From movie tickets to home improvement projects, people are increasingly comfortable booking and paying for things online. The vacation rental industry has been a little slow to take advantage of this, but is change coming? We think so!
“Online transactions are a still surprisingly low % in this industry,” Jonathan Murray, CEO of MyVR, told Matt Landau of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog earlier this year.
However, Jonathan’s one of several experts who feel online transactions are ready to take off. Tom Hale, Chief Product Officer at HomeAway, also told Landau that 2013 “would have to be the year of ‘online booking.’”
Why offer online bookings?
In a survey of vacation home renters, Wyndham Vacation Rentals found one of the top reasons for renters to choose hotel-branded properties is that “it would be easier to search and book online”.
That convenience doesn’t have to be the exclusive domain of big brands, however. Listing sites like FlipKey, HomeAway and VRBO offer online booking features, and the functionality is increasingly rolled into other rental management software.
Accepting online bookings means you need to be ready to act: HomeAway’s “Book It” tool, for example, gives you 24 hours to review a request and accept or decline it. That means any follow-up and screening needs to be done right away.
However, accepting payments online helps you secure and confirm bookings much more quickly — something that benefits both you and your guests.
What do you need to know about PayPal?
We may be more comfortable with online shopping, but we’re still wary; a survey by TRUSTe, a privacy management firm, found that 90 percent of online adults said they worry about privacy.
By using a system like PayPal, neither you nor your guests needs to share any of your financial details. Instead, payment information is managed by a third-party like PayPal which, while not a bank, still needs to meet certain regulations.
PayPal isn’t the only game in town but, launched in 1998 and owned by eBay for the last decade, it has long been established as a relatively safe way to transfer money online.
While it has both advantages and disadvantages, PayPal has the benefit of popularity and name recognition; it continues to be “the leading online payment method globally,” according to a consumer survey by channeladvisor.
As long as it’s treated with the same precautions as any online financial service, PayPal offers secure convenience for you and your renters.
While there are transaction fees you should be aware of, there are no setup or ongoing fees.
You can manage transactions in 24 different currencies.
As noted above, neither party has to share financial details — just an email address.
Customers can connect PayPal directly to their credit card and/or bank account.
Once an account has been created, new transactions take just a few steps.
Setting up your PayPal account and adding it to your site is straightforward, with instructions available from the company.
Do you collect online payments, or is it something you’re considering? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.