Skift Take

A public company, HomeToGo is still very small. However, in metasearch, albeit for short-term rentals, it is going places where larger rivals were unsuccessful.

HomeToGo, the Germany-based short-term rental comparison-shopping engine, has been making strides in a booking model that peers like Kayak, Google, and Tripadvisor downplayed or abandoned.

If you search HometoGo for a short-term rental in Berlin for next week, instead of directing travelers to partners Booking.com or Vrbo to book their stays, some of HomeToGo’s listings inform users they can “Book directly on HomeToGo.”

So for example, a customer might book a holiday apartment in Berlin provided by a third party without leaving the HomeToGo website. Travelers get a booking confirmation within a few minutes, and HomeToGo collects a commission from the provider instead of a payment for clicks on the booking links.

The idea is to make HomeToGo a more attractive place for travelers to find short-term rentals without the frustrations — and inefficiencies — of being shuffled off to third-party websites of divergent quality, and where the booking may never take place.

In disclosing its third quarter financial results on Thursday, HomeToGo reported that revenue from these onsite bookings increased 29.4 percent year over year to 16.3 million euros ($16.9 million).

That’s a 280 percent increase since pre-pandemic 2019 as HomeToGo, which became a public company last year in Frankfurt, shifts its business toward the onsite, or facilitated booking, model. Under this scenario, although the short-term rental apartment or vacation rental booking takes place on HomeToGo, the partner provider is still the merchant of record and handles customer service issues.

Comparison-shopping services such as Google Travel, Kayak and Tripadvisor over the years made strategic pushes to take more direct bookings for hotels — as HomeToGo is doing today for short-term rentals — but largely abandoned their efforts when they didn’t gain enough traction.

HomeToGo’s strides in direct bookings begs the question: Is it executing better than some of its larger peers did, or are short-term rentals more fertile ground for direct bookings than were hotels, including those from major chains?

HomeToGo still uses the metasearch referral model, as well, directing travelers to the partner websites for bookings.

HomeToGo reported its onsite share of bookings was 61 percent Europe over the first three quarters of 2022, but it is considerably lower in the U.S., where it expects to add quality booking partners.

“And also looking at the U.S. market and increasing our onsite share, this is a big focus of ours and the colleagues … ” Chief Financial Officer Steffen Schneider told financial analysts Thursday. “Building up a good partner base of onsite partners is making good progress. So I would expect the U.S. to have a higher onsite share in the next year.”

For the third quarter, HomeToGo’s onsite share of business actually fell year over year by 4.4 percentage points to 45.4 percent because of a surge of last-minute bookings, particularly in July, that contributed to growth in the company’s metasearch or “offsite business.”

The company in the third quarter notched net income of 12.5 million euros ($12.95 million) on revenue of 69.7 million euros ($79.2 million), a 59.8 percent jump. Both were records.

Business subscription revenue, propelled by acquisitions, increased 246 percent to 8.5 million euros ($8.8 million).

HomeToGo, which expects to be profitable for full-year 2023, increased its guidance for full-year 2022 to  revenue of 141 million ($146.1 million) to 146 million euros ($151.3 million), an increase of 48 percent to 54 percent compared with 2021, and adjusted earnings (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of negative 20 (negative $20.7 million) to negative 25 million (negative $25.9 million).

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Tags: earnings, future of lodging, google, hometogo, kayak, metasearch, online travel, online travel newsletter, tripadvisor, vacation rentals

Photo credit: HomeToGo is emphasizing booking of vacation rentals on its own websites. Pictured is a holiday rental. HomeToGo

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