How to compete with AirBnB, HomeAway & Co?

How to compete with AirBnB, HomeAway & Co?

It is a returning question in every discussion with vacation rental business: “If I start my own marketing for direct bookings – how to compete with the listing-sites and OTAs?”

The background for this question is the fear to waste marketing money in a senseless battle against superior opponents.

But neither are the listing-sites and OTAs the opponents to be feared, nor is a marketing hopeless or not cost effective. In fact, it is not the listing-sites and OTAs who prevent the direct bookings on vacation rental websites.

Don’t fear the sharks

For all who still are not sure if they shall start their own digital marketing for direct bookings – here’s why you do not have to fear the big players.

Airbnb, HomeAway, tripadvisor or priceline’s are spending hundreds of millions in advertising (even TV), the newest technology, the best marketeers and SEOs. They know how to get traffic to their distribution websites.

We see big battles of the big corporation in SEO, in Adwords or even in TV and newspapers. They fight to be the “biggest” or “Most profitable” listing site or OTA in the world. They try to get the most visitors, the most listings, the most bookings. They fight for traffic on their websites in a worldwide, multilanguage market.

But all this is not your market!

You work in a local holiday rental business. You know your customers well, you know, that they will visit you because of the beautiful beach, cool neighbourhood, local festivals and – for sure – because of you. There are many other reasons to come to your place.

To be well booked, you need maybe 20 to 50 families or groups to stay. Not millions. Your marketing should look for this small group – not for the other millions of users worldwide.

Did you ever think about what the big corporations do for marketing in your market? In your town, your region, your topic?

Their Adwords specialists might even not know the name of your town, your beach or even your region. Their SEOs know nothing about your street food festivals, local traditions or the best restaurant in town. They do not know about what makes your place interesting for holiday makers and other travelers. And they do not know that your holiday home is a perfect location for a wedding or a family reunion.

But you do: You are a specialist for your place.

With their marketing budgets they cover hundred thousands of towns and regions in different languages for different target groups in adwords. But how much time and money do they spend for your niche? The big corporations do not look so scary when you break their marketing power down to your niche.

Sure you do not have to compete with the big players. They try to compete with you in your niche and usually have no chance but to use standardised methods. Often they win this competition just because there is no opponent.

Many short term rentals do not use their natural advantages against the big fish.

  • The marketing of the big listing-sites and OTAs do not match all traveler aims.
  • They do not know their short term rental objects nor they can negotiate the conditions.
  • OTAs usually requests extra commissions for their services from users.
  • They are not individual with their chat bots and outsourced call-centres.
  • And: They are not even able to work with the same digital marketing channels like you are.

You should know that there are multiple channels to do marketing for your business beside SEO and Adwords for short term rentals. In fact mostly you do not have to compete with listing-sites and OTAs in the same marketing channels and the same niche.

Setting up your own digital marketing strategy does not automatically mean battling the big boys.

Not sure, how to start your digital marketing? Just ask – or follow up our blogs and newsletters.