As part of Booking.com’s ongoing commitment to the short-term rental industry, the first sitting of the newly-formed Advisory Board took place last month. The inaugural meeting kicked off a collaboration that will see diverse experience combined with tech innovation know-how to help professional property managers navigate the ever-changing industry.
Establishing the board
The Advisory Board consists of eight property managers and software providers, who will share their expertise and point of view on the industry with Booking.com over the next twelve months. “I wanted to create a group of partners who would collaborate with us on initiatives specific to the unique challenges of the short-term rental industry,” says Lissa Terrel, Group Product Manager at Booking.com. “It was important that it represented both property management companies as well as software providers, providing a well-rounded perspective for short-term rentals.”
Much time was spent exploring the right mix of expertise to identify a group of influential companies that were driving strategic change across the industry, and reflecting a variety of disciplines, experiences and geographies - with the ultimate goal of creating the best possible understanding of the short-term rental landscape through the voice of Booking.com partners.
"Additionally, we were also keen on discussing areas of expertise adjacent to the board. Across the industry there's a pretty big serviced apartment push with companies like Sonder (a board member) and this is a newer direction for the market so we wanted to make sure we had a representative to talk to that,” says Terrel.
“We also saw this real trend of property management companies building their own software and getting into the real estate sector - like Vacasa, so we wanted to have a voice representing those areas that we didn't have such a close connection to.”
Meet the members
Sébastien Grosjean, CEO & Founder of Booking Sync, a property management software provider, is one of the Advisory Board’s initial members. “When I first heard about the board it came as a bit of a surprise, but I saw it as a great opportunity to share knowledge from different partners, globally. There was a real need for awareness [around industry issues] that has been beautifully addressed with this group of people; each has a unique experience of the industry and it’s a smart move to find a lot of insights, really fast.
“Having some of the main actors in the industry involved, and being able to aggregate their point of view and the systems they represent (for example, when I represent Booking Sync and Smily I also represent all of our owners, property managers, products that are similar, my competitors) will help Booking.com prioritise and together we’ll better serve property managers and travellers.”
By trying to be stronger together and putting into place structures where we can understand the industry better, there is huge potential.
For James Burrows, CEO of Rentals United, the appeal participating in the board was two-fold: “Booking.com is one of our biggest partners, so we wanted to be involved to help create a strategic path in line with where we are going, but equally it was important for us to know how they [Booking.com] think the industry will pan out and what kind of influence this will have on how we work.
“RentalsUnited should be at the forefront of travel tech within vacation rentals and if we were not involved [with the board] we’d be taking a back seat on something I am very positive we can have a big impact on.”
Looking to the future
Indeed, the opportunity to respond to and further drive change has been a critical component for the board’s immediate outlook.
“The last decade has seen a radical shift and that has been accelerating. We’re still not done and that’s where having an Advisory Board is amazing; it’s not about competition but how we make the travel experience better for all the different intermediaries,” says Grosjean. “By trying to be stronger together and putting into place structures where we can understand the industry better, there is huge potential.”
Burrows adds: “We always talk about consolidation but really the industry is so fragmented, there are companies entering the market on a weekly basis. This creates a lot of competitiveness - no one is taking the lead and everyone is fighting against each other trying to get market share - but there should be more cooperation because the market is growing, there is plenty of business for everyone.
“The companies involved [with the board] are leaders in their own sectors, and if Booking.com can help galvanise what we are doing and create closer collaboration between these companies, I think that will have a snowball effect with the rest of the industry.”
And for Booking.com? By further facilitating the two-way conversation, the hope is to empower partners to come together, and apply learnings to future developments for all short-term rental partners.
“We can build products in vacuums but that's the worst possible way to work. Making sure that we really have good industry alignment and are getting robust perspectives from Advisory Board members helps us further understand how we can build the best products and develop commercial strategies that complement our partners goals - so that we are really growing together,” says Terrel. “The goal is to create a space for partnership and alignment in an industry that is constantly changing, where we really listen to our partners feedback and truly value their input.”
- The Advisory Board will focus on the needs of professional property managers and software providers within the short-term rental space
- Eight property managers and software providers will sit on the board for the next twelve months, sharing their expertise and point of view with Booking.com
- The members include influential companies that are driving strategic change across the industry, and reflect a variety of disciplines, experiences and geographies
- In establishing the board, Booking.com has developed an opportunity for partnership and alignment that will inform future developments for the short-term rental industry