The HomeAway-Priceline Partner Network¬†partnership is a logical one for HomeAway as it can become a more comprehensive site for travel planning, and won’t necessarily have to see its customers looking elsewhere for flights and car rentals.
The agreement would also be positive for HomeAway because it can boost its revenue through affiliate fees from Priceline.
HomeAway CEO Brian Shaples says:
The addition of airline tickets and rental cars is a natural fit for our business and the needs of our customers. The choice of Priceline Partner Network also gives our customers broad access to the most popular airlines and rental car companies for both domestic and international trips.
In addition to supporting travelers’ frequent flier miles, the new air-ticketing capability comes with airline seat maps and the ability to book everything from economy to first class flights.
Travelers also will be able to view and book published car-rental rates globally and can use car-rental company discount codes, HomeAway states.
Here’s how the airline and car rental bookings are designed to work.
Travelers must first reserve a vacation rental on HomeAway.com or¬†VRBO.com¬†from¬†a property owner or manager who uses HomeAway’s¬†ReservationManager tool.¬†ReservationManager includes tools for owners and managers to send rental quotes, handle agreements and process credit card and eCheck payments online.
The renters then would view a screen showing airline and car rental options specific to their destination, says Victor Wang, a HomeAway spokesperson.
If renters are interested in booking a flight and/or car rental, then they would click a Reserve Now box and would view options on a co-branded site. The car rental site, for example, would look like the following:
The new airline ticket and car rental functionality was expected to go live today.
Owners of lodging and airline sites are always concerned that adding ancillary services will lead to deteriorating conversion rates. HomeAway appears to be avoiding that potential trap by only making flights and car rentals available after renters reserve their vacations rentals.
The current agreement appears to be for HomeAway.com and VRBO.com only and apparently doesn’t involve HomeAway’s 33 other vacation rental websites around the world.
And, the HomeAway pact with Priceline is a coup of sorts for the¬†Priceline Partner Network.
There’s also a bit of irony in HomeAway’s choice of Priceline as its airline and car rental affiliate partner in that HomeAway’s Sharples has a seat on Kayak’s board.
One of Priceline’s advantages over Kayak in terms of the HomeAway deal is that Priceline is a travel agency while Kayak largely uses the metasearch model for air and car rental bookings, and thus transfers consumers to third-party sites for bookings.
The metasearch model would likely be unwieldy for consumers who are tacking on flights and car rentals to their vacation rental reservations.
Asked about HomeAway’s choice of Priceline over some of its rivals, Jon Gray, HomeAway vice president, says:
“Priceline, Kayak, Expedia and Orbitz are all great companies. We are working with Priceline because it presented the best fit for both companies.”
Meanwhile, HomeAway could eventually come to regard Priceline as a frenemy — if HomeAway doesnt view Priceline in this way already. Priceline is a global powerhouse in online hotel bookings, an alternative lodging choice for some of HomeAway’s potential customers, and Priceline’s¬†Booking.com unit increasingly is offering vacation and apartment rentals of its own.
On the Priceline as frenemy question, Gray adds:
The addition of airline tickets and rental cars is a natural fit for our business and the needs of our customers. We want to make the process of booking a vacation rental as easy as booking a hotel ‚Äď and that also includes the entire trip planning process. This partnership is purely focused on flights and airfare accommodations. We believe this is a win for both parties and their customers.
And, with HomeAway partnering with Priceline, it isn’t hard to imagine Airbnb finding an online travel agency for airline ticket and car rental bookings, as well.