Initially flying under the radar, Condo-World has rapidly expanded its reach and is now aggregating resort condominium vacation rentals in multiple destinations on its platform to make finding this lodging alternative easier for consumers. Its proprietary online booking site, call center, and chat service handle the search and booking processes for their partners, including resorts and rental companies.
“We’ve basically put the T-A back in OTA,” said Alex Husner, chief marketing officer at Condo-World. “For a commission lower than that of the major OTAs, this new Resort Collection program allows guests to easily call and ask questions without being burdened by the restriction of not being able to talk to a live person who is knowledgeable about the property. For our partners, it streamlines the reservation process and reduces the time spent on inquiry calls.”
Condo-World created this program in response to a growing demand from its customer base for rentals in other areas, and it realized an opportunity to create a booking platform based on its experience in property management.
“Our understanding of the industry has allowed us to develop a platform that helps our partners increase visibility and drive revenue, while not taking away from their own marketing efforts,” Husner said. “We provide immediate access to the guests’ information once the reservation is booked, and we prefer that our partners be the merchants of record.”
When the technology partnership launched three years ago, it started with nine partners. “We had a soft launch at the end of 2014 prior to having our website fully integrated, and we booked $300,000 in this time period,” Husner said. “The following year this amount grew to $3,000,000, and it has continued to grow 25 percent YOY.”
Today, the Resort Collection includes twenty-one partners in the Myrtle Beach area. “Many of the properties we work with have been able to significantly reduce their reliance on higher commission OTAs because of the bookings we generate for them at a lower cost,” Husner added.
“Condo-World has been the most mutually beneficial OTA partnership we have formed,” said Matt Raab, director of eCommerce and marketing for Sterling Resorts on the Gulf Coast of northwest Florida. “This is because being an OTA is not in its DNA; it is a rental management company that has found growth through an OTAesque partnership.”
Following the success in its own backyard and its new partnership with HomeAway Software, Condo-World is expanding the collection platform to Destin, Panama City Beach, South Walton Beaches, Orlando, Hilton Head, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and Gulf Shores, and has plans to expand into other parts of Florida, Hawaii, and West Coast ski destinations. In addition to HomeAway, Condo-World is also actively working on integrations with other software partners and channel managers and has plans to license its proprietary software in the marketplace.
“When we named the business ‘Condo-World’ thirty-three years ago, I knew we were setting ourselves up for future growth that would take us far beyond North Myrtle Beach,” said Condo-World founder and CEO, Roy Clyburn.
On its own, Condo-World manages four hundred condos, houses, and villas in North Myrtle Beach and taps the rest of the area through its Resort Collection partners, so expanding outside the area posed its challenges. “We had to make sure our expansion didn’t erode our core business in North Myrtle Beach,” Husner added. “There were difficult hurdles the first year, but we quickly adjusted to eliminate any leakage of business. We needed to be able to offer the same high level of customer service that our brand is known for.”
To be competitive in these new markets, Condo-World needs to reach the right partners and guests. It has developed a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes its more than 250,000-member email database, plus social media, PPC, content, and OTT advertising. “Condo-World has spent large amounts of time and effort to promote our region,” said Raab of Sterling Resorts. “The results have been the bookings of guests who have a very similar level of engagement and excitement as guests that book directly with us.”
Although its existing broad reach already includes a range of guests and budgets, Condo-World ultimately looks for partner resorts and property managers that “value business integrity and providing guests with an excellent experience,” Husner said.
Each new partner has brought challenges, with different booking rules and processes, so they have all played a role in the growth of the program.
“Together with its Resort Collection partners, Condo-World has created a unique way for our guests to visit these new destinations with a brand they know and trust,” Husner said. “By offering exceptional customer experience that begins during the booking process and continues with its partners at check-in, we value the importance of establishing collaborative relationships with the resorts and rental companies that entrust us to promote their properties.”