Skift Take

Once a cottage industry operated by entrepreneurial property owners, today’s billion dollar vacation rental market is undergoing massive growth, driven by digital platforms that are evolving in tandem with its users' needs.

This sponsored content was created in collaboration with a Skift partner.

The vacation rental landscape has evolved tremendously in the last 15 years or so. Once the domain of residential property owners who would rent their homes, apartments, condos, or resorts commercially, the vacation rental market has transformed into a billion dollar industry that has moved into the consumer and travel industry mainstream.

According to Skift’s 2017 Research report, The State of the Global Vacation Rental Market, “In terms of revenue, certain estimates point to the industry reaching a global market valuation of $169 billion through 2018.” Industry leaders interviewed for the report valued today’s U.S. vacation rental market at $30 billion alone. Meanwhile, a 2018 Skift survey conducted for the Decoding the Modern Vacation Rental Technology Landscape report found that half of the high-income U.S. travelers surveyed (with a combined household income of more than $100,000) reported staying in a vacation rental at least once, up from 36 percent in 2017.

The vacation rental industry has significantly expanded, both in terms of profits and customers, thanks to the digital technologies that have made it easier for travelers to book vacation rentals, as well as for vacation rental managers to market their properties.

Airbnb and the Next Phase of the Vacation Rental Market

Airbnb is responsible for an average of 2 million guest stays nightly and has been the driving force behind 400 million guest arrivals across 191 countries since the company’s launch in 2008. The company is one of the main platforms fueling the shifts in the vacation rental space.

The platform is known for its unique lodging offerings –– and more recently, its “Experiences,” designed and led by locals. Although Airbnb was initially built for individuals to share their homes, the platform has expanded considerably to include property managers and boutique hotel owners, and the company is prioritizing their unique technology and distribution needs.

These industry professionals need to make sure they’re offering guests the right accommodation options –– at the right time and price –– to stand out in a competitive market and provide travelers with the authentic, yet seamless, experiences they’re looking for. Airbnb is focusing on building deeper relationships with property managers and hotel owners by supporting a variety of inventory, as well as a range of host and experience categories.

“Airbnb is a master of the short-stay rental, and it has helped us manage these visits easily. I love the ease with which you can change the rate, change the guests, or send a special offer. It makes it really easy to be fluid,” said Galen Newman, accommodations manager at Sandbanks Vacations & Tours, a vacation rental company and specialty tour provider in Ontario, Canada. Sandbanks Vacations & Tours is just one of many hospitality businesses that has seen results after using Airbnb’s enhanced tools for listing, calendar, and reservation management –– its business has increased year-over-year on Airbnb. “In general, short stays have increased revenue by 25 percent this year,” Newman said.

New Tools for Professional Hosts

Airbnb now offers a suite of tools that makes the platform a viable distribution channel as these lodging professionals look to reach today’s travelers. New features enable hosts to manage and optimize multiple properties and listings at scale on Airbnb. These include:

Enhanced listing management: Improved searching and sorting increases efficiency, and enhanced editing functionality allows hosts to quickly make updates across multiple listings for things like additional fees and charges, amenities, cancellation policies, and house rules.

Improved calendar and reservation management: The pro multi-calendar gives hosts full visibility into rates, availability, and reservations across all listings in one view. Among the new calendar’s additional pricing and availability settings is the ability to create detailed seasonal rule sets and save them for future use. The reservations page now includes better navigation capabilities as well as a downloadable reservations list and calendar syncing.

Pro Marketing Page: Hosts with multiple listings can also promote their business and their properties to guests directly on Airbnb with their own personalized page. This page lets hosts showcase their properties and allows guests to search exclusively across their inventory –– and see their reviews –– via a customizable pro marketing page with a unique URL.

Partnering with Next-Gen Technology Providers: Airbnb has been adapting new technology designed specifically to meet the needs of professional hosts and hoteliers who already use existing software to manage their business. A growing network of property management software and channel providers has been integrated into the platform over the past three years. Most recently, the company announced a set of Preferred Software Partners, comprised of select providers who have met or exceeded technical performance benchmarks and have built integrations to support all key features. The new partnerships help Airbnb deliver greater functionality to hosts who want to integrate with the platform through their existing system.

More Tools in the Making: Additional tools will launch in 2019. New functionalities will include support for teams working on Airbnb, with the ability to add multiple users to the same host’s account for better communication and listing management. Airbnb will also be releasing expanded performance reporting for professional hosts, as well as support for more complex business needs, such as occupancy taxes and pre-calculated pricing.

Travelers seeking authentic experiences are a broadminded audience. They know that what they want from a trip –– and from their accommodations –– can come in any number of forms. But like vacation rental managers and hotel owners, they demand choice and the flexibility to select products and services that fit their changing needs. Now, Airbnb is enhancing its offerings for all of these audiences.

To learn more, visit

This content was created collaboratively by Airbnb and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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Tags: airbnb, digital, rentals and shares

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