- In research provided to Marketing Dive, Hitwise, a division of Connexity, found that monthly visits to residential rental sites including Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway are up 70.3% over the last three years while visits to hotel aggregators like Booking.com and Hotels.com are down 7.9%, and visits to hotel websites are down 3.6%.
- The trend lines predict that residential rental sites will actually surpass hotel direct sites in traffic within the next 12 months.
- Vacation rental websites (7.3%) are getting more traffic from social media platforms than direct hotel (3.5%) and hotel aggregators (3.9%), and also receiving the highest percentage of email traffic as well.
The research from Hitwise underscores the rapidly increasing impact of the sharing economy on room rentals, an option that didn’t even exist several years ago. Additionally, these referrals are coming from shared sources like social media platforms and email that, in part. is likely people sharing rental listings with friends via email. All three options receive comparable traffic from search engines, with hotel aggregators leading the way (47.7%) followed by direct hotel (44.4%) and vacation rental (43.3%).
While the data does not address bookings, the findings suggest that hotels and hotel aggregators need to do a better job of attracting traffic, particularly among younger consumers, who are among the biggest participants in the sharing economy.
"To understand the customer journey and differences in behavior, it’s important to know where sites receive traffic from," said John Fetto, Senior Analyst at Hitwise, in a release. "Analyzing the upstream share of visits to each sub-industry shows that Rentals sites, for instance, receive a higher share of their traffic from Social Media sites, which are increasingly linked to those offering and renting properties."
The success of rental sharing sites has caught the attention of marketers, who are looking for ways to get in front of these consumers.
Airbnb has been offering brands interesting co-marketing opportunities, reflected in a recent Taco Bell campaign that will turn one of the fast food chain’s restaurants into an Airbnb for one night for a contest winner and three friends. Google also recently launched a new app, Google Trips, designed to be a “a personalized tour guide in your pocket” for travelers that will organize trip itineraries, manage reservations, and even use crowdsourced data to provide travelers with sightseeing suggestions.