AUSTIN, TX — Vacation rental website HomeAway has enlisted Kwittken as competition and regulatory battles within the ‘sharing’ economy heat up.
While AirBnB has dominated the vacation rental space, the publicly-traded HomeAway has been around since 2004 as a holding group for various vacation properties. In 2006, it launched as HomeAway.com where owners pay to list their properties but travelers do not pay a booking fee.
“HomeAway’s senior executives viewed 2015 as a particularly important year for the brand,” said Eileen Buesing, VP of communications at HomeAway. “First of all it marked HomeAway’s 10th anniversary. Secondly, competition was heating up from all quarters.”
Buesing points out that “beyond the usual suspects, there were a slew of copycat offerings cropping up around the world, not to mention the fact that hotels and travel brands were also looking to tap into the emerging global vacation rental marketplace.”
Earlier this year, the New York Times published a list of upstarts and veteran sites that are alternatives to AirBnB with HomeAway was among those named. Meanwhile, the hotel chains are repositioning their extended stay and more casual properties to compete against the ‘sharing economy’ sites.
“Thirdly, thanks in large part to the aggressive tactics employed by a lot of the new 'sharing economy' platforms – most notably Uber and AirBnB – there has been an incredible amount of regulatory scrutiny in communities around the world,” Buesing noted.
To position HomeAway within this environment, the company brought in global CMO Mariano Dima from Visa Europe based in London and switched its US PR agency from Text100 to Kwittken.
“We found Kwittken’s ‘rapid-prototyping’ and design thinking approach particularly appealing,” Buesing said. The outreach targets travelers, vacation home owners and property managers, regulators/legislators, investors, the tech community, lifestyle influencers and travel industry insiders.
Since working with HomeAway, Kwittken helped launch its new global brand platform: “The Whole House. The Whole Family. A Whole Vacation”; announce a partnership with Expedia and Kayak; and open Dubai as a vacation rental market.