Vacation rental site HomeAway is a top online travel booking site for those looking to feel more at home on their vacation. While hotels and hostels can look great, they can sometimes feel a bit ‘clinical’, and lacking that something special that makes a place feel like home. Having your own vacation rental gives you total privacy, you can cook when you want, skip speaking to hotel staff, and stay up with friends for hours around a late night barbeque. Here’s your guide to HomeAway:
Who is HomeAway?
The Texas-based travel company came onto the scene in 2005, and lists over two million vacation rentals across around 190 countries, meaning that there is really something for everyone. On the site, you can find everything from houses and apartments through to condos, castles, farmhouses, teepees and even your own island.
How to Use the Site
The HomeAway site is really easy to use. You just have to enter the location of your vacation, your travel dates and select the number of people going on the trip. This then pulls up a list of available properties. You can filter the properties according to property type, for example, if you are looking for a whole house or a cozy cabin. You can also search for more specific properties, for example, if you want to rent a place with a pool or find a pet-friendly vacation rental, so you can bring your dog along.
Once you’ve had a browse and found something you like, check the details and then fill out the online property request form. The owner of the property then has 24 hours to confirm your request, often they require a deposit to hold the spot. You then need to communicate with the owner on details such as the arrival and departure time and check their policies regarding payment.
There’s a secure online payment system, which transfers money directly to the homeowner. Usually, the owner will ask for full payment upfront.
For property owners or vacation rental managers, it’s very easy to list properties on the site. You just need some photos (the higher quality, the better) and details about the property you’re renting. To list, you’ll also have to provide information such as pricing, availability and your contact details. You can either pay-per-booking, which charges a fee for each listing that you publish, or you can purchase an annual subscription to the site. In return, HomeAway offers global exposure on their top 25 sites, access to tools to help manage your property reservations and more.
The best way to use HomeAway is by being open-minded to what you’re looking for. If you’re searching for a house, also consider an apartment. Many top vacation destinations often can be filled with apartment blocks, so finding a full house to yourself might be limiting. Search for your location and browse the options, you never know what you might find!
If you can, play around with dates. By shifting your holiday a few days forward, you might be able to find that perfect property for you and your family and friends to relax in.
If you’re on the fence about renting a place, versus staying in a hotel, think about the comfort of having your own space, instead of feeling like a ‘guest’ in a hotel. If you’re on vacation with your family you can have a whole house to yourself to spread out and have fun in, or if you’re on a romantic couples holiday, why not get an apartment with a nice view and treat your significant other to a home cooked meal?
It’s significantly cheaper to rent a place for your vacation than it is to stay in a hotel. HomeAway says that you ‘can rent a whole house for half the cost of a hotel’ so with that in mind, think of all the extra cash you’ll have to spend on fun activities.
Rental properties also provide you with more space and privacy. HomeAway state that their average vacation rental is 1850 square feet (beating the average hotel room of 325 square feet). Most rental properties will come with a kitchen or cooking appliances. With your own kitchen, you can enjoy shopping in local food markets and make significant savings by staying in to eat. Having to eat out for most meals whilst staying in a hotel can really rack up a big bill. You can also enjoy the privacy of renting a property with its own pool, barbeque or terrace area.
Who’s it For?
The site is for those looking for a more personal experience and a chance to have a ‘home away from home’. It’s great for families or big groups of friends that are looking for a more easy vacation experience and can spread out across one property, instead of having to stay in multiple hotel rooms.
Meanwhile, if you’re traveling with a pet, it’s a great option as it’s easy to search for pet-friendly properties (of which there are many on the site).
From Strength to Strength
The company, which was bought by Expedia in 2015, has been going from strength to strength and reached over two million listings in February 2017.
In 2017, HomeAway announced changes to its revenue model and raised their subscription fee by 25%. This means that vacation rental managers, or property listers, will pay a 25% increase to list properties. The changes will be implemented for those that take out a new subscription policy or renew their policy, after March 2018.