How much emphasis will TripAdvisor really give to vacation rentals in the short term. It is already preoccupied with hotel metasearch and now restaurants. Can it do vacation rentals really well at the same time?
“You know, Trip doesn’t seem to still be having much of a competitive impact on HomeAway, in particular, because this is a marketplace business where you need both supply and demand,” Sharples told financial analysts during HomeAway’s second quarter earnings call July 24. “So it’s one thing to have properties, it’s another thing to get bookings against those properties.”
For its part, HomeAway boasted of 1.04 million listings as of June 30, 2014, and is finally getting serious about digital marketing.
Sharples said vacation rental owners often list on multiple sites, and undoubtedly there is some overlap between listings on HomeAway and TripAdvisor sites, but Sharples says TripAdvisor isn’t taking business away from HomeAway.
At least not in significant quantities.
“I can tell you they [bookings] are not coming off of HomeAway and going on a TripAdvisor,” Sharples said. “So people may list on multiple sites just like hotels are listed on multiple OTAs (online travel agencies). But in the end, what really builds the business and your ability to monetize those listings is how well you performed for those customers.”
Sharples noted that TripAdvisor doesn’t break out its revenue for vacation rentals, a signal that the numbers aren’t material to TripAdvisor’s financials.
In TripAdvisor’s second quarter earnings call July 23, CEO Stephen Kaufer said TripAdvisor’s vacation rental listings have increased 40% year over year to more than 640,000, and that increase was driven by acquisitions and adding the free-to-list model, much as HomeAway has done.
Kaufer said TripAdvisor is focusing on improving the quality of listings, and is investing in boosting its “search engine presence.”
So far, though, Sharples of HomeAway just isn’t feeling it.
Sharples was also dismissive of Booking.com’s new vacation rental site, Villas.com, saying it hasn’t made a ripple.
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Photo Credit: A vacation rental in South Walton Florida. Christy Bright / Flickr
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