Vacation Rental Market Survey 2016-2017

I’m Alex, co-founder of Syncbnb, and this is our first blog post.

Both my co-founder Petros and me are vacation rental owners besides IT professionals. We realized early on that by listing our properties on multiple channels (Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, Expedia, 9flats, Wimdu, etc) we were doubling and even tripling our revenue. However, when you are listed on multiple channels, whenever you get a booking from one of them, you have to visit all the others and update the calendars  so you don’t get double bookings. We set out to find a service that would do that for us (they’re called vacation rental channel managers), but found none that combined a) ease of use b) reliability and c) affordable pricing. That’s when we decided to build Syncbnb.

However, we wanted to corroborate our findings with market data. Again, we couldn’t find any market research on the issue of channels managers and how satisfied their users are, so we decided to run our own survey. Using an amazing survey platform called Pollfish, we managed to gather 1200 responses to our poll from vacation rental owners and managers from all over the world, but mainly US and Europe.

The results where what we expected, and then some!

We will show you all the results below in detail, but for now you can keep 2 figures as key takeaways:

  • Listing on multiple channels increases revenue by 2x – 3x (some even replied 4x!).
  • 85% of respondents would be interested in a calendar synchronization tool that will sync all their channels in real time with 100% success.

It was clear that there is a large need globally for a service like Syncbnb, that can do the job reliably and affordably.

In order to make the survey results easy to read, we have split the presentation in 4 sections. You can click on each link below to skip directly to that section.

Section 1: Demographics
Section 2: The questions
Section 3: Key Takeaways
Section 4: The results

Lets look at them in more detail:

Section 1: Demographics

We targeted a global audience of vacation rental owners and managers, with a 70% bias in US and Europe respondents, since those are the continents with most listings on vacation rental sites like Airbnb, Booking.com, Homeway, etc.

Syncbnb vacation rental survey demographics - world map

As expected, the average vacation rental owner is married with kids

Gender
female50.29%
male49.71%
Age
18 – 246.75%
25 – 3435.55%
35 – 4429.69%
45 – 5418.07%
549.93%
Marital Status
married52.35%
single21.95%
living with partner11.97%
divorced6.81%
separated2.82%
prefer to not say2.46%
widowed1.64%
Children
None20.89%
One20.42%
Two31.69%
Three13.26%
Four7.51%
Five2.58%
Six or more1.76%
Prefer not to say1.88%

They have had an average to high education, and most have a job besides renting their properties. Their annual income is above average.

Education
High school33.06%
Middle school2.79%
Postgraduate10.94%
Vocation/Technical College20.84%
University32.36%
Employment
Employed for wages56.21%
Self Employed13.47%
Homemaker10.42%
Student4.57%
Unemployed4.45%
Retired2.98%
Unable to work2.69%
Income
Click here to see a map of income levels per country
Lower 111.37%
Lower 228.14%
Middle 121.57%
Middle 213.25%
High 18.44%
High 25.28%
High 35.39%
Prefer to not say6.57%

Section 2: The questions

We wanted to keep the questionnaire simple and concise in order to not tore our respondents but also get a complete picture of the market. We started out with more than 25 questions and managed to narrow them down to the following:

  1. Are you a vacation rental owner or manager?
  2. Do you list your properties online?
  3. How many properties do you list online?
  4. How many channels do you list on?
  5. Which channels are you listed on?
  6. Since listing on more than one channels, how many times has your income increased?
  7. Do you currently use a channel manager?
  8. Which channel manager are you currently using?
  9. Does your channel manager manage real time, 2-way sync of your bookings with ALL your channels?
  10. Would you like to be listed on more sites/channels?
  11. If you do not list your property(ies) online, why don’t you?
  12. Would you be interested in a calendar synchronization tool that would update ALL your channels with 100% success, even if it only updated your calendars/bookings?

