Over the past week HomeAway has taken the last bit of direct interaction between guests and owners away. Opting for a more indirect channel of communication through their marketplace. Granted you can still fill out the contact form and hope the owner gets it and calls you. The question is with all the new technology being pushed in the the vacation rental space, is it helping you search or simply forcing you down a path that helps the marketplace?
Most properties on major marketplace (AirBnb, HomeAway) are monitored and scored by owners response rate within the marketplace. So rather than calling the traveler, if they get any access to direct contact info at all owners simply reply through the marketplace. If they don’t do this their listing falls down the list of results. Now the owner that actually calls back, their home may be at the bottom of your search results for not replying through the marketplace. Their adds effectiveness and placement in search results also relies on getting a traveler to book through the marketplace. This is not for the travelers benefit but so the marketplace gets their commissions from the owners and fees from the travelers.
Wait, what about the traveler? It sounds like all these new changes favor the billion dollar empires rather than provide a better experience for the traveler. Properties that show first to the travelers are the ones most lucrative to the marketplace and not the best suited for the traveler. This why you see a broader search area to pull in more top performing properties despite the ideal location. Travelers will also experience recommendations of 1 and 2 bedroom homes when they are clearly looking for a 4 bedroom.
What do travelers want in search results?
- Location/ Maps
- Unique Amenities
- Sleep Count / Number of Beds
- Quality Pictures
- Contact with the Owner
Vacation rentals are not hotels and travelers want to get details before booking. Booking a hotel is simple, travelers pick a convenient location that has a nice online presence. A traveler knows what to expect heading into a hotel. However vacation rentals have so many more factors including the owner themselves. A good owner can make a big difference in not only the booking process but the overall experience, all the more reason for direct contact.
Taking all the changes in major marketplaces, travelers are finding relief in sites like Tripz.com that connects travelers directly with vacation rental owners with no marketplace in between. Search on the map find the perfect location and home to book truly direct from the owner. There are more choices than ever out there for travelers but very few protecting the direct connection with rental property providers and travelers.