Why Large Listings Sites Are Vacation Rental Sharecropping

Full disclosure: I got this post idea from Sonia Simone of Copyblogger. But, it applies to this situation in a different way. The term is originally from Nick Carr.



1200x630 Banner 01 1 In some ways, they’re great. Homeaway, VRBO and Flipkey have likely made you a lot of money.

Sure, you’ve paid for it – but it’s fair. You’re driving a lot of leads from these platforms, and they are charging you a fair price.

For now.

The Story Of  Vacation Rental Sharecropping

In 2006, the above mentioned Mr. Carr coined the term “Digital Sharecropping” as a way to explain the methodology of large website platforms collecting content created by users for their own (huge) financial gains. At the time, his examples were popular social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. Of course, we all know that one of those platforms flourished and other other faltered, but that’s not the point.

Instead, the main points of Sonia and Nick was to point out the largely obvious, but easily forgotten reality of social media platforms: they’re for them, not for you.

Sure, they need active users and engaged customers, but the bias will always favor them. They own the “land” that is their web platform, and you’re renting space on it.

The same goes for the big listing sites out there.

VRBO, Homeaway, Flipkey and the rest all have their own best interests at heart. They’re fulfilling a need that guests may love and use, but at the end of the day, it’s their land.

They control it.

When they want to force you to go to a commission model, they can. Phone number changed to a call center nowhere near your rental? Yeah, that’s under their control too. How about deleting all of your listings? Yup.

What Can You Do?

Hopefully you get where I’m coming from. Today, you don’t have to stake your claim on marketing just on Facebook or Twitter or VRBO or Homeaway. You can choose your own destiny. There’s four simple ingredients to creating a platform to get away from these large sites and execute on your own marketing platform.

Create your own website

Having your own website is key to creating your own marketing platform. Without, you’ll never truly own the experience of your vacation rental business.

Owning an engaged email list

Beyond owning a website, the next step forward is owning an engaged email list. The main reason that you want an email list is because you own that list. No one can take away your email list — it’s an asset that you own.

Data-open platforms

Next up, you’ll want to use platforms that are as open as possible. For many websites, this means using platforms that are easy to transport data like WordPress and a trusted theme provider. For your property management software, bias towards platforms that have an API.

Earning attention and trust

Lastly, earning attention through press mentions is key. Being known as the area expert comes with perks like better rankings in search engines, lots of referral traffic and area influence.

Getting Started

Now that you want to create your own platform and avoid vacation rental sharecropping, get going with the above items! Start your website, start an email list and start blogging.

Take The Next Step
  1. Download the free guide: 17 Ways To Level Up Your Vacation Rental Marketing and get our best tips on how to grow and scale your business.
  2. If you want to learn more about how to generate more bookings, visit our blog and read our articles.
  3. To get started working with us, visit our contact page, complete the form and schedule a call.
  4. If you’ve found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team or other vacation rental managers you know!
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