HomeAway Takes a Controlling Stake in its 21st Vacation Rental Company


Skift Take

HomeAway’s history is rollups in the vacation rental space, from around the globe. It has this down.

— Dennis Schaal

Add another one to the list: HomeAway has taken a 55% stake in New Zealand vacation rental site Bookabach for an undisclosed amount of cash.

“Bach” means a beach house or holiday home, HomeAway says, and together with Australia’s affiliated Bookastay, which also is part of the deal, the acquisition means 8,000 additional property listings for HomeAway in New Zealand, Australia, and elsewhere in the Pacific, as it competes in the region against Holiday Houses, Stayz, Wotif and TripAdvisor.

Since its founding in 2004, HomeAway has made around 21 acquisitions, and in 2012 it also took a non-controlling stake in Tujia.com, a privately held vacation rental business in China, for $6.4 million.

With the exception of its acquisitions of Escapia, Instant Software, and Second Porch, all which provide software for professionally managed properties, HomeAway’s 18 other acquisitions have largely been to expand geographically and build a larger base of vacation rental listings.

This strategy has been different than that other binge-acquirer in the travel industry, TripAdvisor, which has a habit of acquiring travel startups in order to secure talent and technology, and sometimes to expand into new territories, too.

HomeAway’s Buying Spree

Acquisition Country Year Price (Millions)
Bookabach New Zealand 2013 N/A
Travelmob Singapore 2013 N/A
Toprural Spain 2012 $19.3
Second Porch U.S. 2011 $3
RealHolidays.com.au Australia 2011 $2.1
Escapia U.S. 2010 $10.3
Instant Software U.S. 2010 $27.1
Alugue Temporada Brazil 2010 $14.5
BedandBreakfast.com U.S. 2010 $31.6
Homelidays.com France 2009 $45.9
EscapeHomes.com U.S. 2008 N/A
Ownersdirect.co.uk UK 2007 N/A
VacationRentals.com U.S. 2007 N/A
Abritel.fr France 2007 N/A
VRBO* U.S. 2006 $160
FeWo-Direkt.de Germany 2005 N/A
Holiday-Rentals.co.uk UK 2005 N/A
TripHomes.com U.S. 2005 N/A
A1Vacations.com U.S. 2005 N/A
GreatRentals.com U.S. 2005 N/A
CyberRentals.com U.S. 2005 N/A
Note: HomeAway didn’t specifically disclose the acquisition price for VRBO, but bought it through a $160 million debt and equity financing deal in 2006.
Source: HomeAway

Most of HomeAway’s investments, with the exception of the minority stake in China’s Tujia,com in 2012, have been outright acquisitions. And although HomeAway has taken a 55% stake in New Zealand’s Bookabach, it sounds like a full acquisition is in Bookabach’s future.

“We bought a majority stake because it better met the needs and desires of the sellers who were a mixture of financial investors and founders,” Carl Shepherd, HomeAway co-founder Carl Shepherd tells Skift. “And it enabled us to bring these listings and travelers into our network in advance of the entire company being for sale at some future date.”

Bookabach and sister site Bookastay are only the latest HomeAway prizes in Asia Pacific.

In 2011, HomeAway acquired RealHolidays.com.au for $2.1 million, and turned it into HomeAway.com.au. In August 2013, HomeAway acquired Singapore-based Travelmob, which offers both vacation rentals and Airbnb-style apartment rentals

HomeAway also has a distribution partnership with Wego.com, and the minority interest in Tujia.com.

HomeAway plans on keeping the Bookabach brand, and co-founder Peter Miles will stay on as general manager, supervising Bookabach’s seven employees from Auckland.


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