The vacation rental industry is all set to enter the year 2013 with more changes to ensure enhanced experience to the vacationers. This relatively new industry is certainly growing up and is all set to face new challenges head on, meet legal requirements, and target emerging traveller segments with renewed energy and new plans. Here are eight new trends that will redefine the vacation rental industry.

1. Higher demand for alternative lodging:

The vacation rental industry is predicted to see an impressive growth, driven by a demand for alternative lodging and by suppliers (property owners and marketing companies) taking giant strides towards demand fulfillment lead by word of mouth and past positive experiences of guests.

2. Professional management:

The vacation rental industry is relatively new and while it has succeeded in carving out a niche for itself, there is a need to learn from mistakes and move forward. One of the biggest challenges that it faces is that of inconsistency in services. Vacation rental owners now need to develop a hospitality mind or in other words provide professional services in tune with what the guests are used to from hotels. The way forward will be to focus on professional, consistent, and streamlined operations to meet the guests expectations.

3. Stiffer competition from hotels:

Faced with stiff competition from vacation rentals, hotels will be more organized and aggressive in 2013 and will push hard for city and state legislature to further regulate short-term rentals. While the vacation rental industry will get more formalized regulation, it will be in the interest of the owners to form a unified voice to compete with the hotel industry.

4. Greater penetration into the specific niche markets:

Vacation rental owners can greatly beat competition by vying for the gay travelers who constitute a sizable and high net worth target. Travel websites such as Purple Roofs and Gay Journey will see vacation rental listings increase as owners realize the high quality of gay guests. Capturing even a small segment of this segment of travelers will prove to be a game changer.

5. Social media reviews:

Social media is emerging as the single great influencer when it comes to booking rentals. Traveler reviews greatly influence booking decisions and major rental listing sites are already trying to replicate TripAdvisor model in soliciting feedback and reviews of guests.

6. Experience-based travel:

Going forward, travel will continue to move towards experiential and away from generic, big-box, all-inclusive, air-conditioned-tour-bus-style hotels and tours. In the new scenario, vacation rentals will emerge as the perfect solution backed by their flexibility, added facilities and privacy, affordability and growing supply. Rental owners able to articulate their authenticity and convey a strong message will emerge winners. The use of a powerful vacation rental blog will also be a popular trend.

7. Better content for mobiles and tablets:

With mobile technology taking center stage, it is to the advantage of the vacation rental industry to target potential clients on this new sales trend. Record number of internet users now use mobile devices to search for information and make their travel arrangements. Rental owners would need to enhance usability of their sites, write better descriptions and add more mobile-friendly pictures to attract paying guests.

8. Focus on technology-driven processes:

Up until very recently, the vacation rental industry was pretty unorganized with part-time owners offering arbitrary solutions and Excel documents serving as occupancy calendars and accounting reporting. All this is now set to change and more companies are now using management systems adapted from the hotel industry to not only streamline their operations but also to communicate with clients, owners and ensure a smooth business development as supply is growing fast.

Conclusion

All said, 2013 will usher in several changes in the vacation rental industry and will also set the stage for performance-based rewards for owners. Simply listing property on VBRO or Flipkey will not be enough for most owners and managers and industry players would have to get more proactive to beat competition.