Lately, as I’ve written about many times before, I’ve been using emerging vacation rental site AirBnB – both as a Host and as a Guest. I’ve used them all over the United States, and have hosted people from all over the world. AirBnB has risen to capture a huge section of the industry very quickly, laying waste to the look and function of other larger, but inferior sites such as VRBO. I think that AirBnB, with their superior business model and site function, will soon be an industry leader.
As the online vacation rental property market heats up, there have been a few other competitors coming on to the scene. One prominent one I’ve been interacting with lately has been iStopOver. iStopOver has a similar value proposition to AirBnB, however they take a bit more of a personal and event-oriented approach. Users on iStopOver looking for accomodatiosn can talk to a live booking agent, who then goes out and contacts hosts – like myself, personally via telephone. In my experience working with them, having the personal interaction seems like a great idea for guests – but for hosts, it can sometimes be a bit cumbersome and inefficient. Receiving calls at all hours from iStopOver reps asking me about my calendar just doesn’t seem to work. I’m often times out and about, and don’t have immediate access to my booking calendar. And since I manage multiple properties all on multiple sites, accepting a booking is not always as simple as a quick calendar check. However, I think that it’s nice to have close access to live humans, and the iStopOver site does also have its own booking interface.
The other distinguishing factor of iStopOver is their focus on events. They’ve been actively promoting bookings through their site by focusing on popular local events, and gathering a database of hosts who can host guests for those specific event. This is similar to what rideshare site Ridehack is doing by organizing carpools to and from popular events. (Full disclosure, I’m currently working on a project with Ridehack.) I suppose because I’m both a host on iStopOver, as well as a marathon runner, I was recently written up on the iStopOver Blog as a “Certified Marathon Host. From the blog post:
As you might know, the New York City Marathon is coming up oh-so-soon on Sunday, November 6th! This is a huge event in NYC, are we’re so happy to support all of the runners and cheerers in a number of ways. The running community is so strong – we love it! If you’re heading to New York City to run or cheer – we want to make sure you save on accommodation! You can use the code NYCM when booking to save 60% off your service fee!
Also, we have a pretty awesome contest going on – head on over to our Facebook page and tell us why you’re running in the marathon or who you’re going to cheer for and you could WIN $500 in NYC accommodation from iStopOver! Sweet! Make sure you enter today and spread the word.