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7 things to learn from RedAwning’s plan to make its new owners and managers succeed fast

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Competition for supply is heating up among big names in the vacation rental industry. For instance, Airbnb has streamlined its listing process and is actively going after rural hosts, while Vrbo’s Fast Start program wants to get Airbnb Superhosts to also list on Vrbo. RedAwning, a marketing, distribution, reservations, and hospitality platform active with property managers and owners in North America, has just launched its Lightning Launch campaign. Tim Choate, RedAwning’s CEO, shares us with why and how the company has packaged and combined offers from Airbnb, Booking, Expedia, Google, and Vrbo to help its partners list their properties and get their first bookings fast. Even if you are not using RedAwning, you’ll want to study the list of options that they believe to attract guests on OTA websites. We’ll also see how RedAwning has regrouped after COVID, turned profitable, and kept TurnKey as a major client.

What is RedAwning?

RedAwning has positioned itself as an industry-leading marketing, reservations, and hospitality platform in the vacation rental industry. They help property managers and owners get their properties listed on channels such as Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Google Vrbo. Yet they are not a channel manager – connection is just the start of their service: RedAwning’s array of marketing services goes from arranging professional photo shoots for your property to marketing it through its own consumer portal redawning.com. RedAwning can also handle pricing management, help with cleaner schedule planning, and customer relations.

As Tim Choate, RedAwning’s CEO, told us that a RedAwning is a marketing and advertising platform for vacation rentals. Some people may see it as a channel manager, others classify it as a property manager. Through its tech and services, RedAwning can do all or part of these jobs. The company’s services are all about generating bookings so hosts can focus on delivering an outstanding guest experience rather than spending time doing marketing or advertising themselves.

RedAwning is a major actor in North America, with over 22,000 unique properties in over 1,000 destinations. Its platform and services power individual property owners, small to medium property managers, as well as large property management companies such as TurnKey Vacation Rentals.

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Which offers has RedAwning packaged in its Lightning Launch Campaign to boost new listings?

redawning lightning launch

RedAwning wants to grow its supply of properties in North America, at a time when demand is breaking all records. To do that, it is now marketing an offer called “Lightning Launch“. It packages features from big OTAs susceptible to get new listings to succeed on each platform.

What’s included in RedAwning’s package

  • Premier Host Status on Vrbo plus the Vrbo Fast Start Program
  • Airbnb New Listing Promotion, plus keep your SuperHost Status
  • Member Rates on Expedia
  • Mobile Rates on Booking.com
  • New Listing Tagging on most channels
  • Additional instant listing on Google Travel, HomeToGo, Hotels.com, RedAwning TravelPro, and many more sites
  • Priority Placement on RedAwning.com too.

7 things from the Lightning Launch package that you can use for your own business

Rental Scale-Up readers should pay attention to this package, even if they are not using RedAwning, as it can indicate what, in the company’s experience, works when launching a new listing on these platforms. Looking at the package can help you focus on the right features turn on among the dozens available when listing on a new property. OTAs have all kinds of options that can help new listings stand out, such a specific labels, that bring more visibility, generate first bookings, and send the property in a positive money-making cycle.

As we explained in a guest post for Transparent, new listings can lack visibility and get stuck in the cold start phase, if they do get a review rating fast. RedAwning’s offer is an answer to this problem: It helps new listings get successful fast, get a review rating, and start ranking higher in OTA search results.

Individual property owners should also see that some of these features and labels are only accessible through a larger service like RedAwning. For instance, the Vrbo Premier Host status is normally reserved to properties that have at least had 5 bookings and 3 reviews whose average is above 4.3. This status comes with a label that brings more visibility and a chance to get more bookings. A new property would have to wait weeks or months to get this status. Yet, Vrbo has just changed the rules for its Premier Host program: The program is now on account-level, not on property level anymore. It means if a property manager’s portfolio of properties have on average a rating of 4.3, then they all get the Premier Host status, even new listings. As RedAwaning is a Premier Host itself, then all of its new listings instantly qualify this status.

