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Booking.com No Longer Toying With Vacation Rentals, Reaches Historic Milestone


Skift Take

In a turning point for Booking.com and the hospitality industry, the largest lodging site in the world now has so many vacation rental listings, dispersed across 193 destinations, that it is changing the nature of the online travel business.

— Dennis Schaal

Booking.com, the largest lodging site in the world, has crossed a threshold: 22% of the more than 384,200 properties it displays are vacation rentals, and they are now a financially impactful part of the business.

Until early December, Booking.com made a practice of merely detailing the number of “hotels, apartments, villas and more” that it offers on its sites, and it still does that.

But starting December 5, Booking.com also started providing detail on how many of those properties are vacation rentals, or “holiday rentals” in UK-speak.

You can see in the smaller print in the image below that of Booking.com’s 384,236 properties, it offered 84,771 vacation rentals in 59,296 destinations in 193 countries. These vacation rentals now account for just less than 22% of the properties that Booking.com shows.

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 6.11.52 PM (2)

No big deal?

Au contraire.

Material Impact

The change in Booking.com’s lodging mix is so important that parent company Priceline snuck in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing about it on a late Friday afternoon detailing the financial implications.

Booking.com is hellbent on being comprehensive in its lodging choices, but Priceline notes that vacation rentals usually have fewer units to rent than hotels, and so the booking opportunities are more limited.

Vacation rental units also generally provide lower average daily rates and greater credit risk, Priceline states.

Thus, if Booking.com increases that 22% of vacation rentals to a higher percentage of its overall lodging mix, then it could be material, and possibly adverse, to Priceline’s bottom line.

“If Booking.com increases its vacation rental business, these different market characteristics could negatively impact its profit margins; and, if vacation rentals represent an increasing percentage of the properties added to Booking.com’s websites, the Company’s [Priceline’s] gross bookings growth rate and property growth rate will likely diverge over time (since each such property has fewer booking opportunities),” Priceline states.

“As a result of the foregoing, as the percentage of vacation rentals increases, the number of reservations per property will likely decrease.”

Of course, if Booking.com attracts more consumers and booking volumes because it is offering more lodging choices than anyone else, then the company won’t necessarily suffer, and it could propel growth.

Obviously, Booking.com isn’t adding vacation rentals to shoot itself in the foot.

A Year of Acceleration

Skift broke the news a year ago that Booking.com had partnered with professional managers of vacation rentals such as Interhome, and was breaking into the vacation rental business — a move that could ultimately prove a challenge to HomeAway.

Booking.com is believed to be Interhome’s best distribution channel, even more effective than HomeAway.

And, things have really accelerated for Booking.com on the vacation rental front in a year.

While Booking.com currently offers 84,771 vacation rentals in 193 countries, HomeAway sites around the world list way more vacation rentals, 773,000 paid listings, albeit in slightly fewer countries, 171.

And, HomeAway has been on an acquisition tear this year.

HomeAway officials are acutely aware of what Booking.com is up to, and HomeAway’s buying spree is not just coincidental.

Meanwhile, while HomeAway has a certain advantage in that it can focus on vacation rentals, Booking.com has something that HomeAway doesn’t have — choice.

Travelers on Booking.com can find hotels, hostels, resorts, inns, apartments, and now vacation rentals.

Game on.


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