HomeAway hit back quickly today after seeing TripAdvisor become a new and potentially powerful rival on the European stage as well as in its back yard of North America.
TripAdvisor snapped up UK-based HolidayLettings yesterday in an undisclosed deal.
HomeAway wasn't asked to give a reaction to the acquisition (just some detail on where HolidayLettings stands alongside HomeAway-owned brand HolidayRentals), but it still sent a lengthy response, perhaps hinting that the Austin, Texas-based company is finally looking over its shoulder.
European president Petra Friedmann says:
“This move comes as no real surprise to anyone following the travel industry – and specifically the holiday rentals space, which we have been dominating over the past five years through rapid growth and acquisitions. Holiday rentals is one of the very few sectors that has experienced strong year on year growth – even during one of the worst recessions on record."
HomeAway goes on to say how the company has seen annual revenue growth of 95% since it was formed in 2005 and can now boast half a million properties listed worldwide.
"To put that into context, that's more rooms than the world's leading hotel chain," Friedmann says.
"If the growth of HomeAway, the world’s leading holiday rental company is to be used as a barometer for the industry, our enquiry, traffic and listing figures suggest that investment in the holiday rentals space is a sound business strategy."
It would be reasonable to expect any rhetoric from HomeAway in the coming months to consistently use the term "world's leading holiday rental company".
TripAdvisor has been in the rental game for a while (FlipKey acquisition in 2008 hinted at things to come), but it is the move into Europe - HomeAway's extremely fertile region for growth in recent years - that indicates how seriously it is taking the sector.
Neverthless the signs were there earlier this year when TripAdvisor parent Expedia Inc waded in with what looked at the time to be a random comment from its CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
He predicted HomeAway would go public in 2010 - a suggestion quickly denied by HomeAway.
As one figure close to the situation suggested yesterday: CEOs of Wall Street-listed companies do not make predictions about other companies unless they have a pretty good idea it is going to happen, or they are mischief-making and reminding people of the power they can wield.
Perhaps in this case it was the latter?