This is according to PhoCusWright’s first look into the growing industry since 2008: A Market Reinvented: The U.S. Vacation Rental Landscape 2013. According to the survey, which will be available in the second quarter of 2013, while 35 percent of vacationers do not have a preference, 31 percent favor "going with a pro” versus 25 percent who want to book direct with a homeowner.
(Members of the VRMA receive a special discount of 25 percent off the price of the survey when it is released in Q2.)
VRMA members have been experiencing a steady uptick in bookings year over year. For example, January 2013 analytics data by the VRMA together with Navis Research, LLC points to a more than 15 percent growth in bookings last month versus the same time last year, and a nearly nine percent rise for the next six months.
"With vacation rental guests’ word-of-mouth record, we have seen many new travelers discovering the perks of professional hospitality,” explains Steve Trover, President of the VRMA. "Now we see the potential for huge growth among undecided travelers.”
Following is a first-look at key survey insights:
THE RISE OF THE PROFESSIONAL: More than half of the vacation rental market’s total rental revenue now goes to industry professionals, up from 43% in 2007. For vacation rental professionals this translated to a more than $11.6 billion marketplace in 2012. The total U.S. vacation rental industry is expected to reach $25.8 billion by 2014.
TOP ATTRIBUTES OF ‘GOING WITH A PRO:’ The survey shows guests are more likely to associate standard hospitality services with vacation rental professionals vs. owners, including such key attributes as:
- Services (daily maid service, concierge, dining)
- Customer service
- Safety and security
- Activities, services for children
- Modern amenities (flat-screen TV, wireless Internet)
BOOKING WITH CONFIDENCE: When asked about their reasons for booking a vacation rental with either a vacation rental professional or homeowner, primary motivators point to convenience and transparency: most often, they deemed it was the easiest/most convenient way, were more comfortable with the booking process, were used to booking that way or felt there was more information about the property. Guests who book with vacation rental professionals are more likely to do their research online, and more companies are offering the ability to book in real-time, with seven in 10 vacation rental professionals offering live online reservations vs. just 46 percent in 2008 – a statistically significant boost.