Amid the economic crisis, 54% of HomeAway's property owners had to rent out space just to cover costs. Value-hungry renters seeking amenities as simple as a kitchen have stabilized or increased business for 62% of those owners. Craigslist, meanwhile, says personal interaction has caused rentals to triple on its site in the past two years.
"When you're doing a vacation rental (or quite separate but also popular, a housing swap) you typically meet the owner of the house or apartment and have many conversations with the other party," says Susan McTavish Best, spokeswoman for Craigslist.
Forming relationships with snowbirds in Florida is great for business, but doing the same in costly locales like Boston (where Business Travel News says hotel rooms average $248 a night) or Moscow (where hotels average a world-record $379 a night) is pure genius. In an effort to fill ski-cabin space during the offseason, homeowners in Vermont often send me and my friends restaurant and activity suggestions weeks in advance.
While most vacation rental sites are still sheltered by investors, with HomeAway pulling in $250 million in venture capital in November alone, they afford clients something their competitors at Orbitz Worldwide (OWW), Priceline.com (PCLN), Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (HOT) and Marriott International (MAR) can't: personality. A big outfit might put freeze-dried coffee on your table in the morning and change the sheets, but it takes the little guys to offer you their houseboat on Boston's Charles River, a windmill on one of Greece's Aegean Islands (a two-bedroom on Cyclades for $403 to $547 a night) or a room on the Champs Elysees with a view of the Eiffel Tower (one bedroom, $323 to $425 a night).
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV