Major industry news came out today with the announcement that HomeAway bought BedandBreakfast.com. HomeAway is clearly the leader in the entire Vacation Rental (VRBO) space and BedandBreakfast.com is undoubtably the leader in the Bed and Breakfast (B&B) Space. Each of them are bigger than their next few competitors, combined.
We had a big discussion around our office about this topic. Was it smart? Of course, the first question was “Wonder what they paid for it?” Eric or Brian or Carl… please give me a call if you want to disclose that.
Before sharing my opinion, let me give a little background.
Blizzard has worked with BedandBreakfast.com for years (14?)… back when they were InnsandOuts before they were InnkeepersOnly.com, before they were BBchannel.com before they were BedandBreakfast.com… and we have enjoyed working with people there like Eric Goldreyer, Liz Hamilton, Tim Wilson and Sandra Soule… all great people. While many innkeepers have not supported our opinion, we still recommend: “If you are a B&B, you have to be on BedandBreakfast.com. They send oodles of traffic. Pay them more and you get more!” No matter what you think about them, you have to acknowledge that they rule the space and send huge amounts of qualified traffic.
Here are some of our editorials from our newsletter (our blog before it was a blog) back in 1999:
www.bbchannel.com has a special section that is available to its silver and gold members — if you are a silver or gold member, adding a special is a MUST if you want to receive the full value from Bbchannel. (June, 1999)
www.bbchannel.com (aka Innkeepersonly and Innsandouts) unveiled a new gift certificate program in April. Inns that belong to their directory (we highly recommend bbchannel.com) will have the option of honoring gift certificates sold to consumers from the bbchannel.com website. (May 1999)
www.bbchannel.com just changed their domain name to www.BedandBreakfast.com (before that they were also known as Innsandouts.com and Innkeepersonly.com) They also recently merged with World Res, the online reservation booking company. (www.worldres.com). Look for Bedandbreakfast.com to bundle their services more closely with WorldRes in the future. (July 1999)
Blizzard has recommended HomeAway and VRBO.com for years too… not as many as BedandBreakfast.com. Our opinion is the same though, and it also angers many of our Vacation Rental Manager clients who see HomeAway and the VRBO movement as threatening: “VRBO.com is the biggest player in the space. Listing your homes with them will send you hundreds or thousands of leads a year.”
Many Blizzard folks were surprised by this acquisition: it is a big move for a company that specializes in the VR space to move into the B&B space. They are very different markets with very few synergies. It is also odd because the vacation rentals space is much larger than the B&B space. BedandBreakfast.com has 10,000 B&B listed. Orlando or the Outer banks, alone, probably have 20,000 vacation rentals each.
But, we all believe that management at Homeway is smarter than your average bear. Clearly becoming the market leader in another segment of the lodging industry is a solid move (assuming it didn’t cost too much).
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