When a 67-year-old mom who doesn’t like computers goes online to book her next trip at villa in France, you know the short-term rental industry is going places. Travelers of all ages are now embracing short-term rentals, not just younger people who rely on smart phones and tablets to get around.
Cai Thomas, who leads the marketing team for U.K.-based Travelopo, says demand for short-term vacation rentals is growing as travelers want to be less mainstream and experience the world in a more private setting. The company has invested heavily to dig deeper into the areas it represents to find desirable vacation accommodations away from traditional holiday lodging.
Image via Travelopo
Delivering expert support for clients
Travelopo was founded in Mallorca ten years ago when the short-term rental industry started churning. In the last two years, it has improved its data infrastructure, its website and its sales efforts to keep up with a vacation rental industry that is expected to reach a worth of $167.9 billion by 2019.
In addition, the company has forged new relationships with partners like Kigo to upgrade connections, so available properties can be found anytime, anywhere. But, while their online presence has enhanced, Travelopo still relies on some good ol’ fashioned customer service to find beds for its clients.
“Our biggest selling point is, instead of acting like a portal, we have our in-house sales team,” Thomas said. “They are experts, especially across Europe, and have a phenomenal conversion rate. They take the stress and hassle away from clients having to find alternative properties. If you make an inquiry on our website and the property is not quite perfect, they will make sure they find an alternative for you.”
Image via Travelopo
Specializing in private accommodations
The strategy is designed to meet the changing face of the travel industry—one still influenced by Millennials, who are expected to spend $1.4 trillion on travel each year by 2020. While Travelopo caters to younger travelers, its target audience is made up of families who seek large, private accommodations near popular beaches or ski resorts.
The average weekly spend by Travelopo customers on vacation rental housing is about £3,000, compared to the industry average of £1,200. Most of the rentals are made during peak seasons and are within walking distance to attractions, shopping and restaurants.
To provide options, Travelopo is working diligently with channel partners and has bolstered search engines to find the many private accommodations that are popping up on the vacation rental landscape. It’s no secret that demand for accommodations other than a hotel or resort is growing. Nearly a third of travelers stayed in privately owned short-term rentals in 2015, a 24 percent increase from 2010, according to Forbes. In addition, the media giant says this year the private accommodation sector is expected to be worth $36.6 billion.
Embracing new technology and trends
To meet consumer requirements, Travelopo is adopting technology to accommodate a consumer base that books and pays online. They rely on property management systems, channel managers like Kigo that offer vacation rental software, customer relationship management, revenue management and rate monitoring technology.
Nearly 70 percent of turnkey bookings are made using property management software, and online payment is becoming the preferred method of settling up. By 2020, the travel industry projects having a higher percentage of online payments than any other industry.
Travelopo is embracing its new path with channel partners that provide the resources so its sales team can find the right property.
“The time, money and expertise being invested are getting us to the stage where we can work with channel partners,” Thomas said. “The reason we want to work with channel partners is to have that up-to-date, reliable property availability with fee and pricing information. That’s key to us to offer more alternatives to clients. If we work with a large channel partner, we have access to hundreds of thousands of additional properties for our clients.”
Even if it means digging through the weeds a bit to find something for a traveler who may not seem to be the ideal online vacation rental customer.
“Going back to our sales team, they are very good at finding properties where the rest of the market can’t always find them, when there is very high demand and very low stock,” Thomas said. “What sets us apart is the variety of the products from as many sources and partners as possible, and the expertise our team provides. That knowledge is second to none.”