Two brands, two sites and two different target audiences, but one set of shared features make Vrbo and HomeAway valuable additions to your channel management strategy.
Launched in 1995, Vrbo is one of the original vacation rental marketplaces: it’s well established and well trusted. HomeAway launched 10 years later and acquired Vrbo shortly after. In 2015, both brands became part of the extensive Expedia Holding Group.
HomeAway and Vrbo are two of the most well known - and short-term rental branded - names in the vacation rental industry. Their strengths include its large, captive audience of travelers with high intent to book a short-term rentals, high value bookings and data-driven insights.
Here’s why HomeAway and Vrbo should be a part of your channel distribution strategy.
Get your listings in front of travelers at home and overseas
Combined, Vrbo and HomeAway attract more than 27 million visits each month — but not necessarily the same group of people:
- Vrbo is most popular with North American travelers. Group travel is a core segment; many bookings are made well in advance and for longer periods of time.
- HomeAway draws a more international audience, particularly from Europe, Australia, India and Brazil. Key market segments include large groups and families as well as foodies, roadtrippers and pet lovers.
Our experience shows that MyVR customers double their monthly revenue for every channel they add, on average. And most recently, the average property manager that paired MyVR with HomeAway made at least 65 percent more year-over-year in 2018 than they did in 2017.
In addition, neither channel requires you enable instant book, which is good news if your listings are non-exclusive or if you prefer to have the added control of approving your properties’ guests manually.
What does it cost to list on HomeAway and Vrbo?
When you add your rental units to HomeAway or Vrbo, you can do so either with an annual membership or on a pay-per-booking commission basis.
In addition to promoting your property to a worldwide network of travelers, you get access to features and programs — like those listed below — designed to help your business succeed.
Guests pay a service fee when booking through HomeAway and Vrbo - a percentage of the total rental that can vary depending on factors such as overall cost and length of stay. They also have access to:
- The “Book with Confidence Guarantee", which includes payment protection in case of fraud and rebooking assistance for canceled or misrepresented bookings
- The option for travelers to purchase property damage protection (see how MyVR and HomeAway compare)
Position your properties for groups: Higher value, longer bookings
As explained to Forbes contributor Christopher Elliott, Vrbo’s recent rebrand (from “V-R-B-O” to “Ver-boh”) and redesign are data-driven and revolve around user experience: "Everything from talking to customers face-to-face to wiring travelers up to sensors that indicate on a biological level which parts of the vacation planning process make them happy and which parts frustrate them,” explained Vrbo's president, John Kim.
The customer segment that dominated many of the considerations?
Group travel, such as people traveling with family or friends. Vrbo’s internal data shows that 85 percent of travelers choose a short-term rental with help from other people. New tools, such as a “trip board,” aim to make that collaboration easier and the whole planning process more fun.
No word on whether a similar HomeAway rebrand could follow. However, Elliott speculates that the results of Vrbo’s efforts could have an impact on HomeAway and other Expedia-owned brands. In the interim, there’s plenty of value to be gleaned by leveraging tools available from both sites.
Get data-driven insights that can amplify your business
Successful bookings are a boon for you and the marketplace, which is why both companies are ramping their focus on property managers by building out a suite of tools to help property managers maximize their listings and performance on the sites. These include:
- Optimization specialists - Now available on a 1:1 basis, optimization specialists offer tips tailored to your business, the behavior of your guests and the conditions of your particular market. They’ll consider where your travelers come from, the purpose of their trip and other insights that can help you do better.
- Boost - A program that gamifies property management: earn power-ups both when you accept bookings and after guests complete their stays. Then spend those power-ups to boost your listings in search results on dates you select.
- MarketMaker - A comprehensive revenue management tool that uses real-time data to present insights into local supply and demand. This can help you better identify your competition, adjust your rates to market conditions, create a revenue strategy and get a clearer understanding of your market.
- Win and loss posts - This feature highlights why a traveler may have booked your property over someone else’s - and vice versa. It uses side-by-side comparisons to help illustrate your listings strengths and weaknesses.
- The Premier Partner program - An invite-only initiative that includes other exclusive benefits. To qualify, you need to have low cancellation rates, high review scores, and HomeAway checkout — a way to securely accept immediate payment via credit card or eCheck that’s part of HomeAway Payments.
Note: Some of these tools are only available to integrated property managers—those who have their listings integrated with property management software (PMS) like MyVR.
To capitalize on your investment in HomeAway and Vrbo, it helps to have the proper infrastructure in place to maximize your use of each channel and to scale quickly without errors. Using property management software with direct connections is the most efficient and accurate way to manage multiple properties, eliminating the need for any cumbersome, error-prone middleman channel manager.
When evaluating PMS providers, check to see if they integrate with an external channel manager or if they use a “private API” to connect with each channel. If either of these are true, it means they connect indirectly to HomeAway and Vrbo rather than using the channel’s official API - meaning you’ll experience double bookings, inflated rates, data degradation and additional fees in your time with the software provider.
MyVR doesn’t just have direct integrations to HomeAway and Vrbo. We also connect directly to each of the other major channels and their 70+ affiliates. This allows you to manage your properties across all channels from one centralized dashboard - saving you time previously spent on day-to-day tasks so you can grow your business.