The text came through the moment I took my iPhone off “airplane mode” as the plane taxied off the runway in Austin, Texas.
I stood in the baggage claim area of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, reading a finance press release and thinking, “Oh, s***.”
This was big news. Industry altering news, in fact.
My dad called me soon after. Dad doesn’t always hear industry news quickly, but I knew this news would spread like wildfire.
Expedia (you’ve heard of them, right?) made a deal to acquire HomeAway. Have you heard of them? Most people I talk to have not. The acquisition is for a massive amount of money. Yeah, 3.9 BILLION dollars is a hefty amount for a company that hasn’t been able to become a household name…yet.
Some vacation rental owners and managers may have had their hearts stop for a moment when they heard the news, and others may have had their hearts begin to immediately race.
But keep your shirt on, friends. The sky isn’t falling. This is not the end of vacation rentals offered by owners or small management companies. Expedia is not going to do a hostile take over of your property.
Like I tell my sons: “Chill.”
I am a positive person by nature and will look for the good in every situation. And Expedia buying HomeAway has some really exciting good to it. The kind of good that solves some problems that HomeAway has had.
Note: In case you are new to my blog and don’t know me – I am a vacation rental owner and a photographer specializing in vacation rental property. I am also an owner consultant to HomeAway, focusing on their Hospitality Manager app. And my dad is an owner also, my direct competition. So is my brother and my aunt and uncle. Yes, holiday dinners are interesting in our family.
Big HomeAway problem – Brand awareness
Yes, they launched a heart string tugging $100M marketing campaign in 2015, complete with a little girl and her dog. And Kid President. And rapper Prince Ea.
But HomeAway is still not a household name.
When I meet someone and mention HomeAway, I have to go through my standard explanation of “the leading vacation rental listing website with over one million properties.”
Them: They nod their head slowly, trying to connect the dots.
Me: “You know AirBnB?”
Them: “Oh, yeah!”
Me: “So HomeAway and AirBnB are competitors.”
Expedia’s solution to the problem (my opinion) – Make HomeAway a household name
I think Expedia will be able to accomplish the brand awareness that HomeAway has been working towards. This is good, very good, for vacation rental owners and managers.
The more people who are aware that they have the option of a vacation rental when traveling, the better it is for us as owners and managers.
More travelers wanting vacation rentals = more guests = filled calendars = success.
Success does come at a cost. You know that, yet we need to be reminded of it…constantly. I have a difficult time myself paying that Platinum listing fee on HomeAway (just last week, in fact). But the ROI is tremendous. When I look at my numbers the end of each year, I know that my marketing dollars were well spent.
Marketing costs are extremely important. Marketing is your “open” sign. If you don’t market your vacation rental property where travelers will see it, you may as well close up shop now. Don’t waste your time or cash in a vacation rental business if you are not going to spend the marketing dollars.
The new year is just a few weeks away, and you may be looking at your 2016 budget. Here is my advice: put more money in your marketing category.
However, it’s not for the unknown additional fees that may or may not happen when Expedia is officially owner of HomeAway.
No, your additional marketing dollars need to go towards putting you as a top owner or manager.
This is where you need to spend your money:
- professional photography
- your own website
- business education
- streamlining your workflow
- connecting with other vacation rental owners and managers (online groups and in person)
- upping what you offer to guests
What do you think are other good aspects of Expedia buying HomeAway? Tell me in the comments below. I am always interested in what you think also.
P.S. The Vacation Rental World Summit is this weekend. This is education and a tax write off. My session is on Sunday…but once you have your ticket, you get lifetime access. So no need to sit and watch for 3 days straight if you don’t want to!
By the way, the best way to stay on top of all the good stuff is to get on my vacation rental marketing email list.
You can sign up right here:
The ONLY eBooks on vacation rental photography:
Create Killer Vacation Rental Property Photos
The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Rental Photography