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Autumn is Industry Conference Season for Lodging
By Wm. May
Published: 11/16/16 Topics: AirBnB, Hotels, Inns Comments: 0
With Autumn here, the lodging industry presented many seminars, conferences, workshops and classes. Here is a run down.
WA Lodging Association - Their annual conference was held at the new Davenport Grant Hotel in Spokane. Unlike its cousin the renovated and luxurious Davenport Hotel, the Grand is everything new and almost futuristic.
Hotel staff were very well-trained, professional and accommodating, although surely they know they are being evaluated by hundreds of people in their own industry.
Technology is used to speed check-in, schedule maid service and even lower the blinds. Furnishings were very comfy and very modern. Great Colors, big desk, USB ports bedside and huge flat screen TV.
It is a reminder to Vacation Home owners that they are in competition with a very large industry that is working overtime to return guests to traditional hotels.
Downstairs the meeting rooms were impressive with attentive servers, huge presentation screens and technology everywhere. They even immediately switched to the Seahawks game when the meeting was done.
HomeAway Summit - Presented by the owners of VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com and dozens of other websites this seminar was all about their company, with only a few offerings by other vendors.
HomeAway admitted they have work to do to confront the advent of AirBnB, but their purchase by Expedia (headquartered in Seattle) gives them powerhouse technology and marketing.
Their newly implemented guest service fees has been despised by vacation rental managers and owners, but they reason that new income is necessary to advertise more which helps property owners.
They did not mention that $400 million in additional fees will help pay for the $4 billion price Expedia paid. Hmmm.
HomeAway is finally taking a bigger role in opposing vacation rental prohibitions pursued by some cities including San Francisco and even Seattle. Time will tell.
AirBnB Open (Conference) - Held in Las Angeles, AirBnB continues to promote "home sharing" as just a way for owners to pay their bills. While that is true for some, it has not stopped new regulations - San Francisco and New York State have both passed laws that prohibit renting by many home owners.
Big events were Delight Guests, (Interior) Designing for Success, and The Future of AirBnB. Finding your Inner Happy Host. The event is a love-fest for many hosts who actually share rooms in their homes for the joy of meeting other people.
That concept is growing, although it differs some from many vacation rental owners who want to make money, while keeping their places safe and secure.
Just last week AirBnB announced they were going to offer personalized tours worldwide, so that guests in homes could find "Authentic" experiences. This might be a brilliant idea, but some guests are already confused by a lodging website that does not focus on lodging.
It is fascinating to see AirBnB grow so fast, but their customer service seems to be falling behind trying to keep up. Complaints are growing from guests, owners and managers.
Summary - The WA Lodging group has a comprehension of the industry that other segments can not match. There is great collaboration for the mutual good, while allowing diversity of properties and competitiveness. HomeAway's recent fee changes may or may not result in benefits to managers and owners. AirBnB holds to its roots of room rental, but whole home Vacation Rentals are a huge portion of their income.
For your information we advertise on HomeAway, AirBnB and over 300 other lodging websites, plus thousands of search engines as well as hundreds of websites in our network.
Advertising widely is what yields inquiries which yield bookings. No one does more than we do. We keep owners apprised of industry trends as we incorporate them into the best management services in the world.
Author: Wm. May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0509 – 11/16/16
Grading Vacation Rentals on the Curve
By Wm. May
Published: 10/01/16 Topics: AirBnB, Vacation Rental Association, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0
A long time AirBnB hosts with multiple properties all with 4.5 or higher average ratings, recently complained that he received an online warning from AirBnB that his listings might be delisted if the average goes below a grade of 4.
Research has showed that average ratings on AirBnB are a full one star higher than the number of stars for homes on HomeAway.com.
Could this mean that only the better homes are listed on AirBnB? A random view of homes in most areas show even a wider variety of rentals than on other vacation rental listing sites.
Another factor is that AirBnB lists individual rooms or guest suites within a home, and these are uncommon on HomeAway websites. A constant reading of AirBnB forums such as AirHostsForum.com, reveals that the horror stories of in-house rentals can be even more rancorous with hosts and guests often very unhappy with each other.
There are rooms that stink, and guests that are stinkers. There are places that would make most guests gag - a trailer in someone's back yard? A Tee Pee with no bathroom handy? A sleeping bag under a tree?
In most U.S. High Schools, teachers often grade students on what is called "The Curve." This is a philosophy that posits not all students perform the same. Some study diligently, some do not. Some have greater native intelligence and some do not. Therefore, the grades within a given set of students should be spread often in a graph looking something like this.
A = 10%
B = 20%
C = 50%
D = 20%
F = 10%
** The actual percentages can vary by teacher, but the general proportions are similar.
Most teachers never understand that a usual class size of 20 to 30 students is not a wide enough sample to allow the curve to be valid within that class. But, the concept does seem to be applicable to other matrixes.
