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Owner, Property Manager, or Traveler
Owners, here is an article that you might find interesting:
(If there's any doubt in your mind that HA is screwing the traditional Vacation Rental Owner customer base, this article should put it to rest)
"HomeAway's headquarters is the opulence. On a pristine corner off 5th Street in downtown, and comfortably located across from Whole Foods Market's flagship store, the building's reflective glass shined as best it could on an otherwise rainy and cold Friday [...] The interior was no less impressive. Wood-paneled halls and concrete floors opened into a well-appointed main floor with walls covered in travel-themed art. My first thought upon entering: How much shareholder cash has HomeAway spent cozying up the office?"
"The company saw increased competition from privately held disruptor AirBnB and Expedia spinoff TripAdvisor, which owns vacation rental listings site FlipKey and which generated nearly three times as much cash from operations last year."
"Up until now, most of HomeAway's growth has come from a combination of acquisitions and organic listings growth. More properties listed means more opportunities to charge the standard listing fee. Sharples says that will begin to change this year, as HomeAway introduces tiered pricing options [,,,]. The resulting increases should carry close to a 100% margin."
"As we like to do with every executive who lends time to talk with us, we asked Sharples about the metric that matters most to him as CEO and his team. His answer? Traveler inquiries."
Also, increasing their empire even more, HA has just recently acquired Spanish Vacation Rentals Site "Top Rural" - http://www.toprural.com/
Great article. Thanks for posting it. This explains why they make it so easy for a traveler to submit bulk inquiries and suggest several other properties to look at after they do make an inquiry.
Besides paid listings, they have no other metric besides inquiries.
Interesting that it is a 100% profit on the listing level up-sell. The listing level up-sell is a pure appeal to fear and greed, very powerful human motivators.
You should consider signing your posts with at least your first name, email@example.com is a little awkward.
I was just in Austin. The HomeAway office is not that posh at all. Location is great though.
The question is... to go to the confence next week or not? There are a few great places on AirBnB and other portals
Fun article Peter, thanks for posting.
LOL! As a business owner dealing with an online entity I'd much rather see a less opultant office environment for the CEOS, etc, and a great bank of servers with intelligent IT professionals.
HA is NOT Google, or Microsoft. Too funny, since most great IT minds could care less abt. their office space.
I'd hardly call the HA office posh. I've been to a few of the floors and it's got that industrial-contemporary look that's so popular with technology businesses today. Lots of concrete, exposed mechanicals, glass and unique art pieces and collections. They do have a nice attached parking garage and great location, though.
No surprise that HA is looking to develop and milk every possible revenue stream. They have a lot of investors to keep happy so they need to keep the machine well-oiled. I do not like the new tiered listing program on VRBO either, but I am not surprised HA developed it. Long gone are the days where $329 bought you 12 photos on a solid-producing site. And sadly, that wasn't too long ago!
My my, what difference does it make if Homeaway have plush offices or not?
If you want to make money from Homeaway then invest in them but if you want to make money from your vacation rental then invest in that instead.
I have a bank account and my bank has very plush offices in just about every capital city in the world. So what? I pay for a service, I get that service, they make money, they spend some of that money on office suites. That's how it works.
That's the same for Walmart, Ford and a host of other businesses. Get over it.
Spend your time and money promoting your vacation rental and leave Homeaway to spend their money how they like.
Alan@rentmore>> Get over it.
Alan@rentmore>> That's how it works.
Really, rentmore, that's the solution? "Get over it"? Lie back and take it like a man? Just because that's "how it works" we should just accept it? Does this go for other things too? "Crime happens -- just take it. Stop your bellyaching, you bunch of whiners!" "Politicians embezzled millions in taxes? Hey, it happens; everyone knows that. What's the biggie?"
Alan@rentmore>> leave Homeaway to spend their money how they like
Again, really? As a customer, I have no say? They can do whatever they want and we should just shut-up and let them? Don't we have a duty to protect our investment? Yes, we do. (By the way, that's MY money their spending.. not "their" money.)
