What will the Vacation Rental of the Future look like? Watch this short presentation by Vanessa de Souza Lage, CMO at Rentals United and founder of VrTech, to learn more!

Find the full video transcription below:

Hi, I’m Vanessa from Rentals United and I’m going to talk about the vacation rental of the future. This is a shorter version of a longer presentation that I’ve done in various conferences recently and I’ve tried to keep it short. In fact it’s separated in four categories:

  • New kinds of experiences
  • How our guests will book
  • How we will organize our workflow
  • The amenities of the future

New kinds of experiences

So let’s start off with New Kinds of Experiences. There’s a very interesting theory that says that we’re currently in the experience economy; (we moved from commodities, goods, services and we’re now in experiences). The author of this theory takes the example of Starbucks. You’re going to Starbucks not so much for the coffee but for the experience of being in a Starbucks and this can now be applied to vacation rentals, to logging, accommodation, travel in general. People don’t come for the vacation rental, they come for the experience of being in a vacation rental. We see this also as trends, consumer trends.
Affluent consumers tens to choose an experience over a luxury item today. So rather than purchase a nice watch, they’d rather have a great experience. It’s the same for millennials. They also rather spend their money on experience than on material things. So it’s a definite trend going on. What this means for us and vacation rentals is that you can’t, that you product is not the vacation rental anymore, it’s the memory of being in this vacation rental. We need to influence this by giving the opportunity to have an amazing experience while our guests come to our vacation rentals. Basically, you can’t just give a key anymore.

When I did this presentation last, I asked people “Do you offer experiences?” and in fact an overwhelming amount of people in the audience said that they do so. If you don’t offer experiences, it’s something definitely worth looking into because your competitor will do. If you’re stuck with ideas, you can easily go onto Airbnb and check out their experiences. Tons of people offering experiences. There are some very easy things to do that you could even do yourself or ask your neighbor, friends, to see what they could offer to your guests that would make their stay memorable. Because that’s what it’s all about. But what comes after? This is what’s happening today, right where we’re talking about the future. So today we’re I the experience economy, everything is about… we’re going into an experience! You want to take a selfie, you want to take all these photos and you want to show off to your families and friends, put it on Facebook. But tomorrow all these experiences would have been overdone, overly put on social (media) so we’re going to want to have experiences in order to transform ourselves, in order to become better humans. It’s the same theory that says that we’re going to move on the Transformation Economy.
Jay La Fontaine puts it in a very nice way. He says “In a world where everything else has been commoditized, transformations may be the only thing left for us paying for.” I’ve asked in fact the audience, “Have you ever transformed a guest?” and I’ve had quite a few Yes-es. Guests have come to these property managers or owners of vacation rentals and they have made an experience that would leave the guest with such a profound memory that would have changed them. Made them better people!

Another thing that is interesting to look at, in the way that we sell a vacation rental, in the way that we sell our listings, there’s a definite trend in marketing in general, that before we used very much to sell a product. Today we need to sell the story of the product. That means make a lot of effort selling the story behind your vacation rental, even your own story! That would make you stand out. If you do experiences and your story extremely well, then chances are you’ll have people talking about you, on Tripadvisor and on social networks, with are two of the main sources of information today for other travelers to make a decision about which vacation rental to book.

Where do people book?

As Rentals United we are very well-placed to know which websites work in which country, since we’re a channel manager. We see all these reservations coming, where they come from and here they are. I look a little bit, like the “weather girl” for vacation rentals 😀 but basically these are the websites, the listing sites that work best for people, lets say in the (United) States. They would book through Homeaway, Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com. People in Latin American book through Despegar.com, people in China book through Ctrip. So it’s very important today to be listed on all of these websites. I understand it’s difficult without automating distribution. This is why 1 in 2 property managers today use a channel manager. If you don’t have us Contact Us. A bit of product placement there 😀

There’s not only OTAs though. There’s tons fo niche sites, so whichever channel manager you use, make sure they also have niche sites. They might not fill your occupancy rates all year round but they do give bookings. It’s well worth supporting them and being listed with them. Obviously, if you’re automating everything, then (you know), it’s not requiring more work apart from the setup.

