HomeAway Puts Vacation Rentals on the Scoreboard

updated January 29, 2010

HomeAway, the Austin TX based company who owns most of the major Rent-by-Owner websites (HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com, etc.*) will have an ad in the 2010 Super Bowl!

Finally, vacation rentals will be on the scoreboard!

The ad features Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reviving their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold in the 1983 movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” about a family on a vacation to “Walley World” (a great movie!).

Brian Sharples, founder and chief executive officer of HomeAway® says: “We’re going to use the Super Bowl broadcast to launch an exciting campaign highlighting the benefits of vacation rentals to reach more than 100 million people.”

Look for their ad on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, 2010 on CBS.

Update: The ad will be a “trailer” for a 15 minute web movie, starring the Griswolds, that they will have on their website. They expect five million visits in five minutes and have spent over one million dollars upgrading their hardware to handle the load.

Vacation Rentals Are a Great Travel Accommodation

I am a long time lover of vacation rentals as an accommodation choice when traveling in North America and Europe (and other places but I have not been to those other places – yet).

I started the Slow Travel website and community in 2000 to share my love of vacation rentals with other travelers. Over the eight years that I ran that website, thousands of people joined the community, posting on the forums and writing reviews and trip reports. Many of them were new to vacation rentals, but many, like us, had been traveling that way for years.

Steve and I stayed in our first vacation rental in the summer of 1988 in Grindelwald, Switzerland. Since then we have stayed in 57 different vacation rentals (103 weeks) in Europe – almost two years of vacation rental travel! And that does not count our North American vacation rentals in Hawaii, California and Arizona.

View from our balcony in Cetona, Tuscany
View from our balcony in Cetona, Tuscany

Vacation rentals have been popular in Europe for decades, but they are new in North America. We have always had vacation rentals in a modest form – summer cottages you rented in the countryside, motels with individual cabins, condos for rent in Hawaii – but it was only with the popularity of the Internet and the birth of these Rent-by-Owner sites, like the wonderful VRBO.com, that the idea of vacation rentals as an alternative to hotels broke through in North America.

The HomeAway Empire

You know the business is a big one when they advertise during the Super Bowl. In 2006 HomeAway acquired most of the major Rent-by-Owner websites, starting with the biggest – VRBO.com. HomeAway took a scattered bunch of Rent-by-Owner websites and turned them into a coordinated vacation rentals empire.

HomeAway do not own the places you rent – you deal with individual owners – but HomeAway made the process of finding and booking vacation rentals directly from the owner much easier than before.

Next Time Let’s Feature European Vacation Rentals!

The second film in the National Lampoon Vacation series is “National Lampoon’s European Vacation”, so maybe the HomeAway ad campaign, which will continue after its launch at the Super Bowl, will get to vacation rentals in Europe.

My new website, Slow Europe, is all about finding vacation rentals in Europe. I list my favorite vacation rental resources – local agencies, Rent-by-Owner websites, US agencies – by country and region. Want to spent a week in the Tuscan countryside? Here is my list of recommended vacation rental resources.

If you are new to the wonderful world of European Vacation Rentals, read my Slow Europe Vacation Rental Guide. It tells you everything you need to know to find, book and enjoy vacation rentals in Europe.

Let’s Not Forget the Vacation Rentals Agencies

Because of the popularity of the Rent-by-Owner websites, we sometimes forget about vacation rental agencies. Not every owner wants to list on a Rent-by-Owner website, correspond with travelers and do their own bookings. Many turn to reputable vacation rental agencies who do this for them.

Vacation rental agencies are popular for European vacation rentals. Some are based in the US and work with local European agencies or directly with owners. Others are based in Europe and work locally with owners.

Personally I like to deal with an agency who has many good vacation rentals to choose from, who makes sure their properties are in good locations and in good shape and who can give me good advice for making my choice. I also rent directly from owners, especially if in an area that I know well from previous trips.


* The HomeAway websites include: HomeAway.com, VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com, Holiday-Rentals.co.uk, OwnersDirect.co.uk, FeWo-direkt.de, Abritel.fr and Homelidays.com.

Thank you HomeAway for putting vacation rentals on the scoreboard!

Published by

Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

4 thoughts on “HomeAway Puts Vacation Rentals on the Scoreboard”

  1. As a vacation rental owner with two properties on Sanibel Island, Florida and a user of vacation rentals world wide, I do rely on both traditional vacation rental sites and vacation rental agencies.

    Most recently, I have been using social media to promote my properties and to locate properties for rent.

    The new Facebook application, Second Porch, invites and allows for total transparency between owner and rental guest and I find that extremely helpful, regardless of which hat I am wearing.

    I am a fussy owner. I am a fussy renter. The more I know about a rental guest and the more I know about a rental owner, the more confident I am in the transaction.

  2. Hi Pauline,

    I’m glad you’re as excited about the Super Bowl advertising as we all are! I actually work for HomeAway Holiday-Rentals in the UK (Holiday-Rentals.co.uk and now we can also be found at HomeAway.co.uk) and we have just kicked off an exciting project here too, which has also been conceived to help further raise the profile and awareness of holiday home rentals as an accommodation option. This local project has a strong focus on social media and on creating engaging, interesting and useful content around the topic of renting, and all the benefits this can provide in order to increase traveller awareness of the category. In 2010, we will be sending globe-trotting travel-writing duo Lara Dunston & Terence Carter ‘around the world’ in holiday homes.

    In February, the couple will set off for the year, swapping hotel rooms for holiday homes, with the aim of slowing down, learning things, living like locals, and giving something back to the places they visit, as they search for a more authentic, sustainable and enriching way to travel. They will be chronicling their travels via a dedicated blog (linked above) and they are also on Twitter (@gran_tourismo). In tandem with this we have also created a HomeAway UK Facebook page to promote and publicise the project and of course I am also on Twitter too (@HomeAwayUK).

    I do hope you all will join us and ‘follow’ Lara & Terry on their travels, as they will be going to plenty of interesting destinations (and gorgeous properties!).


  3. Sylvia, I need to check out Second Porch – it sounds like a great way to put owners and renters together.

    Sarah, thanks for the info on Holiday-Rentals.co.uk – I was wondering if HomeAway.co.uk was duplicating the UK site but from what you say they are using the two domains for the same database – good! I am following Lara and Terence on Twitter (@gran_tourismo and on their blog. An exciting project!

    I have a new post with more information about HomeAway and other rent-by-owner websites: Vacation Rentals and HomeAway.

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