Whether you’re a seasoned vacation rental veteran, or a starting host looking to expand, there’s one aspect of your business you’ll need to master to bring in bookings (and revenue). That’s multi-channel distribution: the art of advertising your properties at scale to convert as many potential travelers into bookings.
At its core, far-reaching distribution for a vacation rental company is simple. Advertise broadly and attract bookings. However, achieving this requires an understanding of distribution channels and specific tools to get done right.
A distribution channel is a website (sometimes called a platform) that allows hosts, owners, or managers to list and market their properties to potential travelers looking to book a rental. In exchange for listing the properties, the distribution channel either charges a membership fee, or a commission once a booking takes place. Airbnb, Vrbo and Booking.com are examples of typical distribution channels.
Without a plan to advertise your property to a broad audience of potential travelers, you decrease your odds of acquiring bookings. Fewer bookings means less revenue (which is the opposite of why you got started in the vacation rental in the first place.) Conversely, if you can advertise to a bigger pool of potential guests, you increase the potential for converting visitors into bookings.
On top of that, there isn’t really a disadvantage to listing on all the major distribution channels since the commission is charged once you secure a booking. So by casting wide net, you increase your odds of converting a booking without the upfront risk.
For some companies and single-property hosts, Direct Booking Sites may not be the best option. However, most multi-property owners and managers will find that the hidden benefits far outweigh the downsides.
Advertising your properties on all the major listing sites is fairly straightforward. Create listings and wait for the bookings to roll in. Not so fast. Without a proper tracking system, you’ll get into challenges related to double-bookings. Vacation rental companies can do two things to DIY fix this problem, and both aren’t optimal:
This is where a property management platform (PMP) or Channel Manager (CM) can accomplish the task for you. PMPs and CMs are niche software products designed for the vacation rental industry. Both can handle the distribution of your vacation rental listings across a wide range of booking sites.
In the full report, we’ll see what other features differentiate them and which is best for your company.