Key Takeaways for Rental Homeowners from HomeAway Summit 2017

TurnKey attended the HomeAway Partner Summit in Nashville, and it was a great event with new information, indications of HomeAway’s direction, and great networking opportunities! Eager vacation rental homeowners and industry professionals traveled to Music City to discover how recent changes at HomeAway will impact them. The TurnKey team met hundreds of homeowners from amazing destinations like Gatlinburg, TN, Santa Fe, NM, Outer Banks, NC, Cape Cod, MA, Boothbay Harbor, ME, and, of course, Nashville.


HomeAway Reveals New Ranking System

HomeAway’s ranking system was by far the most discussed theme of the summit.

The ranking system, which replaces Best Match, is a new algorithm that utilizes computer learning from data, partners and consumers to rank homes in search. The ranking is segmented into two categories – Partner and Property, instead of a score of the overall listing performance.

While much of the recipe for HomeAway’s new ranking “secret sauce” was not revealed, HomeAway did reveal the components of the two categories that are taken into account.

The property score is based on:

  • traveler reviews
  • amenities and how they match guest needs
  • quality of photography
  • price competition to the market
  • popularity of location


The partner ranking is based on:

  • review quality
  • ease of booking
  • updated availability calendars
  • rapid response times
  • percentage of cancellations
  • rate of reservation declines
  • actual number of bookings to date


HomeAway is seeking to create an amazing guest experience beginning with the inquiry and lasting through the guests’ stay.

Turnkey’s Vice President of Business Development, Scott Gerber, opened a session focused on  creating a guest-centric experience. Hosts must delight guests to drive great reviews and entice more rental bookings. To find success in the vacation rental business, a complete experience is necessary. From ensuring the rental is immaculately cleaned to providing 24/7 communication when needed – hosts should take care of all the details.

The guest experience is the heartbeat of your business. It drives your reviews which in turn, drive more bookings. Wine, flowers, and gift baskets are nice but what really counts is nailing the basics.


Key Takeaways from HomeAway Executives

HomeAway’s President, John Kim shared some stats on the overall vacation rental market:

  • The vacation rental market is growing 2-4X faster than the overall economy.
  • Since 2010, the vacation rental business has tripled.
  • 82% of vacation rental guests plan to stay in a vacation rental again, according to HomeAway survey data.
  • Vacation rentals make up 8% of the travel market today and the sector is growing year over year.

The vacation rental industry has come a long way in a very short amount of time. In 2010, only 13% of people had ever stayed in a vacation rental. HomeAway’s SVP of Brand and Integrated Marketing, Kristen Nolte presented that the vacation rental industry is now worth $193 billion and commented, “[there’s] no better time to be in this industry!” Some estimates say it could topple the hotel industry by 2020.

Nolte shared a recent HomeAway survey created with the goal of matching homes with the right travelers.  Here is what the survey indicated:

  • 48% of travelers book homes based on space and layout.
  • 38% of travelers want to take their pets on vacation.
  • 78% of travelers book vacation rentals within 250 miles of their home.
  • 6 out of 10 households have at least one dietary restriction (so if you have a gourmet kitchen, highlight it).
  • 70% of travelers take trips with their families.


While VRBO and HomeAway were early pioneers in the online vacation rental industry, Airbnb has created a global empire by putting the power in hosts hands who rent a variety of alternative lodging options. With increased demand, many of the traditional owner operators (FRBOs) and Airbnb Super Hosts are seeking solutions to the many operational problems they face, such as poor rankings, finding reliable housekeeping contractors, managing the guest experience, and performing guest screenings.

Professional managers like Turnkey Vacation Rentals provide meaningful, innovative solutions for owners who are struggling to meet the demands and volatility of an emerging market.


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