Archives for posts with tag: vacation rental

Shifting of the sand in the vacation rental marketplace with confirmation that HouseTrip is scrapping all listings of private rooms from its database

HouseTrip

HouseTrip informed hosts of the “important change” to its service via a recent letter in which it said as part of a new focus on couples and families it would be “removing all private bedrooms from our website” and in future only allow entire properties to be listed.

The letter adds: “During this time we will be taking away search functionality for private bedrooms in shared accommodation, and removing them from our search results so they can no longer found by prospective guests.

” Existing bookings or upcoming check-ins will not be affected by the change, HouseTrip adds. HouseTrip says it is currently running at a 95%-5% ratio in favour of complete apartments to shared spaces, so it does not anticipate any major erosion of its overall product spread.

An official says: “We want to be known for providing the best range of complete properties available for short-term rent. And we feel that this clarification of our offering is the best way to do it.” Including shared spaces in its portfolio was found to have “muddied the waters”, the official says. “The feedback we have received from many travellers is ‘yes, I want to get tips and advice from an owner. yes, I want the personal touch. Yes, I may even want to feel like a local.

But when the info is given and the key swapped, I want the apartment to become my space and I don’t necessarily want to become best friends or swap Facebook details with the landlord’.”

The company denies the move is anything to do with recent regulatory or taxation shenanigans affecting the likes of Airbnb or Wimdu which have a focus on shared spaces.

Nevertheless, issues such as these are clearly triggering a fair degree of strategic soul searching for a number of brands as they look to anticipate where around the world they may face hurdles over their ability to operate (or those of their product hosts).

Airbnb, for example, recently celebrated (and potentially breathed a huge sigh of relief) a regulatory win in France when a legislation was introduced allowing home owners to rent out rooms without seeking permission from local authorities.

Its head of global public policy, David Hantman, says some 83% of its hosts in the French capital Paris share their primary residence – in other words, let out a room OR only have the property available for a limited period of time.

HouseTrip’s move possibly illustrates how the main players in the rental/sharing economy are re-positioning themselves as providers of product in one particular area (shared vs complete rental).

A source who until recently worked within one of the main global players in the sharing economy says there is a wider trend emerging: “After seeing good traction and interest in the mass audience, the involved companies are trying to get out of a niche and attack a more established market, providing an experience closer to what hotel customers are used to.

“The peer economy is a nice thing, but there are reasons why hotels and other kind of accommodation facilities need to comply to specific rules… and the private accommodation market is probably trying to anticipate the regulatory movements so that they will be more ready when the time will come.”

Source: http://www.tnooz.com

 

Advertisements

Holiday Lettings, the vacation rental brand owned by TripAdvisor, has struck off more 2,100 properties from its system this year for bad service.holiday letting

The company says 1% of its total portfolio of rental properties have been “deactivated” for a number of reasons, including those that try to take a booking with a customer away from the Holiday Lettings website.

Property owners that do not engage with potential customers and other activities deemed to be offering a “poor service” are also under scrutiny and could find themselves turfed off the site as a result.

Holiday Lettings also says it will be rewarding the “most responsive” property owners with better rankings in search results, also to those that consistently offer online payment to guests.
Whilst the move (Holiday Lettings calls it a “campaign”) is in-part designed to protect guests by offering financial protection if bookings and payments are made on the site, behind the scenes it also solves an ongoing problem for listing services across the travel sector.

Many travel service providers use a directory to capture potential customers and then secure bookings privately to avoid paying a commission to the intermediary.

Holiday Lettings says customer reviews left against properties on the site (similar to those on the mothership brand, TripAdvisor) are not taken into consideration as part of the deactivation project.

Source: http://www.tnooz.com/

TripAdvisor-owned Holiday Lettings is to delist properties that “consistently provide poor” service to travellers.

The holiday home website announced that 1% of its 215,000 listings have already been deactivated this year from holidaylettings.co.uk.

holiday Lettings

The company is targeting property owners using the free listing service who “fail to engage with traveller enquiries” and in some instances where they attempt to deviate guests from the secure Holiday Lettings payment platform.

