HomeAway Expands Exposure on Expedia


Travelers who are looking for vacation rental options across the globe are turning to HomeAway, and who could blame them?  The company just announced that it currently has more than 1 million vacation rentals listings across their various outlets (Homeaway.com, VRBO.com, etc.).  However, thanks to a new agreement with Expedia, it will be even easier for travelers to find HomeAway rentals online.

This partnership, which had its beginnings in beta in February, went live on September 19, and was officially announced during HomeAway’s RezFest event by CEO Brian Sharples.

Expedia.com will not feature a specific “Vacation Rentals” tab on its homepage, but when site users search for a stay of a week or so in duration for a particular destination, they will see vacation rental options listed.

These listings of vacation rentals within the Expedia hotel search/tab is Expedia’s answer to providing more lodging options, without undermining its all-important hotel business.  The partnership means 115,000 vacation rentals listings are now displayed in the U.S. version of Expedia.com.  The property owners must pay 10% commission and 3% in credit card processing fees for each booking.

Potential Issues for HomeAway
Both companies are quick to point out that “property managers and owners continue to have the opportunity to reach Expedia travelers by partnering directly with Expedia”.  This would essentially cut HomeAway out of the process altogether, a risk that Sharples addressed at RezFest with the following statement:

“Though Expedia does have direct relationships with property management companies, they are not currently integrated into the vacation rental by owner (VRBO) market, which is 60% of HomeAway’s inventory (as of Q2 2014).  Currently, not all VRBOs can be distributed to Expedia.com because they are on HomeAway’s subscription model, but it is something we are working towards.”

“The additional distribution for that segment of the market presents a meaningful opportunity for everyone – Expedia, HomeAway and its customers – and is a major reason why both companies are excited about the future of the partnership.”

HomeAway’s Expanded Distribution Network
Expedia is not the only company with whom HomeAway plans to collaborate going forward.  This “cornerstone partnership”, as it is being described, marks HomeAway’s launch of its Expanded Distribution Network, which will be expanded to other “well-known travel brands” according to the company.

Sharples is on record stating that HomeAway would like to establish partnerships similar to its Expedia relationship with other online travel agencies, tourism sites, and other websites.

To read more about HomeAway’s Expanded Distribution Network, click here.

To read more about HomeAway’s new partnership with Expedia, click here.

Travel Agencies Trending Upward in 2014


Despite the fact that OTA’s like Orbitz and Travelocity are now responsible for about 70% of travel booking in the United States today, the individuals who work out of the brick-and-mortar travel agencies are reporting booming sales according to a recent Los Angeles Times article.

A recent survey by the American Society of Travel Agents, which represents nearly 6,00 travel agents across the country, found that most travel agents found that their revenues, bookings, and total number of clients are up in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period last year.  Here are some key statistics from that survey: Continue reading

Expedia to Launch New Tablet App


The old guard of travel companies – Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz – have seemingly been in a holding pattern since the late 1990’s when it comes to technological innovation.  These companies were slow when it came to moving to mobile, and have also been slow when it comes to redesigning “outdated” websites.

Now Expedia is taking a major step and one that it hopes will capture more travelers and make searching for travel accommodations a less industrial experience and a more sensual one.  The company previewed its new tablet app, which focuses on striking, large scenic visuals, at a recent launch event in San Francisco. Continue reading

The Future of Travel: Millennials


Millennials represent the next prized demographic for the travel and hospitality industries.  This group, made up of those individuals age 18-34, is looking for an experience, and may not be satisfied with a standard hotel stay.  To millennials, personalization is a great way to develop brand loyalty, and a one of a kind experience is the golden ticket to repeat business for your property. Continue reading

Travel Trends: Metasearch is the Future


Metasearch is one of the hottest trends in the travel industry today.  It’s so hot that Skift, a leading travel industry news leader, released a report detailing what is coming next for the travel industry in terms of metasearch.

Why is Metasearch so Hot Right Now?
According to a DataFox, travelers made on average 21 visits to different travel websites before finally booking a trip, with many reporting that it was extremely tedious and time-consuming.  Continue reading

The Next Step in OTA/Metasearch Convergence


Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have taken the travel and hospitality industries to a new level over the past decade,  but in recent years there has been a shift towards convergence of OTAs and metasearch engines.  Metasearch engines, like Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Hipmunk, have traditionally shuttled users to OTAs or air/car rental sites white it came time to complete their bookings.

In essence, the metasearch engine was the means for getting to the ultimate endpoint of the OTA.  Forward thinking companies like Expedia and Priceline utilized this stream of production to their advantage by acquiring their own metasearch engines.  Expedia Inc. controls Trivago and the Priceline Group owns Kayak.

Companies like Orbitz, Travelocity, and CheapOair are considered metasearch “paupers” according to a recent Skift article, but Orbitz Worldwide CEO Barney Harford sees things differently, and last year he boasted that his company did not need to make a speculative investment and acquire a travel metasearch site.

The Orbitz Plan
While Orbitz Worldwide does not own their own metasearch engine, Orbitz.com, Cheaptickets.com, and LastMinute.com have done the next best thing.  With an assist from advertising soultions’ provider Intent Media, the three OTA sites have not integrated metasearch-like hotel pricing from competitor’s sites right beneath some of their own hotel displays.

From the hotel display, a user can click on one of the competitor’s links and navigate away to that site to make a hotel booking.

Why This Model Makes Sense
Intent Media co-founder and CEO Richard Harris says the logic behind these property price ads are that only about 5% of lookers may book something on an OTA site, and these metasearch-like ads with hotel rates enable the OTAs to monetize the users who want to comparison shop and would likely book elsewhere anyway.

OTAs have displayed similar ads from competitor’s sites before – but usually without showing the competitors’ rates.  If they displayed links to competitors, they would usually do so opening one browser at a time and without first showing any pricing.

However, displaying these opposing rates, while somewhat risky or seemingly counter-intuitive for the publishing site, earns a higher cost per click than not showing the rates because lookers are more likely to book.

To read the full Skift article, click here.