The end of a leader of vacation rentals?


December 9, 2019 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Abritel


Farewell, the relationship between vacationers and owners who made the success of these sites, world leaders in connecting individuals …

In an email sent to all their customer’s owners, they have just announced an update of their conditions: A very close positioning, see completely comparable to that of Airbnb, another that is also controversial lately.

Not really innovative at Expedia, which offered HomeAway in November 2015 for $ 3.9 billion! Surprising today, where innovation is the first growth driver …

In contrast, owners who use the sites of the HomeAway group (HomeAway and Homelidays in France) for the promotion of their vacation rental will have no choice: It will no longer be possible to publish his advertisement without proposing the reservation in line with the fees that come with it (about 10% in addition to the price of the rent). Even worse, it’s a safe bet that the next step will be instant booking. Again, this is a beautiful copy of the Airbnb model. This “instant” booking is already widely promoted on their sites and preferred in the ads selection filters they offer.

Privilege the human relationship rather than the 100% digital relationship (online booking in a few clicks)

For the owners we are, we have more than 24 hours to accept a reservation request accompanied by a simple message of a few impersonal lines that certainly does not know who and how we will rent … Those who refuse the received requests will see their announcement sanctioned by the site: At best, they will lose positions in the rankings.

For holidaymakers, here too the impact is not negligible: Impossible in 24h to ensure the seriousness of the owner and the conditions of the reservation. Can not choose an option like end-of-stay cleaning or linens … I cannot be sure of the exact location of the rental before paying. It is impossible to know precisely the organization of the rooms nor to know if the common parts are well adapted for the children … They will have to trust their instinct and the information contained in the advertisements and to pray so that the renting corresponds to their waitings the day of the arrival on-site … There will surely be misunderstandings and frustration on the day … Who will be responsible for any problems?

Obviously, at HomeAway (Expedia group), only the profitability of ads counts. The more an ad is profitable for them the more it is visible on their sites … This is what they call “the sorting by relevance” … The quality of the property, its location and the seriousness of the owners are clearly no longer prioritized in their selection. The proof is that for a request on a specific city, their sites offer rentals sometimes hundreds of kilometers that can represent several hours of the road in summer. Where is the relevance of this selection?

Difficult not to interpret this passage in force of the “online booking” as a way for HomeAway to secure their commission (between 10 and 15% of rents) avoiding to see the holidaymakers go live during their prior exchanges with them. owners …

It remains to be seen whether owners and vacationers will let themselves be manipulated …

A year ago, some homeowners (including yours) who had advertised for several (happy) years on HomeAway sites sounded the alarm but without any reaction from HomeAway. On the contrary, HomeAway has persisted in its strategy of copying Airbnb by justifying these developments as security measures and improvements in the user experience for holidaymakers …

Today, just do a simple search on Google to discover that the “Web-reputation” of Abritel and Homelidays (the two French sites of the HomeAway group) is the worst. The increase in criticism and negative opinions about these sites is impressive. Critics emanate from both owners and vacationers …

The finding is obvious, the improvement of the user experience and the strengthening of security are clearly not at the rendezvous. On the contrary, we do not count the disappointments of users and attempt to divert ads …

Here are two examples reported by our members on our forum dedicated to scams attempts …

– I invite you to check out this article to find out how to avoid scams in vacation rentals –

So should we continue to advertise on HomeAway sites (and others) …

We often receive messages from owners who ask us for advice on the use or not of these online booking platforms to promote their rentals. It is always difficult to answer because it is not our goal to give this kind of advice. Each owner has different expectations and requirements. We invite them to do a synthesis of everything they can read on the internet about these sites.

We hope that this article will allow owners and vacationers to see more clearly and decide in their soul and conscience.

On a personal level, I will not go out of my way and give you my opinion on the matter. Free to everyone to interpret it …

Today, I continue to offer my rentals on some of these sites (HomeAway is still part of it) because they are still (still) unavoidable because of their international dimension (50% of my tenants are not French). This is their only strength. But for how long, given their bad reputation and the development of alternative sites that force me to diversify my sources of contacts?

In one year, I spent on my two rentals 80% of bookings from HomeAway to 30% on my 2017 bookings! With, like many owners, for the first time in 5 years, a number of weeks rented slightly lower in 2017 vs 2016. This last point will be the subject of an upcoming article on our blog …

By cons, my rates on commission sites are mechanically higher than my rates offered live on my personal website or on the sites of ads without commission, That is to say that for the same period, I want to cash on my account exactly the same rent after the deduction of booking fees retained by these sites. It’s still a big difference in the end for holidaymakers who motivate them to compete …

Free to vacationers to find me on other sites to enjoy the best price on the same conditions. If a holidaymaker wants to trust these central bookings, no worries the moment it is only he who bears the additional cost of their commission and it quickly brings me elements on his motivation to accept his request within 24 hours outsourced by the site. This requires me exemplary responsiveness to not lose a minute of “24h Chrono” to each online booking request. I answer on average under 1h to all requests by sending a message specifying all my requirements: no animals, number of people during the stay, no smoker, signing of my rental agreement within 7 days and the sending of ‘proof of identity and insurance certificate. It’s a lot more difficult to drive than a live booking but overall holidaymakers appreciate my requirements and my responsiveness. Many, then understand the interest of contacting me live. 100% of my holidaymakers have given me a rating of 5/5 over the past 3 years despite my requirements …