This week HomeAway, the vacation rental platform, began rolling out a traveler fee to its US websites (HomeAway, VRBO, and VacationRentals.com), with a plan to introduce the fees globally later this year.
The fee on listings will vary, and will be between about 4% and 10% of the total value (not to exceed $499). For instance, for an owner renting in the range from $800 to $1,000, the fee will be about 9%.
Last year, when previewing the fee, the company said it expected the fee to average at about 6% of most transactions, which, if true, would be lower than what its major rivals, such as Airbnb, charge renters.
Chief executive Brian Sharples said in an email statement to Tnooz that the fee is intended to enable HomeAway to “invest in more marketing and product and services, and to cover some operational costs.”
When a traveler who books or pays through HomeAway reaches the checkout screen, he or she will click “view details” in the “request to book” section, to the right of listings, to see the price breakdown.
Only properties that can be booked or paid for directly through HomeAway sites are immediately affected, which means nearly half of the company’s inventory — though the company wants to make full inventory online bookable by end of the year.
That latter plan is a cause of alarm for some.
In community forums for property owners, concern is being expressed among some that property owners will be penalized by having their listings “flushed” down to the lower ranks in search results if they choose not to use HomeAway’s online system.
There are rumors of a plan by as soon as July to force owners who op-out of the online payment method to cancel their listings.
It will be interesting to see how significant this group of property owners is. If they depart and take their business from HomeAway, it might mean a bumpy path for the brand in the short-term.
To make things more palatable, HomeAway is reducing the cost for owners using pay-per-booking from 10% to 8% (which includes a credit-card processing fee) for bookings originating on HomeAway, VRBO and VacationRentals.