Home » Airbnb » Vacation Rentals – From Disruption To Destruction – Part two

Airbnb-BW

By Alan Egan

Airbnb is the new black. The future’s Airbnb. The future’s black.

Last week we wrote about the utter domination that Airbnb have over the competition when it comes to all round buzz and social engagement. Read last weeks article here

This week we look at the bleak consequences of this superiority and we offer a very workable solution.


If we’re all in it, we can’t win it

Last weeks article mentioned how Skype and smartphones reshaped our world – And that of their competition..

But whereas Skype and smartphones have made contacting people easier, the number of properties listing on Airbnb has ballooned so much so that it makes finding individual properties extremely difficult, if not impossible. People struggle to find my property. And your property. We are lost in a sea of properties.

Put it this way… if everyone who owns a car were to join Uber there wouldn’t be enough fares to go around for any individual driver to make a living and that same scenario is going to play out with Airbnb properties.

The press is full of “Free vacation: Rent out your homestories, Udemy has courses like “Hacking Airbnb: Make $300+ a night with your spare space” and “Airbnb Hosting Mastery – Make $60k a year from your house”-  You can even watch the likes of “How to Be an Awesome Airbnb Host!” on Youtube.

All of these media messages send an “it’s easy money” message but the more hosts that sign up the harder it’s going to become to make any money in the vacation rental business on Airbnb (unless you are Airbnb of course and I can’t begrudge that, as a company they are doing a fantastic job).

But just as we can’t all be Uber drivers, we can’t all be on vacation, all of the time, in someone else’s home while others are on vacation in ours.

I’m being extreme here but I’m sure you get my drift.

Sure enough guest numbers staying with Airbnb have shot up at an unbelievable rate (17 million this summer) and no doubt will continue to do so but these bookings are being spread over far more properties.

Another consequence of this is that it’s driving down nightly rates.

standing out from the crowd

The bigger this VR crowd gets the harder it becomes to stand out from that crowd. In fact as the crowd hits a critical mass it becomes impossible to stand out at all.

In order to stand out you’re going to need to produce some outstanding marketing material.

So, what can you do?

Well you can identify what makes Airbnb special and do exactly that but on an individual level.

But you can do it better…

So what makes Airbnb so special?

Sure enough it’s hip. People love the concept. Last weeks article showed that.

But there’s more to it than that.

It’s the host and guest interaction that makes an Airbnb experience special.

This is the USP.

This is the overriding difference between Airbnb rentals and “traditional” vacation rentals.

virtual hosts can share

The majority of Airbnb hosts live at the property and they can directly share their intimate knowledge of the things to see and do in the area and this is tourist gold.

Guests feel empowered when receiving these insider highlights.

We list on Airbnb and our guests generally chat to us just before going out. We ask where they are going and then we recommend one or two “highlights” of things to see or do…

If they are going out to eat we may recommend a typically Danish smokery on the coast. If they are cycling we may point things out on a map – “If you follow this cycle path through the woods you will come to a beautiful picnic area next to a lake”. That sort of thing. Or “We don’t go to that beach because it’s crowded. If you take this road you will find a beach that’s almost deserted”.

Guests love this information.

So what can the absent VR owner / manager really do to compete with this ?

Web smart guests want so much more than photos of a property, a price list and little else. They want, and expect, a pre vacation experience as well as the vacation itself.

You can help provide both.

Play to your strengths. Because, as it happens, your strengths are exactly the same as those of an Airbnb host. You too know your area. You too are a local expert.

You just need to get that information across to potential and fee paying guests in a digital, mobile friendly way because you aren’t there to do it in person.

You too can recommend restaurants, tell people about a host of attractions and adventures, share travel timetables, include maps, list emergency numbers, maintain a what’s on guide and much more.

If you post a stream of short informative posts to social media (where potential guests spend all of their time) and you collate these articles on your own website you can dominate ALL of your competition.

There are a number of ways to do this, even if you don’t have your own website.

You can in fact do better than a “real” host because these snippets of information build into an online reference library of all the things to see and do in your area.

You can quickly build a destination field guide that is cross referenced and searchable, all available on a guests smartphone or tablet.

Guests can access all of this information on the move.

Stop being a vacation rental owner

One way or another you need to stop being a vacation rental owner or manager and make the transition to becoming A VIRTUAL VACATION HOST. A host that share lots of information. In fact we need to become virtual hosts because they are even better than real hosts.
Even Airbnb hosts can benefit from this.

Like real hosts, this digital concierge can recommend restaurants, favourite beaches, family activities, music venues and a myriad of other hotspots.