Spokeswoman Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies said: “As a TripAdvisor company, we’re committed to providing travellers with a positive search and book experience that results in a secure and easy booking.

“Not only are we the sole British vacation rental site to offer free payment protection to travellers, but we’re now also taking steps to protect the entire experience.”

Holiday Lettings rewards owners who have the most ‘bookable’ homes. These are properties with the most responsive owners offering online payment to expedite the booking, with higher positions in its search results.

Travellers can refine their search many ways to find the most suitable homes for their trip, including sorting by homes with the most TripAdvisor reviews for additional peace of mind.

Holiday Lettings’ payment platform ensures that holidaymakers are protected as long as bookings and payments are made through the site.

If a property does not exist or travellers are denied access to it upon arrival, Holiday Lettings provides a payment protection policy and claim process to protect holidaymakers.

Source: http://www.travolution.co.uk

TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, today announced the results of its fifth annual vacation rental survey of more than 1,100 U.S. respondents, which shows that 52 percent plan to stay at a vacation rental in 2014, up eight percent compared to those who stayed in a rental last year.tripadvisor

The top three reasons travelers will choose a vacation rental over a hotel stay this year are: more living space (67%), lower rates than hotels (53%), and better amenities (50%). Ninety-four percent of U.S. respondents who have previously stayed in a rental said they were satisfied with their experiences.

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: -vacation-rental-stays-up-eight-percent-in-2014

@TripAdvisor survey reveals 52% of U.S. travelers planning a vacation rental stay in 2014. Tweet

Families Favor Vacation Rentals

Sixty-one percent said they have booked a rental home when traveling with family or a large group and of those respondents, 48 percent said the main reason they enjoy a rental is spending time together in common living space. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they had an “excellent” vacation rental experience bonding with family.

Travelers Look to Rental for Value

Eighty-seven percent of all U.S. respondents maintain they would stay at a vacation rental instead of another accommodation if it meant saving money; of that group, 27 percent said they would not need to save money to choose a vacation rental over a hotel. Twenty-one percent said they have booked a vacation rental because they were on a budget.

Here’s what travelers plan to spend per night at vacation rentals:

— $100-200: 45%

— $200-300: 22%

— Less than $100: 14%
Settings and Seasons for the Sojourn

Most popular U.S. regions for vacation rental stays in 2014:

— Southeast — 33%

— Northeast and Southwest (tied) — 15%

— Hawaii — 11%
Thirty-two percent will stay at a rental outside of the U.S. and of those traveling internationally, 53 percent will rent in Europe; 30 percent in the Caribbean islands; and 13 percent in Mexico.

The top settings for vacation rental stays in 2014:

— Beach / ocean — 65%

— City — 27%

— Mountains — 18%

— Island and countryside (tied) — 17%

— Lake — 13%
Summer is the most popular season for vacation rentals as 65 percent plan stays between June and August. The most popular months for stays are: July (25%) and October (22%).

Amenities Snapshot

Most popular vacation rental amenities Top “luxury” vacation rental amenities
that attract travelers: that attract travelers:
————————————– ————————————–
Wi-Fi internet access (21%) Amazing view (61%)
————————————– ————————————–
Washer and dryer (18%) Private beach (51%)
————————————– ————————————–
Private pool (16%) Large outdoor deck / patio (49%)
————————————– ————————————–
Outdoor living area (10%) Housekeeping service (29%)
————————————– ————————————–
Professional-grade kitchen (5%) Hot tub (26%)
————————————– ————————————–

“Travelers love vacation rentals for the at-home experience and amenities that make them ideal for family and group trips, not to mention the potential savings when compared to hotels,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor. “With the increased demand for vacation rentals, the best rental properties book quickly during the peak summer months; therefore travelers should plan as soon as possible to secure the best property for their travel needs.”

TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals

With more than 550,000 listings available, TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals offer travelers access to reviews, extensive details, and photos of properties around the world. For families and large groups traveling for a week or more, a vacation rental can often offer significant savings compared to a hotel.

