Traditional hotel companies are further deepening their expansions into the vacation rentals market.
On Monday, Marriott International announced its homesharing pilot with Hostmaker in London and just before that, Choice Hotels International announced the expansion of Vacation Rentals by Choice from 1,100 properties to more than 20,000 in 35 U.S. vacation destinations that include Orlando; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Maui; and Lake Tahoe, California.
Today, Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels announced that in an effort to boost its portfolio, it partnered with RedAwning.com, a vacation rental network which has more than 100,00 properties in over 10,000 destinations throughout North America and Europe.
Emeryville, California-based RedAwning acts like technology middleman between property managers and other platforms such as Airbnb, Expedia’s HomeAway and VRBO, TripAdvisor’s Flipkey, and Booking.com to develop a more consistent booking process for consumers.
With the new partnership between Choice and RedAwning, Choice Hotels becomes yet another platform through which property managers who use RedAwning can advertise their properties to consumers. And the more than 35 million members of the Choice Privileges loyalty program can also use their points or cash to book RedAwning’s properties via Choice Hotels’ websites.
“Our goal is to make vacation rental properties available wherever travelers shop, and we’re thrilled to be selected by Choice Hotels as a vacation rental supplier,” said RedAwning CEO Tim Choate. “This is a unique opportunity for us to present alternative accommodations alongside traditional hotels as an option for guests seeking more space. We believe that Choice customers represent a huge and ideal demographic for vacation property travel.”
“We’re pleased to have teamed with RedAwning, one of the largest collections of vacation rental properties, to further expand our portfolio,” said Steve Caron, vice president, Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels. “Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels understands that where guests stay during vacation is equally as important as the destination they choose, and we look forward to offering guests access to RedAwning’s expansive selection in key vacation destinations with the backing of the Choice Hotels brand.”
In addition to announcing its expanded portfolio, Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels also debuted a new enhanced website that was designed to be more user friendly and interactive and to offer instant booking capability for all properties.
Choice’s Vacation Rental Strategy
The vacation rentals strategy Choice Hotels is employing reflects shifts in the industry. It also demonstrates that hotel companies are increasingly more interested in participating in home rentals because they realize that it’s simply what consumers want, alongside traditional hotel product.
The fact that all of Choice Hotels’ vacation rentals are instantly bookable is especially notable because it’s a sign that instantly bookable vacation rentals are now the norm. Previously, property managers would have 24 or more hours to approve a booking for one of their listings, but consumer demand for more instantly confirmable listings has made the old practice less desirable. Many companies that offer vacation rentals, including Airbnb, Booking.com, and HomeAway have made recent pushes for more instantly bookable listings.
By partnering with a company like RedAwning as well, Choice Hotels is ensuring that its listings are maintained by professional property managers, similar to how Marriott is relying on Hostmaker to look after its Tribute Portfolio Homes in its London pilot.
It’s also working with a company whose primary objective is to make it seamless and easy for professional vacation rental property managers to manage the distribution of their listings online, as well as cover marketing and reservations and guest communication.
Providing tools to professional vacation property managers is key in a global vacation rental industry worth an estimated $138 billion. Last October, for example, we saw Airbnb debut new tools specifically designed to make it easier for property managers to list and manage their properties on Airbnb. These tools are integrated with more than 70 existing property management systems, making it easier for property managers who use property management systems like RedAwning’s to manage their listings on Airbnb. Airbnb, like Choice Hotels, acknowledged the importance of working with these property management systems providers in an effort to grow its vacation rentals business.
And like Marriott, Choice Hotels is also making sure that there’s some loyalty tie-in for guests who book these rentals.
A Choice Hotels spokesperson told Skift, “With Vacation Rentals by Choice, we work with professional management companies to maintain a consistent customer experience. And, we provide the benefits of our Choice Privileges program.”
While Vacation Rentals by Choice is primarily focused on traditional vacation destinations at the moment, it’s entirely possible that, perhaps, the company could consider expanding into more urban markets going forward. If and when it does, it’ll be a clear sign that hotel companies will continue to evolve to offer all forms of lodging, and that alternative accommodations are no longer alternative.