Earlier this month, RCI Global Vacation Network launched Vacation Rentals 4 Agents, a new vacation rental division for retailers.
"For years, rental inventory has been available through a variety of sources," says John Peters, vice president of travel trade and business development, open market rentals. "But the market has changed, and more people are looking for this [type of experience]. RCI wants to take its 50,000 pieces of inventory around the world and make it available through travel agents."
The complete product line, ranging from villas and condos to homes and cottages, is available online at www.vacationrentals4agents.com. Registration is free for agents with a valid IATA/ARC, CLIA or independent agent identification number. On the site, retailers can search and find detailed descriptions of properties, view availability in real time, book rentals and access marketing materials. Registered agents will also find special offers and deals for customers on the site.
"There are a few small rental players who have tried to
get into the market but have limited product," says Peters. "We have
everything from two-bedroom condos to villas in
To help get retailers acclimated with the market and the company, Vacation Rentals 4 Agents published a Travel Agent Resource Guide that was distributed at THETRADESHOW in mid-September. The 24-page publication details bonus commission offers, booking options, a sampling of inventory and frequently asked questions. Orders can be placed online or via the toll-free travel industry hotline (866-844-2017).
Vacation Rentals 4 Agents is also creating education modules with The Travel Institute. According to Peters, the first module should be live by mid-October, highlighting the ease of booking, types of clients suited for rentals and unique ways to market to customers.
To boost the company's awareness, Vacation Rentals 4 Agents kicked off a brand campaign entitled "Vacation Outside the Box," which includes full-page ads in major trade publications as well as fax and e-mail blasts. Look for the firm's presence at major industry trade shows through the end of the year. Peters also says the company is reaching out to consortia for partnerships.
As the company's launch was timed so that it perfectly coincided with THETRADESHOW, Peters says agent response at the show was quite favorable.
"We met a lot of new travel agents at ASTA who are figuring out how to stand out from the crowd. Any agent can sell a cruise or hotel," he says, "but why not be the only agent to offer customers a vacation rental? People are always looking for something unique."
The rental market, he points out, is perfect for families who may not find connecting hotel rooms an ideal way to travel.
"Vacation rentals have all of the comforts of home, including private space," says Peters, noting their suitability for multigenerational family vacations and group travel.
Of course, increased revenue is just one of the perks for agents selling the market. While standard hotels pay 8 percent to 10 percent commission, Vacation Rentals 4 Agents starts commissions at 12 percent. Bookings can be made through traditional channels (phone, fax and GDS); however, the company's entire inventory is detailed on the web site, which is why executives encourage online bookings.
Through October 15, agents can earn 20 percent commission on new bookings for travel through December 15.
"Agents need to step outside their comfort zone and find new revenue streams," advises Peters. "It's about time agents have the opportunity to step up and offer this to their customers, and be rewarded all around."
Vacation Rentals 4 Agents, 866-844-2017, www.vacationrentals4agents.com