Are HomeAway and Airbnb on a collision course?

HomeAway isn’t ready to jump into the peer-to-peer rental market, but is watching Airbnb and others to see how the sector shakes out.

In a Wall Street Journal inteview, HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples says the vacation rental company may wait for all of the dust to settle before considering its options to see if any company really makes a lot of money offering peer-to-peer apartment rentals. Says Sharples:

We would rather wait and see how it all shakes out. If a company emerges and makes a lot of money, maybe we would acquire one of those businesses. Based on Airbnb’s recent $1.3 billion valuation, it’s much too expensive for us to consider.

HomeAway, after all, has some big bucks at its disposal and has never been shy about making acquisitions.

Sharples says there’s only a 2% traffic overlap between HomeAway, which caters to families seeking vacation homes, and Airbnb, with its apartment rental clientele, and the inventory commonality is virtually nonexistent.

But it isn’t difficult to envision that the two leaders in their respective sectors could eventually butt heads.

“Could the two business models collide over the long term?” Sharples asks. “I think they could. We could choose to get into that space because we thought it was attractive. I just don’t know if it’s attractive.”

Sharples tells The Wall Street Journal, however, that he is aware that Airbnb may find the vacation rental market appealing and he wouldn’t be surprised to see Airbnb entering HomeAway’s arena.

But, he still expresses some skepticism about the financial viability of Airbnb’s core business.

In the big scheme of things, the peer-to-peer rental business may face some legal pressures, as well.

One former New York City cop has recently been making a living out of posing as a traveler and ratting out apartment tenants to their landlords when they illegally offer their dwellings for short-term rentals on Craigslist, the New York Post reports in an article headlined, “He’s the sublet stinger.”

As Sharples says, a lot of people will be interested in seeing how the peer-to-peer market shakes out and how it will intersect with the vacation rental industry.


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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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  1. Joanna

    I manage 15 apartments in Montreal and use airbnb, flipkey and homeaway everyday.

    1) airbnb is a LOT easier and faster to answer clients than homeaway and flipkey. you don’t need to make all these long quotes, payment arrangements etc. you just click accept and it’s done in a second.

    2) airbnb is better to fill in gaps at last minute as you can change your calendar day by day.

    3) it’s not true that airbnb guests “bunch of random college kids who feel like they can trash the place because they paid”… you can put a very high damage deposit if you want and that way you have piece of mind.

    4) home away listings are super expensive. 1500$ for one!!! with airbnb i can list my 15 apartments and pay 3% per booking. HE is still good to have but i chose to only have one listing, i couldn’t spend 10 K $ for listing on their site!

    5) I think airbnb will eventually be bigger than homeaway but there is one problem with airbnb… they don’t offer the option to add taxes, here in quebec we have plenty of taxes to pay to be legal and it’s complicated to do so with airbnb as it’s not possible to program it in their system.

    I am looking forward to see how things evolve in this fast changing business…

  2. Michele

    Airbnb seems at first glance to be kind of in between Homeaway and, both of which I list on (Homeaway for money, Couchsurfing when I’m feeling bohemian). Personally I’d rather have a middle-aged couple (Homeaway) or a couple of hippies vetted by a strong online community (Couchsurfing) than a bunch of random college kids who feel like they can trash the place because they paid (Airbnb?), but more forgiving landlords, or those who don’t want to pay the Homeaway fee, could open up a new niche for rentals in Airbnb that don’t overlap the others too strongly.

    For me it will come down purely to numbers. I plan to list at Airbnb and see which site (1) makes the most income for me and (2) provides the kinds of guests I want to have in my home.

  3. Gael

    Lots of HA listings are being posted on Airbnb these days.

    To be considered: Lots of work for owners to have their properties posted on 10+ sites including Airbnb, Wimdu, . And answering requests takes also lots of time. We are trying to offer a service that some owners might find interesting: – disclosure: I am the founder of this company. Let me know what you think?

  4. Vincent

    Not a big fan of the p2p term for the airbnb model. It is more like p/airbnb.comtakesacut/p

    I think all heterogeneous lodging fits within a website built on the right model. It is just going to take me a while to build it…

  5. Archie Hamilton

    These are 2 different types of businesses. One is purely a collection of listing sites, the other a booking agent. 2 different types of consumers. HA attracts the older crowd while AirBnB attracts younger crowd. I use AirBnB. I like the way it allows me to verify apartment once I get there. It’s going to be interesting to see if my generation will go HA model and deal directly with a homeowner and pay a homeowner directly.

  6. Jazz Poulin

    Some markets will overlap but we have to remember there’s a few key segments in this market;

    1. P2P
    Some people have the time and are comfortable running the rental business from sales, accounting to client services. Some however just couldn’t be bothered with it.

    2. Full Service
    If you own a luxury villa in Barbados, South of France etc.. do you really want to list with P2P or even an owner direct website like HomeAway? Probably not which is why companies like Luxury Retreats are going so well. Rich dudes have better use of their time….like make money vs uploading photos of their vacation home and dealing with clients.

    3. Owner Direct
    Some owners wil try all options because they simply want their home filled up. If I were HA I’d worry about the pro active homeowner who’s getting more rentals via Airbnb because they may consider cutting back on the membership fees with HA.

    The way I see it HA has more to lose with a strong Airbnb than gain. I’d be willing to bet a few beers that HA will lose some market in markets that Airbnb enters. But this is assuming of course that the young Airbanb team can get their sh*& in order 🙂


    Disclosure: In my previous life I Co-founded Luxury Retreats

  7. Camilla Shaughnessy

    I do believe that the market is converging however I think that property owners will realise they have greater choice in who markets their properties for short stays or short lets. The income stream from 3 nights+ stays compared to 3-6 month lets can be most lucrative, all the property owner needs is the right marketing company to help them realise their potential. Will Airbnb converge with HomeAway? Who knows, lets watch this space and see who acquires who! Better for the likes of HomeAway or Airbnb to set their sites on acquiring the smaller players who know how to market.

  8. Daniele Beccari

    As I said, there is absolutely no difference to me.
    Which means the so-called P2P players will soon converge en masse onto the apartment rental market.

  9. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Daniele: I think the question is whether vacation-home rentals by owner and short-term apartment rentals are converging. Sharples seems to be somewhat skeptical about the viability of peer to peer. But he’s eyeballing it, bigtime:)

  10. Daniele Beccari

    Well, apartment rental is nothing different than P2P: someone owns a place and rents it to someone else.

    Set aside subletting issues, the question is whether AirBnB & co are really opening up a new segment, or just repositioning apartment rentals under a new light.

    There is no doubt the paths are converging.


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