SOURCE TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor announced the results of its fifth annual vacation rental survey of more than 1,100 U.S. respondents, which shows that 52 percent plan to stay at a vacation rental in 2014, up eight percent compared to those who stayed in a rental last year. The top three reasons travelers will choose a vacation rental over a hotel stay this year are: more living space (67%), lower rates than hotels (53%), and better amenities (50%). Ninety-four percent of U.S. respondents who have previously stayed in a rental said they were satisfied with their experiences.vacation rental

Families Favor Vacation Rentals
Sixty-one percent said they have booked a rental home when traveling with family or a large group and of those respondents, 48 percent said the main reason they enjoy a rental is spending time together in common living space. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they had an “excellent” vacation rental experience bonding with family.

Travelers Look to Rental for Value
Eighty-seven percent of all U.S. respondents maintain they would stay at a vacation rental instead of another accommodation if it meant saving money; of that group, 27 percent said they would not need to save money to choose a vacation rental over a hotel. Twenty-one percent said they have booked a vacation rental because they were on a budget.

Here’s what travelers plan to spend per night at vacation rentals:
$100-200: 45%
$200-300: 22%
Less than $100: 14%
Settings and Seasons for the Sojourn
Most popular U.S. regions for vacation rental stays in 2014:
Southeast – 33%
Northeast and Southwest (tied) – 15%
Hawaii – 11%

Thirty-two percent will stay at a rental outside of the U.S. and of those traveling internationally, 53 percent will rent in Europe; 30 percent in the Caribbean islands; and 13 percent in Mexico.

The top settings for vacation rental stays in 2014:
Beach / ocean – 65%
City – 27%
Mountains – 18%
Island and countryside (tied) – 17%
Lake – 13%
Summer is the most popular season for vacation rentals as 65 percent plan stays between June and August. The most popular months for stays are: July (25%) and October (22%).

Amenities Snapshot
Most popular vacation rental amenities that attract travelers: Top “luxury” vacation rental amenities that
attract travelers:
Wi-Fi internet access (21%)   Amazing view (61%)

Washer and dryer (18%) Private beach (51%)

Private pool (16%) Large outdoor deck / patio (49%)

Outdoor living area (10%)  Housekeeping service (29%)

Professional-grade kitchen (5%)   Hot tub (26%)

“Travelers love vacation rentals for the at-home experience and amenities that make them ideal for family and group trips, not to mention the potential savings when compared to hotels,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor. “With the increased demand for vacation rentals, the best rental properties book quickly during the peak summer months; therefore travelers should plan as soon as possible to secure the best property for their travel needs.”

Source : : http://www.traveldailynews.com

There are few tourism-related industries which are so heavily dependent on the internet as the vacation rental industry. As an emerging market itself, vacation rentals began online. The internet created the platform and connectivity needed for the exchange of goods and services which were, by nature, not standardized. Every vacation rental home, luxury villa, condo and private resort is different. It requires a user-friendly, media-heavy platform to be able to market them.vacation rental

The progenitor platform was, of course—VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner), an offshoot of FSBO (For Sale By Owner). Soon, thereafter, followed a number of other sites with similar ideas: Homeaway, Cyber Rentals, MAQ Beach, etc. But with a non-standardized good such as vacation rentals, a standardized platform is needed. The emerging leaders, Homeaway and Flipkey, began to buy up all of the competition and set the stage for a global, internet oligopoly.

This is the trend: As vacation rentals become more and more mainstream around the world, standardized online platforms will dominate the market. The smaller, subsidiary rental sites are either absorbed, or overshadowed as Homeaway and Flipkey become common household names.

These online platforms also support the multimedia needed to show off vacation rental properties. The sheer multitude of options in places such as Costa Rica is daunting to many customers. Potential renters can sort the properties based on their basic criteria—but from there, it is a game of who’s got the catchiest thumbnail. People often spend only a few seconds skimming over each of the available properties, and if there is no eye candy to draw them in, the listing may not even get a ‘click’. These days, it’s not uncommon for a luxury vacation villa to have its own website, professional photos, aerial photos, a promotional video and 360-degree virtual tour.

With the heightening competition, and the fact that VRBO’s aren’t necessarily “by owner” anymore, more and more property owners are electing to hire a vacation rental agency to manage their properties. For absentee owners, this is a necessity—but it also makes sense for owners who live nearby but prefer to relieve themselves of the hassles of running a vacation rental.

