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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Citing a PhocusWright study, FlipKey highlights over 350K second home owners queued to begin offering their vacation homes to travelers more frequently

January 15th Boston, MA:  With the vacation rental market estimated at $24B, the growing and popular lodging sector motivated PhocusWright – a leading travel research firm – to conduct the industry’s first ever dedicated market study.  Co-sponsored by 14 industry players including FlipKey.com – a leading vacation rental site featuring the industry’s largest collection of verified guest reviews – the study estimates 1.26M second homes are available for rent in the U.S. for families looking for an alternative to hotels and other lodging options.

The study identified that 56% of the vacation rental market is represented by rent-by-owners with the remaining 44% of vacation rental homes managed by professional property managers.  Encouraging for the growth of the industry, the study highlights 50% of rent-by-owners are casual renters, offering their units primarily to friends, family and through word-of-mouth.  As the economy continues to place additional financial burdens on second homes owners, FlipKey expects more of these casual renters to become increasingly active, working independently or through a property manager to offer their home more frequently and to travelers beyond family and friends.

 for_rent “Although there are 1.26M vacation homes that have been rented, it doesn’t mean they were made available to the general traveler,” stated TJ Mahony, CEO of FlipKey.com. “When we pealed back the layers of the study we estimated there are 350K casual renters that don’t necessarily make their home available beyond their immediate friend and family network.  It’s reasonable to assume the current economic environment will help motivate many casual vacation rental owners to become more active.”

FlipKey defined an ‘active’ renter as an owner that markets their home to travelers beyond their family and friends network.  Mahony summarized, “if an owner actively markets their property online and rents their unit to two or more people completely outside their personal network each year we consider them active.”

When renting a vacation home its imperative vacationers feel comfortable and confident in the home and manager/owner of the property.  Vacation homes overseen by property managers and active owners often provide strong customer support, clear check-in / check-out processes and other support services consumers value.   Mahony concluded, “Given the economy and growing support and marketing services available, there is a clear opportunity for more of these casual participants to become more active, renting their homes more often, yielding increased rental income.”

About FlipKey

FlipKey is a leading vacation rental service featuring the world’s largest collection of verified vacation rental guest reviews. FlipKey believes reputation, trust and feedback from past guests are the best resources to ensure consumers find the ideal vacation home. FlipKey currently features more than 60,000 vacation homes offering vacationers the unique advantages of more personal space, superior amenities and ideal locations throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. FlipKey is majority owned by TripAdvisor, LLC, and is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, attracting more than 32 million unique monthly visitors* across 12 popular travel brands. FlipKey is available at http://www.flipkey.com

*Source: comScore Media Metrix, May 2008

© 2008 TripAdvisor LLC. All rights reserved.

Press Release

Struggling Economy Driving Consumers to Alter Ski trips, But not Cancel Them

Boston, MA, January 6, 2009– Travel industry reports forecast a dark winter for the travel industry, but FlipKey.com, a leading vacation rental website, indicates this doesn’t necessarily spell a down season for the whole ski industry. FlipKey – www.flipkey.comconsumer_interest.png which markets over 60,000 vacation rentals throughout the United States, has found that consumer interest in many ski areas remains strong and has actually increased from 2008.  In fact, an informal survey of vacation rental managers in areas that draw from a more local traveling population reports year-over-year increases. Vacation rental managers are also seeing an increased interest in vacation rental properties rather than other lodging options.

According to Jeremy Gall, Chief Operating Officer of FlipKey, “Destination ski areas, such as Aspen, CO, that require consumers to travel long distances will struggle this season; however, we are seeing a boost in interest to more local ski resorts. For instance, Loon Mountain, a local draw within the New England market cited 9% year-over-year increase in pre season ticket sales.”

Similarly, Cort Roussel of Franconia Notch Vacations, servicing the White Mountain region of NH, added, “Cannon Mountain has seen a 40% increase in the volume of season’s passes sold over last year.”

Those benefiting from current traveler trends tend to be located in areas that cater to local interest and/or offer alternative lodging accommodations. Specifically, consumer interest in vacation home rentals has been bolstered by the current economy, as more people seek more affordable vacation options that do not require excessive travel.

