At the HomeAway Summit this past weekend, owners and managers gathered in Scottsdale Arizona to connect, learn, and share with each other and HomeAway employees. We'll be posting the presentations and a wrap up in the coming days.
Brian Sharples held forth on the evolution of the vacation rental industry, and Brent Bellm shared some awesome market research, while HomeAway employees and vacation rental experts shared best practices on topics ranging from social media marketing and online security to new HomeAway products. Everyone made new friends, toasted old ones, networked and kibitzed. There was even an impromptu “ideas” panel pulled together by spirited Summit attendees to generate ideas for enhancements and improvements to HomeAway’s service.
On Saturday, teams of HomeAway engineers and product managers showed off some “fresh from the lab” ideas for products in the Sneaks session. A hybrid of American Idol and a Hackathon, the Sneaks are always a popular session at the summit. The teams pitch their ideas, and the audience votes with their applause to select a winner. Some of these features are live right now so go ahead and give them a spin! (Insider Guides and the iOS Mobile App)
Sneaks are real time market feedback for HomeAway and a chance for owners and managers to influence our roadmap of coming releases. After each demo, the Applause-o-meter was put up on the screen to measure how the audience felt about each team’s efforts. We pay close attention to which sneaks get the most applause - so the audience yelled, stomped their feet, and jumped up and down for their favorite features.
After the 2012 sneaks, four of nine sneaks were released as products – Automating reservations via online booking, Traveller screening via profiles, filtering and searching on VRBO, and the mobile owner app have all made their way out to owners and managers. A fifth sneak, “fighting phishing” is nearing beta, while the others are still over the horizon.
In 2013, two of the sneaks are available today for you to try out. See below if you want to get an Insider Guide on your listing or get our new iOS mobile app (it works for VRBO, HomeAway, and HomeAway UK) that enables you to manage you calendar, inquiries, reply with quotes, and send payment requests.
Here’s the list of 2013 sneaks and presenters:
- The VRBO team (Melissa, Paul, and Kirk) showed how the VRBO traveler site optimizes the experience across iPads, Iphones, Android Phones, Android Tablets, and devices of every size and shape
- Matt of the HomeAway Traveler team illustrated a way to view the properties that are the most popular with travelers, with HomeAway Leaderboard,
- Kate showed how Panoramic 360 photographs (see an example here) enable owners to really show off their properties
- Dustin, leader of the HomeAway Traveler Team, created an Insider Guide revealing a new way to market your properties and provide your guests with information for their stay (learn how you can add an Insider Guide here)
- Dave from the mobile team showed how owners can manage their inquiries, calendars, and bookings from their iphone. Learn how to get the mobile app here.
- Patrick, Tim, and Michael of the social team showed a way for potential guests to learn if they know anyone who has stayed at or reviewed your property, increasing trust for reviews
- Jason and Patrick of Glad to Have You showed a vision for how mobile apps and home automation from BeHome247 can make for hassle-free stays and save money
- Jacy, product manager for HomeAway owner tools, showed masked email addresses, unlimited templates, and attachments as part of a new Inbox could make your lives easier while helping secure the vacation rental marketplace.
It was too close to call a single winner, so the judges awarded a three-way tie to Panoramas, Home Automation, and the Inbox. It was a great session, and thank you to everyone who participated for all of their hard work, creative ideas, and energetic pitches.
Most of the sneaks were future concepts, fresh from the lab. But two of the products that were sneaks are live today!
If you want to create an Insider Guide like these (standalone guides here: vrbo.com and homeaway.com; and how they appear on listings on vrbo.com and homeaway) simply follow the instructions here for HomeAway owners or these ones for vrbo owners. Or just check out some of the awesome guides below:
And if you want to start managing your VRBO, HomeAway, or HomeAway UK listing from your iPhone, open up itunes, and search on "homeaway vacation rentals" or learn how to get it here. Or if you are reading this on a mobile device, go here.
We hope to see you next year at the summit!