Earlier this spring, we made a conscious decision to pull away from any two-way integration with HomeAway’s and VRBO’s advertising platform for our product, and we’d like to explain why.
The decision was a direct result of Home Away’s announcement of their recently updated Listing Agreement for Property Managers. This updated agreement includes expansion of off-platform booking definitions, a new set of reporting requirements, and a mandatory submission to internal business audits conducted by HomeAway.
Simply put, with the release of this agreement, HomeAway was letting it’s users know that they will be tracking everything. The agreement gives HomeAway the right to audit their users’ personal records and determine that if a guest booked direct with a property manager and looked at the HomeAway website within the last 30 days of when the booking was made then the property manager owes HomeAway a 10% commission on that bookings. They do this by tracking their users IP addresses. Basically, HomeAway is saying that their users owe them money for every lead that comes through their website.
What gives the “big boys” the right to audit a property manager’s financials if a guest contacts them directly and also happens to have looked at the HomeAway reservation website?
We’ve decided that enough is enough. And we encourage our competitors and industry partners to also take a stand.
As our CEO, Kevin High, says: “This is an atrocious grab into the property manager’s pocket. They may be big, but our industry needs to rise up and fight against this!”
HomeAway’s decision and mindset are not good for the industry, homeowners or guests. But, we can’t really fault them for their choices. After all, their number one goal isn’t to help the industry succeed, it’s to make money. What we can do is take the success of our industry into our own hands. As Alan Egan so clearly put it, “There is nothing stopping you from marketing your own property successfully. Other than you.”
Some in the media have called this a “war.” Hotels vs OTAs, direct vs indirect, etc. We disagree with that description. The ‘Book Direct’ movement is simply about doing what’s right. The property management companies that use our software are not chasing after direct bookings solely for the sake of winning. They have a business to run and guests to make happy.
Our mission at Bookfull isn’t just about developing an amazing software platform, but about creating a community that will ignite a movement. We’re committed to help lead the ‘Book Direct’ effort, allowing property managers and owners to take control of their business. We encourage everyone to take a stand and not renew your contracts with HomeAway and VRBO. Additionally, we suggest you develop strong consumer education communication programs (the #BookDirect Day in February earlier this year was a good start). Together, we can balance the scales for the good of everyone.