50% of hotels are adequate (and not luxury)
50% of drives obey the speed limit
50% of employees do adequate work.
50% of diners leave an appropriate tip.
Most teachers also never admit that the success of students is greatly dependent on the teacher. Some instructors explain things very well, some offer extra help and some are expert motivators. But, we have all had teachers who were lazy, rude, or bad communicators.
So how come AirBnB seems to think that 100% of its guests must get a grade of A or A minus?
If their goal is to drive up quality and guest relations, that is a wonderful idea. But if their goal is a scaling system on which guests can determine the quality of a home, then they have it all wrong.
More likely, Airbnb's warnings to the hosts of homes is intended to fool guests into thinking that every home is a luxury place, every destinations is truly unique and bookings on AirBnB will ensure a perfect vacation. All of that is simply to increase bookings and fill Airbnb's pockets.
Any intelligent person knows that it can rain at the beach, have crappy snow at a ski resort, or that a home may not be as big as you dreamed even if you got a bargain price. A better solution would be to truly rate homes with an overall system that better informs guests of the variety of homes, quality, location, size and other factors.
And that would result in homes being graded on the curve.
Author: Wm. May, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0511 – 10/01/16
Expedia to buy HomeAway
By Ronald Lee
Published: 11/05/15 Topics: Advertising, AirBnB, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0
There’s always a bigger fish. Serial purchaser HomeAway has itself been acquired by Seattle based Expedia. And the price paid for the vacation rental giant? $3.9 billion. The deal is the sign of the times for digital travel sales, which has experienced massive M&A activity, like much of the economy this year.
While HomeAway has been busy dominating the vacation rental industry through acquisitions, Expedia has been doing the same in the wider digital travel sales. HomeAway's many purchases this year (including Seattle based Dwellable just last month), pale compared to Expedia’s yearly activity which include massive purchases of Orbitz and Travelocity. Previously Expedia had focused on hotels, and so the addition of HomeAway to it’s portfolio presents some interesting changes.
Just what is Expedia’s plan with HomeAway? Expedia’s CFO said HomeAway would remain relatively autonomous, with it’s headquarters based in Austin. The main gain for Expedia appears to be hedging. Airbnb is one of the biggest travel competitor left to face Expedia, and of course, focuses on short term vacation rental stays. Expedia’s purchase of HomeAway is a smart move to counter Airbnb’s growing share of the market.
The sharing economy is an attractive market compared to the business of connecting hotel users to hotels. Virtually any home in the world can become a rental property for Airbnb and HomeAway, and Expedia is diversifying to protect against pressure on the hotel industry. Plus, individual home owners are a more attractive partner than big hotel changes. Home owners have very little leverage or sophistication in the business, and generally take what portals like HomeAway and Airbnb offer them. However, distribution might become easier with the Expedia and HomeAway merger.
What can customers look forward to? Integrated booking might be a long shot, but this merger could give customers the ability to directly compare hotel and vacation rental accommodations. This doesn’t appear to be the play the companies are making, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Author: Ronald Lee – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0478 – 11/05/15
Sponsor: VRAI –
What Goes Around Comes Around for AirBnB
By Ron Lee
Published: 08/22/15 Topics: Advertising, AirBnB Comments: 0
How soon big companies forget, at least in the collective memory.
Perhaps today's lodging usurpers like Expedia, Priceline, HomeAway and AirBnB could learn a thing or two from the advertising history of major newspapers.
Long ago Newspapers like the Seattle times had a field day. They were big and bossy and brash. They could charge any advertising rate they wanted, and increase the cost incessantly.
If the advertiser did not like it, "Tough": said the Times, take your business elsewhere knowing full well the advertiser had no viable alternative. If companies complained the Times would refuse to sell them space or relegate their ads to the nether world of seldom read pages.
Flash forward several decades when, due to plummeting readership and nimble online news sources, newspaper ad sales reps must go begging for advertising scraps.
How prophetic then for the online travel agencies and vacation rental classified ad sites.
Ask AirBnB superhost Kelly Kampen who went public recently, saying his AirBnB superhost account was terminated with no explanation and a canned emailed.
Lovely that AirBnB said something like, "We are not obligated to tell you a reason.."
And did he provide bad housing, or treat guests poorly? No all he did was question AirBnB and just like the long ago world of advertisers who questioned newspapers, he bit the hand that feed him and he will now be starved slowly to death.
Worse yet, AirBnB cancelled Kampen's future guests. Interestingly, AirBnB heavily penalizes hosts for canceling a booking and yet reserves unto itself the right to commit the same sin.
Way to go AirBnB,. Many hosts report similar or lesser instances where AirBnb staff seemed callous or, worse yet, unaware that what goes around comes Around.
We can only hope that one day we'll look back at the hubris of Internet companies with the same grin we now reserve for those formerly cocky newspaper rags.
Author: Ron Lee – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0412 – 08/22/15
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