As I watched the sunrise this morning in Pedasi, Panama, I read that HomeAway was sold to Expedia, the gigantic travel booking engine, for an incredible $3.9 billion.
This acquisition is game-changing in many ways.
It will give travelers a new and unprecedented access to vacation rental properties.
It will offer new levels of data and industry insight…etc.
But I’d like to focus this message on what the acquisition means for the vacation rental owner or manager who may be confused, curious, or downright frustrated with the impact on their bottom line.
Here’s what Expedia’s acquisition of HomeAway should mean to you.
Starting a business today is easier than it ever has been in history.
Anyone can follow his or her dream to sell virtually anything — from hand-woven quilts to advice on the perfect swimming stroke — from the comfort of their living room.
With a smartphone or tablet, you can literally build your new business from the mini-van while waiting for the kids at soccer practice.
The tools available are more varied and powerful than ever before.
And the costs of getting started are minimal.
But it wasn’t always this way.
When my grandfather launched his family business in Brooklyn back in 1940’s, he needed to tap his life savings.
He needed to leverage all the social capital his European immigrant parents had built up in their neighborhood.
He needed courage the size of mountains to take that massive loan and start a business that (if it worked) would feed his family of my dad and his three brothers.
Thinking about the leap of faith that starting a business required back then almost makes me tear up.
Meaning by comparison, we are right now — with the internet — part of the most privileged generation of entrepreneurs in the history of mankind.
We can launch a blog in under 3 minutes.
We can have a gorgeous logo created for $5.
We can accept payments in dollars or Euros or freaking drachma if we want (!!!) from anyone anywhere in the world instantaneously.
These are empowering times!
So when people ask me about the Expedia merger, it would be disrespectful to the generations of entrepreneurs that preceded us to not state the following:
A vacation rental business is like any business and what’s stopping most people from establishing independence is a false reality they’ve constructed for themselves:
A handicapped mentality that says HomeAway or VRBO or VacationRentals.com (or any listing site for that matter) is the only way to generate bookings for your vacation rental.
This mentality was formed because the listing site was easy.
It was the golden goose.
You didn’t need any other artillery. You didn’t need to step outside your comfort zone.
Of course, if a golden goose changes (or disappears over night)…you are entitled to freak out.
Which is healthy for a short period of time…don’t get me wrong. I’m all for getting that frustration out and being done with it.
But please believe me when I say this.
We are at the beginning of something very big.
We have entered the biggest trend in travel at the ground level.
We are pioneers.
We have the ability to offer a travel experience more intimate and memorable than some of the best hotels in the world.
We have more resources — website builders, softwares, freelancers, advisors — available than any entrepreneurial generation in history.
To not take full advantage of our impeccable timing would be a shame.
Wholesome strategies are built into our DNA.
The only thing holding us back?
Fear that we don’t understand technology.
Fear of change.
Fear of the unknown.
These are natural reactions.
But I believe that every vacation rental owner or manager is a lifestyle designer at heart. One who has selected the industry because it plays to their strengths…it is also something they love.
For this reason, anyone who does NOT begin building their own sustainable marketing portfolio is putting that passion at risk.
This Expedia merger should be just the excuse you need.
Use it as your wake-up call.
Go out there and build a vacation rental business that you can pass down to generations.
That doesn’t rely solely on commission structures or giant corporate decisions.
Own the race horse AND the race course.
And if you don’t know where to start, don’t worry because you’re not alone.
Here’s a good first step.
As a tribute to this massive industry shift, I have decided that the time is right to reveal a vacation rental “archetype” or framework I have been building for the past 6 months in the form of a free online workshop entitled The 4 Stages Of Listing Site Independence.
In this workshop, I will explain the precise building blocks of listing site independence (LSI) along with the priorities or urgency I believe each step should hold for your vacation rental business.
I will also include the specific company names that I endorse to accomplish each step.
And I will host a 20 minute Q&A session immediately after the presentation in case anything needs to be clarified.
The world is not ending because Expedia purchased HomeAway.
The sun will rise tomorrow, which is coincidentally a great day to get started.