Vacation Rental In Your Pocket: The Growing Impact Of Mobile Devices

Amy Sept —  August 17, 2013

"Mobile Internet Device, Beijing", by Cory M. Grenier on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Making big travel plans on small screens is becoming “the norm” as people increasingly pull out a smartphone or tablet to research — even book — their vacation time.

Four in five travelers say they travel with their mobile phones, relying on their devices to serve as personal tour guide — not just checking email but also taking photos, accessing maps, and locating nearby attractions.

The growth of mobile has been significant over the past few years, doubling among business travelers and more than quadrupling among leisure travelers.

And they’re not just looking: an increasing number of travelers want to complete their transaction on the same day. Just since last year, the number of people making reservations via a mobile device jumped to one in three — a trend that’s just as popular in the under 35 crowd as among those 55+ plus.

What does this mean for your business?

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to think about how mobile might impact your vacation rental business, that time is here. People rely on their devices before and after they hit the road, and preparing your business — online and offline — may not be as complicated as you think.

Make sure your website is mobile friendly

Start accepting online bookings

  • Online bookings in the vacation rental industry are pretty low, so it’s still a “nice to have” that can give you an edge over the competition. But change is coming and sites like HomeAway, FlipKey and VRBO make it easy to turn this option on.

Include free wifi

Give guests something they can download

  • Devices are great when you’re traveling — as long as you can connect to the internet. They’re less helpful when you’re out on the town with no easy way to get online. Consider creating a PDF version of your local guide that they can save to their phone or tablet and carry with them, including information like local attractions (with addresses), emergency contact numbers and maps of the local area.

How have mobile devices impacted your vacation rental, or the way you travel? Tell us about it in the comments below!

photo by Cory M. Grenier

Amy Sept

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Writer and marketing pro Amy Sept is a regular contributor to the MyVR blog, to help answer your vacation rental marketing questions. Say hello via Twitter or Google+.
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6 responses to Vacation Rental In Your Pocket: The Growing Impact Of Mobile Devices

  1. My management company has recently launched an app that has lots of information for my guests. It basically replaces the binder in my villa. It includes find my rental, with maps and GPS directions,my rental, island transportation, local information, the history of St. John, beaches, restaurants, activities and lots more. As soon as someone books and I send my management company their email address, they send out an invitation to join. I love this. Can’t wait to get some feedback from my guests.

    • Hi Linda – That sounds like a great app to have available for your guests! Does is also make it easy for them to post/share their own comments or recommendations?
      ~ Amy

  2. I love this article. It has become so noticeable how the cellphone and tablets are replacing pc’s and laptops. Look at IBM, they sold their laptop and pc division to Lenovo and Dell’s earnings are down each quarter. Your comments above about having a user friendly mobile version of your website is pretty key. I have been to many website where I was quickly turned off by the mobile version of the website. Remember, you can lose a potential customer or guest as quickly as you received them if your website isn’t user friendly.

    • Hi Trent – We tend to have very short attention spans when it comes to shopping around for options! Unless someone is really captivated, you’re right — the most likely result is that they’ll just move along. Thanks for your comment!
      ~ Amy

  3. Great timing on this article, HomeAway just announced enhancements to our iOS app – great new features for vacation rental management for owners and property managers: http://www.homeaway.com/info/media-center/press-releases/2013/homeaway-updates-vacation-rental