Consumers are also becoming more and more demanding, as competition forces property owners and agencies alike to up the ante when it comes to services. No longer are renters content with a back-woods “for rent by owner” property with three broken lights and no hair dryer. They require the same amenities and services which they otherwise would have gotten at a hotel of commensurate quality.

With the standardization of modern-day online platforms, local vacation rental and property management agencies are well equipped to turn a back-woods “for rent by owner” property into a professionally-run vacation villa.

source: http://www.digitaljournal.com

ResortsandLodges.com, a leading worldwide Resort and Lodge destination travel website, today announced it is partnering with Barefoot Technologies, one of the founding browser-based vacation rental systems in the travel market, in order to provide ResortsandLodges.com travelers access to more than 20,000 vacation rentals.
resortandlodges
Founded in 1999, Barefoot was officially the first browser-based vacation rental system on the market. They are currently one of the few systems to offer customer relationship management (CRM) software, social media, document management and the most innovative work order system on the market. They have also attracted more than 20,000 vacation rentals properties, and offer online availability, rates and booking options.

Thanks to the new integrated two-way interface, Barefoot Technologies will be able to publish comprehensive rental details with online rates and availability for ResortsandLodges.com’s nearly 10 million guests to book online. This two-way interface offers Barefoot’s customers a new channel to attract new travelers and will save the property owners time so they don’t have to individually update rates and availability.

“We have an endless pursuit to ensure our travel audience is able to access the largest collection of accommodations across the world and be able to book them online. This ability will offer travelers the chance to create truly memorable vacation experiences. In order to meet our traveler’s demand we are connecting with properties where the availability isn’t typically sold on travel sites we may have become familiar with; Expedia, Priceline, Hotels.com and Travelocity. Our partnership with Barefoot Technologies is very exciting; we will be able to offer our nearly 10 million guests access to book real-time availability with more than 20,000 unique rental properties across North America,” said Ryan Bailey, CEO of ResortsandLodges.com.

“Our customers are always interested in connecting with shopping sites to generate new customers and it is difficult to do so with major OTAs like Expedia, Priceline and Hotels.com because of their traditionally high commission rates. It is exciting to find a company like ResortsandLodges.com that offers a channel that is more feasible for resort and property managers,” said Ed Ulmer, President of Barefoot Technologies.

barefootAbout Barefoot Technologies- Barefoot is a leading provider of browser-based reservation and asset management systems in the vacation rental industry. It has the distinction of being the first browser system in the industry, the first to provide online booking, tenant, owner access and to offer social media tools and is designed to be tailored to meet clients’ exacting needs. Barefoot is also the only system with a full Customer Relations program wrapped into the program, which in effect makes it the only full service system in the industry. Founded in 1998, by leading technology and industry players, the “.NET platform” has become a standard for those who are trend setters in the industry and those who desire to dominate their market with unique functionally. For more information, please contact Barefoot at 603-428-6255, Adam@barefoot.com

About ResortsandLodges.com

ResortsandLodges.com® is a comprehensive online resource for leisure travel with access to unique accommodations worldwide. The site provides the ability to plan and book memorable experiences at resorts, vacation rentals, cabins, holiday rentals, villas, condos, cottages, lodges, boutique hotels, B&B’s and vacation hotels.

Founded in 1998, ResortsandLodges.com was one of the first major leisure travel sites established on the Internet. Over the years, ResortsandLodges.com has received numerous awards and accolades for web design, outstanding usability, fast page loading speeds, and skillful information display.

SOURCE ResortsandLodges.com

The stocks of most major hotel chains were good investments in 2013, increasing by an average of 27% through the year. Hilton’s record-breaking IPO further exposed investors’ confidence in the sector and in its ability to develop into the future.

However, there is increasing competition. The strongest growth in the travel sector is not found among hotel chains–it is found online. Here is a look at one of the fastest-growing web-based aspects of the travel sector.

