Skift Take

Vacasa is trying to achieve profitability in 2023 while homeowners are leaving its platform, and it's forecasting that gross booking values will decline. Tough stuff.

Vacation rental property manager Vacasa saw an increase of homeowner “churn,” namely properties abandoning its platform, in the fourth quarter and into 2023, and forecast that its average gross booking value per home would dip this year.

CEO Rob Greyber argued that competitors were seeing the same frustration among homeowners after the industry’s prior two record years, and that the company’s homeowners were actually outperforming those that rivals are managing. He said the company needs to better educate its clients about that dynamic. Vacasa’s gross booking value rose 10 percent year over year to $416 million in the fourth quarter.

Vacasa officials made a variety of glum forecasts Tuesday in discussing fourth quarter and full-year 2022 earnings, as well as what’s in store in 2023. These came after taking steps in January to trim roughly 1,300 employees, or 17 percent of its workforce. The cuts included about 300 sales and marketing employees from its corporate staff, and 1,000 local field personnel in 500 markets.

For example, chief financial officer Jamie Cohen said Vacasa’s home count under management, which stood at 44,000 and grew 19 percent in 2022, could decline in 2023 compared to last year in part because of its sales force reductions, and shift in strategy toward signing up individual homes rather than focusing on acquiring portfolios of properties.

“While we are optimistic about Vacasa‚Äôs long-term potential, we face challenges which are fixable, but not yet fixed,” Vacasa stated in a shareholder letter as part of its earnings announcements. “We must improve our efficiency and further develop our processes to deliver an unmatched experience for our homeowners and elevated hospitality for our guests.”

The company also announced it would shutter its real estate brokerage division in the second quarter. That unit “generated about $20 million of revenue and negligible profit in 2022,” the company said.

Still while Greyber said 2023 would be a transition year and that addressing the company’s inefficiencies and execution issues would take time, Vacasa’s fourth quarter revenue and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) came in ahead of its prior guidance.

The property management company saw revenue jump 14 percent year over year to $218 million in the fourth quarter, surpassing its guidance range of $195 million to $215 million. Adjusted EBITA was negative $49 million, better than its negative $75 million to negative $65 million in its prior outlook.

Vacasa notched a net loss of $302 million in the fourth quarter. That includes items such as stock-based compensation and restructuring costs, which the company excludes from its adjusted EBITDA numbers.

Because of the decline in its stock price, Vacasa took a $244 million impairment charge in the fourth quarter, Cohen said.

A year ago, Vacasa said it expected to record adjusted EBITDA profitability in 2023, but Tuesday’s shareholder letter stated the company is “striving to achieve slight Adjusted EBITDA profitability for the year, while maintaining the quality of the homeowner and guest experience.”

“Given our focus on profitability, we expect 2023 revenue to decline a low-double digit to high-single digit percentage year-over-year, primarily driven by a projected reduction in gross booking value per home versus last year, our reduced investment in our portfolio program, and the wind down of our real estate brokerage services,” the company said. “In addition, in 2022 we recognized $15 million in Revenue associated with the expiration of Future Stay Credits, which we do not expect to repeat in 2023.”

Officials said they didn’t expect further job reductions, and held out the hope that Vacasa would eventually expand more internationally.

Vacasa ended 2022 with $320 million in cash and equivalents on hand.

The company’s share price fell 11 percent to $1.16 per share in after-hours trading Tuesday.

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Tags: earnings, future of lodging, impairments, online travel newsletter, property managers, vacasa, vacation rentals

Photo credit: A Vacasa-managed property in Ventura, California. Vacasa is trying to deal with owners abandoning its platform. Vacasa

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