Luxury vacation rentals are a perfect blend of the high-end comfort that characterises hotels and the personal touch that distinguishes short-term rentals.
The vacation rental market’s luxury sector has a long history to look back on. Now, it’s going through a renaissance thanks to the rising popularity of luxury travel and the appearance of new players who are leading the way in matching supply and demand.
In order to maximise occupancy and bookings for owners, fast-growing luxury vacation rental websites are using a tech-based approach to connect property managers with a discerning clientele.
Mainstream OTAs are not meeting the needs of these travellers, which presents an opportunity for niche vacation rental websites that curate lists of rigorously vetted, exclusive properties.
While the units listed on these platforms must meet some unusually high standards, their average booking value is also much higher than that of less exclusive properties. All the more reason why property managers who manage such high-end units need to find the right place to advertise them.
To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 luxury vacation rental websites to list your properties on.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the distribution strategies used by property managers to get their luxury rentals in front of the right audience.
“Some owners are very picky and limit the number of agencies and OTAs as they don’t appreciate over-distributing their properties in order to keep a flair of exclusivity.”Paola Gheis
The distribution of luxury vacation rentals is very different from that of non-luxury properties.
“In the luxury vacation rental business, quality and finesse are embedded in the property and the value proposition of the holiday experience offered,” says Paola Gheis, Founder at Paola Gheis Vacation Rental Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in developing marketing strategies for luxury villas. “This is also true for the quality of the sales channels used.”
One of the most obvious differences is the number of channels that properties are listed on. In the case of luxury homes, owners and managers are usually more selective.
“Some owners are very picky and limit the number of agencies and OTAs as they don’t appreciate over-distributing their properties in order to keep a flair of exclusivity. Other owners are less strict but they carefully select the quality of the luxury agencies to promote their villas or boutique hotels,” says Paola.
“A Channel Manager is certainly a technology tool that provides a great deal of help to guarantee an up-to-date calendar and reduce time spent on lower added value interactions with each sales distributor used.”Paola Gheis
One option that owners and managers have is to get listed on specialised luxury vacation rentals websites. However, finding the right ones and getting listed on them is a challenge.
“The selection process of niche agencies specialised in luxury and the distribution agreement with them can be time-consuming,” says Paola. “It’s a mutual selection process between owner and distributor. Well-known luxury agencies select and inspect the properties before adding them to their inventory,” she adds.
Once a property passes the listing site’s test, what comes next is an often tedious bureaucratic process involving detailed contracts and long lists of amenities, services and rates. But the good news is, there is a way to speed it up.
More and more luxury vacation rental websites are starting to integrate with Channel Managers, which makes it much easier and more time-efficient to list properties and to manage listings in the long run.
“A Channel Manager is certainly a technology tool that provides a great deal of help to guarantee an up-to-date calendar and reduce time spent on lower added value interactions with each sales distributor used,” says Paola.
So what about traditional booking sites? What’s their role in the luxury segment?
According to Paola:
“Non-specialised OTAs like VRBO, Booking.com or Airbnb fully integrate with many Channel Managers. Unless the owner is particularly strict, it is a good strategy to include these OTAs in the sales channel mix as their use give the opportunity to show up on the first page of Google.”
“We have to look for channels that allow us to work upon request and have better communication with the guest.”Moriya Rockman
What makes it difficult for luxury property managers to work with OTAs is that the luxury segment is not designed for instant bookings. There’s a lot that goes into booking such high-value stays. It’s a commitment from both sides. Owners often have lots of questions and guests have very specific requests when booking luxury holidays.
As Moriya Rockman, Co-Founder and CMO at Smiling House Luxury, a property management company with 1,500 luxury rentals told us:
“This is a global problem of the luxury segment. We cannot take instant bookings, we cannot just take the credit card even if the person has the amount of money that we’re requesting to take. We have to look for channels that allow us to work upon request and have better communication with the guest.”
Trust is a huge factor when it comes to renting out luxury homes. Owners and managers of high-end properties want to have a more personal connection with the guest.
And it works the other way around, too. As Paola says: “Luxury travellers want to speak with the owner. They need more attention and care.”
Niche websites specialising in luxury rentals can provide that sense of trust for both parties. Let’s take a look at which ones you should consider working with.
Plum Guide is “the official selection of the world’s best vacation homes – the answer to ‘what home should I book?’”.
They may not be for everyone (they only accept the best homes at each price point), but if you have high-quality homes, they can help you grow your business by connecting you with discerning travellers who do not use mainstream OTAs to search for accommodation.