“We are seeing increased interest in our larger vacation homes as families are traveling in groups, taking advantage of the shared weekly rent and comfortable space afforded by our vacation homes,” said Joanne of New England Vacation Rentals.

Nick Lanza of Big Bear Vacations (Big Bear Lake, CA) cites, “Out-of-state skiers are relatively absent this year, but we are seeing a surge in interest from southern California.”

The decrease in destination ski travel is mostly a function of the economic downturn, but can also be placed on new airline policies. The introduction of baggage fees across the airline industry places further burdens on the long distance ski traveler. A family of four flying from the east Coast to the Rockies can incur more than $300 in additional fees for simply checking in their skis and boots.

The emerging formula for this years ski family is to stay local, drive a few hours and book a vacation home rental that affords the family extra space to discuss how bad the economy is.

FlipKey is a leading vacation rental service featuring the world’s largest collection of verified vacation rental guest reviews. FlipKey believes reputation, trust and feedback from past guests are the best resources to ensure consumers find the ideal vacation home. FlipKey currently features more than 60,000 vacation homes offering vacationers the unique advantages of more personal space, superior amenities and ideal locations throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. FlipKey is majority owned by TripAdvisor, LLC, and is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, attracting more than 32 million unique monthly visitors* across 12 popular travel brands. FlipKey is available at http://www.flipkey.com

About FlipKey

*Source: comScore Media Metrix, May 2008

© 2008 TripAdvisor LLC. All rights reserved

What a year… Obama for president, the collapse of the financial industry and an unknown future for U.S. automakers.  2008 was chalk full of headlines with the vacation rental industry carving out its own “major news.”    Based on an extremely unscientific poll, FlipKey has amassed the Top 10 Vacation Rental Highlights of 2008.

#10:  FlipKey launches the industry’s first independent guest review serviceamassing the industry’s largest collection of verified vacation home rental guest reviews to promote the advantages of the vacation rental experience.

top_ten_2008.png

#9:  VRMA overhauls board of directors, including the introduction of the industry’s first supplier representation (Kyle Buehner, Navis Technologies) in an effort to improve the market awareness, impact and membership growth.

#8: PhocusWright conducts the first formal, independent, industry study on the $24B vacation rental market highlighting that vacation rentals are emerging as a mainstream lodging category

#7:  Orbitz begins promoting vacation rentalson Orbitz.com and Away.com through partnerships with Zonder and Vast, respectively.

#6: Discover Vacation Homes is launched,introducing the first dedicated public relations effort to promote the advantages of vacation rentals and professional managers.

#5:  Industry addresses consumer confidence in vacation rentals with several companies introducing new vacation rental insurance products, the introduction of manager only search portals (e.g. ClearStay.com and VacationRoost) and additional PR efforts to educate consumers on the safety and advantages of vacation rentals.

#4:  Instant Software announces over $1B in online reservations were executed through its ISILink global distribution system (GDS), highlighting the migration of vacation rental reservations from call centers to the desktop.

#3:  Large RBO website raises $400M, underscoring the growing popularity and growth potential of the vacation rental industry.

#2: Vacation rentals hit mainstream press with the WSJ, New York Times, USAToday and several other national publications featuring articles on the vacation home rental industry.

#1:  TripAdvisor takes a majority stake in FlipKey and announces it will begin promoting vacation rentals to TripAdvisor Media Group’s 24M monthly visitors in 2009.

Situated on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe, CA is home to some of the most beautiful skiing trails in the Sierra Nevada’s. The area boasts the largest concentration of ski resorts in North America, with 7 Lake Tahoe resorts to choose from- offering a total of 535 groomed trails and 125 lifts. Many resorts operate complimentary or low cost shuttles around the lake, making the mountains easily accessible.

Though Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas offer a number of hotels and ski lodges, often the best accommodations can be found in personal vacation rentals throughout the area.

Currently on FlipKey there are nearly 600 vacation homes located in the Lake Tahoe area – many featuring helpful guest reviews and tips. Here is what a few recent guests had to say about their Lake Tahoe vacation home experience.

Review of CYHO681 – Lake Tahoe Accommodations

Review of Gold Dust Family Retreat by Accommodation Stations, Inc.