For those of you who attended the VRMA conference in San Diego ….that was Round 1. I remember vividly standing out in front of the conference room as owners and managers walked out in dead silence….they look stunned “did he really say that ?”. Prior to that conference ...in the same month Homeaway made the commitment to travelers that they will not be charged a fee. As we now can confirm, you are not the customer ….you are the product.
Fast forward ...one year
Due to a number factors (Expedia, Airbnb and owner /manager resistance), Homeaway has continued to find creative ways to “force” compliance. Travelers are upset with having to pay fees ….and blaming the owner / manager. What is more concerning are the guarantees being made to the traveler on the backs of the owner/managers (aka the product). This strategy hinges on the owner/manager cooperation. I can tell you that in my numerous conversations with owners and managers that many are not going to play. Those that are pushing back understand that continuing to play will only dilute their pricing in the long term …..once they control your brand and inventory.....they control your pricing.
Travelers want to connect direct
The good news ...travelers prefer to connect directly with the brand. Yes, I understand this flies against all the “paid” reports that tell you otherwise. The fact is that for travelers this is a big ticket purchase for them and the best source to deliver on a successful outcome is the owner /manager. The owner /manager and travelers interest are directly aligned as they both want a successful outcome.
Do not underestimate the trust factor
This is a very tricky dance for Homeaway as they have broken the trust that was built up years ago by VRBO. At the end of day, like any business...it’s about people. The “product” community is getting wiser and wiser at every turn. Many are deciding to vote with their feet. The traveler community is now getting a taste of what their hosts go through on a daily basis.
……..What do you think Round 3 holds for the future ?