With recent news swirling around the Priceline Group’s announcement that it agreed to acquire OpenTable for $2.6 billion, the travel industry now turns its focus to vacation rental giant HomeAway and whether it might be the next big prize that a Priceline, Expedia or Google might scoop up.

Skift writers Jason Clampet and Dennis Schaal sat down with HomeAway’s CEO Brian Sharples to discuss this subject, and others surround the vacation rental giant including their place in the hospitality industry, potential strategic considerations, and the future of the vacation rental space.  Here are some of the key points highlighted in the interview.

  • HomeAway currently hosts 1 million vacation rental listings in 190 countries through its network of sites.
  • Over the years, HomeAway has been in contact with all the leading companies in travel and there have been “lots of conversations over lots of years about lots of things” according to Sharples.
  • Priceline’s acquisition of OpenTable took Sharples by surprise, as it did to most observers, but he was more surprised by who they bought than they fact that they had a lot of money to spend.
  • Sharples acknowledges that having one million rental listings is a big step, but offers three other key statistics about the future of the vacation rental industry:
  1. Research shows that there are 10 to 15 million vacation properties worldwide, so the one million number is just a start.  There are currently six million listings available in Europe and the United States alone, and that is where Sharples believes the next million will come from.
  2. Less than 40% of HomeAway’s listings have been penetrated as e-commerce listings – properties that take online payments and online bookings.
  3. The company has adjusted its model moving from a subscription service to the launch of a commission-based product.  With the subscription services the company’s growth rate was 10-15% per year.  With the commission-based product that number has risen to 28-30%.

To read more about HomeAway’s search engine marketing “experiment”,  pay-per booking model, and a potential mobile application for travelers who book their getaway through the company’s website, click here.

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