Vacation rentals

Online bookings of residential properties have increased and are taking the travel sector by storm. Such bookings may include properties rented by owner or via a vacation-rental management company, VRMC. Regardless, this specialty industry now represents 24% of all online bookings, double 2007’s levels.homeaway

In 2008, fewer than one in every two VRMCs offered properties via a web-based interface. At the close of 2012, that number jumped to seven out of 10. As more and more VRMCs list properties online, and individual vacation homeowners see the benefits of listing their properties, this specialized industry will grow.

Market research company PhoCusWright estimates online vacation rentals will make up 30% of the U.S. travel market by year-end — a sharper growth rate than previously experienced.

Start-up turned leader

One company that will lead this growth is HomeAway , an industry leader in matching homeowners with vacationers. It experienced an increase in stock price of nearly 80% in 2013. Since 2010, third-quarter total revenue, and revenue from rentals, has risen year over year. From 2012-2013, total revenue rose 23%; a 108% increase from 2010.

An excellent opportunity to join this travel revolution may be on the horizon. HomeAway registered for a secondary public offering with the intent of using “proceeds…for…purposes, which may include acquisitions…of, or investment in, products, services, technologies or other businesses.”

While current shareholder’s could see a secondary offering as a dilution of earnings, HomeAway’s history should stave off a huge drop in share price. Since its inception, HomeAway has developed an aggressive history of turning new capital into earnings through frequent and expensive acquisitions.

HomeAway’s Competitors

HomeAway is not the only company in the vacation-rental business, nor is it the only acquisition-hungry company. Priceline.com filed Form 8-K with the SEC late last year, informing investors of a material event surrounding its subsidiary Booking.com.

The event is that vacation rentals now make up 22% of Booking.com’s inventory. As implied by the language in Priceline’s statement, and its analysis of how vacation rentals may influence its finances, this percentage will only rise.

Differing strategies

Priceline now offers vacation rentals through its portfolio of sites; but it also sells hotels, airfare, and rental cars. Priceline operates with a one-stop shopping strategy.priceline

A Booking.com official indicated the company’s “goal is to be the place…where travelrs can find the right place to stay at whatever budget…no matter where they…wish to travel.” Also mentioned was that current vacation rental listings on the site are only offered in strategically determined locations — where demand for vacation rentals was seen. These rentals, unlike HomeAway.com, are only supplied by VRMCs, not individual owners.

HomeAway, on the other hand, focuses solely on vacation rentals. Vacation rentals pose unique challenges by having fewer available rooms per property than hotels and usually lower rates. However, HomeAway has found it profitable to offer its users a massive property database that it continually expands by acquiring similar start-ups all over the globe.

When it comes down to the numbers, HomeAway dot-com offers 570,000 vacation rentals. When considering the entire portfolio of HomeAway-operated websites, that number jumps to more than 773,000 rentals throughout 171 countries. Booking.com offers slightly less than 90,000 vacation rental properties.

HomeAway’s acquisition strategy is designed to expand its online offerings and make it a more specialized online travel agency. Priceline’s acquisition strategy is designed to expand its online offerings and make it a more diverse company that can meet the needs of any traveler.

Whichever the method, both companies have demonstrated a willingness to do what it takes to stay ahead of the competition — to stay ahead of each other — and to be leaders on the growing online sales front.

Continuing into the future

Watch for HomeAway’s secondary public offering and to see which region of the world it adds to its vacation-rental database through acquisitions.

Watch for Priceline to continue to identify markets where there is a demand for vacation rentals.

Also, look for Priceline to show an interest in purchasing HomeAway itself as a means of expanding its offerings. Priceline is not a stranger to acquisitions; Booking.com itself joined the Priceline portfolio in 2005 through an acquisition.

Source : http://www.dailyfinance.com/ and http://www.fool.com/

HomeAway has trekked into the big leagues of travel booking by betting that an investor’s waterfront villa, a retiree’s ski condo or a family’s spare summer house can trump a hotel as a great place to stay.

A vacation rentals marketplace, HomeAway (AWAY) is now the fifth largest company by market cap in IBD’s Leisure-Travel Booking industry group, after giant Priceline.com (PCLN), TripAdvisor (TRIP), Expedia (EXPE) and Ctrip.com (CTRP). HomeAway stock traveled north 86% in 2013 and is up another 2% this year.

homeAway

With about $330 million in annual revenue, HomeAway remains a distance from the biggest online travel players. But co-founder and CEO Brian Sharples isn’t afraid to take calculated risks to grow the company, which has made 22 acquisitions in the last eight years.

