Vacation Rental Managers and Owners: Homeaway/VRBO -The Traveler Made Us Do This.

Homeaway/VRBO -The Traveler Made Us Do This.

With all the buzz surrounding Expedia/Homeaway/vrbo on the consumer affairsmessage board, coupled with numerous forum post about reduced or cancelled subscription it’s clear that owner/ managers are not ready to be separated from their cash flow….at least not yet.  Those that have left or leaving the vrbo nest and flocking to Airbnb better be aware that they are two sides of the same coin.  All these companies are now betting that you will carry their cash flow.  If you allow any company to control your brand, guest communications or dictate your cancellation terms, you have signed up to support their cash flow …..yep, that simple.

Why you are being “choked off”

Many of you have seen 40-50% reduction in lead generation.  The reasons for this vary, depending on who you talk too: the Homeaway rep, your “competitor” (aka your community) down the street or the family pet.  There is a combination of factors causing this…by accident ? Possibly.   In my opinion this is the confluence of an axis that is working counter to its intent.  

You have:

1) Homeaway being absorbed by Expedia (never fun and always chaotic)

2)  Former customers (aka the piggy bank) not renewing or canceling subscriptions

3) Travelers not wanting to pay fees ….

What about the traveler …..they want to book online ?

For years we have been fed the line that travelers want to book online. Here is the latest manifestation of this myth, directly tied to the chaos mentioned earlier.  I am sure that there is a segment that love it….if they want to rent a couch or room etc.  Maybe I’m giving the traveler too much credit, but I think they are wiser than most of the analyst or paid advocates stating the contrary.  It is clear that the traveler is pulling back on fees.   There is a big difference between paying for a three night stay at a hotel ….and a threeday stay in a vacation rental.  Travelers clearly feel more comfortable engaging the brand rather than the broker.  

When you search for a nice property on Expedia, do you always book the property ….or check out the brands site first ?  Do you always get a better deal going direct to the brand or the broker ?  Who do you call if you have questions about the destination or property...the brand or the broker ?   Homeaway wants us to believe that the same traveler who looks for brands rather than brokers in an established market category as hotels, abandons all logic when it comes to a higher purchase price and vastly more intimate experience with a vacation rental …..really ??

Travelers are looking for your brand…..give them what they want.

What this painful period proves is that our brands are what drive this business.  Travelers are looking specifically for your brand to provide their friends and family the vacation experience they seek.   The behavior of the big sites will bring competition.  The best thing you can do for your business is invest in marketing and social media, scrutinize vendors before signing anything ….and read your fine print.   Make the data that you own work for you !  Once you get that guest, give them a memorable experience.  Because this is what the traveler wants.

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