What the New HomeAway Shift Means for Short Term Rental Hosts

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Changes from Homeaway keep coming. If you haven’t heard, HomeAway is transitioning from a “sales-driven advertising platform to a tech-driven e-commerce business,” according to John Kim, President of HomeAway. As the entire industry pivots toward meeting guest demands, HomeAway will make changes to increase the consistency and quality levels offered to guests.

How HomeAway is Pivoting Their Services to Focus on Guests

As a booking platform, an individual listing matters, but what the guest is looking for is what’s more important. When HomeAway was operating as an advertising platform, search results were influenced by the tier of your account. The more you paid, the more exposure you would have. Now, HomeAway no longer allows for homeowners to pay and place, but rather will earn when a guest books a property. In short, it’s now a pay-per-booking model so HomeAway has an incentive to display homes to guests that they are most likely to book.

According to Kim, because of this pivot in strategy owners and property managers on HomeAway generated “nearly 50 percent more vacation rental gross bookings compared to the same time last year.”

Although this all seems very positive for HomeAway and homeowners, we wonder how vacation rental property managers will be able to keep up. Not only has HomeAway moved away from pay-to-play to focus more on making guest happy (which makes homeowners happy), they have also released a series of new property listing requirements.  

 

Additional New Requirements for Property Listings on HomeAway

Online booking phone number removal. Gone are the days when your phone number was listed and a guest could book directly with you. All bookings must now me be made directly on HomeAway.com to improve consistency and up-level the guest experience. This will be a requirement when you renew.

HomeAway message system only. Along with the online booking requirements comes a crackdown on communicating with guests outside of HomeAway. If you attempt to include your phone number or email address prior to booking, they will now be masked so that all communication stay on HomeAway.com. Again, they are working to improve consistency for guests.  

24-hour response required. If you do not respond to a guest’s inquiry within 24 hours, your property will be hidden in search until you are ready to be responsive. If this doesn’t scream “guest focused” we don’t know what does! It seems they are retraining their homeowners to provide better communications.

House rules if requested. If required by the host, guests will now be asked to agree on house rules prior to booking. Not only does this protect the vacation rental, but it helps to better set expectations for guests upfront and avoid confrontation or negative reviews later on down the line.

Automatic $1 Million Liability Insurance. HomeAway now will offer liability insurance. Their new $1 Million liability insurance policy provides protection to homeowners in the event of guest injuries during their stay. So, not only is the homeowner covered, but guests will be covered too.

 

Is The Vacation Rental Industry Moving Towards Providing a Better Guest Experience?

All signs point to, “yes.” Although HomeAway isn’t likely to go full-service anytime soon or possibly ever (they can leave that to us at TurnKey), it does seem the big players are becoming more and more focused on their guests. Not only are we seeing changes from HomeAway, but even Airbnb leaked their new “Airbnb Lux” offering. Yep, Airbnb will start matching guests with quality-inspected vacation rentals of all shapes and sizes. This is intended to attract higher-paying travelers who have yet to use Airbnb because they prefer the amenities guaranteed by fancy hotels, said three people familiar with the project.

Odd, that sounds a lot like our recent post about how vacation rentals are taking down the hotel monopoly by providing a quality experience.

All we can say is that TurnKey is loving many of these changes from HomeAway Airbnb and other listing sites that are beginning to focus on guests. As a full-service vacation rental property management company, it has been our mission to take care of everything to ensure homeowners and guests are impressed at every phase of the vacation rental process. In fact, we’ve been implementing many of these supposedly “new” tactics for years for our guests. In short, we’re glad our partner listing sites like HomeAway and Airbnb are finally making these shifts in their strategy for guests.

The more consistent the service level and quality, the more guests will know they can expect a quality experience which is exactly what the market is demanding from vacation rentals. However, if you still want the very best for your guests, it doesn’t just start with getting the right properties in front of the right eyeballs or responding to inquiries in 24 hours or less. It extends into the home, the quality of their stay, communications, service and more. It takes a lot more to provide an experience, not just a vacation.

Well done HomeAway and Airbnb! We’re proud to have you as our beloved partners.

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