With so many reservations going through the major listing sites, there’s a real danger that our vacation rental properties are being commoditized.
Listing site giant Airbnb recently intensified its emphasis on the importance of rental property hosts and their relationship with their guests. They know that a bit of good, old-fashioned human interaction goes a long way. For the hosts, it can be vital to the ongoing success of your property, particularly if you’re expecting repeat visitors.
Chip Conley, head of hospitality at Airbnb, told guests at the company’s Airbnb Open 2015 Conference in Paris that the company regards its hosts as ‘partners’. According to a Skift report, he also said that the hosts are the company rather than the listings.
Commoditized by listings sites
As a vacation rental owner and Airbnb host myself, it’s good to see our role recognised at a time when many vacation rental properties are being commoditized by listing sites. It sometimes seems as if our properties are just items to be traded with deals and conditions decided over our heads. As if our own property is little more than one of many held in an online ‘warehouse’.
I strongly believe that there’s an emotional attachment to the service we offer our guests and to our properties. This passion can’t be boxed up as you would in a hotel room. There’s no emotional attachment to a box in a building.
Yes, we should regard our properties as businesses if they are to pay for themselves. But for many independent owners the sense of the property as their second home and the pride and pleasure they take sharing it with others can be very strong.
I recently shared my thoughts on this issue of commoditization with Amy The Abundant Host, an Airbnb host and entrepreneur who helps other Airbnb hosts to get the best out of the service.
The sharing economy in which Airbnb is so prominent, is about emotions, and expression of those emotions through our properties. And if we don’t have our own websites to manage our business, we can too easily become commoditized and have little or no say in whatever changes the listing sites decide to make.
We are more than just warehouse stock
The services the listing sites provide are marketing channels for our businesses — and we are more than just the warehouse stock. I think it’s important that owners feel in control, and that means having their own websites.
I’d go a step further and say that any independent owner should investigate the powerful online software tools available to help run their business efficiently. That way, they can have more time to devote to providing the warm welcome and attentive personal service that our branch of the hospitality business is renowned for.