Each year Price Comparison Platforms also known as Search Engine Websites are evolving and gaining more users who look for results perfectly matched to their needs. As a part of vacation rental industry they drive more traffic and save its users time, showing a large variety of available properties.
After building a strong relationship with the industry-leading search engine Holidu we continue working together increasing the vacation rental business quality.
Identified a gap in the vacation rental market
What was already a standard for flights and hotels – through companies like Trivago, and TripAdvisor – did not exist in the vacation rental market. Brothers Johannes and Michael Siebers realized this firsthand when they were searching for a vacation house in Portugal and realized how fragmented and non-transparent the market was. Holidu closes that gap and brings transparency to the market by comparing more than 300 providers, prices and user reviews for the same rental, on different sites. Today, 3.5 years after its start, Holidu helps millions of users from 21 countries, every month, find their perfect vacation rental – simply, and quickly.
A transparent comparison is particularly helpful when it comes to vacation rentals, as prices can vary significantly from website to website, and it’s not always clear to the user who the agency or property manager is behind the rental. Price differences of up to 55% for the same rental and time frame are possible. Often, local property managers provide the best prices for a house, but customers just don’t find these offers. Holidu helps customers to gain transparency here and always book with the lowest price provider.
The greatest challenge when creating the Holidu search engine was to reliably identify if the same vacation rental was offered on different websites, at the same time. Unlike flights and hotels, there are no standardized identification numbers in the vacation rental market, nor is there any consistency among the respective rental home providers in terms of images or written descriptions.
Michael Siebers was sure that this task could only be solved with technology: “I looked at the different portals and quickly discovered that the only reliable connection between the duplicate vacation rentals were the pictures. I realized, then, that only powerful image recognition tools could reliably detect duplicates across booking platforms.”
As such, Michael developed Holidu’s proprietary image recognition technology, which is able to identify, for example, the same living room featured on different websites, even if it’s been from different angles, at different times. Along with other data points, it’s then possible for Holidu to identify the same properties across hundreds of different booking platforms and generate an accurate and reliable price comparison. For this proprietary tool, which has become the foundation of Holidu’s technology, Johannes and Michael Siebers received an EXIST Scholarship Grant from the German Federal Ministry of Economics.
Holidu’s mission is to finally make the process of finding and booking vacation rentals easy and transparent. In terms of transparency, this includes showing travelers the lowest prices and accurate rental availabilities, but also applies to partners and agencies: When booking on Holidu, users see company logos and always know exactly which agencies they’re booking with, which means that all Holidu partners get brand recognition and visibility, and in markets they may not otherwise reach.
“Holidu combines powerful technology with a very personalized, machine learning-based user experience, and customizes property rankings for each individual user according to his or her site or app interactions, along with the impressive inventory. Holidu seeks out the best local agencies around the globe to partner with – just like Avantio – to be able to offer users a wide-ranging, high-quality choice of excellent inventory.”“ says José Vázquez, Vice President and Executive Director of Avantio Inc.
Since its beginnings in 2014, Holidu has been growing rapidly; in just over three years, Holidu has become active in 21 markets with fully localized websites, each offering rentals throughout 190+ countries.
As a Munich-based company, Holidu has a very strong presence among the German-speaking user base (Germany, Austria, Switzerland); in fact, about 40% of bookings come from the German-speaking market. Holidu has also experienced great success in new markets, both within and outside of Europe (i.e., the US and Brazil). Much of Holidu’s success in new markets is attributed to its local and regional expertise; the company also seeks out the best local agencies around the globe to partner with, to be able to offer users a wide-ranging, high-quality inventory. In addition to this, at Holidu’s Munich home base, 30 different nationalities are represented among the company’s 100 employees (as of February 2018), which allows Holidu to think and act global, but think local. both globally and locally.
Like Avantio, Holidu believes in tech being fundamental for innovation and transparency in the vacation rental market. Half of Holidu’s employees are on the product and tech team – the company’s developers are constantly creating and improving upon new tools that help put the 200+ Avantio partners that Holidu works with online, and in a smooth, easy way.
One of Holidu’s most important tools is its proprietary image recognition technology. With millions vacation rentals from more than 300 booking platforms, Holidu’s proprietary image recognition technology scans over 400 million images – in less than 0.2 seconds.
Holidu’s artificial intelligence efforts extend beyond its image recognition tools. The company invests in other areas of AI: Holidu offers a very personalized, machine learning-based user experience, and customizes property rankings for each individual user according to his or her site or app interactions (likes, clicks, etc.). Holidu developed quick and intuitive tools, which quickly understand the nature of the trip and narrow down the result list. This is to ensure that travelers are able find their dream vacation homes even more quickly and easily.
Holidu was the first search engine for vacation rentals on the market to launch native iOS and Android apps (in 2016). And because vacations are often planned between friends or family members, in 2017, Holidu introduced a unique feature that allows users to share and vote on their favorite accommodations with fellow travelers, for easy planning. This way, everyone involved in trip-planning can see, at a glance, which rental everybody likes best.
From the beginning, Holidu focused on a mobile-first strategy. Now, more than 60% of Holidu’s traffic comes from mobile. In December 2017, Holidu was named the fastest travel website in Germany, surpassing competitors (like Trivago and TripAdvisor) in the “comparison portal” category, according to Google and Germany’s Mobile Marketing Association. Indeed, Holidu has optimized all of its products and features for mobile, making the user experience smooth throughout the customer journey, from the initial planning stages to the final booking.
One of the biggest points of contention in the vacation rental market – for both hosts and guests – is instant bookability; it can be frustrating for both sides if guests need approval from the host before they can book a rental. We recognize that Holidu sees a strong consumer demand for instant bookable properties and see that companies like we at Avantio help strongly in driving instant bookability to the market, except for Germany where big part of the Market still work under the request model by helping e.g. by synchronize calendars with all platforms in real-time. Holidu strongly focuses on instant bookable properties and by today,, we believe and as such, we are happy to help and support Holidu as it is, we are one of the world’s largest provider of instantly bookable rentals on one platform.
New events coming up in 2018
“Through attending Avantio events last year, we met many new vacation rental industry professionals and property managers, especially at the Preferred Partnership Conferences in Italy, Spain, France and Portugal. These events are so important as they give us great insights into the local market and we are able to meet our future partners in person, making a great start for a successful partnership together,” said Holidu Head of Business Development Stephanie Collet. “We will are thrilled to continue to participate in Avantio events throughout 2018 and thereby expand our success in new markets with Avantio as our partner.”