Expedia Inc. has quietly exported its vacation rental partnership with HomeAway to Europe with Expedia Germany debuting vacation rentals from HomeAway’s German brand, Fewo-direkt.
HomeAway tells Skift that its vacation rentals are also live on Expedia France.
The soft launch comes as vacation and apartment rentals separately got a big boost in China. Tujia.com, which counts HomeAway as an investor and distribution partner, raised $300 million and picked up a valuation of more than $1 billion.
The Expedia rollout of Fewo-direkt vacation rentals can be considered a test since it likely isn’t visible to all users. We can view it using the Chrome browser but not with Safari, for instance.
Similar to Expedia’s U.S. launch of HomeAway vacation rentals in 2014, Expedia.de doesn’t have a vacation rentals tab. Instead, vacation rental options surface when consumers search for stays of several days that require multiple rooms.
For example, when searching Expedia.de for a London stay for six people September 21-28, the search results show a Fewo-direkt advertisement for a 3-bedroom and 2-bath holiday home in Mayfair.
Users can optionally click for the price of the stay or peruse all 1,047 apartments from Fewo-direkt. Here are some of the listings from Fewo-direkt.de, which HomeAway acquired in 2005, as shown on Expedia.de.
When booking time gets closer, users can book online or contact the manager, who has 24 hours to confirm the booking. Payments are processed through Yapstone International.
Expedia’s launch of HomeAway vacation rentals in the U.S. has been a relative dud as Expedia, intent on pushing its core hotel product, has shown much commitment to the effort. Expedia has also been distracted by its acquisition binge of Travelocity, Wotif, its AirAsia joint venture and Expedia’s still-pending buy of Orbitz Worldwide.
But Expedia, which will be competing with Booking.com and a bevy of local sites, has higher hopes for vacation rentals in Europe, where they are more commonly in travelers’ consideration set than in the U.S.
Speaking during Expedia Inc.’s second quarter earnings call July 30, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi detailed his thinking on vacation rentals.
“I think on vacation rentals, listen, I think we continue to test and learn,” Khosrowshahi said. “We have a partnership with HomeAway. We’re expanding that partnership into Europe and we’re testing and learning in certain European markets and we’re very excited to do that because the vacation rental market tends to be quite strong in the European market, so we absolutely want to be there and we’re happy to be there with the HomeAway team.”
Expedia’s HomeAway hasn’t been a game-changer to date.
“I don’t think that we’ve hit kind of on a magic bullet at this point,” Khosrowshahi said. “So we don’t see the additional inventory at this point materially increasing our revenue per shopper, but we think the customer experience at this point isn’t what it needs to be and we think we can materially improve the customer experience and we’re hoping that will add to our customer satisfaction and also help our revenue per shopper. And we’re working with HomeAway on that front and we’ll look to bring in additional inventory as well.”
HomeAway’s second quarter earnings call is August 4 and officials will undoubtedly comment on Expedia’s vacation rental launch in Europe.
It is very possible that Expedia has launched vacation rentals on sites other than Expedia.de, as well.