HomeAway bought Australia-based Stayz Group on Dec. 2 for $198 million. Sharples, while in Australia to consolidate the Stayz purchase, talked with IBD about the prospects for his company and the online travel market in 2014.

IBD: How is the Stayz integration coming?

Sharples: We’re really pleased. We had a company here in Melbourne already that was No. 2 in the market. We’re now the clear leader in this region. We expect to leverage that with our other Asia-Pacific assets, for example our businesses in Singapore and New Zealand. And we opened in China early in 2013.stayz

It’s very much like in 2006-07 when we acquired assets in Europe and spent time building that into a pan-European business.

IBD: How big is the market opportunity for vacation travel?

Sharples: We have 800,000 vacation rental listings, and there are 7 million to 10 million … rentals available (globally). Our share is still quite low. It can get a lot better.

We have a very young company, founded in 2005 (July 2011 IPO). We’re the leader in the category, but it’s still a very early inning.

IBD: What macro trends will shape the rental industry this year?

Sharples: In general, vacation rental suppliers are impacted by the strength of second-home real estate markets. In times of low sales and tight credit, many owners turn to rentals as a source of extra income. In times where markets are more robust, we see more new construction and sales of vacation homes, and therefore the potential pool of supply grows. In 2014 we expect supply to expand as real estate markets stabilize.

IBD: What others issues are affecting the industry?

Sharples: Travelers are impacted by their own assessment of economic conditions, as well as things like the cost of airfare. We expect to see solid growth in travel next year as the economy improves, and also expect competition among airlines to keep the cost of travel reasonable.

IBD: What sets HomeAway apart from your competitors?

Sharples: The biggest advantage we have, and biggest barrier to entry for others, is we’re the market leader.

The most-reviewed HomeAway luxury rental is Casa de Frutas in Costa Rica. It sleeps 8 for $4,500-$6,000 a week, has a butler, and monkeys visit.

The most-reviewed HomeAway luxury rental is Casa de Frutas in Costa Rica. It sleeps 8 for $4,500-$6,000 a week, has a butler, and monkeys visit. Casa de Frutas in Costa Rica

This is a classic marketplace business. We market directly to consumers, both for the supply and demand part of that.

What sets anyone apart is scale. You feel better off in a market that has scale. We have many multiples (of rentals) of anyone else in the world, and several times the consumer traffic.

IBD: Do you plan to expand into any new markets?

Sharples: We’re hard at work to expand in South America.

We have a very strong position in Brazil, the biggest vacation site in South America. We’re No. 1 there. We’re also building a base in Argentina.

And we’re looking at Eastern Europe. We haven’t had much activity there but there’s quite a bit of vacation volume rentals, for example in Russia and Turkey.

IBD: What is HomeAway’s acquisition strategy?

Sharples: Mainly what we do is look for leaders in new geographies. We look for profitable businesses first of all. Next we look for high quality rentals.

We’re going country by country around the world, and in discussions with many companies.

In Spain we decided to go it on our own. That’s been hugely successful for us. We’re the leading (online travel) company in Spain.

There were companies to buy there, but we didn’t because of the (high) price.

IBD: How would you describe typical vacation travel customers?

Sharples: For us that’s a real differentiator. Our customers are first and foremost families. Statistically, 70% to 80% are families with two or three kids and looking for a place to rent with more space and comfort than a hotel.

The balance are groups traveling. For example, guys going skiing, or a girls weekend out or college buddies who get together once a year.

Our customers are also relatively older and more affluent than other companies’.

IBD: What’s your 2014 outlook for the vacation home rental industry?

Sharples: We’re expecting strong growth rates to continue.

We care about the overall economy. But it doesn’t affect our business as much as other businesses. In a good economy, people buy and rent more vacation homes. In a bad economy, people who have vacation homes decide to rent them because they need money.

From what I’m seeing, Europe is stabilizing, the U.S. is getting stronger and Asian growth is unabated.

