Holidayhome rentals is one sector that continues to defy the recession, with both supply and demand growing. The rise of the staycation, the credit crunch and the current state of the property market are all contributing factors.
More owners are renting out properties, either to generate extra income or because they cannot sell their property, and more holidaymakers are booking holiday homes to take advantage of the value for money they represent.
The market was traditionally associated with families, but is proving increasingly popular with couples and larger groups trying to save money. This increase in demand has attracted the attention of the travel industry and spurred a rash of investments and acquisitions. However, even the biggest marketplaces still cover less than 5% of total rental properties and there is huge potential for growth.
Recent figures from Phocuswright show that while two-thirds of holidaymakers do their research online, only 27% of owners list their properties on the web, with many put off by the high subscription fees charged by umbrella sites. The fees can be up to £200 and are a bitter pill to swallow considering independent owners feel that what makes their properties unique can be lost on these sites.
To encourage more owners online, the market needs a website that is free to use, but delivers traffic and enables owners to have direct contact with clients.
It is vital for owners to establish a relationship with their customer base in order to encourage repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations and overcome the biggest barrier to growth – the lack of standardisation of holiday homes.
The lack of a legal requirement to participate in a quality-assessment scheme can make people wary of booking online. Owners need to encourage guests to post feedback and build a database of reviews that will appeal to the Tripadvisor generation and alleviate these concerns.
With so much demand, paid-for sites need to re-think what the customer wants.
Dennis Klett, co-founder and director of Domegos.co.uk, a holiday home marketplace launched in December 2007 to connect homeowners with holiday-makers