This is a very modest start for HomeAway, but it could turn into a very big business.
It’s a huge market: 39 million Chinese traveled outside the country in the first half of 2012, and HomeAway recently began offering them vacation rentals in places such as Hawaii, Athens, Venice and Provence, France.
The pitch to Chinese travelers comes through a distribution agreement with China-based Tujia.com, which has translated the HomeAway listings into Mandarin Chinese and offers them on the Tujia website.
HomeAway took a stake in Tujia in May; Chinese online travel agency Ctrip is Tujia’s largest investor.
Tujia users can view the vacation rental listings in Mandarin, view photos and peruse the user reviews before paying for a deposit and cleaning services up-front.
HomeAway hopes that the Chinese traditional focus on family will translate into a proclivity to book vacation rentals over hotels.
“We are excited about the potential in China, where the vacation rental industry is only now developing,” says Brian Sharples, HomeAway CEO. “Although this distribution agreement will not have a meaningful impact on our short-term financials, it opens China’s travel market to HomeAway owners and property managers, and is reflective of our continued interest in growing our presence in Asia.”