You would want to do this because property management companies such as Happy Owner have the backend software to coordinate the operation so that there are no double bookings and pricing and availability are syncing and managed across all websites simultaneously.
This is a complex operation that requires vacation rental career professionals and industry-specific software. It’s a full-time job with many moving parts.
There are many advantages of working with a property management company, certainly being listed across the biggest listing websites in the world for vacation rentals is one of them.
If you want to read about other advantages of working with a property management company go to this article 10 Great Advantages of Working with a Property Management Company
Have you got a property in Tel Aviv that you’re considering renting out as a vacation rental?
Set up a call with Happy Owner today and see if we can help you with earning the most from your property.
Scott D. Renwick is the Head of Operations at Sea N’ Rent Ltd., working with them since 2015. His skills have helped the company structure its operations to ensure stability and future growth in the property management business.