Google, Amazon and Major Players Shaping the Future of Vacation Rentals and Alternative Accommodations

Are You Ready for the Changes Ahead?

Once upon a time, vacation rental managers used newspapers to connect with potential guests. Remember those? The internet took center stage in the mid ’90s and changed the industry for good. Companies like VRBO started popping up and well, the rest is history.

Vacation Rentals in the United States currently gross some $13 billion a year, making them viable hotel competitors, to say the least. Vacation rental services, smart technology, and companies like RedAwning who seek to create hotel-chain like experiences for vacation rentals, continue to push the threshold and explore what’s possible for this budding accommodation style.

Search giant Google has been flirting with the vacation rental industry for some time now. Their hotel ads for vacation rentals test phase in Europe suggests they’re up to something (go ahead and Google vacation rentals in Paris) and a recent beta partnership with OPMA reportedly brought members huge amounts of revenue from bookings since the launch last year.

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But that’s not the only thing shaking up the industry as we know it. Amazon has been stepping up their artificial intelligence game with products like the Amazon Echo and the Smart Concierge powered by Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality. RedAwning and Amazon have been in the beta stage of a team effort to streamline the stay experience for guests by distributing pre-set Amazon echos in vacation rentals in the RedAwning collection. Answers to every question a guest may have about a specific property or destination will be uploaded to these devices. Having a hard time operating the jacuzzi? Ask Alexa. Looking for a local spot to dine? Ask Alexa. Want to extend your stay? You know where we’re going with this…

Now OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) are holding their breath wondering how all this change will affect booking rates, ad spend, etc. According to Skift OTAs spend about 90% of their ad budget money on online search engine marketing and optimization. Ad spend accounted for the majority of Google’s 110.9 billion in annual revenue last year with Booking.com and Expedia observed as two of the biggest ad spenders in the travel and tourism sector. But, if Google decides to bring their Hotel Ads for vacation rentals to the Americas, will it still be worth the time and energy to distribute listings and market them on the major OTA channels?

In a nutshell, yes. If, or when, Google’s vacation rental platform comes to fruition, it could essentially display search results for vacation rentals as a comparison shop, functioning similarly to meta search companies like trivago that display relevant options from an array of OTAs to find the best deal for travelers. The difference between Google and sites like trivago?  3.5 billion searches happen on Google every single day.

OTAs like Booking.com seem to be on the front lines of this initiative in Europe, accounting for the majority of data being pulled from Google vacation rental searches but as the rollout gains traction, other OTAs are sure to follow suit. This is why it will be more important than ever to get your properties listed on as as many sites as possible.

In 2018, RedAwning rolled out a plethora of new additions to its comprehensive suite of website and marketing solutions, all of which take the industry evolution head on. SEO optimized websites, Google PPC ads and complete channel integrations with all the major OTAs ensure that property managers in the RedAwning network are setup for success in a Google vacation rental era.

In 2019, we will begin distributing Smart Concierges to select properties which will only strengthen the RedAwning brand. Searching for, booking and staying in vacation rentals will become more seamless than the hotel experience and you better believe property managers and vacation homeowners who aren’t up for the challenge are going to feel the heat cuz the times, they are a ‘changin’.

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