The vacation rental industry is in an undeniable boom. With the rise of popular platforms like Airbnb and Homeaway, travelers are increasingly shifting their focus from hotels to online vacation rentals. With the rise of digital technology, this business model has burgeoned. As Skift notes, “in the pre-Internet era, vacation rentals were a largely mom-and-pop industry” but, in recent years, “this cottage industry has blown up…believed to be worth $100 billion.” VR Guest became an early entrant into this expanding industry over a decade ago, when we launched Florida-Beach Rentals, our original site. Offering outstanding features such as lower fees and better communications, VR Guest’s platform is on the precipice of even greater growth. In the following blog, we describe VR Guest’s vision, including our past foundations, present benefits, and future plans.
Ultimately, VR Guest’s state-of-the-art service is the result of many decades of development, so it is important to honor our history. Of course, people have been sharing vacation properties for hundreds of years. In past centuries, this process might have been as a wealthy nobleman asking one of his fellows to spend a few weeks at his estate. Although this was a very casual, personal vacation rental system, it established the cornerstones of and concepts for the current market.
The vacation rental industry evolved further in the middle of the twentieth century. As Inside the Gate explains, “depending on how rigid your definition of the word is, modern timesharing was invented in either Switzerland or France.” Technically speaking, the first time sharing arrangement was made by Dr. Guide Renggli when he “established a company named ‘Hotel- und Appartmenthaus Immobilien Anglage AG’” and “began to acquire resort properties, which were sold in a ‘right to use’ share program.” The industry became even more prevalent in the following years, when Paul Doumier of France “created a timeshare concept for his company [the Societe des Grands Travaux de Marsaille].” Perhaps most important is the fact that “Doumier coined a catchy advertising slogan that advised people it was cheaper to buy the hotel than to rent the room, and it caught on” as a way to understand and promote timesharing, which at that time was a relatively foreign concept to most people. This vacation rental structure quickly came to the United States, beginning with the “Hilton Hale Kaanapali…on the island of Maui, Hawaii.”
The industry remained in somewhat of a stasis for the next three decades, until the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Internet sparked a new sort of vacation rental system (which, oddly enough, in the digital era, bears great resemblance to the vacation property sharing practices of centuries past). Skift notes: “a Colorado couple looking for a better way to rent their ski condo launched booking site VRBO in 1996.” Around the same time, our enterprising executives created Florida-Beach-Rentals, establishing the groundwork for today’s VR Guest. Despite the fact that it was far ahead of its time, Florida-Beach-Rentals became incredibly popular within the state. Tens of thousands of people found exceptional vacation spaces through Florida-Beach-Rentals.
Within the last five years, online vacation rentals have surged in popularity. Now that the Internet has become ubiquitous, more and more people seek all sorts of services online, including and especially vacation bookings. Furthermore, business models that connect independently contracted service providers with customers (such as Uber and PostMates) have become particularly prevalent, setting the stage for unprecedented expansion in online vacation rentals. In fact, a recent report from Research and Markets predicts “that the global vacation rental market will reach $169.7 billion by 2019. The key regions where global vacation rental adoption is highest are Europe and North America, wherein the awareness of the concept of vacation rental is widespread.” As one vacation rental entrepreneur put it in Skift’s article, “the vacation rental industry is maturing ‘from a teenager to a young adult.’”
VR Guest is delighted to be a significant force in this flourishing modern milieu. Airbnb, HomeAway, and other platforms are popular, but users have begun to catch on to the fact that they do not actually solve the problems and provide the benefits they claim. While other online vacation rental giants have set their focus on profiting from this upsurge in the industry, VR Guest has stuck to its original, powerful goal: providing superb value and an excellent experience for both hosts and guests. To do so, VR Guest has optimized its operations on the following key points:
- Often, contemporary tourists choose online vacation rental platforms over traditional hotels in search of better, fairer prices. After all, hotels are infamous for adding unexpected charges (for better views, Internet service, parking, etc.). However, many of the most-trafficked vacation rental platforms are just as bad as hotels when it comes to such insidious invoices. They regularly add significant surcharges to both hosts’ and guests’ bills. This practice allows them to advertise rooms at competitive rates, which then become much less reasonable once the user has already committed to the service. VR Guest charges minimal fees. Instead, we focus on building our business by earning a great reputation with our users.
- In order to ensure that hosts and guests don’t make offsite deals (perhaps to avoid those hefty fees!), many online vacation rentals also greatly restrict user communications. According to Quora, Airbnb even goes so far as to censor certain words, phrases, and web addresses! While it may protect these sites’ massive profit margins, this practice makes it difficult for hosts and guests to determine if they are a good fit for each other. At VR Guest, we recognize that inviting someone into your vacation property and selecting a play to stay are both important, personal decisions, so we allow for much freer communications on our platform.
- Other online vacation rental platforms often fail to properly vet both the properties they list and the guests they register to rent them. This makes the quality of their bookings unreliable and, in some cases, even risky. VR Guest works tirelessly to ensure our vacation rentals and users meet high standards so everyone can enjoy all we have to offer.
Basically, in capitalizing on a lucrative trend, other online vacation rental platforms make profit their priority rather than user experience. In today’s market, VR Guest leads the pack on fair fees, clear communications, and uncompromising quality.
Having been a part of the online vacation rental field since its very inception, VR Guest is focused on the long-term future of this industry rather than immediate profits. Our company has been a trusted, high-caliber platform for over a decade, and we intend to continue for many more. To do so, we aim to reach exponentially more guests and hosts in the coming months and years. We currently list hundreds of thousands of properties in 68 countries and counting. Soon, we endeavor to make millions of properties available on our site, thereby allowing tens of millions of users to enjoy the advantages our platform provides.
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