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How Vacation Rental Listing Websites Get It Wrong

By William May
Published: 01/01/10 Topics: Comments: 0

Vacation Rental Advertising just keeps getting more and more complicated as new listing websites appear almost every day. VRA is now tracking approximately 785 Vacation Rental Websites. I say approximately because the number changes so often. Some sites, presumably when they have insufficient revenue or the operators tire out, just disappear. But new sites keep taking their place.

Surprisingly, this constant churning must delight the larger, older websites. They hang onto their existing viewers and let the little guys dilute the rest of the market significantly. Every now and then something really innovative pops up.

For example (Rentability.com)Rentability.com is a graphically intriguing website with nice tools. Advertisers pay on an affordable per-inquiry basis. Whether it can gain any traction in the market, we've yet to see, but their efforts need to be applauded. There are many others like Rentability who are moving technology forward far better than the fat cat websites.

In a way, the Vacation Rental Association is contributing to the roll out of new websites. VRA's multiple listing service (VRMLS.org)VRMLS.org makes it easy for local associations and geographic areas to put up their own sophisticated listing websites with very little time or money.

Specificity is the future of vacation rental searches. More is not always better. Newspapers are a good example. Giant metropolitan tabloids are struggling for readership and advertising revenue while many local newspapers march right along. And why you ask? Because they offer a more concise view of the world. They print both news and ads relevant only to their geographic area.

Plus the big guys do what big guys do - especially in the Internet. They begin to suffer from feature bloat making it ever more complicated for users to utilize their products. As a parallel example, when Google's AdWords service started, placing ads was simple and straight forward. Kudos to them for attempting to better segment their ads but today, reviewing and placing AdWords requires lots of time and expertise.

Vacation Rental Listing Websites are doing the same thing. HomeAway has launched various programs such as their Vacation Rental Manager "Pay Per Inquiry" (PPI) service but have gummed it up with restrictive rules that do nothing to enhance manager use. At the same time they refuse to share all listing data between (VRBO.com)VRBO.com and their second tier sites like (HomeAway.com)HomeAway.com and (CyberRentals.com)CyberRentals.com. Don't be mislead; their refusal has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with squeezing every possible dollar out of advertisers. They will only offer features which pad their pockets.

Big websites continue their march toward oligopoly where the top few websites control the market sufficiently to limit acceptance of lesser websites which causes vacation rental owners, managers and guests to do things their way - or else.

Sometimes it’s the little things that drive us crazy about using various websites. In the next issue we'll outline a check list of do's and don’s that we would like to see all Vacation Rental Listing Directory websites follow.

Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0133 – 01/01/10

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