The vacation rental and room sharing industry is expected to surpass the hotel industry by 2020. With high profit margins and a steadily growing market, vacation rental business is here to stay for sure. The competition is also getting stiffer by day, which should be adequate reason for vacation rental companies to look for newer competitive intelligence strategies. Web scraping is one such high-return activity that can give businesses the upper hand in the competition.
How web scraping works
Web scraping is a computer technique for extracting data from websites on the internet by using programs called web crawlers. It is a technically complex process that requires high end resources and skilled manpower. Instead of manually visiting hundreds of websites to collect relevant data, a web scraping system can be used to do the activity at large scale, with high speed and efficiency.
Applications of web scraping in the vacation rental industry
1. Build business intelligence applications
Being a very lucrative industry with heavy investment potential, it makes sense to build business intelligence applications on vacation rental portals. Since the industry is steadily growing in terms of customers, revenue and profit margins, vacation rental portals would need deep insights on the market to keep them rooted. The need for business intelligence will only keep increasing from this point. Here are some ways business intelligence can help the vacation rental industry.
a) Real estate investing
Since the property rental business is showing significantly higher returns compared to the real estate industry, investors are purchasing properties to list them on vacation rental portals. Business intelligence will help them make the right choices while identifying profitable properties to purchase.
b) Predict future trends
Hotel brands, Online travel agencies and Lodging REITs are looking for insights from the vacation rental industry in order to prepare themselves for the battle. Companies in the travel industry can use web scraping to predict how things might unfold for all the parties in the future.
c) Market research
Market research is an inevitable activity in the business world. Any market research requires large amounts of data and an effective analytics system in place to extract key statistics on the changes in market.
2. Scrape competitor prices
Pricing intelligence has taken off as a key competitor intelligence practice in the online world. Vacation rental sites are no different when it comes to the price war. Since there are big brands that list multiple properties on vacation rental sites like AirBnb, Flipkey and HomeAway, it’s important for them to be competitive with their rental listing prices. Using web scraping, the price data for similar properties in any given geo-location can be tracked and used for pricing their listings for maximum profitability. With web scraping, extracting price data from multiple vacation rental sites on a daily basis is easy and cost efficient.
3. Build an aggregator website
There are aggregator sites in every space now. These sites that fetch and display information available on multiple sites helps customers compare the options to make faster and informed decisions about their travel plans. Since customers can be on a lean budget and price conscious when it comes to travel, price aggregator sites will continue to be in demand. The easy option to compare prices across multiple vacation rental portals at one place is the primary USP of aggregator sites. Needless to say, you will need a robust web scraping service to back you if you are planning to build a vacation rental aggregator.