Expedia: is a giant shadow looming onto the Vacation Rental arena?
There has been a lot of debating in the vacation rental environment lately on and about why the big guys of the internet tourism scene where snobbing our fast growing market share. Most of it was boiling down to the conviction by many of us that the 'bottleneck' of dealing with a vast majority of unprofessional owners would have kept the big guys out of the play. I think we should look again.
Now that tripadvisor.com, an expedia website, has launched flipkey.com I think we're looking at a market disruption in the making. Officially born to cure the SNAD and to be there only for unbiased arbitration, this website, starts showing a trail of much larger than average footprints on the battlefield.
Make no mistake, it's still a baby, Alexa shows it as 111,000 (romanreference.com is 77,000 as of Dec 2009), yet it's a Giant's newborn.
To test it I asked them if they wanted to insert our properties, they answered 'sorry' because they think we are a listing website. I objected that we actually own some of the properties listed and many of them we actively manage and we can prove it. On top of it our website descriptions are very detailed, all inclusive prices clearly posted and calendars updated to the minute, as per their guidelines. No answer since (two weeks now, I'll update if I get an answer)(Update on sunday march 23, I got an immediate response to this post and TJ, see his comment bottom page kindly asked me to specify that it infact weren't two weeks yesterday, but 10 days and they were needed to look into the inclusion issue, I must note though that I hadn't been asked to wait).
Yet the entirety of the properties they list for Rome (243 properties) are either, ital accom (Irish/Australian company, 870,000 on alexa, created in 2003) or italy perfect (US company 1,619,000 on alexa, created on 2003) or rentvillas (US company, 368,000 on alexa, website created 1996), ranked for viewers in the opposite order. The above companies can hardly be considered property managers, I double checked with an owner that works with one of them and she confirmed that she saw them just ones over many years of collaboration.
The spontaneous questions then is what determines their choices since it is not what they declare it to be. We can make a few guesses, but I don't think this is what matters now. What matters now is that a giant is clearly starting to pull all its weight on the vacation rental market with an obscure strategy which is slowly unfolding. This may be a good thing after all, let's just hope they will share the belief in the google motto on business behaviour.