The prospect of Expedia Group removing all of its vacation rentals from Expedia.com is as likely as senior executive Barry Diller telling his workforce he's cool with everyone working from home.
Rumors have surfaced on social media that Expedia Group would announce this Thursday during its fourth quarter earnings call that customers would no longer be able to book vacation rentals on Expedia.com — but that’s not going to happen because it would be self-sabotage.
The rumors would have you believe that Expedia Group would push its Vrbo vacation rental brand as the only place to book homes within the Expedia Group orbit, unlike today where you can book them on brands such as Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, eBookers, Wotif, Trivago, and Vrbo.com.
A Vrbo-only vacation rental trip planning and booking policy would deprive Expedia Group of all of those reservations and stays coming through that assortment of other in-house brands. Expedia Group, which acquired HomeAway/Vrbo in 2015 for $3.9 billion in perhaps one of its best acquisitions ever, has spent years and untold millions of dollars doing precisely the opposite of the rumors — ensuring that Vrbo’s vacation rentals could be expanded to, visible and bookable on Expedia.com and other Expedia Group brands in addition to Vrbo.
During the early stages of the pandemic when hotels were shut down, Vrbo, vacation rentals and domestic travel were the saviors within the Expedia Group portfolio. Having them bookable on Expedia.com as well as on Vrbo was a benefit.
Many of the major global online travel brands, including Booking Holdings and Airbnb, enable travelers to find short-term rentals and hotels mixed together in one place. Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel has numerous times talked about the benefits of having all accommodations types available together in one place so customers can find accommodation types of their choosing depending on their trip purposes and inclinations.
In fact, several years ago, the tabs atop Expedia.com’s homepage, and those of other online travel companies transitioned from separate “hotels” and “vacation rentals” categories to “stays” to reflect that mashup.
Expedia.com used to have separate “hotels” and “vacation rentals” tabs but today combines them in “stays.” The company has spent years laboring at different ways to combine these disparate property types but resolved to keep them together.
It is certainly possible that Expedia Group might prune some vacation rental listings, and move them from one platform to another, if the company deems that appropriate for the website or typical customer type.
But relegating vacation rental bookings to Vrbo only would be as fruitful as allowing flight bookings for Airbus aircraft only, and eschewing Boeing planes.
Forget about it.
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Photo credit: A Vrbo TV ad, Your Together Awaits. Expedia Group would be silly to remove vacation rentals from Expedia.com.