  • Airbnb:
    • #1 Airbnb’s New Listing Promotion is a feature available to new listings which consists of discounting the property’s base rate by 20% until the place gets 3 bookings. Guests booking this property will a “special offer'” label.
    • #2 Keep your SuperHost status: This is great if you are already a host on Airbnb. Your past reviews, rating score, and SuperHost status are passed along when listing with RedAwnng. Note that it is usually impossible if you were listing directly with either Booking or Expedia: You would lose all your past reviews when moving to a property manager or platform like RedAwning.
  • Booking
    • #3 Mobile Rates is a discount option that allows you to offer a discount to people booking either through the Booking app or on the mobile version of its website. The benefit here for a new listing is that it gets an additional label, which helps it stand out.
  • Google
    • #4 RedAwning was one of the first professional partners of the Google Vacation Rentals meta-search engine. New properties can get listed on Google, which sends traffic and bookings directly to their website. As only a few property managers have access to Google Travel, it brings added visibility that your competitors probably do not enjoy.
  • Vrbo
    • #5 Premier Host Status: As explained above, a new listing would normally not qualify for this status and label until it gets at least 5 bookings and 3 reviews. RedAwning passes on its own Premier Host status to your properties.
    • #6 Vrbo Fast Start: This program helps Airbnb hosts join Vrbo. These properties get:
      • A ‘New to Vrbo’ badge displayed for 90 days -> More visibility in search results and an additional trust factor on the list page
      • A review score based on reviews from other travel sites -> No need to wait to get bookings and reviews to get a public score
      • An elevated position in sort -> Upranking in search results
  • New listing tagging on channels
    • #7 New properties listed on websites such as Vrbo and Airbnb get tagged with “new” in search results. This tagging matters because it may help travelers understand that if this property has 0 reviews, there is nothing wrong with the place–it’s just new. New properties are also often upranked in search results, to boost their visibility for a while. This tagging is automatic. If one of your properties has not been noticed after several months, you may want to remove it and then relaunch it. This way, you will get this tag again and have a second chance to get enough visibility to collect your first reviews.

What does RedAwning offer to properties that promise exclusivity?

RedAwning will include new HD Photos of the property, connect it to their automatic cleaner scheduling solution, and build and optimize pricing every day automatically to increase rates with guest demand. These additional services come for free for hosts who choose to list their property exclusively with RedAwning. In a way, this is close to the services that traditional property managers can offer.

Increased fragmentation of vacation rental marketing channels

Increased fragmentation of vacation rental marketing channels

RedAwning’s Tim Choate notices that, in the vacation rental industry, marketing options are more fragmented than ever: More channels are becoming available, such as meta-search engines like Google Travel and HomeToGo, while existing channels create new options and features to choose from, such as Vrbo’s Fast Start. It can be time-consuming for hosts to keep up, even for small to medium property managers.

Choate shares that it is in RedAwning’s DNA to explore new opportunities to generate bookings. For instance, it was the first player in the US to build a direct integration with Booking.com. It was one of the launch partners of Google’s vacation rental product. The company was also the first professional host company recognized by Airbnb.

Thanks to its scale, RedAwning can turn on and experiment with these new channels and features to make data-based decisions on whether they are worth pursuing or not. This is why the Lighting Launch package is interesting, as it captures part of the company’s experience of what works when launching a new property.

Tim Choate underlines another advantage of RedAwning’s scale and direct integrations with multiple channels: His company can get a better pulse on demand for vacation rental properties than the channels themselves. This is because it gathers information from multiple sources. For instance, he says that properties whose pricing is managed by RedAwning make more money than those relying on tools such as Airbnb’s SmartPricing. Choate estimates that Airbnb’s tool is good, but it just does not have the full picture of the overall demand for a market. As a consequence, SmartPricing may underestimate the demand and price listings lower than RedAwning would recommend.

RedAwning, a profitable player that attracts small and big clients

RedAwning’s CEO told Rental Scale-Up that his company had become profitable. Just like other vacation rental businesses, it was hit hard in the first half of 2020. It had to streamline its operations, staff, and processes to get through the crisis and emerged as a leaner business. The current surge in vacation rental bookings in the US has helped sales rise at record-breaking levels and turned the business profitable.

Tim Choate shares that an outcome of the 2020 crisis was that many medium vacation rental managers had to lay off staff and rationalize marketing expenses. So, they turned to RedAwning to handle the business generation part, while the property managers chose to focus on their core hospitality business. For example, a property manager with 70 properties in Hawaii had to let go 12 people in 2020. He has since then rehired 3 of them but is now delegating channel management and marketing to RedAwning.

Large property managers are also relying on RedAwning’s platform for connectivity and marketing. The biggest one is TurnKey Vacation Rentals. While the company has been acquired by Vacasa, there looks to be no plan for the moment to change the underlying technology. Such a migration is possible, but it would entail a lot of work as well as probably losing existing reviews and rating scores on Expedia and Booking.com.

RedAwning, a profitable player that attracts small and big clients for its vacation rentals marketing services, has packaged its Lightning Launch Campaign to boost new listings. The offer is designed for property owners or managers that want to avoid marketing launch mistakes made by others but don’t have time to research how best to do it themselves. You can find out more about Lightning Launch here.

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Rental Scale-Up

Thibault is the founder of Rental Scale-Up. He owns vacation rentals in St. Barths and Bali. He also leads innovative projects for companies within the vacation rental industry. Feel free to reach out to Thibaut Masson on Linkedin.

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