The U.S. private accommodations market is set to reach $36.6B this year with the proliferation of third-party home rental sites and the continued growth of market leaders, such as Airbnb and VRBO.
In fact, in 2016, private accommodation grew 11%, nearly twice as fast as the total U.S. travel market. While growth is expected to slow, the segment will continue to outpace the overall market.
“The segment’s shift online, the expansion of the concept to include private homes in urban markets, the entrance of OTAs, and numerous innovative startups have all contributed to powering a period of tremendous growth,” says Phocuswright’s vice president, research, Douglas Quinby. “Against a backdrop of strong performance for the U.S. travel industry, the private accommodation segment has grown much faster than travel overall.”
Travel advisors, however, have largely been left out of this chaotic growth market that was developed earlier in the decade as a disrupter to classic hotel model and maintaining more of a DYI model than other travel industry products.
That is, until now. Given the continued surfacing of stories in that market where unassuming renters met with all manner of accommodation problems: from dirty spaces to locked doors to unsavory hosts to deceitful representations, there have been plenty of reasons to pull travel agents into this burgeoning supply channel.
TravelPro Rentals by RedAwning has done just that – created a span of inventory that will satisfy this rising demand but in a curated, vetted and systematic operation for travel agents that all but does away with mystery pads and liability.
Travel-Intel interviewed TravelPro Rentals director Cindy Brewster to find out how travel advisors are helping clients navigate these unusual hospitality choices and benefit by the market’s energized growth.
Please describe TravelPro Rentals by RedAwning – what it is, what it has been and what it does.
Travel Pro Rentals is a global supplier of vacation rental properties offered direct to the worldwide travel industry. It’s a unique booking engine designed specifically for tour operators and travel advisors to enable them to book RedAwning’s expansive inventory of over 100,000 vacation properties for their clients. The engine provides travel professionals with a white-labeled method of doing business in vacation rentals. The platform is free to use, with no set-up costs or monthly fees, and travel advisors earn commission on every booking. Today TravelPro Rentals has over 10,000 registered advisors actively using the tool, and is growing daily.
The company name RedAwning offers a nice visual. Can you tell us how it came to be called that?
RedAwning was founded by Tim Choate in 2006 after a frustrating personal experience while traveling in Europe. He wanted to make the vacation rental booking process more like a hotel booking experience, including simplified contracts and payments, no security deposits, and instant availability and booking. The RedAwning name conveys the elegance, comfort and welcoming, hotel-like services that Tim wanted to introduce to the vacation rental sector. It reflects the personal, white glove service a guest can expect along the guest journey when using RedAwning.
How does RedAwning differentiate itself from other vacation rental companies, such as Airbnb and VRBO?
RedAwning offers a complete and unmatched travel experience to the guest, as does TravelPro Rentals to the Travel Trade. Since RedAwning serves both as the merchant of record and the first line of customer service, we are able to streamline the communications for the guest by being the single point of origin for confirmation, payment processing, and check-in instructions, so the guest journey is seamless for the guest right up until they arrive at the property. RedAwning also provides a number of one-stop services to property managers to assist them in running and growing their businesses. This includes the largest distribution network in the world, complete website services and internet marketing, revenue management, analytics and 24//7 reservation support. TravelPro Rentals mirrors all of the reservations services of RedAwning, while working on a B2B only basis with the Travel Trade.
What should travel agents know about TPR by RedAwning? How can they best benefit from working with this company?
TravelPro Rentals offers certified travel advisors 10% commission on bookings made on the TPR platform, a departure from most vacation rental entities. Registered advisors get access to RedAwning’s global inventory with a booking engine specifically designed for them that allows advisors to white label the client booking process. Advisors can share properties without pricing, create brochures, save and store properties in client folders, book properties for their clients, provide check in instructions and property information, and maintain their brand identity, all the while supported in the background by the service and expertise of TravelPro Rentals staff. RedAwning has grown to over 140,000 vacation properties worldwide with new destinations added daily. A new, faster, and more user-friendly upgrade of the TravelPro Rentals website will be launched before the end of the year and we are extremely excited to present this to our Travel Advisors, Tour Operators and the entire professional travel community.
What are some of your most popular destinations and why?
Popular destinations at the moment in the US include beach favorites in Florida, Hawaii, Southern California, Gatlinburg in the Smokies, with the #1 urban destination being New York City. Our top international destinations include Italy, France, and Mexico. We have a wide variety of homes, apartments and condos in those areas.
What kinds of rentals can agents book through TravelPro Rentals?
Homes, condos, apartments, apart-hotels, serviced apartments, lodges, cabins, chalets, luxury homes, on beaches, in mountains, near lakes, and major cities like LA, San Francisco, New York City, Honolulu, Puerto Vallarta, Provence, and Tuscany.
