Carl Shepherd, the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy and Development Officer of HomeAway, spoke yesterday at the Skift Global Forum.

He oversees the company’s worldwide corporate development efforts including mergers, acquisitions and key partnerships.

Shepherd’s talk “The Rise of Alternative Accommodation,” covered what millennials look for when booking vacation rentals online and how to educate older homeowners on changes in booking online. Here are four things we learned:

  • “When we ask people today, we find 70% of people don’t know there’s the alternative of staying in a vacation home compared to a hotel.” Shepherd added that in markets such as Russia outside of the major cities, the notion of staying in someone’s house is more familiar than booking a room in a chain hotel.
  • “We kind of do favor our subscribers, but it’s up to us to make our pay-per-booking customers satisfied too, and we’ve seen a huge conversion to subscribers.”
  • “Over the next two years you’ll see all of our properties be bookable online, meaning that we can safeguard the homeowner’s asset and still convince millennials that this is the right rental for them. We’ll also be giving homeowners more tools to tell them who’s staying in their homes. But the major thing that we’re doing is educating our homeowners every day that the world is changing, and that if they don’t change, they’ll miss out.”
  • “Cities are interesting to us and I think you’ll see a lot of growth from us in cities in the coming years. You’ll also see a lot more brand marketing of the HomeAway brand from us, Europe is our biggest marketing challenge right now.”

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Photo Credit: Carl Shepherd (right) and moderator Dennis Schaal speaking at Skift Global Forum in New York City on Oct. 9, 2014. Skift