vacation rental industry

Disrupting the Vacation Rental Industry: 5 Reasons Why It’s Not Over Yet


Imagine laying on the pristine, sandy beaches of Fiji. You’re staying in a private bungalow, right on the shore. The water literally rolls up to your front porch. And you didn’t even have to deal with a travel agent.

You booked the whole trip right from your phone–for $1,000 less than retail.

Technology and the rise of the smartphone are making scenarios like this more and more frequent.

There is a commonly held belief that Airbnb was the final blow to the vacation rental industry, but that’s simply not true. According to a report from Skift, despite being crowded, the travel and tourism market is so big that it “remains relatively untapped.”

At TechAhead, we think the upheaval has just begun–and we’re looking to carry on the revolution using developing technologies such as AI and IoT.

Below are just a few of the factors we think will continue to disrupt the vacation industry as we know it:

1. Changing expectations

Consumers today want convenience. Demand for instant bookings, flexible dates, and personalized service has continued to grow. In fact, one study from Google found that 60% of consumers believe that their travel experience should deploy the use of AI and base their search results on past behaviors–and 36% of those customers are willing to pay more for that service.

2. The rise of the informal market

Before there was AirBnb and other apps like it, booking a vacation was a serious process. Typically, it required either hiring a travel agent or doing literal weeks of research on your own.

Today, advances in technology have led a new, easier dynamic–and travelers are no longer willing to do it the old way. They want inspiration, a frictionless purchasing process, and (most of all) little to no communication with outside parties. According to, one in ten people want a host they don’t have to speak to at all.

3. Increased mobile usage

As of 2017, over 5 billion people around the globe owned a mobile device. In 2018, 26% of travel searches occurred on those devices. And that’s just in the U.S.–the numbers are higher elsewhere in the world. In Europe, almost half off all travel searches occurred on a smartphone or other connected device.

Those numbers are only going to continue to grow.

4. Artificial intelligence

The travel industry is quickly adopting an AI-first approach, making “relevance” one of their key selling points. And for good reason–57% of travelers want brands to tailor their travel experience based on personal preference. Future innovations could include:

  • Virtual assistants and digital interactions that offer a personal, friendly experience
  • Facial recognition in airports, hotels, and restaurants, eliminating the need for cumbersome paperwork (or money!)
  • Technology that can scan social media, interpret customer intention, and reach out with personalized recommendations

5. Channel management technology

In the past, owner-operators have had to commit a large allocation of their available space/time to travel agents in exchange for their marketing services. Technology today makes it possible for those same property owners to share their inventory with a vast number of people through websites, apps, and other outlets. More marketplaces equal more flexibility, so this has been beneficial for both the industry and the consumer.

When one of our clients came to us and asked for software that would make connecting with their own guests easier, we knew we had to make it fantastic. The resulting app, Rental Host, provides a clean, intuitive user experience for both guests and hosts in the same mobile application.

From automatic payment to seamless online communications (and everything in between), it creates an intimate, enjoyable experience for hosts and guests alike.

We like to help out clients create solutions that will stand the test of time. Reach out today to see how one of our custom-built apps can help grow your business (travel related or not).


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