According to a HomeAway Survey of 1,441 travelers in August 2013, 92% of travelers expect online bookability.
HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples recently announced at Phocuswright that all listings on their network of sites will be online bookable by 2016. In case you are one of the professionals that has listings with empty calendar slots and opaque pricing information, you still have time to update your practices before your listings are penalized.
If you do not distribute on HomeAway, you still need to adapt to guest expectations given that over 90% of guests expect online booking features. There are many competitor retail listing sites as well, of course, and all managers should highly prioritize retail distribution of their listings. Alternative distribution methods are emerging as well, and loose distribution partnerships amongst vacation rental managers led by management companies such as Discovery Holiday Homes, whose principal has laid out the perils of competing with the distribution giants in search engine marketing (SEM) with its open letter to Google, “A Cry From the Search Wilderness!” and come up with various solutions to succeed in spite of the size and budget disparities between managers and OTAs/vacation rental marketplaces.
It all comes back to consumer expectations, however, and if you are not enabling easy, online booking, you are not meeting expectations of the modern consumer.