Owners of second homes are removing their properties from platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo so they can use them for themselves.

A shortage of inventory is straining the vacation-rental market and competition among listing platforms is fierce, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal

To keep up with the boom in bookings, platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo are implementing features and programs to attract more users. 

In May, Inman reported that Airbnb rolled out over 100 updates to its platform to make it easier to search for properties and become a host. 

On the rental side, in response to pandemic-related travel restrictions, Airbnb launched three search options: flexible dates, flexible matching and flexible destinations. 

The flexible dates option allows users to search the platform with a general timeframe, the flexible matching option shows listings that fall just outside the user’s search parameters, and the flexible destination option allows users to search for listings within their budget that are available during their set timeframe.

For the host, the process of uploading a property onto the platform was shortened to 10 steps. There is even an option for one-on-one mentoring and a referral bonus for hosts who get others to list their properties on the platform. 

Vrbo is also looking to attract more listings. Per the Wall Street Journal report, in March, the platform launched Fast Start, a program that boosts the visibility of Vrbo properties based on reviews from other travel sites. According to the press release, the program is available to superhosts with a review rating of 4.5+, and who have earned more than $3,000 in the last year.

Despite these implementations, available listings are still down. Per the Wall Street Journal, AirDNA found that available units on Airbnb and Vrbo were down 4.3 percent in May compared to May 2019. And while there was a decrease in available units, the total number of U.S. listings on the platforms was up by 8.5 percent. 

The shortage comes as a result of several factors including the ability to work remotely, the roll out of vaccines, and lifting of travel restrictions. In addition, the Wall Street Journal reported that some hosts are removing their listings from short-term rental platforms so they can use it for themselves. 

“We are seeing three fundamental shifts in travel as people become less tethered and more flexible,” Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, said in a statement earlier this year. “People can travel anytime, they are traveling to more places and they are staying longer.”

With the summer season just beginning, as more and more people get vaccinated, travel is expected to continue surging, and supply is expected to remain tight.

Email Libertina Brandt

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