Alan@rentmore>> what difference does it make if Homeaway have plush offices or not
Where do you draw the line? Does it matter if they stop SEO on the site and go on opulent vacations instead? Does it matter if the site crashes 10 times a day but they buy a private jet? Where is your line? I draw the line at corporations wasting any of my money while their service levels decline (as they have been doing on HomeAway for the past few years). Your line might be drawn further out but I suspect that you, also, have one.
Yes, I want to "rentmoreweeks" and I already pay HA/VRBO top dollar for their service to make that happen. We, as HA/VRBO, clients have a right to demand performance for our hard-earned dollars and as clients &/or shareholders we also have every right to scrutinize the expenditures of the company.
Ahhhh, I must say that "rentmore" has his priorities. They just don't match mine. And of course, I DO spend MUCH time marketing my home to the type of renter I want.
Thank goodness I've been at this for some time, and have branched out ( & addressed MY advertising budget .)
Here is what I have learned. VRBO is not what it was when I signed up to advertise.
My first 2 years with VRBO where really good, as for the Bang for my $$. Homeaway bought them and it's been downhill ever since. (as far as my advertising investment with them goes.)
My VRBO contract is constantly changing- in the midst of my yearly contract.
The theory that "one week's rental" will pay for my ad is a rather stupid one - in marketing terms.
So , yes, I "invest" with my money, as an advertiser. I'd NEVER buy shares of HA!!!.
I've lowered my "advertising INVESTMENT" with HA/VRBO. I've found other sites that not only work with me, but offer excellent customer service. AND it is paying off - for me- Big time.
I can't imagine getting an email frm VRBO, let alone a personal phone call, as I do with other sites I pay the same fees to.
So, Alan , if you are shareholder of HA stock, you should pay attention to the users ( you know -- the people that pay the bills).
You're coming across sounding like a condescending person. That's not good when you are involved in the Hospitality Industry.
Florin, sure - happy to share with fellow owners.
I also advertise on Vacationrentals411.com, Flipkey, and my local tourism website. Some are free, others very reasonable ( compared to VRBO's new tiered system), and all have much better customer service.
The lowest inquiry producer is the 411 site( free), but I actual book more from there than through VRBO. The best booking site for me is, by far Flipkey, and 2nd is my local tourism site. So-- that means, while I get more INQUIRIES from VRBO, I have less actual bookings per inquiry than all the others.
Hope that helps
Would you please let me know if you've had guests who completed their vacation that rented through 411 or Flip Key. If so, were they high quality guests. i.e no damages, easy to work with, met deadline for return of lease and payments, etc.
Thanks for your help.
They were all fine. Since Dec. 1, 2011 I've had 7 sets of guests through Flipkey, 2 from my local tourism, 1 from 411, 1 from VRBO. I think the Flipkey ones actually may have been a bit better overall. They seemed to be more seasoned VR types. Could be because of HA's ad campaign.. It ( campaign) must work, since I do get more inquiries from folks who've never stayed inia VR before- not that they book any better '-)
My summer's mostly booked and all of my week or longer guests have come from FK.
With reference to the above replies,
So, what are their offices like? (Flipkey, et al)
And what does that have to do with conversion rates?
That's my point
By the way i'm not a shareholder with Homeaway.
And furthermore Homeaway don't see you as a user, they see holidaymakers as users. They see you as a lister (my term not theirs). My guess is that they do this as they guarantee that every "lister" will make a profit.
And therein lies the rub, Debj! I just turned off the 'auto-renew' feature on my VRBO listing as I am so unhappy that I can't imagine giving them $700 for another year of 'junk' inquiries. The last straw was the inquiry I received last night - "We were thinking about possibly renting your place. Please send details." Seriously. That's all the inquiry said. Then they proceeded to request dates that have been unavailable on my calendar since January! Ugh! I paid $700 for YOU to read the details of my listing AND to provide an up-to-date availability calendar. While I never, ever mind sharing additional details with prospective renters and love to gush about my home and my hospitality, this "thinking about" and "possibly" business doesn't inspire me to be forthcoming with "details". Sad reality is, most of the inquiries I get from VRBO are just like this.