As heavy users of most “sharing-economy” platforms, we at Eazybnb do use HomeAway to list some of our properties. It’s a quite logical movement to spread the listings to several platforms in order to secure more bookings.
However, with this use comes a conclusion: HomeAway may remain an online classifieds platform dinosaur whilst the world is moving – very rapidly – toward community-based platforms.
HomeAway has to deal with some issues if it wants to be part of the future. The most significant one is regarding branding, while the other is about user experience.
But let’s start with the easy part. While it successfully imitated Airbnb’s homepage (with the video background showing family moments, friends gathering around the kitchen table, etc.) it’s still missing the… touch. Furthermore, the UX issues start from the moment you set your destination and other details and then when you finally choose to open a listing’s page.
The information is there – nothing seems to be left out – but why on earth does it feel like you’re visiting a local hotel’s website-booking page? It defines clearly that their target age group is 50+ something, to whom this probably feels more comfortable. And that leads us to their profile, or rather to the lack of a user’s profile page. Since it’s not a community, the traveler/end-user is unwilling to complete their profile page or introduce themselves when making an inquiry. The whole meaning here is simply a statement: “I want to stay at your place, please send me the payment quote to get it over with.”
That statement could be fine by me since I’m a big fan of simplicity (despite the fact that its payment process is still quite obscure, but that’s a different story). However, HomeAway has to consider that we are not talking about an impersonal hotel which welcomes everyone, but a homeowner who would be much more comfortable if they knew a little bit more about the person who is going to sleep in their bed.
My point here is that HomeAway is neither booking.com nor Airbnb, but something in between, and unfortunately in a bad way. It’s neither meat nor fish!
And here of course, like everything else that’s important, it comes down to branding (or the absence of it). Despite the market share, the acquisitions and the huge amount of paid promotion, HomeAway fails to do one simple thing: define its brand. “Upgrade to a whole vacation” doesn’t tell me a thing. What’s their mission statement both for travelers as well as homeowners?
Apart from everything else, Airbnb is gaining more ground every single day.
But Airbnb has a story to tell. What about HomeAway?