The hospitality industry is still working to figure out the vacation home rental market. Vacasa, the market leader in the space with respect to total managed properties, may just have a leg up on the competition.
Travel's most forward-thinking insiders will gather September 18–19 for our annual Skift Global Forum in New York. In just a few years, Skift's Forums — the largest creative business gatherings in the global travel industry — have become what media, speakers, and attendees have called the “TED Talks of travel.”
Skift Global Forum 2019 will take place at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York. This year's Forum speakers include CEOs and top executives from Booking Holdings, Delta Air Lines, Expedia, Air France-KLM, Marriott International, Amtrak, and many more.
Vacasa became North America’s largest vacation home management company last year with its acquisition of Hyatt-backed Oasis, and later snapped up Wyndham Destinations home rental business for $162 million in July.
The latter move helped the Portland, Oregon-based operator eliminate a major competitor in the space while growing its market share in the very fragmented sector to 3.3 percent, according to CEO Eric Breon.
Founded in 2009, Vacasa currently has north of 14,000 rentals available across North America and manages a few other homes outside of the continent as well. That number is set to increase to 23,000 after the Wyndham deal closes. The company on Sept. 5 announced that it had directly connected to Google, delivering its rental properties as listings in Google Hotels, which currently offers both hotels and vacation rentals.
According to Breon, the operator remains focused on its two primary customers — guests and homeowners — even as third-party homesharing companies, online travel agents, and hotels continue to penetrate the space.
In Vacasa’s corner is its in-house technology, which continues to be a differentiator in yielding financial results for homeowners it partners with, Breon said. And while it’s more difficult than ever to remain differentiated in the eyes of the consumer, Breon pointed to Vacasa’s established reputation in the home rental market and standards customers have come to expect when staying at one of its properties.
Vacasa CEO Eric Breon will be speaking at Skift Global Forum in New York City on September 18.
Skift Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Skift: How has the home vacation rental sector grown since you last took the Skift Global Forum stage in 2017?
Breon: The biggest way is the intent of people buying homes to specifically rent them. This was not always the case. Before people would only look to rent if they didn’t use their second home as much as they thought they would. It helps that travelers now stay in homes about five-to-seven times a year while on vacation.
Skift: After a couple of acquisitions already in 2019, does Vacasa remain aggressive on the M&A front?
Eric Breon: Yes, but most of our acquisitions are smaller due to the nature of the home rental industry. We enter about one-third (30 percent) of our markets in this way, while 70 percent is organic growth — finding and managing the second homes of homeowners.
Skift: How is Vacasa leveraging the venture capital funding it has received in recent months?
Breon: We’re very much focused on growing our market footprint. Based on cities we are available, we can now cover 50 percent of the vacation home market in North America. We are focused on the continuation of market coverage to 90 percent of domestic vacation rentals.
Skift: What advantages should Vacasa have in the vacation home rental sector, as outside players start to penetrate the market?
Breon: It takes massive scale to succeed in this industry. There are lots of markets, and you have to find a way to cover those operationally. We have 3,000 employees dedicated to doing this plus 200 engineers to help on the tech front.
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Photo credit: Pictured here is the front enterance of a Vacasa home rental in Scottsdale, Arizona. Vacasa's focus on acquisitions and its proprietary technology are driving its market growth. Vacasa