Just a few months back, Tnooz spoke with HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples about the differences between his company and Airbnb.
One of the key differences — the focus on vacation markets — is becoming less pronounced, as the HomeAway brand is fulfilling its promise to enter urban markets traditionally dominated by Airbnb.
Rather than second homeowners, most urban markets are made up of casual short-term renters with a different overall demographic profile than the typical vacation property owner.
This shift in demographics and market structures are two principal challenge to HomeAway as it enters the urban markets. Knowing this, the company made a strategic investment in Gogobot in order to build not only credibility but also content focused on the city traveler.
The benefits of this partnership are now coming to fruition. Gogobot content is fully on display (check out Los Angeles here), completing HomeAway's expansion into trip inspiration.
Not only can a traveler book a vacation rental but they can research and learn about potential destinations by scrolling through the available cities.
Tips on activities for families, foodies, shoppers, design lovers and more are all made available within the new Cities interface.
Hopefully an expanded integration will someday allow users to select desired activities and then have HomeAway suggest a few rentals that are centrally located to the majority of the activities — or at least a suggestion based on the trip profile created by these selections.
In announcing the promsied move, CEO Brian Sharples pointed to his company's continued focus more on the full home rental (rather than the private room or shared room options available on Airbnb):
Even though traveler demand for urban vacation rentals is growing, a lot of people still don’t realize it’s even possible to rent an entire home for an extended stay in a city.
We’re launching new specialized Cities experience pages to help our millions of loyal vacation rental travelers discover the benefits of whole house rentals wherever they like to travel, not just in our traditional vacation destinations.
HomeAway is focusing on urban destinations that showed an average of twice the demand as the average property worldwide.
The top urban markets, as judged by traffic, are: Los Angeles, Rome, New York, Paris, Miami, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Chicago, Boston, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The HomeAway portfolio certainly has some huge advantages with its global reach and content partnerships. It's a structurally different business when compared to Airbnb; it will be interesting to watch this rental horserace unfold in cities across the planet.