VacationRoost with LeisureLink could be a distribution alternative for vacation rental owners -- if the combined company has the resources to get the word out, and the volumes to prove it.
For vacation rental owners looking to rent their places in the U.S., HomeAway and, to a lesser extent, Flipkey are the only games in town, but VacationRoost’s acquisition of LeisureLink this week at least has the potential for an alternative to emerge.
Salt Lake City-headquartered VacationRoost acquired LeisureLink, a Pasadena, California-based distributor of vacation rental properties that had raised around $17 million since its founding in 2006.
The transaction marries VacationRoost, which was strong in vacation rental supply, with LeisureLink, with its chief strength in distribution technology to major players such as Booking.com, Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and the major global distribution systems, as well as hotel distributor Pegasus Solutions.
While HomeAway, with its couple of dozen global sites, had nearly 900,000 paid listings at the end of 2013, the combined VacationRoost-LeisureLink network now claims to have the “largest distribution network in the vacation rental industry.”
HomeAway last year struck a yet-to-be-implemented distribution deal with Expedia, and has said several times over the last few months that it envisions numerous additional distribution agreements over the next few years.
Now, at least VacationRoost will be in the conversation, and could be a pesky annoyance in relation to HomeAway’s grand vision.
VacationRoost says its new and expanded combined network with LeisureLink offers more than 200,000 vacation rental and timeshare units that are bookable and commisionable, an important distinction because lots of HomeAway’s listings aren’t bookable online.
VacationRoost, despite the acquisition, isn’t about to blow HomeAway out of the water anytime soon. One of VacationRoost’s big challenges will be brand recognition and marketing, and proving to vacation rental owners that it has the clout to drive bookings.
“VacationRoost’s branding strategy on the consumer side has been to operate niche brands that are well-known and perform very well in their market niches (i.e. MountainReservations.com, Hawaiianbeachrentals.com),” says VacationRoost CEO Julian Castelli. “The company may consider making additional investments in the VacationRoost brand as a global consumer vacation rental brand in the future, but that is not part of this current announcement, and the company has no further comment on the specifics of when.”
Castelli said the VacationRoost has no comment on how the acquisition might impact with HomeAway.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Photo credit: The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Villas in Rancho Mirage, California, is part of the Starwood Vacation Network. Starwood Vacation Network