Congratulations to my friends at FlipKey, who publicly launched their online vacation rental service today.
Designed to support the under-served vacation rental marketplace, FlipKey lists over 50,000 vacation homes in all 50 states (international coming soon) that are available for rent. There are 6.5 million vacation homes in the U.S. and less than 10% are rented to travelers looking for a great place to stay.
This means over 5 million secondary home-owners are foregoing the economic benefits of renting their homes when they are not occupying them, and travelers are missing out on more personal, economical, and unique lodging options when planning their trips. In the past, this has been a risky proposition, as it has been difficult for travelers to (1) find these accommodations and (2) feel comfortable that they are renting from a trusted source. To overcome these challenges and effectively promote vacation rentals as a mainstream lodging option, FlipKey has introduced a Reputation Management platform for locating and evaluating locations, including:
- Manager/owner verification as legitimate business operators
- Advanced guest review cultivation tools and management system
- Free publishing tools to syndicate FlipKey guest reviews to other sites
The site is designed for a smooth user experience, with intuitive navigation and Web 2.0-goodness like Google maps integration and AJAXy sliders to narrow your search results. Detailed property descriptions include photos, features, rental availability, and direct links to the property manager, plus user reviews and a 5-star rating system. There's also a MyFlipKey feature that allows you to store properties of interest, manage your travel plans, and submit user reviews.
Read more about FlipKey in MassHighTech, and keep them in mind as you're planning future trips - both business and personal. They're predicting more snow flurries up here in Boston this week, so this spot on Mission Beach (San Diego) is looking pretty good...