By Vanessa de Souza Lage, Co-Founder & CMO, Rentals United
People travel for countless reasons, from needing to get away from their routine to pursuing some good, old-fashioned family bonding. Whatever the motivation, there is usually a niche site tailored to that specific sort of travel. By diversifying their distribution channels, short-term property management companies can reach new markets, listing their properties on several niche sites to open themselves up to a myriad of new customer bases.
Boasting more than hundreds of sites, the growing niche travel sector has recently earned investments in the tens of millions, with The Plum Guide receiving £14 million in funding last March 2019 and Madrid-based rental property listing site Spotahome signing a $40 million investment deal in June of 2018. Though the majority of short-term property managers may be focusing their efforts on more mainstream OTAs, these numbers show that promoting your listings on some of the smaller, more targeted booking platforms may be a strategic bet.
We here at Rentals United, of which I am Co-Founder & CMO, have released our first edition of the Who’s Who of Short-Term Rental Listing Sites, a comprehensive, categorized resource of niche listing sites for both travelers and short-term rental managers looking to maximize their occupancy rates.
The guide identifies 5 notable 2020 travel trends in that property managers seeking to expand their appeal need to know about. Here goes:
1. Digital nomads and sabbatical nomads
Digital nomads are on the rise as flexible work conditions and improving technology enable employees to travel for longer durations and set up shop remotely in foreign countries. Sites such as 2nd Address and Spotahome cater to this growing community of footloose workers using the world as their office space.
Travelers taking recess from life, work or school for a myriad of reasons, sabbatical nomads generally stay in their travel destinations for extended periods of time. These individuals utilize niche sites when conducting their research, as they have particular requirements due to the increased length of their stay.
2. Transformation seekers
The age of ‘experience travel’ is coming to an end and ‘transformation trips’ are waiting in the wings. People increasingly want to be changed by giving back to the communities they visit. The ethical holiday rental site fairbnb.coop promotes a conscious form of tourism and offers to give 50% of a guest’s payment to a local social project of their choice.
If it’s socially responsible travelers you wish to host in your rentals, promoting your listings on these sites is the way to go.
3. Diverse travelers
Travelers wanting to avoid discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or religion, for example, may be more likely to turn to sites like misterbnb or HalalBooking for accommodations than a more mainstream online booking platform. Hosts who wish to accommodate, welcome and offer safe travel to guests who may not find it elsewhere can connect with them by listing their rentals on sites like these.
4. Short, spontaneous stays
As the industry becomes more professionalized and equipped to facilitate the same kinds of bookings traditional hotels do, we are seeing a surge in sites accepting 2-night stays and last-minute bookings. Niche sites ready to accommodate this particular type of trip include US-based Whimstay and Snaptrip, which offers live availability on short-term rental deals in the UK.
Hosts who feel they can provide more flexibility when it comes to preparation time and stay duration, can list on these platforms to capture the many travelers seeking brief, spontaneous stays.
5. Sport tourism
Sport tourism has become widely popular and involves traveling in order to observe or participate in a sporting event. Sites like Sportihome offer short-term rentals near big sporting arenas or outdoor sport destinations. If you find you already have listings like this in your portfolio, you may benefit from promoting them on sites dedicated to matching sport fanatics with rentals that suit their travel needs.
When you round up the niche sites discussed here, you start to build a picture of just how wide the potential reach is for vacation rental property managers. Still, it takes far too much time and energy to manually list and maintain your property profiles on a variety of sites. That’s where technology solutions come in, allowing property managers to easily widen their nets list to a large number of channels, including the niche channels that can help them target an endless spectrum of travelers looking for the perfect place to stay.