Interview with Otalo - Vacation Rentals Search Engine

by Robert Todd Felton / Apr 20, 2009 / 6 comments

One of the curious upsides to the downturn in the economy is that people are increasingly willing to look beyond the hotel chains for accommodations when traveling.  A new website called Otalo is all about a better option: vacation rental.  Otalo is a search engine that operates much the same way as does for flights -- by crawling literally hundreds of databases to return exactly the option you were looking for-- but with nearly a thousand sites devoted to vacation rental homes.


    Recently, I sat down with Baer Tierkel, one of Otalo's founders and its main marketing force.  He explained that Otalo was created, as most inventions are, out of the frustration of not being able to find what he was looking for.  "I was looking for a house on the Cape," Baer remembered, "and each time I wanted to search a new site, I had to re-enter all my information. Then, I started to look for a site that crawled all the rental websites; there wasn't one."  And, thus Otalo was born.


    Otalo kicked off in January with 20,000 unique hits a month and is well on its way to 60,000 a month.  The site can access 220,000 homes, cabins, cottages, and apartments around the world.  Baer noted that the diversity surprised even him, "we've got houses in countries I never even heard of."


    Another impressive feature of the site is the user-friendly interface.  "We wanted to create something for the renter.  Most rental sites are geared to the homeowner; our focus is on the user's experience."  To that end, the Otalo team has included an interactive Google mapping feature which maps towns where rental units are available and an intuitive menu that lets you narrow your choices quickly and easily.  In addition, they've done a great job expanding thumbnails as you mouse over them and including easy links to the sites where the property is listed, as well as additional information about the location.


    On the marketing side, Baer launched an Otalo blog along with the website.  Http:// covers news and trends from vacation spots around the world as well as a few choice posts on travel-related themes from Baer himself.  Recently, he has begun to devote more time to Otalo postings on Twitter.  "The main thing," Baer explained, "is to help get the word out on the value of vacation home rental."  For example, you can stay at a mid-range hotel near Disneyworld in Orlando with a family of four and pay almost twice as much as you would to rent a nearby house with all the same amenities, plus everyone gets their own room and you have a kitchen."


    Whether searching Otalo for the perfect place for a quiet week by the beach or checking out the tidbits Baer posts throughout the day, you won't go wrong with Otalo.  I know I've added the Otalo blog to my feed, I follow Otalo's posts on Twitter, and I've bookmarked the Otalo site on my browser.  Go on, poke around a little, dream of that perfect spot.  Let me know what you find.


For more information, please see:



Robert Todd Felton is the Literary Travels Editor for Wandering Educators

Comments (6)

  • Dr. Debra Payne

    I'm definitely going to have to refer back to this one!


    Debra Payne Chaparro, PhD

  • Malva Wilkes

    I visited this site.  It's very easy to use.  Great resource.  Thanks!

  • Glinda

    What a great travel resource-thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  • JunjunChen

    Nice website!!! I have been thinking why there is no such mega search engine in Vacation Rental industry. And now there is one!!! I would love to see Otalo includes more professional vacation rental websites such as

  • Brande Roderick (not verified)

    This is hugely welcomed there are many people who would now be able to find better deals and better value on rentals. I have often searched for Florida rentals but now I just need to search using Otalo. Great service is expected.

  • Brande Roderick (not verified)

    Isn't that the brilliance of the internet that you can search for hotels and vacation rentals search engine that makes searching for NYC Hotels so much more easier. Thanks mate wonderful resource.

Leave a comment