HomeAway announced today that it purchased the Australian vacation rental company the Stayz Group for $198 million from Fairfax Media Group. The Stayz Group includes Stayz.com.auRentahome.com.au, TakeABreak.com.au, and YesBookIt.

This is HomeAway’s second purchase down under in a month. It took a controlling stake in New Zealand’s Bookabach in November. Currently HomeAway controls 22 vacation rental companies.

HomeAway’s acquisition of Stayz helps accelerate HomeAway’s pay-per booking commission model because Stayz has long had a similar business model.

HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples said in webcast about the acquisition this morning that HomeAway has plenty to learn from Stayz about its policies and procedures.

Sharples said HomeAway will take a measured approach to marketing spend in the Asia-Pacific region, adding that the region “won’t become some sort of black hole for HomeAway marketing dollars.

He drew a distinction between Australia, where Stayz has been around and a leader for a decade, and other markets in Asia-Pacific, where vacation rentals are a relatively new concept.

Sharples said it is important for HomeAway to take a measured approach and to invest marketing dollars in those markets when the timing is right.

Sharples argued that HomeAway now has a first-mover advantage in many of those markets, and this will do a lot to ensure HomeAway’s long-term success.

In terms of marketing spend for HomeAway in Australia, Sharples said Stayz already has a well-established search engine marketing system.

“The acquisition of Stayz adds 33,000 additional Australian-based properties to the HomeAway network. It also provides HomeAway a strong momentum to our newly-launched pay-per-booking business, something Stayz has worked over the years to optimize,” HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples said in a statement. “Additionally, they have demonstrated that a vacation rental business can generate attractive margins operating on primarily a pay-per-booking model, and we look forward to learning from their team.”

HomeAway already operates HomeAway.com.au in Australia. It also holds a minority stake in China’s Tujia.com.

HomeAway also has majority control of Singapore’s Travelmob, which has a mix of vacation rentals and apartment-shares.

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Photo Credit: Stayz brings HomeAway's series of investments and acquisitions to nearly two dozen. PlaceIt by Breezi