HomeAway Inc. Conference Call Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for being a valued customer. We’ve compiled a list of answers to some questions you may have following our conference call on November 4, 2015.

General
What did you announce during the conference call?
You can find more information about the news announced publicly today here.
Can you set out a timeline for further communications and updates?
We’re committed to being transparent with you. We'll provide an update in the coming months to let you know about our latest plans for 2016. After that, we’ll provide ongoing updates through email (including your Monthly Statement) and let you know well in advance about any changes that are going to take place.
Service fee
What is the service fee you announced today? How much will it be?
The planned service fee is a fee for travellers only. Travellers will be charged a small percentage of each online booking they make through HomeAway.co.uk. The fee will likely vary depending on the total cost of the rental, though we’re still testing to determine the ideal rate.
When will the service fee go into effect? On which sites? In which countries?
Ultimately, the traveller service fee will be implemented on every site that is a part of the HomeAway family. It will begin rolling out in Europe and the U.S. in the second quarter of 2016. It will roll out later to additional sites around the world.
Why are you doing this? What will you do with the additional revenue?
After careful planning and research, we determined that by introducing a service fee, HomeAway can provide even more value to you, our owners and property managers. It will enable us to invest more than ever before in areas such as marketing, trust and security, and mobile.
Won’t a fee discourage travellers from booking on HomeAway’s site(s)?
Based on extensive research, we do not think a service fee will be a meaningful deterrent to travellers. Service fees are commonplace within the travel and holiday rental industries. Our own research and review of what online travel agencies, competitors, and property managers are doing indicates that travellers are willing to pay service fees. In our case, the fee will help us to increase our marketing spend to bring more travellers to your listings on our sites. It will also enable us to invest more in traveller-friendly features like mobile functionality, enhanced protections for guests who book through HomeAway’s checkout against things like fraud and double-booked or misrepresented properties, and more.
Trust and security
What new protection products is HomeAway offering to travellers? Are they available to every traveller?
For travellers who pay through HomeAway’s checkout, we plan to provide more complete coverage at no additional cost for things like fraud and double-booked or misrepresented properties. These traveller protections will begin rolling out in the second quarter of 2016 in Europe and the U.S., and will roll out globally to additional sites in the HomeAway family afterwards.
Best match
What is “best match”?

Our goal at HomeAway is to show travellers the properties in search results that are most likely to lead to a booking. It’s a system we call best match, introduced in August 2015. Previously, properties in search results were ordered by Listing Quality Score. The factors in your Listing Quality Scorecard remain important, but best match looks at even more.

After narrowing down results to listings that match the traveller’s search criteria, such as desired dates and group size, the best match system works by selecting the listings that most closely fit the traveller’s preferences and that offer the best booking experience. A traveller’s preferences are indicated by things like the filters they use, the device or location they’re searching from, and their previous enquiries and bookings. The kind of booking experience a listing provides is best indicated by factors like calendar accuracy, responsiveness, and acceptance of online bookings. A listing provides a good booking experience when travellers are able to quickly and reliably book it.

We’re continually testing this system to determine further optimisations that will drive even more bookings. Learn more

Online booking
Are you going to make online booking mandatory?

Travellers want the option to book online. We have found that listings that offer online booking are getting more bookings than those that don’t offer it. As such, we remain committed to the goal we set in 2014 for every listing on the HomeAway family of sites to be online booking-enabled by the end of 2016. The majority of our customers will need to offer online booking by the end of 2016.

To support this goal, online booking is available for use with HomeAway Payments, which enables you to accept secure credit card payments at competitive rates. We’re in the process of rolling out functionality that allows you to use online booking with alternative payment methods, such as bank transfer, PayPal, or cheque. Listings with online booking—regardless of payment method—are likely to appear above those without it in search results. We plan to offer financial incentives to subscription customers that offer and use online booking.

Property Managers using property management software integrated with their HomeAway listings can continue to use their own payment processor with online booking.

What is the difference between pay-per-booking and online booking?

Pay-per-booking is a listing option in which you pay nothing up front, instead paying a 10% commission on each booking you receive. Pay-per-booking listings are online booking-enabled, which means they can receive enquiries and booking requests.

Online booking is a feature available to both pay-per-booking and subscription listings. With online booking, you can receive booking requests from travellers, which is like an enquiry with a commitment to pay for the days and price indicated on your listing. You always have 24 hours to communicate with the traveller and decide whether to accept or decline their request.

Will I be penalised if I don't start using online booking?

Our goal is to show travellers properties that are most likely to lead to a booking. Online booking is the best way for us to know when travellers are able to successfully book your property, so it’s the most important thing you can do to optimise your placement in search results based on best match. Listings that offer online booking and accept most booking requests will frequently appear above those without it because we know more about the booking experience those listings are providing to travellers.

Additionally, we plan to offer financial incentives for customers with annual subscriptions that offer and use online booking.

How can I add online booking if I cannot or do not want to accept credit cards?

We’re currently in the process of rolling out the option to use online booking with alternative payment methods, such as cheque, bank transfer, PayPal, and more. It will soon be available to all customers using the HomeAway.co.uk website to manage their listings. It will be free for you to use online booking with these methods, and you’ll handle payments from travellers directly.

Offering online booking gives your travellers the ability to request to book online and guarantees that they will receive a response from you within 24 hours, helping you to provide the best possible booking experience and optmising your placement in search results. Learn more about online booking here.

With online booking, how am I able to talk to or research travellers to make sure they’re a good fit for my property?

With online booking, you have up to 24 hours to communicate with your guest the way you do today. You can always choose whether to accept or decline their request, maintaining full control of who books your property. We understand that not every traveller will be a good fit for your property, and you may choose to decline some booking requests. What’s most important is to consistently respond within 24 hours and accept as many booking requests as possible. Keep your rates and calendar accurate to make sure you are getting the most qualified enquiries.

My subscription package
Do you plan to stop offering a subscription option? Are you moving to a pay-per-booking only model?

We’re committed to giving you options for listing your holiday rental on the HomeAway family of sites. As a result, we have no plans to stop offering our annual subscription AND pay-per-booking products. We’ll continue to offer a subscription product because we know that many of our customers prefer it.

You said you’ll be lowering commission rates for pay-per-booking customers. What are the details?
We plan to carefully research and test any pricing changes before implementing them, and as a result, we do not have specific details on the change. In terms of timing, we anticipate reducing the commission for most pay-per-booking listings around the same time that we introduce a service fee for travellers.
Will you have a price reduction for annual subscription listings too?
HomeAway is committed to our annual subscription business and will consider adjusting prices and providing incentives as appropriate. For subscription customers, we plan to offer incentives for those that offer and use online booking.