In the travel industry we often hear how competition from challenger brands is shaking up the market and that travel agents need to compete against each other to ‘stay ahead of the game’. If you don’t outshine your competition, you’ll be left behind. Right?

Yes, of course travel agents, particularly small independents, need to ensure their offering is strong enough to appeal to holidaymakers and prevent potential customers going to another company to book their holiday property rental.

But, with the increase in popularity of peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Airbnb, HomeAway and HolidayLettings, are travel agents mistaken in seeing each other as a threat? What if we’ve got it the wrong way around?

In the booming short-term rental industry, agents could be shooting themselves in the foot by treating other agency professionals as ‘the enemy’. The holiday and business rentals market is no longer as difficult for travel agents to take advantage of as it has been historically. The perceived ‘gap in the market’ for fully managed leisure and business property rentals has been filled. For the first time, rental properties are available to book in real-time through travel agents.

This is a huge opportunity for agents to go up against big brands such as Airbnb who have, until now, dominated the market. Yet, it is also an enormous challenge. Customers know they can quickly and easily search for a property, check for opinions on a review site, book and pay instantly on the large peer-to-peer marketplaces – so these will be front-of-mind when considering a holiday property rental.

When I created as an industry-changing solution for travel agents, I knew it would revolutionise the global holiday and business rentals market. The platform empowers travel agents, turning them into our marketeers with a tool to facilitate 100% confidence in the properties they book for their clients. With this powerful live booking tool at their disposal, a whole new type of service can be offered to their clients. But customers need to hear about it.

That’s where collaboration comes in. There’s more strength in a collective message; travel agents need to work together as an industry to get the message out that they can now meet the changing demands of their customers by arranging stays in short-term rentals worldwide at similar (and often better!) pricing to marketplaces such as Airbnb.

Individual agencies will benefit in the long run if they see themselves as part of a community of expert travel agent professionals working together to win back a slice of that marketplace. By working together as a united community, agents can have a louder voice which will enable them to take on the sharing economy, rather than being overshadowed by it.

With this in mind, is it time for travel industry professionals to re-consider how they view their competition?

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