Following up on our previous article about the major channels to list your vacation rental property, it is now time to have a look at your other option: Niche channels.
Niche channels are basically smaller channels that are either local in nature (e.g. Paris lodgings), cater to a specific need or activity (e.g. ski chalets) or to a specific audience (e.g. LGBT). There are hundreds of niche channels globally, and each one has from a few hundred up to hundreds of thousands of listings. We will attempt to map out this market and help you decide which channels you should list on to increase your bookings.
To start off, we should define the 3 main categories of niche channels and see a few examples for each.
So you’re planning your next vacations, and you’re thinking of SE Asia. Maybe Thailand? Maybe Vietnam? Maybe Bali?
Let’s say Bali.
Next move, you google “vacation rentals in Bali” because you’re fed up of hotels and want to experience an authentic local experience. All the big players come up (Airbnb, Homeaway, etc), but you also get sites like Balivillas.com, Bali.com, Balivillashvr.com, Balivacationrental.com, and so on – there are more than 50 websites dedicated to vacation rentals in Bali. You do some research and notice that many listings are common on large and niche sites, but there are some beautiful villas at great prices that are only available on one of the smaller (niche) sites. You book your stay, you go on your holidays and have a wonderful time.
The story would be the same if you were looking for a place to stay during an activity trip – there are many activities that are so popular and widespread that whole lodging markets have emerged around them – let’s have a look at some examples:
- Skiing: There are thousands of ski chalets all around the world packed with skiers that want to hit the slope the minute they get out the front door.
- Rafting/kayaking: If you have never stayed at a river hut to enjoy white water rafting and the bliss of deep nature with good friends, you should. It’s an amazing experience, and there are thousands of river lodges globally rented online.
- Formula 1: All Formula 1 tracks around the world have hundreds of properties around them that are listed online to accommodate racing aficionados.
- Hiking/trekking: Like skiing, mountain hiking and trekking are extremely popular activities that attract millions every year to mountains around the world.
- Surf/windsurf/kitesurf: You will not believe how many surf spots exist around the world. Not only that, but each one has vacation rentals around them that thrive because of water sports enthusiasts.
- Golf: Millions of golfers around the world book their holidays around golf courses, and they don’t always stay at hotels 🙂 Vacation rentals around golf courses enjoy a steady flow of guests all year round.
- Conventions/trade fairs: Cities that have large convention venues and international trade fairs amass myriads of visitors every few days or weeks. You’ve surely heard of how notoriously difficult it is to find accommodation during popular conventions.
Of course the above list is not exhaustive and there are many more activities that have created a lodging market around them. Consequently, hundreds of niche vacation rental sites have sprung around these activities and offer villas, apartments, huts, bungalows, chalets, etc that cater to the needs of people that love these activities and need a place to stay. Instead of giving you examples, we urge you to google around and see for yourself how many sites offer properties exclusively around a particular theme or activity like the ones above. If you can think of more activities like the ones above we’d love to read about them in the comments section below!
Audience specific listing sites are gaining popularity at impressive speeds. In the chart below, you can see search popularity for 2 vacation rental listing sites (thanks Google Trends!): The red line belongs to a generic, well known brand, and the blue line belongs to MisterBnB.com, a gay-friendly vacation rental site that focuses on the LGBT community. See the trend?
There are many sites like Misterbnb: Innclusive.com, Purpleroofs.com, pinkvacationrentals.com, and so on. There are also hundreds of sites that target specific audiences based on nationality, age, family structure, etc. The options are endless.
Is it worth listing on them?
The above examples and scenarios are very common, and people book their stays on niche websites every day. So why choose one over the other? What makes a traveler prefer a niche site instead of a well established generic brand like Airbnb or Homeaway? There are various reasons, some of which we will attempt to discuss below:
- Price: Many of the niche listing sites have lower fees not just for visitors, but also for property owners. As a host listing his property, you might get a much sweeter deal with a smaller site, instead of paying 15% to a large one like Booking.com.
- Specialization: In many cases, a small specialized site can have much better content than a large one since it is usually curated by people that know their market very well and have the time and energy to focus on their niche and provide exceptional quality content.
- Direct support: Large players have millions of customers and cannot always provide the level of support a vacation rental owner or manager needs. Airbnb for example is notoriously difficult to get in touch with – you are usually left reading faq after faq until you find a solution to your problem. Smaller, niche sites have almost always a more direct connection to their customers, and since their customer base is much smaller they strive to provide the best support they can in order to keep them.
- Targeted guests: If you own a vacation rental property that falls into one of the categories discussed above, you are much more likely to get quality (targeted) guests by listing in a niche website that covers your market/activity/segment. If for example your property is right next to a famous golf course, you can justify higher prices that will only be appreciated by golfers.
- Less competition: Since the listings are much less in niche sites, you have less properties to compete with. Βetter be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion!
So, to answer the initial question: Yes. It is worth listing on multiple niche websites. Especially if your property falls into one of the categories listed above, there are surely many bookings waiting for you that would otherwise would not have found you. Think of it this way: There are hundreds of niche short term/vacation rental listing sites out there, and more are popping up each day. That means there are millions of people visiting them and booking their stays on them – why miss out on all this potential?
The only thing you have to do is create your listing on them, and then find a way to synchronize your bookings across all your calendars so you don’t get double bookings. Needless to say, Syncbnb is the best way to do both! If you’re interested, please register for our free beta by clicking the button below to receive an invitation to try us out.