Vacation homes become mainstream destinations during the pandemic
OYO Vacation homes increases its support for homeowners
In the challenging year 2020, when Covid-19 rules and travel habits have been completely turned upside down, travellers have had to adjust their vacation perspective. Vacation homes have become more and more mainstream this year to spend a vacation. Since it has become more and more popular to live in the “private environment” of a vacation home, the purchase of a second home is becoming a very lucrative investment, as the vacation home expert OYO Vacation Homes (OVH) can confirm. At the same time it is worthwhile to rent out the accommodation, as it offers exactly what travellers have been looking for and will continue to look for in the future.
- Strong brand, strong roof: OYO Vacation Homes is one of the leading companies in the field of short term rentals, which offers more than 140,000 vacation homes internationally and has been ranked second worldwide by RentalsUnited.
- Steady growth: In recent months, an additional 3,400 homeowners throughout Europe have joined Belvilla, part of OYO Vacation Homes, adding more than 5,000 homes to the current portfolio of this brand.
- Continuous improvement measures for satisfied homeowners: More than 85 percent of the homeowners believe that Belvilla has noticeably improved its marketing capabilities in the last 18 months. The revised Belvilla website is also well received by homeowners: 65 percent praise the improvements.
An extraordinary year is coming to an end, but the challenging times continue. Corona determines our lives and has a massive impact on the tourism industry. Vacation homes have proven to be a profitable success model in the pandemic: Using a vacation home for holidays, driving there in your own car and staying with the family among yourself without encountering other tourists – vacation homes have gone from niche to mainstream within just one year-.
In order to get to know the specific wishes and needs of homeowners and guests in more detail, the company has conducted several surveys among these target groups and is constantly researching what their concerns are during the pandemic. The needs of the guests are very clear: they are all looking for a nice vacation home where they can live in their “private bubble”, mostly in their own country at a good price. The homeowners did a great job: they did their utmost to comply with the comprehensive OVH brands cleaning guidelines and they provided the guests with additional information about the surroundings of the vacation home so that they could enjoy a nice vacation in compliance with the Corona rules and regulations. In order to provide guests with maximum social distancing opportunities, the company provided remote check-in facilities for many homes. In addition, the full-service company took care of the preparation of the vacation homes before the summer season began for those owners who were unable to cross borders due to travel restrictions and therefore could not reach their homes.
Dynamic pricing has proven to be key
Thanks to Danamica‘s technology, a company acquired last year by OYO Vacation Homes, the company has been able to achieve the highest possible occupancy rate with maximum income for the homeowner. At the beginning of the pandemic there was a booking loss, but Belvilla was able to compensate for this for most homeowners. This was not only during the peak season, but also in September and October, based on a combination of historical data, Internet research, market and competitor data, analysis and artificial intelligence.
“We have advocated dynamic pricing to control supply and demand, and are pleased that this has been proven to work for our homeowners,” explains Raj Kamal. “We filled the houses and generated more revenue for most of our homeowners than last year. And even if some of them earned a little ‘less’, we are still proud of a high performance overall, because nobody believed that we would finish this year in this way“.
Kamal also explains: “The shift of tourism to the local markets also had the positive effect that many homeowners, management companies and also the respective cleaning companies as our partners were able to benefit from“.
Belvilla, an example of OVH comprehensive support for homeowners
Renting through OVH brands is very lucrative for vacation homeowners: Belvilla is not only an experienced and trustworthy entity, but it also offers homeowners comprehensive support. Vacation homeowners particularly appreciate the strong digital marketing. For example, Belvilla facilitates the organisation for homeowners with a first-class on-line homeowner portal called MyBelvilla, which was improved continuously and recently:
- Belvilla has optimised the dashboard, the payment overview has been much better designed, explanatory videos are available and the contact page has been revised. Homeowners can now more easily follow booking and revenue developments or which guests are expected at short notice.
- Payment overview. Homeowners could already download a booking summary, now a payment summary is also available. All bookings are clearly arranged with information about the payment status, the amount that will be received, which part has already been paid and the balance. In case of any uncertainties, they can obtain all relevant specifications with just one click on the booking.
- New invoice format: Belvilla improves the format of invoices addressed to homeowners to make them easier to read and the invoicing process more understandable.
The company asked the homeowners why they decided to rent out their accommodation in cooperation with Belvilla. The most important factor: to increase the number of bookings (67%). Other important factors: advantages through strong marketing (64%), special contact points for support (62%), insurance coverage (46%) and the technical tools (41%).
Owner Bernd Kümmecke, from Germany, has also decided to cooperate with Belvilla: “My cooperation with Belvilla started four years ago through the recommendation of an acquaintance. I am very satisfied with the cooperation. I am happy to be there as a contact person for the visiting guests on site, but it is nice that Belvilla takes care of the coordination in advance and the financial handling with the guests“.
Mrs. Greninger, owner of the Manoir du Mortier in France, adds: “Although the 2020 season started with a wave of cancellations from the start of the Covid, I had one of my best years, I have never had so many requests and reservations! And this continues, Belvilla has already obtained many reservations for me in 2021. Customers are not the same as in previous years, many more French, mostly at the last minute. My fingers crossed, but the next season promises to be excellent! “
“During COVID-19, Belvilla helped me to respond to all the changes. They gave me useful tips for cleaning my holiday home. They also relieved me in the booking process. The updated calendar on the website makes it even easier for me to see the details of the bookers. I no longer need to look this up in the booking confirmation. Moreover, the owner’s website shows at a glance how many days in the year have been booked and a comparison is made with the previous year. This allows me to act immediately in the event of a decrease, for example by using flexible prices. As a result, despite COVID-19, I simply had 24% more bookings than last year,” says a Dutch homeowner Mrs. Grace van Houten.
The pandemic in 2020 naturally also had an impact on the cooperation between OVH brands and homeowners: “We faced some challenges at the beginning of the pandemic and sometimes it felt as if we were run over by a truck,” says Raj Kamal, CEO of OYO Vacation Homes. “There was a time when our billing was burdened by a high number of cancellations. The high number of inquiries also caused a backlog in our customer service department, as we couldn’t process everything immediately, but we have improved significantly during the process with the help of technology deployment and extensive training“.
Expectations for 2021
Even though OVH is in the middle of preparations for next year, nothing is certain yet due to the still tense Covid-19 situation. While the world is currently in the second wave of the pandemic, more and more people are dreaming of a vacation. Therefore, travellers will be looking for a ‘safe’ way to book their vacation. In cooperation with many homeowners, the Belvilla brand offers very good free cancellation conditions for 2021 stays, taking into account the wishes of homeowners and guests. Clear and transparent communication is and will remain OVH standard in dealing with guests and homeowners in 2021.