FlipKey Committed to Driving Broader Consumer Awareness of Vacation Rentals

On Tuesday FlipKey released a press announcement highlighting the health and growth the vacation rental industry (see full release below). Typically, public relation efforts are focused on a single product or company. At FlipKey we, of course, are interested in promoting our service publicly, but we also feel the underlying vacation rental market has an interesting story to tell.

Moving forward FlipKey will begin to focus a portion of its marketing investments and efforts in broader industry awareness. We will soon feature a story highlighting an emerging industry group we feel will be a powerful advocate for the vacation rental market – Discover Vacation Homes

Discover Vacation Homes began as a collaborative effort amongst vacation rental managers in the Orlando, FL market to promote vacation rentals as a mainstream lodging option. Rather than focusing their marketing efforts to compete against one another, they agreed collaborative industry marketing to “increase the pie for all” was a more beneficial approach.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit them at www.discovervacationhomes.com. Next week we will feature a more in-depth profile on the organization.

—-FlipKey Recent Press Release—–

BOSTON, MA – May 20 2008 – Despite the dark U.S. real estate market, individuals that own a second home and make it available as a vacation rental are seeing pure sunshine. In March, the Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) announced that the vacation rental industry saw a 17.4% revenue increase in 2007. The $80B domestic vacation rental market continues to benefit from rising hotel prices and second-home owners looking for additional sources of income. Vacationers are quickly discovering that renting a vacation home often provides a more spacious, personal and economic lodging experience when compared to hotels.

According to Steve Trover, President of Discover Vacation Homes, the industry’s public awareness organization, “Anyone who stays in a vacation rental will tell you they will never go back to hotels. Renting a well-kept private home, in a beautiful destination, affords families a more personal experience, ideal location, more space and extra amenities simply not offered by hotels, such as private pools, a backyard and full kitchen. Vacation rentals are a win-win for vacationers and second-home owners alike.”

In 2007, hotel rates in major U.S. cities increased an average of 9%, and the average nightly rate for a room in Manhattan saw a year-over-year increase of 12%. In response, consumers are seeking alternative accommodations, which bodes well for the vacation rental industry. However, many consumers have been confused by the booking process and discouraged by fragmented listings, inaccurate calendars, unverified hospitality and management services and the potential for fraud.

New services, such as FlipKey.com, are focused on taking the guesswork out of vacation rentals by verifying the legitimacy of vacation homes listed on its site and publishing reviews from real guests. According to a recent FlipKey.com study conducted in partnership with Compete, Inc, 78% of vacationers indicate they are significantly more likely to rent a vacation home if they can read a review of a prior guest and have some level of guarantee that a manager is within driving distance to assist with any maintenance issues that might arise.

“Transparency and confidence are the crucial elements to successful vacation home rentals, and as hotel prices escalate, vacation home rentals are becoming the lodging option of choice,” said TJ Mahony, CEO of FlipKey. “The FlipKey study, backed by Compete’s web analytics, reinforces our belief that the vacation home rental market will see continued growth as FlipKey guest reviews and service verification are made openly available, bringing the same level of transparency and confidence to renting a vacation home that other websites have brought to booking a hotel.”

With the introduction of new reputation-based services like FlipKey.com, the industry is enjoying strong demand. In fact, VRMA reports that 88% of its member companies (management companies who oversee the rental of owners’ homes) experienced an overall gross income increase between 2006 and 2007. Summarized by Steve Trover, “Despite the real estate market, despite rising fuel prices and despite rising hotel rates, vacation rentals continue to prosper, offering second-home owners significant sources of income and vacationers superior and more economical lodging options.”