Q&A with Pros: Online booking versus personal sale, which will prevail?

I’m sure you’ve heard the recent news that Priceline hit 100 Million room nights booked in this 1st quarter of 2015. You’ve heard it and you’re now very eager to get your vacation rentals on booking.com (btw we can do that for you   e a s i l y). On the other hand, Priceline and other giants like Tripadvisor are also very eager to get YOU on board, the pressure is on: they must keep on growing. Using a channel manager like us makes it easier for both providers and hotel booking sites:

  • apartment rates are translated into hotel room rates
  • prices can be scaled to accommodate for cleaning fees
  • and availability can be optimised for maximum returns

So… with so much interest from both sides to make things work, you could easily foresee that just like the hotel industry we’re moving to a pure online booking landscapeor are we? I’ve asked my fellow industry pros at Rentals United what they thought of this:

With large OTAs now selling vacation rentals, do you see this at the end of the personal sale in our industry? 


– Rentals United Co-Founder & Board Member

Systems will always solve a part of market demand as there are many customers who prefer self service. However at least many people I know are not interested in finding their own accommodation and prefer the assistance of a professional to guide them in their choice. Whilst I feel perfectly happy sorting properties on an OTA and using filters to narrow my criteria, the majority of people are not this way inclined. As people become more computer literate the personal service sector will shrink, but there are always customers for knowledge: In other words, assistance from a pro. (check the articles in Mike’s Column)


– Rentals United CEO

Personal assistance when shopping around for travel will disappear! I see mainly two reasons for that:

1. The personal assistant is likely to have an incentive to sell something THEY are interested in selling, not 100% what the CLIENT wants and need.

2. The personal “sales assistant” will be too limited in comparison to what technology will bring us.

The “Digital Assistant” will simply become a much better tool for any traveller since they will be able to assemble much more data regarding your personal interest and the options out there. It will be able to customise every type of travel exactly as the client wants it.


– Rentals United COO

The personal sale will always play an important part in our industry. As OTAs pull in more Vacation Rental inventory, they will begin to realise that the process for choosing a vacation rental is completely different to that of a hotel. We can see the market moving quickly to instant booking but to maximise conversions, OTAs will need to find a way to allow the client to speak to the owner/property manager before a booking is made. I just can’t see a person going online and booking a two week vacation in a villa without wanting to talk to someone first. 


– Rentals United CFO

I believe that the personal sale will continue to exist for quite some time still. The market is so fragmented and underdeveloped in many aspects and areas around the world. Therefore the long-tail continues to lag behind. The large OTA’s are likely to benefit continously on the current trend and consolidate the market more and more. Although the vacation market is now changing fast and the online growth as well, there will still be room for the personal niche market sale, even if this market is likely to decrease exponentially.

You’re a pro in your own right, what’s your take on the subject?

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