Ask any of my clients what I think about holiday rental booking portals of the global kind and my response will be an eye roll, followed by a huff and puff and then a polite “don’t get me started…maybe a discussion for another time when we have… like… ALL DAY!”.
I started the Welcome In journey as an owner of a portfolio of two holiday rentals. Actually I started with one in the Perth Hills of Western Australia, followed by another corporate short term rental in the Perth CBD. I felt like I took to holiday rental management and marketing like a duck to water I think because I had the commerce and grass roots tourism background but also because I just really enjoyed managing these little micro businesses. I remember the thrill of seeing my first enquiries roll in and then bookings eventuate. Turns out we tapped into a niche market in the Perth Hills and we enjoyed an average of 75% occupancy.
I have to say that my holiday rental venture was kickstarted by the advent of Stayz.com.au. Back then it was a much smaller start up operation. When I signed up and listed my holiday rental it seemed to provide management infrastructure that was useful especially the online enquiries, calendar, cleaners log, reviews and a few other features that I thought were quite nifty. It was like your own cost effective website that wasn’t actually your own website at all. Some holiday rental managers enjoy this for others, who are somewhat digital marketing savvy, well we went on to become a little more independent by developing our own website, Facebook pages and so on.
Fast forward a decade and you can now pick from many global booking portals to list your holiday rental. Stayz has now been acquired by Expedia, which was purchased off HomeAway who bought Stayz off Fairfax and down the chain to the original founders. Many a savvy business tycoon has invested in the global proliferation of the sharing economy. You can now list your holiday rental on Stayz, HomeAway, AirBnB, Wotif, TripAdvisor, Booking.com among many other global holiday rental booking portals.
You can also look on shore in Australia and consider portals such as www.australianholidayrentaldirectory.com (ha ha had to throw that one in) and our new partner www.holidaypaws.com.au. There are many more that I will allow you to research yourselves by simply typing in “list your holiday rental in Australia” or something similar.
Be mindful that there are sites that will generate enquiries. These are usually the large booking portals who have the funding to invest in marketing. They have the ability to generate leads and convert bookings but it comes at a price. The price to list the property, possibly the price of a commission, the price of your time to manage the listing and if you’re calendars are not synced to your own independent booking system that time equates to A LOT of time managing multiple calendars to ensure they all match so you don’t end up with a double booking! ARRGGHHH! Double bookings are what nightmares are made of!
I recommend that you do your research when you consider which booking portals to list with. Do they;
1. Allow for direct links to your own website so the enquiry or booking can be made direct?
2. Allow ICAL calendar integration or syncing if they don’t allow a direct link to your own website?
3. Charge a commission? Who pays it? The guest or you and if you then how simple is that process?
4. Affiliate with channel managers?
We’ve recently partnered with Holiday Paws, a pet friendly holiday rental booking portal in Australia. Although they do not allow for a direct link to your own website or property listing you can list your property free of charge and the guest is charged a commission on a reasonable sliding scale depending on the value of the booking. Holiday Paws will set up your listings for you and will allow integration with your own calendar where possible. Essentially the guest makes the booking on their site, they take a deposit to secure the booking, they direct the guest to you to complete the booking and they forward on the deposit minus the commission. It’s a new way of doing business and I kind of like the idea that the holiday rental manager can still maintain control over the booking and that the site is merely a place to advertise a property and attract guests to start the booking process.
I have come across many stakeholders who ask me if I have listed my properties with this or that booking portal. My answer is usually yes I have heard about them and no I don’t list with all of them. Mainly because I don’t just jump on the bandwagon and list with every site. My time is precious and I know that it will be eaten up if I have to learn a new booking portals own systems and duplicate the same process across each portal. Load the property description, load the images, add the fee schedule, block out the calendar of bookings made in various locations and so on. I then have to log into each all the time and keep on top of enquiries. I prefer to work with a few portals. I spend time getting to know their product and systems well, how to maximise conversion and most importantly I ensure that I work with booking portals that encourage me to develop my own independent digital marketing strategy. Those that understand that they are only one piece of the long-term sustainability puzzle.
If you have enjoyed this article maybe you’d like to subscribe (free) to the Welcome In e-news. I try to publish these every few months to a community of holiday rental managers in Australia. I encourage you to make contact with me if you have any queries about any aspect of your holiday rental management journey. If I cannot assist you I can certainly point you in the right direction. I am well connected with niche industry holiday rental stakeholders in Australia.