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5 Key Takeaways from HomeAway’s Latest Changes

In June, HomeAway made important announcements about the policies of the vacation rental listings on their site.

HomeAway’s latest changes

Other big platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com and TripAdvisor have also recently implemented similar changes. HomeAway’s updates are as follows:

1. Online booking

According to Phocuswright’s survey about private accommodation in the US, 77% of travelers booked their vacation rental online last year – that’s 53% more than in 2012! HomeAway wants to get on board with this increasing trend, so owners and property managers will now have to be enrolled in Online Booking in order to list or renew their vacation rental property.

2. Guest communication

Any form of communication with guests pre-booking will have to take place through HomeAway’s system. Both parties’ phone numbers and email address will be available once a booking is confirmed.

Response rates will also directly influence your ranking and Best Match score in HomeAway search results.

3. “Best match” algorithm

As with many other listing sites, search results will now appear based on a new “Best Match” algorithm. The main factors that will affect your rankings can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Guest preferences: HomeAway now allows travelers to select different filters to easily find what they’re looking for. This will also help owners and property managers receive more qualified inquiries and bookings.
  • Online bookings: Users must be enrolled in Online Booking in order to list or renew their vacation rental property.
  • Response rates: Response rates will directly influence your ranking and Best Match score in HomeAway search results.
  • Listing: High-quality photos, reviews and listing descriptions are some of the things that impact where your property appears in search results compared to other listings. With so much competition out there, your listings have to be fully optimized!

4. Liability insurance

Guests that book and pay through HomeAway’s checkout automatically include a $1 million USD liability insurance. Don’t worry! There’s no added cost to you.

5. Traveler profiles

Owners and property managers on HomeAway will now be able to have more information about prospective guests and leave them reviews.

We know that not everyone likes changes, but you really don’t need to worry. As long as you’re diversifying your revenue stream and distribution channels, the bookings will keep on coming!

When it comes to organizing your business overall, it’s equally as important to have tools in place to help you save time when managing your bookings, to allow synchronization of property data from external channels and to enable you to communicate with guests easily.

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  1. You can’t argue with this. The problem is scale, size, enthusiasm, knowledge and effort. Join an online community, suck in the information, make informed choices, select tools wisely, phone other rental owners, create local groups, invest in destination portals and as Luke Skywalker probably says, “join the rebellion” and use the OTA’s smartly.

  2. How dare they? Homeaway has gone way too far this time.Their role should be a service to our businesses and they have changed it so vacation rental owners are serving Homeaway. Left them and am not looking back.

    Excellent blog post. Succinctly described the situation and offered sound advice.

  3. Really good post, Carla. And sound advice. It’s really an interesting time in the market right now….and in all honesty, this will make the industry stronger. Most of our clients are looking at this as a time for the brands who are innovative and adaptable to become stronger and develop other channels for inquiries and bookings. And it’s no secret that the ongoing shift in the landscape will be the death of some brands who are resistant to change. The strong will survive and thrive.
    We’re seeing some big moves in the social media channels, and some large brands moving aggressively into that area because of the insanely low CPM and ability to build out fan bases so effectively. But it’s tough water to navigate without a sound knowledge of the platforms and great creative.
    Email marketing is still alive and well, and thriving. And your mention of pulling all those down from the OTA sites is so important. Huge asset!
    Great blog post! Thanks again!!!

  4. As HomeAway continues to change, I’m not sure it’s for the better for agencies and owners. I understand why they are pushing instant booking (for themselves) but I’m not convinced it’s what the high-end customers want….it’s certainly not what the high-end renters want!

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