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Here are the Challenges and Opportunity for Vacation Rental Owners Your secondary property is not going to remain a bad investment as we will tell you how to generate handsome income from it

By Anil Kumar Prasanna

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Many High net worth individuals (HNIs) in India own a secondary property; this can be a farmhouse, an estate house, or an elegant flat. Until now these properties were used as weekend getaway destinations for the family or for celebratory gathering once or twice a year.

Until platforms like Airbnb came around, these secondary properties were a dead capital investment for most of the year. Platforms such as Airbnb allow owners to leverage the properties when empty and completely unused, by opening their vacation home to travelers.

With the middle class diaspora around the world, especially in Asia, earning higher incomes steadily, they are open to travelling (both domestic and international travel) frequently. They naturally seek economical flights and accommodation. Airbnb has caused a major disruption in the hotel industry by turning unused rooms and homes into bed and breakfast stays around the world for far less.

This solution (platforms like Airbnb) is designed for modern day travelers. Therein lays the opportunity for each vacation home owner to leverage this ever growing population of travelers who are willing to pay the right price for the right property.

As a result, owners can generate handsome income given the following aspects are managed and attended to diligently,

  • Register and manage the property on popular platforms to attract bookings online

  • Invest in resources to maintain the property and to deliver top class stay experience for guests

  • Chalk out the best marketing strategy to promote the property on offline and online platforms to attract travelers

What are the challenges?

Now that there is tremendous potential to earn a lot of income by turning an unused property into a top class vacation home, we need to see what the main challenges faced by property owners today are.

  • Unable to generate enough bookings

  • Unable to formulate a strong marketing strategy

  • Unable to maximize revenue through intelligent pricing strategies

Unable to generate enough bookings

Once the property is up and running on a few OTAs, the owner might see a few bookings trickling in. However, the initial surge may not sustain for longer periods. All OTAs have set budgets to promote their platform on TV, print, and online media, which generates a lot of traffic online.

When travellers spend time looking for the right vacation home in a particular city, your property ends up competing with a hundred other properties for every booking. There is no differentiation besides the way you describe your property on the OTA, how crisp the property photographs are and how smartly you have priced each room or the entire property. This leads us to market the vacation home.

Unable to formulate a strong marketing strategy

There are two ways a property can be promoted online and offline;

a) Organic, unpaid promotions and

b) Paid promotions. Setting up a unique property page on social media such as Facebook and Instagram and to publish daily content (pictures and offers) can be carried out for free if the property owner can do all these on his own (which isn't difficult).

Putting money to boost your property online such as on Facebook and Instagram, or to buy ads on Google search page needs a strong marketing strategy and an experienced hand to carry out these tasks to get the best ROI. You can buy ads on print media too, only if your marketing strategy demands it.

Email marketing is also a wonderful conduit to reach people frequently and to offer valuable promotions, on a tight budget.

If not to execute these tasks all by themselves, property owners can use intelligent cloud-based software applications which won't cost much or hire agencies specifically built to promote vacation homes, at a cost.

Unable to maximize revenue through intelligent pricing strategies

Today's industries and businesses produce and market their products and services based on thorough analysis of data; we come to call it as big data. Data analysis holds the key to understand what needs to be produced and sold and at what price. Our travel and tourism industry is no different when it comes to leveraging smart technologies to boost bottom lines.

There are smart applications which can analyze your local vacation rental market, which can analyze your properties past performance, analyze your competitors and allow you to forecast demand and price each room to maximize demand and incrementally boost your revenue. Most of these applications run on the cloud and can be used on multiple devices by the vacation homeowner, even on a smartphone.

What's the winning formula?

There is no single silver bullet which will cater to each solution a vacation home owner faces. However, a robust, hybrid solution of using the right technologies and hiring the right resources at the right price will determine the growth of revenue generated through vacation properties.
Anil Kumar Prasanna

CEO, AxisRooms

Founded by Anil Kumar Prasanna, Ravi Taneja and Leema Rosali in 2011, AxisRooms is a technology-based channel management system that helps hoteliers improve their distribution, both for online and offline channels. Whether it is getting adequate exposure for the property or allocating the correct price for rooms in time, AxisRooms’s single dashboard gives hoteliers a seamless experience in inventory management. Using this, hotels have a better visibility of the demand and are able to serve guests better. Currently, it has 6500+ hotels on its platform spread across 20+ countries including brands like CGH Earth, Leisure Hotels, OYO Rooms, Fab Hotels, Keys Hotels, Samode Hotels, and ITC WelcomHeritage etc. It is backed by Seedfund, India's leading early-stage venture capital fund.
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