Vacation Rental Survey: Does Mobile Matter?
Last year, Dwellable surveyed our travelers about their mobile vacation rental habits. 75 percent said they researched vacation rentals via smartphones or tablets, and 35 percent inquired or booked via mobile.
Introduction and methodology
Since the emergence of Internet media as a dominant source of potential new business for VRMCs and owners, the proprietors of vacation rental homes globally have slowly moved their businesses online. The advent of listings sites like HomeAway and FlipKey, the emergence of Airbnb, 9flats and Wimdu, and the $530M invested in online VR solutions since 2011 are a testament to the power of the online media channel, yet less than 3 out of 10 dollars spent in the global VR industry today is spent on the Web.
It's still very early days for the vacation rental industry.
It is fair to say that the majority of VR inventory suppliers are well behind their hotelier counterparts in adopting PC-based online models (SaaS, SEM/SEO, OTA). Some of this lag is endemic to the fragmented and unbranded nature of VR inventory; nonetheless, even the industry leaders are catching their collective breaths from years of turmoil, including loss of control to aggregators, the lack of a collectively-owned “switch,” and the move from print brochures to Websites and listings as core marketing materials.
And now, the landscape is undergoing yet another tectonic shift. PCs are being left behind by smartphones and tablets as the world continues to conduct more of its media activity via mobile devices than any other medium save television. By 2017, smartphones and tablets will outnumber PCs by nearly 4-1. But are VRMCs prepared? How will they adapt?
Dwellable conducted a study of vacation rental marketers to discover attitudes and behaviors associated with mobile device usage in the context of vacation rental discovery and booking. This post presents the study’s key findings.
Dwellable completed a survey of 100 vacation rental executives whose primary form of acquiring new customers was via vacation rental listings Websites – the belief being that these executives represent the vanguard of new media adoption in the VR space.
Dwellable asked these property managers 10 questions meant to explore their awareness of mobile as an opportunity and their current attitudes towards and actions regarding reaching mobile travelers.
Property Managers See the Mobile Tidal Wave Approaching
It’s clear that VRMCs are anticipating the shift to mobile. Having been blindsided by the Web 20 years ago, proprietors of vacation rental businesses are aware of the upheaval new technology can bring.
Additionally, many VRMCs are now operated by digital natives for whom blogging, social media, and technology are second nature. Mobile is not catching many VRMCs by surprise.
Mobile Is the Next Big Thing for VRMC Growth Strategy
Not only are they anticipating the shift of media consumption to mobile devices; VRMCs are strategically embracing the channel.
Vacation Rental Managers Haven't Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is...
Given the explicit agreement on the part of respondents that mobile is the biggest thing to hit vacation rentals since the Web, it was somewhat surprising to see the responses to the questions about what VRMCs are actually doing about this major opportunity. A solid majority do not offer users any experience tailored to mobile devices.
61 percent of respondents say, “We don’t do anything special for mobile, people can just see our regular Website on any device.” This is a major misconception, given that 57 percent of travelers say they will not recommend a lodging option if it has a bad mobile site (Source: Buteeq, 2013).
...But That's Changing Rapidly
VRMCs are very price sensitive around mobile. We believe solutions that are free or freemium will continue to emerge to capture this sector of demand.
Questions? Comments? Hit us up here.