06 May 2021

Alternative sources of reservations in Vacation Rentals: Part I

Property managers commonly receive reservations from either major online channels, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, VRBO and TripAdvisor just to name a few, or directly from their own website. As we all know online channels multiply reservations, true, but also claim a commission in exchange, while direct reservations are free from any type of commission but are tough to get going. So, once the portfolio is ready to be launched into the market, sales is usually the first area where property managers focus on.

They begin with connecting to as many OTAs as possible to guarantee themselves enough reservations to survive and, in the meantime, develop their own website. Naturally, the website needs constant attention to grow in visits and visibility to hopefully generate a satisfactory reservation flow. Next, when all is set up and running, attention normally slides towards all sorts of strategies to maximize revenue. These strategies mainly aim to reduce the impact of channel commissions and attract as many website visitors as possible to raise direct reservations. In other words, property managers begin to go further and further into detail to get as close as possible to maximizing their strategy potential. The number of options and their effectiveness usually depend on how powerful their PMS Channel Manager is.
But is this it? Are OTAs and websites really the only two sources from which reservations come in? Is it possible there is no other way to receive reservations? Surprisingly, or maybe not, the answer is no.

Many tourists like to program, as in book, their own vacations by themselves but there are many other travelers that reserve via travel agencies, through associations, or rely on the company they work for if the trip is for business reasons. Hence, reservations may come from various sources which do not necessarily contemplate a technological integration. Think of a traditional travel agency, a real estate agency that decided to differentiate and propose properties for short-medium stays, or maybe a pharmaceutical company that has employees travelling all year long all around the world. We are going to analyze some of these opportunities further on during the second part of this post but first.

How can we exploit this opportunity with Icnea?

Our PMS Channel Manager has a specific dedicated section realized exactly to exploit these opportunities. Aside from the general company information, each profile can be configured with the agreed percentage commission, whether or not the commission must be added on top of the published price like is normally done with major OTAs, if the cleaning must be included in the price or not, who collects the reservation amount and issues invoices and, finally, what are the properties that are agreed to be available in that channel: 

Once profiles are ready and agreements are set, each partner will be given access to the online portal Icnea will have ready for the property manager. After logging in, each partner will be able to enter, consult availability and finalize reservations.

In conclusion, the offline channel management system proposed by Icnea is quite simple, innovative and extremely powerful because it allows property managers to create and manage new channels from any offline company. Aside from generating alternative sources of reservations, this system helps differentiating clients and diversify from leisure tourism. All these aspects cooperate to make short term rentals less dependent from major OTAs.  In the next posts we will analyze some opportunities and see how this feature may express its potential.

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