Vacation rental property owners around the world are constantly trying to increase their bookings and revenue. Many succeed, many don't. So what is the secret to their success? Why do some hosts make it and some don’t?
Homeowners, Property Managers, and Hosts all of whom enter the world of short-term rentals have one thing in common: they want their return on investment to be as high as possible. For their businesses to succeed, however, they must make sure their properties can be found by travelers. In a nutshell - __Maximize exposure = Maximum visibility + Maximum revenue. __
It doesn't get any easier than that!
Getting that formula right is however a challenge. Your booking calendar won't fill up simply because you open your vacation rental. By using a technique called multi-channel distribution, however, you can list your home on top travel sites.
Let's look at the advantages you stand to gain from listing your property on multiple vacation rental sites.
Listing your property on multiple platforms to expand your reach and diversify your booking sources is known as multi-channel distribution. In a multi-channel strategy, you can list your rental property/properties on Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, and your own direct booking website.
This can be done regardless of how many properties you manage. A multichannel distribution strategy isn't limited to large property managers. Even hosts with only one or a few listings can take advantage of it.
In the absence of a strategy to market your property to a large number of potential guests, your chances of getting bookings are reduced. Less revenue means fewer reservations. Thus, if you are able to reach a larger pool of potential guests, you are more likely to convert visitors into bookings. Furthermore, since the commission fee is collected only once you acquire a booking, there isn't much of a drawback to listing on all of the major distribution channels. By casting a wide net, you boost your chances of converting a booking without taking any risks upfront.
Let's take a closer look at the added benefits you stand to gain.
You can increase your exposure and reach by listing your properties on multiple channels. Advertising your listings on more booking sites will give them more exposure, thus making them more likely to be booked. Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com attract millions of travelers looking to book accommodations each month. Consider how many people you will reach if you list your properties on all of them!
A listing that is optimized - with the right number of photos and stand-out images, a comprehensive listing of amenities, a good description, etc - will result in more conversions.
In this manner, using a multi-channel distribution strategy helps you increase bookings, occupancy, and revenue.
In addition to allowing you to reach a wider audience, multichannel listings allow you to target specific audiences.
Based on their demographics, each booking site targets a different type of traveler. Digital Nomads, Business Travelers, Families traveling with children, and young budget-conscious guests, not to mention travelers with pets which is commonly seen nowadays.
You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket! Multiple channels of advertising allow you to become less dependent on one medium. A more effective booking strategy includes a variety of channels rather than relying solely on a site like Airbnb.
This is one of the most important aspects of multi-channel distribution for vacation rentals. You may wonder “Why”?
When you list your property on only one channel, the success of your business will be dependent on the success of another business. Is there a guarantee that your selected booking site won't lose large segments of its customers to a competitor, or even go out of business altogether? As you add new properties to your portfolio, you can build a more sustainable business by having multiple booking sources.
If you have a short-term rental property, vacancy rates are a primary concern.
In order to maximize your investment's profitability, you need to maintain a low vacancy rate. Regardless of whether the property is generating income, you will still have to pay for mortgages, utilities, insurance, etc.
If your calendar is based solely on a single short-term rental website, there is a high probability that there will be vacancies in it. Particularly if your property is located in a seasonal area, this is especially true during off-peak season. When you extend your marketing reach on a variety of channels, your number of bookings will increase and your vacancy rate will decrease. Which is the ultimate goal.
As a Property Manager or Host, your ultimate goal is to boost your rental income and subsequently positive gains from the property. `
If your exposure increases, you may be able to comfortably increase your nightly, weekly, or monthly rate. This may also help decrease your vacancy rate and decrease losses related to property damage. Through your increased marketing efforts, you can substantially increase revenue.
There is a strategy involved in listing a vacation rental on multiple channels. A certain degree of industry knowledge is also required, as well as time and attention. Despite this, anyone can learn how to do it.
To implement this method on your own, you will also need to keep the following things in mind:
Each site has its own requirements. There is no guarantee that your property will meet the mark on every channel. In light of that, keep in mind what each site is in need of at this time, whether it's updated cancellation policies or new cleaning protocols to address an ongoing crisis.
In the vacation-rental industry, content plays a pivotal role which includes writing descriptions, photos, amenities, and virtual tours. However, you must keep in mind that OTA sites give your content a score, and it's that score that determines where your property shows up in search results.
Due to this, ensuring your listing and its content are optimized is crucial, notably, 75% of clicks go to the top 15 positions in search results, so keep that in mind when you list your property.
If your property gets more five-star reviews, then it gets more bookings; more bookings mean higher ranking; higher ranking means more bookings, and so on. As a result, it is imperative that you collect positive guest reviews and display them online with every listing.
While the advantages are many there are also a few drawbacks when you decide to go ahead and list on multiple channels and advertise your space. Here are a few common aspects to look at,
While listing on multiple channels, you’ll need to keep the different commission rates of websites in mind. While listing on a Channel is free, the way they make their money is by charging a commission on every booking. This can vary between 3% - 20% of the cost of the booking. Though - this cost can be recovered by having increased bookings on a regular basis.
