By Brett Parry, CMO, Streamline Vacation Rental Software–Many of us have heard “Do what you love” or “Follow your passion.” For most people, these remarks represent a fantasy that is not achievable. This sudden realization can turn a smile into sour disappointment. One of the most striking things I have experienced over the past thirteen years in the vacation rental industry is that we are here because the industry stole our hearts, and we love what we do. It is an industry packed with growth, innovation, exploration, independence, opportunity, community, and more. As our industry evolves, it is important that we fight to protect it. Entrepreneurial spirit has been the fire igniting our success, and the same fire and sense of community can ensure this industry thrives.
Our ultimate mission is to inspire people to travel and to book vacation rentals. We are changing travel around the world. We offer a new and valuable travel experience for many people, especially families and groups. The traditional hotel stay is great, but it is limiting, and it’s only one possibility within the entire travel sector. Over the past several years, vacation rentals have become mainstream. Our actual market size is expanding, but we need to continue spreading the word while elevating the guest experience.
As with any sector, quality infrastructure can mean the difference between success or failure. In our industry, we need to identify the most effective organizational and community structure to combat current and future challenges. There are powerful, large-scale forces aligned with local grassroots movements that threaten the very existence of vacation rentals. This is a fight we should all be in together. Reversing legislation is more difficult than establishing favorable legislation. We need to form and support the appropriate networks and associations to protect the industry and to win local battles. The best possible approach is to be proactive instead of reactive. We need organized, coordinated efforts—both internally and in our communities—to take on this issue.
It is time for our people to step up and lead. It is critical that industry voices collaborate to refine messaging and organization. Our ability to react and adapt to any situation needs to become more sophisticated, and that will only happen through proper leadership. The influential companies in our industry must align for the greater good. We compete on many levels within the industry, but we also compete against other industries and agendas.
As the world progresses technologically and customer expectations increase, the vacation rental space must innovate at a rapid pace. We are competing for a larger market share of the overall travel segment. Technology is at the forefront of helping property managers stay efficient and provide an optimal experience to travelers. We can elevate the overall quality of a vacation rental stay through innovation. We must be diligent because competing against traditional travel accommodations requires a reconditioning of the traveler’s mind. Beyond technology, property managers need to be innovative in their overall offering and traveler experience.
At the heart of our industry is the professional property manager, and it is important they diversify and stay independent. While the OTAs provide our industry with excellent value, it’s important that we all place emphasis on the local property manager. Local companies are essential to building relationships with travelers and delivering a special vacation rental experience. On top of the booking experience, guest services, and general stay, there is the daunting task of on-site operations. Providing optimal housekeeping and timely maintenance is especially important to travelers choosing vacation rentals for their travel experience. We need companies to be healthy, sturdy, and valued. We encourage property managers to build their brands, build their guest and owner relationships, and evolve their brands in every way.
In our industry, we are gaining access to usable data for statistical analysis like we never have before. Converting this data into usable information will become more important as we make decisions on how to communicate and move forward. There are entire companies that utilize, distribute, and interpret data. We should leverage this data influx to optimize the direction of our space and our businesses. It’s important that we be responsible with data and protect it in every way we can.
Among the many remarkable elements of our industry, its vastness is possibly the most exciting. Most of us in the vacation rental space love to travel, explore, and experience new things. Connecting to the world through travel is really something special, and we have the privilege to do so. Beyond this, the opportunity to expand our market size is virtually limitless. The global nature of our industry offers spatial, product, and technology expansion because every market has different demands. We have become more sophisticated, but as we continue to evolve, it will be interesting to speculate on how international markets, processes, and technologies will collide.
Consumers, especially the millennial group, are looking for instant gratification. Delivering real-time responses to every consumer is paramount. Integrating technology, from property management systems to the OTAs, distribution channels, CRM systems, and any ancillary service, is a big part of what will make us successful. This integration will help us become more efficient and will help companies stay lean and face upcoming challenges.
Vacation rentals as an accommodations alternative are one of the most impressive products sold in the worldwide economy, including cars, clothing, technology, art, food and beverage, movies and more. There is something special about a vacation home. Home is where the heart is, and unlike other travel and accommodation options, you really do get to experience a home away from home in a vacation rental. This is true for condos, villas, and cabins alike. Being in a property with your family that was individually decorated by a private homeowner is something unique. Remember, the true keeper of the inventory is either a direct property owner or a professional property manager. Our product is unique, dynamic, and versatile.
At the recent 2018 Streamline Summit, we used the hot air balloon to symbolize “rising up” as a metaphor to represent our market size. Everybody knows the industry is growing, but it may fly under the radar that our balloon (market) has a ton of room for expansion. The major brands in our industry have done a great job of increasing awareness, but the expansion has only just started. We are taking market share from the general travel space, and we are growing the market by attracting new travelers. Branding our industry is key to accomplishing this.
The last topic in this article is investment, because the amount of money pouring into the space is astronomical. We have seen many acquisitions over the years, and the trend is not slowing. We see the acquisition of property management and technology companies and a general movement toward consolidation. With the influx of capital, the level of sophistication in vacation rentals has potential to rise. This is excellent for the overall vacation rental experience, but it’s essential that companies keep up with technology while evolving internal processes and procedures.
About Streamline and the Power of “I”
Streamline is a visionary technology company revolving around people and their talents, needs, and passions. The power of “I” is our culture that brings individual talents, knowledge, and brilliance to the forefront in a dynamic collective setting. Every individual, whether a Streamline team member or a valued Streamline customer, is empowered to contribute to the evolution of its solution-focused technology.