Section 3: Key Takeaways

Before delving into the charts and graphs let’s have a look at the main takeaways of the survey:

  • Three quarters of respondents are owners, the rest are managers
  • Close to 40% does not list online yet – this means room for growth
  • Most list 2 or more properties
  • 65% list on 2 or more channels
  • There is no one channel that stands out above the others – pie is equally divided
  • Listing on multiple channels increases revenue by 2x – 3x (some replied 4x)
  • About half of the respondents use a channel manager. The other half either needs one now or will need one soon.
  • 3 channel managers share 56% of market, the rest is divided between 10-15 other players
  • 45% of respondents who use a channel manager, say it doesn’t work as it should.
  • 85% of respondents would be interested in a calendar synchronization tool (like Syncbnb) that syncs all their channels in real time with 100% success

Section 4: The results

We analysed all 1200 responses in excel and created pivots for each answer that allowed us to segment the replies based on demographics or replies on other questions, thus allowing us to get a very good idea of each segment’s behaviors and opinions. We then created charts for each pivot, and selected the most representative to include in this report.

Question 1: Are you a vacation rental owner or manager?
As expected, the vast majority of respondents are owners, while 25% are managing other people’s properties.

Question 2: Do you list your properties online?

Most of the respondents list their propery(ies) online, and it’s perfectly understandable since the survey was conducted online. However, globally, this percentage is much lower.

Question 3: How many properties do you list online?

Most owners list 1 or 2 properties online, while vacation rental managers usually list more than 5 properties. Again, expected results.

Question 4: How many channels do you list on?

4 out of 10 of respondents said that they list only on one channel, while the rest list on 2 or more. The trend is rising though, and each time we re-ran the survey the percentage was growing.

Question 5: Which channels are you listed on?

This was a bit of a surprise. We where expecting Airbnb to come out on top with room to spare, but it turns out Expedia is leading the way. It’s possible that many of those that said Expedia know that they have acquired Homeaway and replied both, so that explains the high Expedia numbers.

Question 6: Since listing on more than one channels, how many times has your income increased?

We cant lie, the whole survey was built just for this question. We needed to confirm that we’re not the only ones that got a 2,5X increase in revenue since listing on multiple channels. Well, turns out we’re not alone!

Question 7: Do you currently use a channel manager?

Channel Managers are tools or services that help vacation rental owners or managers manage their listings across multiple channels. There are quite a few, each with it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Syncbnb is a Channel Manager that focuses on Calendar Synchronization above all else.

Question 8: Which channel manager are you currently using?

This one got us thinking. Should we show the names of the Channel Managers or not? We decided not to, because they are direct competitors and we preferred to not create any controversies at this point.

Question 9: Does your channel manager manage real time, 2-way sync of your bookings with ALL your channels?

Each channel (Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, Homeaway, etc) uses it’s own method for exchanging calendar information. Others use iCal files, others XML APIs, others nothing. Most channel managers rely on what is given out of the box from each channel, thus missing many updates due to embedded restrictions.

Question 10: Would you like to be listed on more sites/channels?

Our respondents seem to understand the value of listing on multiple channels. All they have to do is create a profile on each channel and then find a reliable calendar synchronization tool like Syncbnb to sync all their bookings!

Question 11: If you do not list your property(ies) online, why don’t you?

Some say they don’t need more bookings, some say they find it difficult, some are just plain lazy. They all have one thing in common though: They’re all losing bookings by not listing online!

Question 12: Would you be interested in a calendar synchronization tool that would update ALL your channels with 100% success, even if it only updated your calendars/bookings?

Most channel managers divide their resources in many different modules and options and thus cannot offer reliable calendar synchronization across many channels. It is clear that people need a service that can sync all channels reliably, even if that’s all it does.

This Survey is ongoing and we will update it whenever we find significant changes. It is also the catalyst that launched Syncbnb, since we could confirm our own findings that there is a great need for a calendar synchronization tool that is easy to setup and use, can manage all sites and channels and not just a few, and is affordable for all, and not just vacation rental managers. You can try it out for yourself by signing up here.

We would love to discuss the results with you, so please write any comments or opinions below and help spark the discussion!

Alex from Syncbnb

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