London: Expedia Group has launched Vrbo in the UK, replacing its HomeAway branding, as it continues its worldwide consolidation of simplifying its alternative accommodation division under one global brand name.
With the launch of Vrbo in the UK, the world’s travel platform extends the number of countries offering its unique holiday rental portfolio under the same brand to 17.
Vrbo president Jeff Hurst said: “We are excited to introduce British families to Vrbo. With recent months being some of the most challenging for holidaymakers and holiday-homeowners alike, we remain fully committed to helping families all over the world to spend some urgently needed quality time together.
“The move to operate our global offering under one brand will help us to do exactly that; simplify and focus on what really matters which is providing British families with a safe and simple way to travel better together,” he added.
Launched in 1995, Vrbo claims to have been the first holiday rental company to offer its portfolio to holidaymakers online. Since then, the company has evolved and now connects millions of families looking for their perfect place to stay every year.
Founded in Aurora, Colorado, Vrbo’s mission is to connect holidaymakers to the people and places they love, giving them the space they need to drop the distractions of everyday life and simply be together.
Over the past few months in which the world was hit by a global pandemic, the way British families travel and choose their holiday homes has significantly changed.
While cleanliness has always been an important factor when choosing a holiday home, the medical guidance to reduce the spread of Covid-19 has resulted in an increase in demand by British Vrbo holidaymakers looking for properties rated highly for cleanliness by previous guests. Furthermore, there is a clear move towards staycations, with the vast majority of demand for holiday homes being in the UK this year.
The most popular domestic destinations for British Vrbo holidaymakers between May and August 2020 include:
- Newquay [Cornwall]
- Whitby [North Yorkshire]
- St Ives [Cornwall]
- London [Greater London]
- Bude [Cornwall]
- Tenby [Pembrokeshire]
- Edinburgh [Edinburgh]
- Bath [Bath and North East Somerset]
- Filey [North Yorkshire]
- Looe [Cornwall]
To accommodate new requirements, Vrbo worked with medical experts and local governments to update its existing guidelines.
It introduced new tools to provide holidaymakers with even more transparency, allowing them to make an informed booking decision. Furthermore, Vrbo implemented new cleanliness guidelines, including a search filter for cleanliness as well as a new cancellation filter.
Hurst added: “Holiday homes are the preferred accommodation choice for families wanting to go away again, after months of not being able to travel. And we are glad that we have the right measures and guidelines in place to provide them with a feeling of safety and security so that they can purely enjoy the change of scenery and the precious time together.”
To help families plan their trips, Vrbo has launched some new features, including its Trip Boards tool.
To improve the way families can book a dream holiday home for the whole family, Trip Boards enable the holidaymaker who is in charge of planning the trip to save all holiday homes they like on their personal Trip Board and invite all family members to the board. The rest of the family is then able to comment and vote for their favourite property/ies, making travel arrangements and choosing their next holiday home easier by involving the whole family at any time, from anywhere.
Another feature available in Vrbo is the Virtual Assistant, which answers holidaymakers’ most frequently asked questions about a property and allows the holiday homeowner to connect with the holidaymaker instantly.
Vrbo maintains HomeAway’s goal of connecting holidaymakers with their perfect match holiday home and they will continue to book and pay securely online, benefiting from the Book with Confidence Guarantee [which covers them in the event of possible incidents related to their booking] and 24/7 customer service. Both holidaymakers and holiday homeowners will be able to access their accounts with their current credentials [same username and password], in the web version and in the mobile application [in the latter case, holidaymakers will first need to download the new Vrbo app available for iOS and Android].
Likewise, holiday homeowners will be connected with holidaymakers from all over the world in the same way as before.
Professional owners and managers will have the necessary tools to manage their listing and have a high international visibility on all Expedia Group websites, which receive more than 750 million visits per month. They will still have control over their listing, access to tools to manage their bookings, statistics to manage their business in relation to other similar properties, secure channels to communicate with travellers and the same team of experts at their disposal 24/7.
Originally, Vrbo was short for “Vacation Rentals By Owners” and the most passionate Vrbo users only use the acronym, pronouncing it “Ver-boh”.
Following some research, the explanatory part was skipped and today’s pronunciation of Vrbo was born. The logo represents travel and the diversity of both the holidaymakers travelling with Vrbo and the homeowners listing their properties on the online marketplace.
The news follows Expedia Group’s announcement back in June that it would be retiring its HomeAway brand in the United States in July, instead refocusing on simplifying its vacation rental portfolio and diverting US users away from the HomeAway website and mobile app towards its Vrbo brand.
Since making Vrbo its primary alternative accommodations division in May 2019, Expedia Group launched the brand in countries where the company did not yet have a vacation rental presence and rebranded existing country-specific sites to Vrbo. The platform is now live in 15 countries across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions.
Vrbo reported a surge in vacation rental bookings across the United States back in July as demand for private accommodations soared and states began to relax their lockdown restrictions.
Earlier in the pandemic, umbrella brand Expedia Group announced that it had raised $3.2 billion in incoming capital, made up of $2 billion in debt financing and $1.2 billion in equity investment injected by Apollo Global Management and Silver Lake Partners [who had also participated in a funding round for Airbnb], as it appointed Peter Kern as its new CEO. Since then, it has sough to simplify and unite its vacation rental segment under one global brand name, Vrbo, in line with the demand for the space.