It was only a matter of time before Airbnb began seriously addressing the vacation rental market business — a global market worth an estimated $138 billion in 2016 and expected to grow to a value of $194 billion by 2021, according to a report by Technavio.
Speakingat the Vacation Rental Management Association’s national conference this past Monday in Orlando, Florida, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer Nathan Blecharczyk announced the debut of a new set of tools created for vacation rental property managers, some of whom manage hundreds or thousands of listings.
These tools, said Jonathan Lesser, Airbnb head of global host and community operations and general manager of vacation rentals, are Airbnb’s way of “embracing” the traditional vacation rental market, which is a significant portion of the alternative accommodations space that Airbnb has been slow to incorporate in the past. The tools are currently available to property managers worldwide who manage listings in popular vacation rental markets.
“Our platform was not originally designed for professional hosts in the traditional vacation rental market, yet they are hosts who provide great experiences to guests all around the world,” Lesser told Skift. “It was really time we made a statement about embracing them as a community on our platform.”
These tools, he said, make it easier for professional vacation rental managers to mange multiple listings, with “expanded pricing and availability settings to match the rules they have in their businesses” and to “improve calendar functionality with the ability to save and create rules set on pricing.” They also include tools such as a unified calendar and easy messaging capabilities, Airbnb says.
The new host tools also integrate with more than 70 other existing property management systems already being used by many vacation rental managers. Examples of these partners include Streamline, Live Rez, and Barefoot.
“Professional hosts use systems called property management systems, or PMSs, to manage their inventory, and they like to control all of their functionality from that platform,” Lesser said. “It’s easier for them and the inventory is more accurate on our site if we connect direct to the systems they use to manage their inventory.”
Lesser said Airbnb chose its property management system partners based on how many mangers, rentals, and markets they have using their software.
The decision to open up these new tools to outside partners makes good business sense for Airbnb. A 2017 Phocuswright report on private accommodations found that nearly 80 percent of property managers used a property management system in 2016, compared to an estimated 75 percent in 2012. Online channels overall drove close to 70 percent of property manager bookings in 2016.
“The majority of listeners in the audience use a third-party property management software because they list on multiple websites,” said David Jacoby, president and co-founder of Hostfully, a company that helps vacation rental and short-term rental hosts develop digital guidebooks for their guests to use for their stays. Jacoby attended Blecharczyk’s presentation, which included news of the new tools.
“This acknowledgment was important,” Jacoby added. “It was followed with a video that showed very clearly and easily how a manager can import listings from a leading PMS, Streamline, to create new listings on Airbnb. This has been a pain point in the past, and they seem to be improving on it,” Jacoby said.
“The verdict is still out as to how easy it will be for other vendors in the space to easily integrate,” he added. “Nate [Blecharczyk] really only mentioned the PMS space but did not talk about a Salesforce-like ecosystem or app store of vendors [for vacation rental managers to use.]”
The CEO of vacation rental management company Vacasa, however, doesn’t see the Airbnb tools as game-changing.
“A lot of these tools aren’t necessarily relevant to us or other larger partners like us,” said Eric Breon, Vacasa CEO. “These tools aren’t groundbreaking, but they do indicate more of a shift and tone in investment and the space itself. I think this is a good start, but still very much just the initial phase. Having Nate’s presence at the conference is a pretty significant shift. It’s exciting for Airbnb and for the [vacation rental] industry.”
Read more here.