Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Cyberrentals / HomeAway/ WVR Pricing

I've been out of commission for the last few days ( due to a family bereavement), so I am a bit late noticing that the WVR group have announced a new deal for owners of vacation rentals : you can now advertise your vacation rental home on 4 WVR sites ( Cyberrentals, a1vacations, greatrentals and HomeAway) for an annual cost of $299.

This is another sign of how WVR are beginning to excercise the leverage they have since acquiring Cyberrentals, a1vacations, greatrentals and Holiday Rentals.com( one of the leading European holiday rentals sites ). The intention is that, at some point, owners will only need to maintain their listing on one site and changes will automatically happen on the other listed sites.

On the face of it, this is a welcome development for vacation rentals owners : getting exposure on multiple sites, with less effort and reduced costs is a good deal. However, a lot will depend on how effective these multiple listings are in generating bookings.

Cyberentals went through a tough time after the merger, but seems to have bounced back (see the comment on the COHR review here for Cyberentals ). It remains to be seen how much WVR plan to build on the historical strength of the Cyberrentals brand, or will be be submerged into WVR ?

It also begs the question, why not simply merge all the sites together ? (Although $299 per year would be expensive for listing on just one site.) If all 4 of these sites list essentially the same properties, they will only be differentiated by the renters they attract.

When I first launched Compare Owner Holiday Rentals , I started with the idea that I would sell "bundles" of listings on multiple sites. My idea was that I would negotiate volume discounts from the different vacation rentals sites and then sell a "bundle" of listing on, say, 3 different sites to vacation rental owners. Indeed, I had conversations with some of the folks at WVR about this concept, but for a variety of reasons, it did not go ahead.

I wonder will there now be appetite among WVRs competitors for something similar to this bundled concept ? Or will there is a move for more consolidation amongst the smaller / medium size players in the vacation rentals market ? Smaller sites will certainly need some way to combat the marketing muscle of WVR.

Regards,

Kevin

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