Skift Take

It's clear that vacation rental hosts and property managers crave direct bookings, and many may be making inroads. Still, the marketing power of big brands is tough to compete with.

Despite lots of vacation rental industry talk about making inroads in attracting more direct bookings, a global survey of property managers and individual hosts reported those percentages were stable, if not decelerating.

That was one of the key findings in property management software vendor Hostfully’s 2022 Vacation Rental Industry & Hospitality Report.

The survey of 375 property managers and individual hosts (75 percent in the U.S., 13 percent in Europe, and 12 percent in the rest of the world) also found that direct bookings and referrals accounted for around 19 percent of reservations in 2022, down from 24 percent in 2020 and 21 percent in 2021. However, larger property managers reported a higher percentage of direct bookings than smaller property managers and individual hosts.

The 2022 survey was not an apples to apples comparison with previous years because this was the first year that the Hostfully survey included individual hosts as a separate category.

The size of a property manager’s portfolio skewed the findings on a number of fronts.

“What is fairly consistent and interesting from last year and this year is: As you grow in portfolio size you get more direct bookings as a percentage of your total bookings, you get fewer Airbnb bookings as a percentage of your total bookings, you get approximately the same amount of Vrbo bookings as a percentage of your total bookings, and you get more bookings as a percentage of your total bookings,” said Hostfully co-founder and President David Jacoby.

Property managers with 100 or more properties reported around 36 percent of reservations from direct bookings while those with only one property generated roughly 17 percent, the survey found. Source: Hostfully

The competitive environment heated up considerably in 2022 compared with pre-pandemic 2019 and 2021 for vacation rental property managers and individual hosts as portfolio expansion became the top growth strategy, the survey found. Some 80 percent of property managers and hosts indicated competition was more intense in 2022, versus 57 percent in 2020 and 61 percent in 2021.

Competition was particularly acute, according to the respondents, when the vacation rentals were positioned near major tourist attractions, including national parks.

In other key findings from the survey, Hostfully stated: “Revenue and income continues to be on the rise for most operators (although the trend is slowing), technology adoption is still climbing, and guest experience automation solutions have kept their place in post-pandemic vacation rental businesses.”

A majority of survey respondents indicated their revenue grew in 2022 compared with 2021, although the growth pace slowed. For example, around 20 percent of property managers and hosts said their revenue climbed 50 percent or more year over year in 2022. However, the 2021 survey, which didn’t include individual hosts, found that 26 percent of property managers generated revenue growth of 50 percent or more compared with 2020.

Hostfully stated: “Large portfolio managers continued to capitalize on the market rebound. In 2021, 12 percent of companies with 50 or more listings reported a loss of 20 percent or more, while 82 percent reported a gain of 20 percent or more. In 2022, none of the respondents with large portfolios reported a loss.”

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Tags: airbnb,, direct booking, expedia, future of lodging, hostfully, hosts, online travel, online travel newsletter, property managers, surveys, vacation rentals, vrbo

Photo credit: A Vrbo vacation rental in Trumansburg, New York as seen in June 2021. Kevin Oliver /

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