I’ve asked in fact the audience “Do you advertise o you advertise on niche sites?” and this was worrying because most people don’t advertise on niche websites. This is very restrictive marketing, most people advertise on 3-4 websites. It’s very, very dangerous to do that. You want to be on as many websites as possible because you know, websites change algorithms, websites go down, suddenly they’re bought, they change their rules; there could be various aspects why suddenly you don’t see booking coming, booking dry out. So the more places (your advertise) the less risk you have.
I’m hoping, we’re hoping as an industry in general that niche sites will continues to thrive and there may be an avenue for them to do so and that’s the blockchain. It’s still early very days. We don’t see vacation rentals on the blockchain yet, correct me if Im wrong, don’t quote me if I’m wrong; however we’re looking at this at Rentals United and the idea of the blockchain is that it decentralizes distribution. It will be much cheaper for property managers and owners to push their product, their rentals onto the blockchain and for niche sites to come and get it, and for end-users to then book at a better price. So this could mean if it really comes along, the blockchain for vacation rentals, it could mean an explosion of niche websites and hopefully that will be the case.

Another way people may book in the future, not just a blockchain, this is quite probably far off. It’s called Haptic Technology. It’s the idea that through a screen, you’ll be able to touch the screen and feel the plushness of the cushion, the texture of the bed before you get there. Another out-there idea is the idea of the travel buddy: something that you’d wear that would cruise the Internet and be able to read your facial expression, which mood you’re in, and then book you the right accommodation or the right experience that you need. It’s very important, even if these technologies are not here today, it’s important to work on your story and to push your story to as many places as possible. Because the internet is becoming more and more intelligent. In order to find your content, your content needs to be there. In more place you can put it, the better.

How we will organize ourselves?

In terms of how we will organize ourselves, property managers and owners, the likelihood is (and I talked about it it in a separate presentation) there will be one App to rule them 😀 by that I mean there will be a software or maybe various software where you go in and you will have access to tons of other softwares. You won’t need to go from one tech platform to the next and try make things work manually. Everything will be connected! This is the way the technology industry is going. So hopefully that’s where we’re going to see more and more marketplaces that connect all of these technologies that we need, from marketing distribution to operations as well.

Amenities of the future!

In terms of amenities! This is not an amenity of the future: Selfless checkin /keyless doors. This is not the future, this is a reality. There are many instances of OTAs that will not rank you as well, if you don’t have it. This is something you definitely need to work on and to get. Amazon Echo is something that we talk about in the industry. There are issues with privacy still but by the looks of it, this will be sorted soon and then every vacation rental will possibly have an Amazon Echo. There are Apps being created for the Amazon Echo, one is Properly. There’s this Beta Startup called Vacation Virtual Concierge who’s creating an Alexa app just for vacation rentals.
In the future, so we’re not quite there yet, at least for vacation rentals, it’s the idea of having a butler, a robot butler. These robot butlers will be very intelligent, they will have special skills, languages and they’ll be able to make your guest feel at home, even pick them up from the airport in their language, take them to the vacation rental and do all sorts of things for them. This is already happening in the hotel industry. This is a robotic butler in a Starwood hotel in the States. You can book it with your mobile phone and it goes and fetches you a coke or anything else you need. In Japan there’s a weird hotel that has the humanoid robots, even a dinosaur robot during checkin. Very hilarious!
Another amenity that we can expect in them future is 3D maker in every vacation rental. The idea would be that when you travel you don’t need to go with your tooth brush anymore, you could make that on-site. Even clothes! You don’t need to take them and you’d be able to make them as you arrive.
Another idea that I love is Dreaming Beds that we’ll have in the future. You go into bed and you program the dream that you want to have. Anything, from a romantic adventure to 😀 I don’t know a western! And the Bio Homes. This is happening in the hotel world, in other industries, in architecture ,where you have buildingS that are completely sustainable, fully sustainable, that even give back energy to the grid. This is something that is definitely happening to the hotels. We see them more and more. Let’s see what we can do about that with vacation rentals being green today, as (it’s) very important. Anything you can do in that respect is definitely going to be beneficial for your marketing and for your guests.

I guess I want to end with the most out-there idea which is the idea of morphing hotels, this is through, nanotechnology. The idea would be that you’ll be able to crowd vote how you want your hotel (to look like). What you want your hotel to turn into? In this example, in a fairytale castle. And through nanotechnology, the buildings will be able to reassemble themselves. Maybe we can imagine this in a vacation rental where people come in and reassemble the interior of the vacation rental, so that they feel comfortable :D.

That’s a little quote to end with: Prepare today because “Your Future is Created by What you Do Today, not by What you Do Tomorrow”! Thanks you very much and you know where to find me. Cheers!!

What do you think of the Vacation Rental of the Future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!