Vacation rental leader HomeAway has been finding religion in ecommerce, but doesn’t feel it should “throw too much down a pipe until you know it works.”
That’s the perspective of Brian Sharples, co-founder and CEO of HomeAway, who says the company has traditionally has favored creating a global marketplace over technology innovation as it acquired 14 companies in five years.
But HomeAway, Sharples says, will put more money into technology as a percent of revenue in 2011 than it ever has done.
Sharples made his comments during a keynote Nov. 17 at the PhoCusWright conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Among its plans, HomeAway hopes to be able accommodate online booking for a majority of its properties within three years, Sharples says, and will soon launch an iPad app.
Google Ventures recently invested in HomeAway, which intends to tap into Google’s technology know-how, and the company recently acquired two vacation rental technology companies to woo more property managers.
But, HomeAway doesn’t intend to go off the technology deep end and plans on continuing to focus on the basics, such as providing value to property owners and consumers and expanding its global marketplace, Sharples says.
Innovation is necessary but can be overblown, Sharples says.
Case in point is social media, which the HomeAway exec feels is over-hyped.
Sharples says HomeAway still hasn’t figured out how to make money on Facebook, noting that 60% of HomeAway users haven’t visited Facebook in the prior two weeks.
So HomeAway will place more emphasis on technology, but won't forsake its roots, Sharples says.
Over the years, “while others were busy innovating, we were busy buying,” he says.
Full disclosure: The writer does some work with PhoCusWright as a research analyst.