It is typically the website that handles cancellations, changes, and issue resolutions after a booking. Whenever something goes wrong, such as a cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances, travelers can be left with dealing with a large company and the impersonal customer service that often comes with it. This may also negatively impact their perception of your business.
The worst thing that can happen to a host is a double booking, and this is a common occurrence. In order to avoid booking two guests on the same day, you should keep your calendar updated on multiple channels. During the peak season, this can be a hassle and there is a possibility that you could upset a guest, which may result in a bad review. There is more work involved in listing on multiple channels. Manually listing on multiple platforms or using a variety of systems and processes can be ineffective, reducing the numerous benefits. Overbooking can be prevented with a centralized booking system with a channel manager.
A Channel Manager is a tool that allows property managers to publish and update their listings across multiple OTA channels from a central dashboard, so they can effectively scale their businesses.
The primary benefit of using a channel manager is the ability to automatically push all of your listings to as many OTAs as you want. Instead of relying on one website to promote a given listing, you can gain exposure to millions of people across multiple platforms without the massive, time-consuming undertaking of manual listing management.
Further, a channel manager significantly reduces your risk of inviting double bookings when listing on multiple channels, as you can count on the tool to reflect bookings made on one channel on the calendars of all the other channels you utilize. For example, if a property is booked through Airbnb, those dates will be blocked on the calendar for Booking.com, HomeAway, and any other channels you may be using.
A central dashboard for all of your listings on all of your distribution channels also enables quick adjustments, such as pricing or description changes that will take effect across all platforms.
Hostaway can help you protect yourself from double bookings. Hostway's channel manager provides a reliable and robust 2-way API connection to all major OTAs. Property managers can rest easy knowing that pricing, availability, minimum nights, and other crucial reservation data is seamlessly distributed across Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, and Expedia since we hold preferred/premier partner status with each.
Hostaway channel management extends beyond reservations, rates, and availability to include content, amenities, images, and review APIs. The Hostaway OTA integrations are among the deepest and most complete among vacation rental channel managers in the market.
Hostway's channel distribution includes major OTAs such as Airbnb, VRBO, Booking, Expedia, and TripAdvisor. The channel management further extends to niche booking channels such as Find Rentals and House Stay and to rising stars Google and Marriott.
Hostaway can help you get set up and guide you on how to list on multiple channels like a pro!
"Our channel manager is well-known within the industry because it offers deeper integrations with the channels that really matter to most property managers than any other channel managers out there. The amount of options available for amenities, special offers, rate structure, and content directly corresponds to the OTA's demands of showing each individual traveler the optimal property first. Our channel manager can deliver that, which is why OTA's such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking reward us by making us a preferred or elite partner."
__Marcus Rader, CEO, Hostaway __
You can synchronize all your bookings and rental calendars with the Hostaway channel manager. It is a powerhouse fully equipped to handle the growth of your rental revenue, multiple communication, and bookings. Your listings will be updated across all websites and you won't have to spend hours updating spreadsheets. This will also avoid overbooking.
In short, you'll have all your work centralized, and you'll save a ton of time when it comes to managing properties. You can then use that time to scale your business or improve your guest experience.
Partnering with Hostaway will help smooth out the process to the point where you hardly have anything to do at all. Our team of experts will not only place your listing on the top OTA sites but will also help you constantly optimize each listing for peak performance.
Our success team at Hostaway is available 24/7, all the while taking care of the needs of you, your guests, and when it comes to strong relationships with all the top OTA sites, we provide promotional opportunities that hosts can take advantage of.
Our recommendation is to list on as many sites as possible. As long as your channel manager supports - booking, syncing, and rental-calendar syncing. You should do everything you can to get your property in front of as many guests as possible. Then you can earn as much income as possible from your property. As long as you know how to manage them without wasting time and money, you’ll be met with a great opportunity. Your major win is in choosing the best channel manager for your vacation rental.
If you are serious about receiving bookings for your rental property, you should use a Channel Manager. With a Channel Manager tool, you can easily keep track of all your listings on each website, which is especially useful for Property Managers and Hosts managing multiple properties.
You may be wondering which OTA websites are available for you to use apart from listing on Airbnb. There are many more alternative booking sites you can explore. Each has a different rate for listings, so you will need to examine them closely to determine the best options for your market.
From our point of view, the best sites to use are - Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, House Stay, Find Rentals as well as Homes & Villas by Marriott International just to name a few amongst many we are integrated with.
As you can see, there are significant benefits that you can enjoy if you invest your time and resources into marketing your property across multiple booking sites.
That kind of holistic approach to performance optimization can help you establish your vacation property as a legitimate, substantial source of income. The key is exposure. You will reap the benefits and maximize your revenue by listing your rental on multiple sites and maintaining each listing.
Start exploring your options today so you can begin reaping the benefits.
Call the Hostaway team for a free demo and let our product experts give you actionable advice and you can discover how Hostaway can fit into your vacation business and create growth potentials for you in the process!