Villarenters to offer ancillaries through new checkout tech

Daily Mail-owned Villarenters, a part of the Teletext Holidays group, is to start offering ancillary product on its site after partnering with UK firm The Usability Lab on new checkout functionality.

The system will provide bookers with a pop-up payment window and offer them flights, car hire and travel insurance supplied by third parties.

The move comes after the firm took on Alex Stuart, a former Tui Travel head of commercial, to develop ancillary sales as well as forge distribution relationships with the travel trade.

Although some ancillary providers have still to be tied down, general manager James Marchant revealed Affordable Car Hire was the partner for car rental.

As well as the new check-out functionality, due to be launched later this year, Villarenters will also unveil a new refined search system that automatically refines search results as the customer is defining the perameters of their search. This should launch within the next six weeks.

Marchant said Villarenters’ move towards greater levels of automation and instant confirmation for properties has helped it to increase conversions in a year in which it has followed the market trend, according to Google, of a 10%-15% reduction in villa searches.

Villarenters now has 25% of its properties capable of offering instant confirmation, up from 20% at the start of the year. Marchant said he saw this figure rising as technology improves and is rolled out to owners and property agencies.

To help this the firm is developing an app for owners that will allow them to update their availability instantly while on the move or even approve price reductions or special offers.

Villarenters is also currently developing a social media strategy. It has shied away from heavily promoting its existing Facebook page while deciding what to do with it, Marchant said.

Villarenters takes 110,000 customers abroad annually with families, extended multi-generation groups and 40-plus couples its core markets. Marchant said: “The vision for self catering is, in a relatively short space of time, to make it as easy to book as a hotel.

“It’s getting there, but it’s all down to this instant confirmation, having this live availability where you are working with an individual home owners and agents.”

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