In Brazil the World Cup is coming and the Olympics. I’m optimistic about the coming year.

IBD: How is the online vacation industry evolving?

HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples is exploring South America horizons.

Sharples: Our marketplace has historically been a classified (ads) market. The vacationer and rental owner agree on a price and go off and figure out how to make that happen.

This year we built and launched online pay-per-booking capability. We will operate a little more like the hotel industry. Consumers like to pay by credit card. They want to see an invoice and what they owe.

More and more we’re pushing transactions to happen through our platform.

(HomeAway.com started offering a pay-per-booking arrangement last year, and on Thursday said it’s also available on VRBO.com, a vacation-rentals-by-owner site it operates.)

IBD: What lessons did you learn as HomeAway grew from startup to the market leader?

Sharples: Lessons learned from failure are the most important ingredients to success. I spend time when I bring people into the company focusing on what things have gone wrong in their lives and how they learned from them.

My first company I ever started in my late 20s was a spectacular failure. I lost almost all of the money quickly. I was trying to build a marketplace for used automobiles with physical sites. I would go to football stadiums and set up massive events. A freak storm came in and literally destroyed the event. That taught me you have to work hard to plan for things that might go wrong.

IBD: What could HomeAway be doing better?

Sharples: Our model is not as clean as finding and booking a hotel room online is. Our goal this year is to make it as easy as booking their hotel room. We’re a 5 or 6 on that today on a 1-to-10 scale. And we hope to get to a 9 or 10 this year.

Source: Investors.com

The companies that manage the massive stock of vacation homes in the U.S. and abroad are looking for two things: to figure out a way to inform travelers that their properties are professionally managed, and reduce costs for getting the word out about their properties.

Their trade group, the Vacation Rental Managers Association, has made some progress on showcasing vacation homes as professionally managed, but cutting costs on listings and bookings has so far remained elusive.
VRMA
Mark McSweeney, who became executive director of VRMA in April, says negotiations with hotel distribution company Pegasus Solutions to build a vacation rental “switch” were “mutually terminated,” and VRMA is currently negotiating with another party.Pegasus

The idea behind the switch is that vacation rental management companies would contribute their inventory to the association’s switch, which would then distribute the listings to online vacation rental websites such as HomeAway, TripAdvisor/Flipkey, as well as online travel agencies, so the vacation rental companies wouldn’t have to pay individual providers separately.

VRMA concedes it would face the prospect of negotiating a business model not only with the switch technology provider, but also with the vacation rental sites and the OTAs.

The idea, years in the making and coming after a failed multiyear effort to get Pegasus Solutions to be the technology provider, is looking increasingly elusive as VRMA member HomeAway becomes a global vacation rental powerhouse, and has just penned its own deal with Expedia, for example.

HomeAway, Expedia, and Booking.com have the audience and the clout, and if the vacation rental switch ever comes to be, its leverage with the big distributors would be suspect.

The VRMA’s now-failed negotiations with Pegasus date to 2011, and McSweeney says even if the switch never becomes a reality, the process was not a waste of time or resources.

“We don’t think we are behind at all,” says Heather Weiermann, VRMA’s new president, who doubles as chief operating officer of All Star Vacation Homes.

As part of the Pegasus process, VRMA developed standards on brand inclusion in listings, meaning they show the name of the professional management company, as well as rate parity, and normalize definitions of one- and two-bedroom properties, for example, Weiermann says.

That sort of work influenced HomeAway to designate properties when professionally managed by letting travelers “contact the manager” and by displaying the name of the management company in search results, Weiermann says.

A PhoCusWright study, The U.S. Vacation Rental Landscape 2013, found that more than $11.6 billion, which was greater than half of U.S. vacation rental revenue, went to professionally managed properties in 2012, and that 35% of vacationers prefer such properties over rentals by owner.

VRMA wants professionally managed properties to stand out when companies offer them on Airbnb, for instance, so travelers will know they are getting quality service, and not an inconsistent or shoddy experience.

As McSweeney puts it: The VRMA is happy to see the growth of sites such as Airbnb, but it wants to show the differentiation and provide “clarity” when professionally managed properties get listed.

source: Skift.com