It is a saying that aptly applies to owners of holiday homes and homestays that do not put all the eggs in one basket. For a holiday home owner, his first step to marketing his property is to list it in a vacation rental website. These websites are high on traffic, are highly ranked in search engines and give owners an easy-to-use interface to add his property details and images, etc. Plus, these vacation rental websites give guests the ability to add reviews and can drive travelers easily to your property listing, where they can book their vacation. Because most of these websites are highly secured, the inquires you receive via them are mostly genuine.
Vacation rental websites have various models of revenue generation. For instance, websites like HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, etc. charge owners a subscription fee to list in their websites, while there are others like TripVillas.com (Disclaimer: Tripvillas owns the Holiday Home Times) who don’t charge anything to list your property, but takes a commission on a booking.
Once you have decided to list your holiday home/ Homestay in one or several vacation rental websites, you need to first take into consideration a couple of things:
1. Target audience: Several vacation rental websites have good presence in a particular country or region, while they might have almost negligible presence in many other countries/ regions. For instance, websites like HomeAway.com have a good presence in the US and European markets, but are yet to make an impact in the Asian region. Meanwhile, websites like TripVillas.com – our publisher, have a good presence in the Asian markets but limited focus or coverage on the Western Hemisphere.
2. Owner oriented versus agent/ property manager websites: Many vacation rental websites allow property managers and agents to list properties of their clients. Because agents have more properties and are well equipped to market their properties more aggressively, genuine owner listings in most cases are pushed down in rankings and don’t show up in search results. Take for instance the Roomorama.com website. The website has a huge presence of property managers and agents posting the same property several times giving an impression of a junk inventory to travelers. As such, travelers may shun the website to search their vacation accommodation. So when you are listing your property make sure that you list in a vacation rental website that has good properties directly listed by owners themselves.
3. Paid versus free listings: I always recommend free listing vacation rental websites. The reasons being: (i) You need to pay only when you are earning. (ii) Because free listing vacation rental websites give you everything that a paid listing vacation rental website gives you, in terms of the owner interface, etc. (iii) Since free listing vacation rental websites earn when the owner gets bookings, they work harder to ensure that the properties listed in their website get maximum exposure, thus making your marketing efforts easier.
So based on my experience, I have listed 10 vacation rental websites. Based on their merits and region of operation you can list your property accordingly:
- Obviously, our parent – TripVillas.com: This website, headquartered in Singapore, is managed by a team which has good knowledge on the vacation home industry, due to which the website has made huge inroads in the Asian markets with some of the best holiday homes listed in it. The website offers a commission only model and one can easily register by clicking here. It has a two websites exclusively for Indian holiday home/ homestay owners too.
- Bharathomestay.com: The website is perhaps one of the very few websites in India that are entirely dedicated to fulfill the online marketing needs of India homestay owners. The website allowing owners to list their property for free. To register as a homestay host click here.
- VRBO.com: Part of the HomeAway Inc, VRBO.com, the website which specializes in vacation rentals by owners has always been receiving great reviews from both owners and travelers. This is the most trafficked and enjoys a loyal customer base within North America. Although the website has a good collection of properties, for the traveler, it is a daunting task to find one that is available for the dates he would to have his vacation.
- HomeAway.com: This paid listing website is probably one of the oldest vacation rental websites. Having said that, HomeAway.com we cannot recommend it for Asian vacation home owners unless you see your primary audience coming from the Western World.
- VacationHomeRentals.com:Although sometimes regarded as a worldwide vacation rental website, it actually has a good presence in the US. The website is not seen as a serious player in the Asian region. However, for North American home owners, it offers some great deals and goes at quite a discount as compared to Homeaway.
- Holidaylettings.co.uk:Although the website claims to be advertising more than 65,000 privately owned holiday cottages, villas and apartments in more than 116 countries worldwide, it actually has a good presence only in Europe. Since June 2010, the website has been wholly owned by TripAdvisor.
- Flipkey.com:Founded in 2007, this is the focus website by TripAdvisor Group. Owners need to pay to list their property but the listing fee is quite reasonable and they offer many specials. By listing in this website the property is automatically listed in the TripAdvisor website too, a source of good high quality traffic.
- AirBnB.com: The website has been in the market for some time now and has over 100,000 listings worldwide across 192 cities. However it has certain issues that go against the owner. Also be wary of contractors of Airbnb who approach owners on the pretext of clicking free professional photographs of their properties. The photographs they pay for are never given to them and if given are watermarked so that they can’t use them for their own use. The website in our opinion is worth a shot but careful screening is needed as the travelers here are of a much lower quality as compared to traditional vacation rental patrons.
- Roomorama.com: Earlier this year, the website was acquired by another vacation rental website, Lofty. I personally don’t recommend this website because it has a very strong presence of agents and property managers, which I feel is not good for the marketing of properties by individual owners. They also seem to yet be finding their feet with respect to their actual strategy moving ahead.