Vacation rental News
INTERVIEW with Monika Kowalewski, Director of the VDFA (Verband Deutscher Ferienhausagenturen e.V.)
In 2017, Avantio became a member of VDFA, the principal association in Germany. Since then we have attended a number of events as member together with the VDFA, meeting the members and discussing fundamental changes in the industry in Germany. We caught up with Monika Kowalewski, Director of the VDFA.
The VDFA – Verband Deutscher Ferienhausagenturen e.V. was founded in 1997 and it is Germany’s oldest association in the industry.
The VDFA represents the interests of owner-managed and Germany-based holiday home agencies. The member agencies offer holiday homes in different destinations in Europe. The following countries are currently represented: Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Switzerland, Spain and Hungary.
The association is committed to high quality standards. All member agencies are legally checked and commit themselves to a regular check of the holiday properties on site. Thus, consumers are given an objective and honest presentation of the holiday homes and a maximum of booking security.
What services does the VDFA offer its members?
M.K .: The VDFA always offers its members up-to-date information on all topics relating to the holiday home industry and is the perfect platform for the exchange of information among vacation rental agencies. Every year in the spring we meet for the annual general meeting and the Saturday seminar. Each year in autumn we organise an event IDEAS4HOLIDAYHOMES, where we invite top speakers to the latest industry topics and also welcome external guests. The VDFA membership fee includes the spring event. Furthermore, members can benefit from association conditions of different service providers in the industry. VDFA membership is particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized agencies. It is worth mentioning at our spring event on 27 and 28 April, one of the main topics will be the EU Package Travel Directive and its implementation in the holiday home agencies.
How does the VDFA see the future of the holiday home industry in Germany?
M.K .: As the trend of individual travel is growing and guests increasingly appreciate the benefits of vacation rentals, the holiday home industry will continue to grow over the next few years. Germany and Spain, in particular the Balearic Islands, have been fast-growing markets for the last years. This year, Greece is catching up and Croatia is also offering more and more quality holiday properties.
Are there topics which German agencies are particularly interested in?
M.K .: Currently we are working on the implementation of the new EU laws for the 2018. On the one hand, this is the EU Package Travel Directive but also the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Furthermore, the tax legislation of the individual countries is always topic within the association and, of course, the distribution of the VDFA holiday homes.
From your point of view, what impact does the global trend of ‘instant bookings’ have on German agencies?
M.K .: In Germany, especially in bookings in their own country it is often still on the old advertising model “on request” set. This is outdated. Today’s customer wants to book directly and not wait for a confirmation. This also shows that online bookings are often made outside normal business hours, mainly in the evening or on weekends when the family or friends are sitting together. Anyone who has only the request model today will miss bookings in the future.
What changes do you think need to be made in the industry to move it forward but locally and in the international market?
M.K .: There are still many providers with terms and conditions which are not consumer-friendly, some of them being unlawful. This should be controlled more strictly. At international level, we would like to see uniform rules in EU countries and equal treatment of all market participants as a basic requirement for fair competition within the EU, e.g.Minimum information on a website, publication of contractual partners before booking etc.
What threats have the local vacation rental agencies?
M.K .: In recent years, the market has developed rapidly. More and more agencies and big portals have come on the market and fight for the best places on Google. As a result, topics such as SEO, Google Adwords, their own agency website and alternative distribution channels have become more important than ever for a traditional holiday home agency. In order to assert oneself on the market in the future, consulting, service and on-site support play an essential role. Both the customer and the owner of the holiday home will prefer agencies that will take over their work in the future as well.
Avantio is dedicated to working with local and international Associations, as we strongly believe that working together will bring significant developments in the industry to protect the needs of both guests and agencies with the best vacation rental software.
If you would like to know more about our events with VDFA please don’t hesitate to contact us, or get in touch directly with the VDFA to find out more about membership.