Are there caveats agents should know about when using a vacation rental service such as TravelPro Rentals by RedAwning – perhaps liabilities, unexpected fees, risks? What protections does RedAwning offer?
RedAwning works exclusively with professional property managers and fully-vetted property owners to ensure a successful stay for agents and travelers. Rates on RedAwning (and TravelPro Rentals) are inclusive of taxes, cleaning fees, and most standard rental property charges. We never require a damage deposit — in fact, RedAwning covers all of our properties with accidental damage protection. In the unlikely event that a guest is not satisfied with their accommodation, RedAwning provides a 24/7 support line to rectify the situation, relocate the guests if appropriate, or provide a full refund.
What are the advantages to travel agents for using TravelPro Rentals by RedAwning as a hospitality choice rather than a tried and true hotel or resort?
There are so many advantages — hotels can be cramped, expensive, and may not offer any shared space to gather, or cooking facilities (hello cost savings!). Vacation Rentals offer more flexibility in style, space, amenities, location and especially local experiences than a traditional hotel or resort. Vacation rentals are the perfect solution for a wide variety of stays — from a luxury, romantic getaway in New York all the way to a large family reunion in Tuscany–and again, don’t forget that we pay commission! We LOVE the travel advisor community, and truly embrace it 100%.
We hear from advisors daily that their clients have specifically requested a vacation rental (no surprise as vacation rentals are the fastest growing accommodation choice in the travel sector). By utilizing TravelPro Rentals, advisors can get ahead of the curve by confidently and quickly offering their guests thousands of unique properties in a wide array of global destinations.
Our new site will offer the opportunity to become certified as an official TravelPro Vacation Rental Advisor. This program will be the first of its kind in the vacation rental space, and will offer additional benefits, such as promotional personal stay rates, the ability to serve on TPR advisory boards, rewards program bonuses, inclusion in our consumer facing “find a travel advisor” website, and more.
How does one book a TravelPro Rentals by RedAwning vacation experience? Is the service available to all consumers as well?
A travel advisor or operator just has to register on our site at www.TravelPro Rentals.com, wait for verification and they will then be ready to browse the site, book and earn 10% commission, or confirm at net rates. TPR registration is limited to bona fide travel advisors or tour operators who are members of IATA, CLIA, or TRUE etc. It is a professional B2B platform that is offered for use by professionals in the travel trade only. Consumers can also search on RedAwning.com and contact their favorite travel professional to facilitate the booking on their behalf.
Your website shows you partner with a number of vacation home booking sites, such as Booking.com, Expedia and Airbnb. How is it that you work with these companies?
Our parent company, RedAwning Group is the leading, single point of entry for property managers and owners to list their properties on the largest distribution network in the world. We provide the teams and the technology for connectivity to our own and other channels including Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb as well as e-commerce sites like eBay and Loyalty programs such as Vacation Rentals by Choice for Choice Hotel Club Members. The RedAwning Group also operates a network of proprietary sites including RedAwning.com, TravelPro Rentals.com, PerfectPlaces.com, VaycayHero.com, and Leavetown.com.
Managers and owners choose RedAwning to represent their properties for many reasons, a main one being that RedAwning supplies accommodations specifically and directly to travel advisors and tour operators — an audience they would not otherwise reach. RedAwning is thrilled that we are able to provide a booking engine which was designed for and works with both the travel trade and their clients while also taking advantage of this growing sector.
What plans does RedAwning have for new innovations, types of properties or destinations they may be offering down the line?
Innovations: RedAwning has a partnership with Amazon, that will supply participating properties with smart devices, such as the Amazon Echo device, enabling the delivery of property-specific, and region-specific information to guests. The RedAwning Smart Concierge™ will answer questions like, Where is the remote? What is the wi-fi password? How do I work the Hot-tub? Is there a great non-touristy restaurant nearby? The answers will be pre-programmed into each device to enhance the guest’s stay, greatly alleviating the need for calls to the front-desk, our guest services department, or even the travel advisors. Relative to destinations, we are growing our destinations by thousands monthly, and will be able to filter by ambiance and category (i.e. Romantic Luxury) down the road.
The RedAwning Group has been growing. Our acquisition of Blizzard Internet Marketing means enables us to offer powerful customized websites and booking engines designed with years of experience in driving vacation rental bookings to property owners and managers. We also recently acquired Leavetown Vacations adding several multi-unit apartment blocks and resorts to our inventory, allowing us to respond with more serviced apartments. This fulfills the corporate demand for vacation rentals. All of this inventory of course is also available via TravelPro Rentals.