Start posting short sharable informative articles, each with a lovely image (we live in an image hungry world and we need to feed that hunger- people just don’t share text and sharable equals reach).

The benefits of this are,

Potential guests can meet virtual hosts before they travel.

If you present yourself as a helpful virtual host you can convince potential guests to book your property.

You can build relationships and trust this way.

Potential guests want information – Give it to them – This is where the listings sites have shot themselves in the foot – They are withholding email addresses and stifling the very communication that our clients want in order to build trust and cement a transaction.

Virtual hosts can reside on an owners or managers website and oh boy do the search engines love this.

This information is always on call, it never sleeps.

Guests can take a virtual host with them when they explore a region. 

All of this has massive SEO benefits resulting in very high ranking.

What choice do you have?

Ultimately you have two choices. You can disrupt Airbnb’s dominance (in a small way) and become outstanding as a virtual host or you can await the destruction of your vacation rental business by the tidal wave of this new, growing competition.

It’s just that, be outstanding and stand out or hang with the crowd until the crowd gets too big for you to be seen in.

How do you go about this?

At Bookings Plus 4G we have been teaching owners to become virtual hosts for some time and you can see some prime examples here,

cotswoldfamilyholidays.com/our-cotswolds-guide/
wherewaterfalls.com/our-coastside-guide/
holidaysonbornholm.com/our-bornholm-guide/

Have a look through some of these pages and see what virtual hosting looks like to a site visitor and compare what information is on offer on these pages compared to that of your own website and listings.

Owners that have become virtual hosts are having remarkable results.

If you would like to know more about this visit http://goo.gl/tdMhLS or sign up for The Vacation Rental World Summit where I am presenting an hour long session on these methods of marketing along with a number of case studies.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Vacation Rentals – From Disruption To Destruction – Part two

  1. Sandra Strandebo says:

    Hello:

    AirBNB rant:

    I have a VR on the ground level of my house in Vancouver, BC. Just going into my 4th year. About 50 bookings per year, so far in 3 years THREE AirBNB guests. I charge $125 (Canadian)low season, $135 summer. Two bedrooms, gas fireplace, granite and tile bathroom with walk-in shower, sauna, private BBQ hut and patio for guests, laundry, free parking, high speed internet and BBQ propane, access to two other patios and huge tropical garden with water feature, lit up at night. I live upstairs.

    AirBNB wants me to charge $97 a night!!! VRBO had put a banner on my listing last month that my property was 38% cheaper than similar rentals in my area. (6 minutes to the beaches, 20 mins to downtown). Half a block from Dunbar Village, 4 houses from a supermarket.

    My “crowd” seems to be 40 and older, many flying in to Vancouver, hanging out at my place, then going on the Alaskan Cruise or getting off the cruise, hanging out, flying home. Or visiting relatives in the area, etc. If I had to rely on AirBNB I would have gone broke the first year.

    They also send me ridiculous emails such as “your guest is due to arrive. Checklist: clean sheets and pillow case. Tidy house and bathroom.” What? Really? Whatever would I do without them? This is a dedicated apartment, no one will find a dirty hairbrush in the bathroom, my clothes in the closets, etc. The apartment is cleaned within an inch of its live every single time.

    The other thing that guests apparently believe (this from a staunch AirBNB-er friend of mine) is that AirBNB actually COMES TO YOUR PLACE and verifies you so that guests always know they are safe. What a joke that is.

    I am on FlipKey, VRBO, several other free sites, but all my bookings basically are from FlipKey and VRBO. So.. if AirBNB is going to squash them, what am I to do? Maybe Vancouver BC Canada is not a great AirBNB destination OR I am too expensive … or what? Charging $97 a night (CANADIAN DOLLARS) is ridiculous.

    I love the virtual tour idea and will work on that. I already have a “Noo-Noo’s Insider’s Guide” to Vancouver featuring little known places that are far superior to the tourist attractions which, of course, no one who lives in Vancouver would be caught dead going to.

    My opinion on AirBNB as I absolutely do not understand the attraction.

    Sandra (Noo-Noo)
    The Secret Garden

    1. Alan Egan says:

      Hello Sandra,

      Thanks for taking the time to drop by and share your situation with us.

      Airbnb certainly isn’t one size fits all but they are without doubt in the ascendency and the media snowball around the company will continue at pace.
      As far as rates are concerned they do have a habit of lumping everyone into the same price bracket (ignore that nonsense, we do).
      Potential guests want information just as much as they want a place to stay so if you continue with Noo-noo’s insiders guide (just add to it regularly) you can be Vancouver’s shining light.

      Thanks again, Alan

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