Don't miss the forest for the trees: TripAdvisor is evolving into a well-rounded travel planning AND booking site. If hotel bookings on TripAdvisor eventually fall short of expectations it would be a big blow, but then tours and activities, restaurant reservations, vacation rentals, hotel metasearch and reviews can all play a role in taking up some of the slack.
As the vacation rental industry grows up, the gap between those players embracing modern ways of operating and the rest is widening. Given the high expectations of today’s travelers and the leg up provided by digital tools, this divide will widen and the savvier operators will quickly dominate.
The $100 billion industry vacation rental sector could be going into over-drive as it attracts growing interest from investors, major hospitality brands and travelers seeking alternate accommodations.
The Priceline Group is looking for a CEO who can handle disruption and big changes in technology and market conditions in coming years. Just look at the changes in the Group's accommodations mix as lodging alternatives are approaching half of the company's roster of properties.
The vacation rental sector is highly fragmented, which provides many opportunities for funded startups that can make themselves indispensable to owners by providing services and efficiencies.
Just when we thought this would be a done deal ... Even so, it's business as usual, and as long as the Vistana spinoff closes before the Marriott one does, there shouldn't be any problems for Starwood.
Now-former Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston's decision to emphasize organic growth, his insistence that all properties sold on Booking.com be online bookable and instantly confirmable, and his strategy to keep Booking.com solely focused on the hotel business all set his tenure apart from those of his peers at Expedia. If you can set aside his apparently reckless behavior for a moment, it's a shame Huston won't be around to see his strategy through or to pivot, as required.
To some extent, Expedia is molding HomeAway to its liking. Unlike Booking.com (for now, at least), HomeAway is backing off its goal of making all vacation rentals online bookable. Expedia is also adding apartments in urban areas to better compete against Airbnb and Booking.com.
TripAdvisor, Expedia, and other big booking brands will never have the buzz that Airbnb commands, but they do have the consumers. Whether or not they can get them interested in their urban products is another matter.
We'll go out on a limb and say that as consumers we'd really value a vacation rental booking site that cut out all the superfluous and duplicate listings. Despite expansion, we still see challenges on the metasearch side.