COMMENT: How travel agents can compete with peer-to-peer accommodation providers

COMMENT: How travel agents can compete with peer-to-peer accommodation providers

By Nico Nicholas, Founder & CEO of RentalsCombined.net

By Nico Nicholas, Founder & CEO of RentalsCombined.net

The short-term rental industry is booming at the moment, thanks in part to the huge rise in popularity of peer-to-peer brands and marketplaces such as Airbnb, HomeAway and HolidayLettings.  

Nico & Elkie Nicholas, Rentals Combined
Nico & Elkie Nicholas, Rentals Combined

More and more, travellers are looking for an immersive holiday experience where they can experience the ‘real’ destination and ‘live like a local’ in genuine and unique accommodation.

Yet, while popular with travellers, the rentals market has historically been notoriously difficult for travel agents to take advantage of. There is a huge gap in the market for the distribution of fully managed leisure and business property rentals through travel agents, principally due to a lack of available genuinely quality controlled properties.

Until now, there has been no-one in the industry making rental properties available to book in real-time through travel agents. When customers can quickly and easily search for a property, check for opinions on a review site, book and pay instantly, it’s no surprise they aren’t coming to travel agents for help with this type of booking.

This isn’t just a problem for travel agents – who are unable to tap into a whole market (and subsequent commissions) – but also for the property owners themselves. While the recent boom in the sharing economy has given access to new potential customers, rental property owners are missing out on the benefit of travel industry experts promoting and selling their product to both leisure and business travellers around the world.

Customers can lose out too. While there are many high quality properties out there, there are also many which have not gone through quality-control inspections or do not offer 100% financial protection to the client – the consumer doesn’t really know what they’re going to get as the properties are only ‘quality controlled’ through subjective reviews.

I entered the villa rental world in 1999 when we (my wife and co-founder, Elkie, and I) started renting out our property in the South of France and quickly became frustrated with the complex question of how to effectively market it. At the time, potential guests faced endless searching to find and arrange short-term apartment and villa rentals like ours. There simply had to be an easier way!

We wanted to create a product for the travel industry that simplified the process and made agents feel confident about the properties they were booking for their clients.

This realisation of the huge potential for market improvement led me to create RentalsCombined.net: an industry-changing solution for travel agents looking to offer their leisure and business clients access to the global short-term rentals market. The platform simplifies the process and turns travel agents into our marketeers by empowering them with a tool that would facilitate 100% confidence in the properties they were booking for their clients.

RentalsCombined.net gives travel agents a new and powerful live booking tool, empowering them to meet the changing demands of their customers by being able to arrange stays in short-term rentals worldwide at similar pricing to marketplaces such as Airbnb.

 

Arming agents with the right tools to take on and maximise the opportunities provided by the sharing economy – rather than be overshadowed by it – is going to revolutionise the global holiday and business rentals market. It’s a really exciting time to be in the rentals market and I’m looking forward to seeing how the travel industry will develop as a result of agents taking on the big peer-to-peer players such as Airbnb… not to mention being there to help them fight their corner!

 

Gary Marshall
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Gary Marshall
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