I Predicted The Future Of Vacation Rentals But Was I Right?
You can’t just look forward to 2017 without looking in the rear view mirror. You often need to look back at where you’ve been to appreciate and understand where you are and where the market is going. This is the time to reflect and become aware of the lessons you’ve learned. While detecting patterns both good and bad that took place in your business and industry.
They say that history is a great predictor of the future and there is truth to that. That’s why reflecting on the past is important to being able to accurately forecast and prepare for the future. And why the end of the year is the perfect time to look back before going forward.
Before I start making any predictions this year. I’d like to ask you to settle a debate that ended a little rudely… I’d like to ask you, was I right or was I wrong?
A couple of years ago I was asked by a blogger to share my insights into the future of the vacation rental industry in 2014. I have to say after sharing my thoughts some people called me crazy.
I felt they thought I should be wearing a tinfoil hat.
They thought I was some sort of conspiracy theorist because I believed there were people who wanted to take control of our “VR world”. I called them “The Giants,” Some thought my ideas were wild and completely off base but looking back, were they really?
Some people thought it was crazy talk, so much so I had a disagreement online about it with a guy named Trent Blizzard. At the time Trent was working at Blizzard Internet Marketing.
I’m going to share the prediction with you that started the disagreement, right here in this post. I do think my prediction was a bit early, but to me, the writing was on the wall and I could see it coming and I shared that publicly.
I wasn’t the only one asked about what the future holds. I was part of a panelist of four “vacation rental gurus” who shared their thoughts of what’s to come.
While all four of us agreed booking software was going to be the next big thing, no one else saw the take-over of vacation rentals happening at that time.
Here was my famous vacation rental prediction –
“2014 will be The Year Of The Giants Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum. Now that booking software is helping to hotelify vacation rentals we’ve opened up Pandora’s box.
The Giants Are Coming! Since rentals can now be booked like hotels, travel giant Expedia is joining the rental industry in early 2014. More giants will follow, but who? Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity or someone else? Google??? Don’t be surprised.
Once giants move in other travel agencies will follow the trending vacation rental market. Sites like Expedia have a gargantuan list of partners using their database of properties. So, there will immediately be a legion of new sites offering vacation rentals.
Google likes giants, they generally rank them higher than other sites. It’s going to get tougher to compete. Properties listed on Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com and others may outrank you for keywords.
Expect more commission sites with “Free Listings” instead of traditional subscriptions. Big software enhancements to help you market and manage even better will be coming out in 2014. Hotels will push back and I foresee more V.R. laws emerging in 2014.
Owners are becoming “enlightened”. The industry will see an “awakening” of owners who will do more in 2014 because they now know more. Villa Marketers has noticed a spike in educated owners developing their own websites and marketing to get back what they’ve been losing, and we see this rising in 2014.”
In response to my forecast, Trent went as far as to give a “replacement prediction” to be considered in place of my original prediction. Now, that was cold. Don’t you think?
I’m sure you can imagine that annoyed me a bit, I thought it was rude to override my prediction with his own. But I knew there was no point to arguing at that time.
I remembered an old passage that says – you’ll only know if a prophet is real if his or her prophecies come true. That’s why I stopped listening to all the doomsday forecasters because their doomsday dates always pass, and guess what – the world keeps spinning.
While I am definitely not a prophet, I do believe I’m an excellent forecaster of business. So I figured I’d have to just wait and see, and then remind Trent if I ended up being right. Yeah, it may be a bit petty but I’m totally OK with that ?
Here is what Trent said in response to my prediction that started it.
I have my doubts about 2014 being the year of the giants… people have been saying that for years and years. #1) I think that VRowners/managers are adverse to their HUGE commissions #2) I think the inventory is hard to commoditize like a king/queen hotel #3) I think Expedia doesn’t want to “herd cats” and work with lots of small pain-in-the-ass inventories and individual owners. #4) I think VR Owners want money up-front and want to vet/own the relationship with their guests.
Here is a replacement prediction: Full adoption of inbound marketing and permission marketing. Marketing platforms like Hubspot are bound to make huge inroads into the market once savvy VRMs learn how effective they really are. VRMs will finally tie together their websites, social media, email marketing and call centers with their past guest lists and start reaping the bonanza. Forget Expedia, go for Hubspot instead.
So there you have it, both sides. What are your thoughts?
Before answering that, there is a side note here to consider. It seems to me all the predictions have come true with the exception of Google entering into the vacation rental market. However, could this be something that can still happen? Or… did it happen already?
You may find it interesting to know that Google has helped to lead an $850 Million funding round for Airbnb in Septemeber. Is Google in this picture? Should we be concerned about Google being involved in our industry in 2017 and beyond?
Around the same time of the first prediction, I had also warned owners on the same topic for Alan Egan’s audience almost 3 years ago.
Here is an excerpt of what I wrote on his blog, which I believe we’re beginning to see transpire RIGHT NOW! It’s called the “culling of the cattle.”
– “Those weakest specimens who have failed to keep up will be starved and begin to die out. The VR world will begin to be ruled by the elite owners and managers.
I believe we’ll see a decline in subscription listing sites with commission being the bigger prize moving forward. Not all these things may fully be realized in 2014 but I feel for the first time the process is in full swing this year!” You can read the rest of that vacation rental prediction here.
And as far as the VR laws go, owners are being crushed by them as we speak. Some owners are even going to jail. Criminal charges are being filed against vacation rental managers and owners who are renting out properties that have been deemed “illegal.”
You can read a recent article about Scott Shatford of Santa Monica, he’s the first to get arrested and charged criminally for renting out a vacation property in the US.
Are new VR regulations this industry’s biggest threat, one that could snuff out many of our businesses in the future?
So now that we’ve looked back and we’ve come around to the present day– what are your thoughts, was I, right or was I crazy?
And based on history and your gut feeling, where do you feel we are heading in 2017? It’s time to do a forecast of your own and prepare for next coming year.
What Are Your Thoughts?