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Last week we released our latest report in the Skift Trends series, The Vacation Rental Technology Ecosystem.
Below is an extract. Get the full report here to get ahead of this trend.
A big value proposition for partnering with a vacation rental distribution partner is reaping the benefits of a modern, fast and content-rich website. The best sites are evolving their search engines to best match guests and hosts based on their respective needs. They’re giving searchers more accurate results that are close to exactly what they’re looking for; and conversely ensuring hosts are receiving requests from guests that fit their wants.
The concept of matching and connectivity is essential to delivering a site’s value proposition.
“The same way you’ve seen Booking.com evolve using social stimuli, those tools and techniques will be adopted into the search algorithms that are used on (vacation rental) sites,” says Homestay CEO Alan Clarke. “It’s only natural that as a platform’s understanding of host/guest gets better, the recommendations and matching capabilities will improve.”
Jeff Hurst, chief strategy officer at HomeAway, says HomeAway is continually improving the way it matches travelers with vacation rentals, primarily through an algorithm that determines where properties are displayed in search results.
“By making their property online bookable, maintaining accurate calendars and rates, responding quickly and offering secure payment options, owners and property managers are providing a better overall experience, so HomeAway rewards that behavior by driving more travelers to those properties,” he says. “The features travelers value vary depending on geography, so the position of listings in search results varies across HomeAway sites accordingly.”
HomeAway places an emphasis on accurate locations and map-based search functionality, Hurst says.
For TripAdvisor, which lets travelers search through 700,000 properties, the goal is to surface only those that exactly match what they need. Users can search broadly by destination, dates and number of bedrooms, or focus on a specific set of needs. They can narrow search results by a certain amenity—such as a private pool, yard, parking or grill—or by a price range, a specific neighborhood within that destination, or even if they prefer to pay online.
For those who choose to avoid the mega distribution portals, search-engine optimization and search-engine marketing are helping bridge the gap. Many managers, under-equipped in SEO, still have a lot to gain in this area. SEO and SEM give renters the opportunity to make the most out of individual websites. They’re good long-term investments that help smaller properties diversify from over-dependence on distribution partners.