HomeAway, the Austin based provider of short-term rental property listings, services for vacation rentals by owner, and search and review tools for travelers debuted its first mobile app today.
HomeAway chief executive and co-founder Brian Sharples remarked that until recently, he was skeptical that mobile could appeal as a medium to travelers using HomeAway’s image-rich travel sites:
“Accessing web from mobile devices, you can’t ignore it now. We had mobile optimized some sites before. But it was only when the iPad came out that I started to get the religion,” he said.
The HomeAway iPhone app offers portrait and horizon views of photos of listed rental properties. (A video demo follows at the end of this post.)
The app also includes: a “near me” button that generates listings in the immediate area; a search-by-amenities filter; and a “share” button that allows users to Tweet, e-mail or post a HomeAway listing to their social media profiles, ostensibly for feedback from travel companions before they book their stay.
Since it started in 2005, the company has marketed HomeAway vacation rentals to families, college friends and couples. Yet its service has been lauded by entrepreneurs doing business travel with their teams, and sometimes anemic startup budgets.
“Travelers of every kind get frustrated with hotels for a few reasons. A lack of privacy is a huge one. And then a lack of space. They are also frustrated with the cost of rooms, and hidden charges. With hotels, they have to pay to eat out or do room service, and pay again for internet access and other nickel-and dime things that add up,” Sharples noted.
HomeAway users can expect more mobile apps from his company soon, the CEO confirmed. “We’ll begin to develop rapidly for Android devices and the iPad,” he said, expecting those versions to be ready by the end of 2010.
The next app the company plans to release within a few months will be “to help our other customers, who are the property owners,” said Sharples. Owners of rental properties pay to get listed on HomeAway’s 11 travel sites. About half of the properties on the company’s HomeAway.com site are located in the U.S. and half international locations. As of the end of 2010′s second quarter, HomeAway.com had 230,000 properties listed.
HomeAway.com’s most frequent inquiries this year have been about rentals in Orlando and New York City in the U.S. and Paris internationally. Travelers do not pay HomeAway transactional fees to get in touch with a HomeAway listed property owner, or to download and use the HomeAway mobile app.
Sharples co-founded HomeAway (formerly WVR Group) with Carl Shepherd in February 2005. In less than two years, he raised more than $200 million and acquired nine leading vacation rental websites, creating the worldwide industry leader for vacation rentals on the Internet. Sharples is the former president and chief executive officer of IntelliQuest Information Group, a supplier of marketing data and research to Fortune 500 technology companies. There he pioneered the development of subscription-based statistical research services and electronic survey systems....
HomeAway, Inc., based in Austin, Texas, represents more than 540,000 paid vacation rental home listings throughout 120 countries, and connects homeowners and property managers with the millions of travelers seeking alternatives to hotels. HomeAway offers an extensive selection of vacation homes that provide travelers with memorable experiences and benefits, including more room to relax and added privacy, for less than the cost of traditional accommodations. The company also makes it easy for vacation rental...