Big deal in the vacation rental sector - HomeAway has splashed out some $198 million to buy the Stayz Group, a major player in the market in Australasia.
The deal to acquire Stayz Group from Australian publishing giant Fairfax Digital includes brands Rentahome, TakeABreak and YesBookit.
Stayz generated AUD $25.4 million ($22.9 million) in revenue for the year ending June 2013, primarily via its commission-based model. Around 99% of Stayz's listed properties are in Australia.
The Sydney-based company, with a headcount of 40, will continue to operate as a brand in its own right under general manager Anton Stanish.
Stayz was created in 2001 and snapped up by Fairfax in 2005. The company claims traffic to its website surpasses that of its nearest competitors by a ratio of 8-to-1 (550,000 monthly unique visitors).
It also says more than 430,000 nights have been booked through the service over the course of the past 12 months.
Properties belonging to Stayz will be integrated into the HomeAway mothership site, but this will be just a one-way strategy for the time being. Owners will have the option of listing properties on both services.
HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples says:
"The acquisition of Stayz adds 33,000 additional Australian-based properties to the HomeAway network. It also provides HomeAway a strong momentum to our newly-launched pay-per-booking business, something Stayz has worked over the years to optimize.
"Additionally, they have demonstrated that a vacation rental business can generate attractive margins operating on primarily a pay-per-booking model, and we look forward to learning from their team."
The acquisition is being touted as another step in HomeAway's foray into Asia-Pacific following its deal to acquire a majority stake in BookABach in New Zealand in November, buying TravelMob in July, investing in Tujia last year and having its own presence since 2011.
"By joining forces, our customers benefit from the global reach and technology leadership HomeAway can provide as the region’s and the world’s largest vacation rental company."
At the social end of the scale, Stayz has amassed around 49,000 fans to its Facebook page.