Sunday, December 15, 2013

Endangered Species - Instant Booking

At the turn of the new millennium, an Era of great enthusiasm, in the paradisiacal (then) world of Vacation Rental we thought that things could only get better. The thinking was: since there is no awareness about our business and we are backward in technology and processes, the further proficiency we reach with the above, the better for the whole of us. Think again.

Awareness brought the big lobbies and the big financial guys attention bringing about disruption with precious little innovation.

As for the technology and processes we may be facing a half truth here. Sure, it would be 'better' to streamline the booking process and turn it into a hotel like experience, but is it possible and, most importantly, is it really what the travelers are looking for?

The provider's side: is it possible? At Cities Reference we've been doing the Instant Bookings for over a decade now. On a mixed structure, upon great reward pressure, ~25% of owners would go for the Instant. The catch is, that the property owners being mostly unprofessional, if you don't send them a couple of bookings a month they'll quickly lose pace and stop updating the calendar. If you implement penalties at the first mistake you lose ~70% of them thereafter, if you implement just incentives on the opt-in you'll be in for a lot of cancelations. Still bullish about the Instant?

The travelers' side: is it really what they are looking for? Not sure. If they want professionalism and streamlined process they'll just use OTAs on a flight&hotel combo. Vacation Rentals are often a choice of experience where unique, slow, local, personal relationship may weight more than words like quick, professional, standard.

What with the fact that OTAs are debuting into the vacation rentals? I think this is working with only because so fare they have only taken up professionally managed serviced apartments, the moment they'll try to catch and digest also the huge mass of the unprofessional owners the system will go bust.

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