Thanks to their high standards, rigorous curation process and discerning audience, occupancy and bookings from Plum Guide are incremental.
It’s not easy to get listed on Plum Guide – homes need to pass the 150-point Plum Test. But those that do get access to a new customer base and an increase in high-value bookings.
We can help you fast track through the application process.
Top destinations: Europe, North America
Oliver’s Travels is a listing site that “does not do ordinary”. They offer a selection of luxury villas and extraordinary homes bursting with character.
The company only lists the top 2% of vacation rentals after they’ve been reviewed by their team of experts.
What’s more, they are currently working with TreememberMe to help guests offset their carbon emissions by planting trees in their name. Get listed with them to reach discerning luxury travellers who value sustainability and responsible travel.
Top destinations: UK, France, Italy and more
Coming soon: Oliver’s Travels will soon be connected to the Rentals United Channel Manager. Stay tuned!
Stay One Degree is a trusted member’s club for luxury travellers. The company connects discerning owners of handpicked exclusive homes with a vetted member base of luxury travellers.
Not only does Stay One Degree vet all its members, but the company also gives full control of who can book your properties. You can create your own circle of trust: only members who you connect with (friends, family, likeminded people) are allowed to book your home.
The benefit for homeowners? Instead of renting your home to strangers, you can rent to people you trust.
Top destinations: Europe, Asia, Caribbean
Homes & Villas by Marriott International is a curated offering of vacation rentals by one of the world’s oldest hotel chains. It brings together Marriott International’s 92 years of hospitality experience and the local expertise of select property management companies.
They guarantee that their vacation homes are serviced at the same standard that is expected from Marriott hotel rooms. Properties listed on the website are rigorously vetted before being accepted into the program.
By listing your property on Homes & Villas by Marriott International, you can get access to discerning travellers including 133+ million Marriott Bonvoy travel loyalty programme members.
Top destinations: Europe, North America, South America, Caribbean
CoolStays offers cool places to stay in Europe and around the world. Each of their listings has something quirky, stylish or noteworthy about it.
Their website has a separate section for collections like luxury villas and romantic retreats. It’s not rare to find cabins, treehouses, barns or even lighthouses among their selection of alternative accommodation. Some of the properties listed on CoolStays are breathtaking architectural gems.
Get listed on CoolStays if you have a unique property and want to reach discerning guests who want to stay somewhere extraordinary.
Top destinations: UK, mainland Europe, North America
BoutiqueHomes offers a handpicked selection of luxury vacation rentals, from cabins and beach houses to villas, small hotels and modern architectural marvels.
They are always looking for hidden gems. You can suggest your property by sending them a few photos to help them decide if it’s a fit for BoutiqueHomes.
Top destinations: North America, Europe, Asia
Villaway selects and inspects luxury homes and private villas around the world.
Some of their most popular destinations are Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Maui, Riviera Maya, Cabo and Tulum.
They offer a complimentary concierge service with a variety of options, such as a private chef and catering service, a welcome tour of your villa, private jet and yacht charters and more.
Top destinations: North America, Caribbean, Europe
Villas of Distinction is a luxury vacation rental website that offers villas in top destinations around the world.
From last-minute escapes to their expertly-curated Chairman’s Collection, they have a large variety of exclusive vacation rentals that would wow even the most discerning guest.
Villas with private spas, pools and other top-notch amenities will be matched with their perfect guest on Villas of Distinction.
The company has more than 30 years of experience in luxury rentals. Attract global travellers who seek an effortless personalised stay by listing your villa on their website.
Top destinations: Caribbean, Europe, North America
Dream Exotic Rentals offers curated luxury rentals and experiences in alluring destinations. They have an outstanding variety of honeymoon destinations and options for private island stays.
If your property is exceptionally high-standard and can really take travellers’ breath away, get it listed on Dream Exotic Rentals and start locking in bookings.
Top destinations: Caribbean, North America, Europe
Airbnb Luxe is the industry giant’s luxury brand. They offer a selection of expertly designed homes with premium amenities.
These fully-equipped, statement-making homes have been carefully vetted to provide luxury travellers with a one-of-a-kind experience.
When guests book through Airbnb Luxe, they are connected with a dedicated trip designer to make the experience even more personalised and special.
Top destinations: North America, Europe, Caribbean
Need a solid distribution strategy? Let’s get you listed on global and niche booking sites with our enterprise-level Channel Manager!