Vacation rentals vs hotels? HomeAway VP of Data Science keynote at HEDNA 2018


There was a bit of an interloper at this year’s HEDNA North America conference: vacation rental provider HomeAway. It’s possible that Expedia’s recent acquisition of HomeAway had something to do with this, as it brings the brand into the stable as one of the world’s largest OTA conglomerates. Or perhaps it’s a sign that hoteliers have finally accepted the importance of understanding the threat/non-threat of vacation rentals.

Regardless, it was a bold move on the part of the HEDNA board. After all, HEDNA is the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association. A legacy name, to be sure, but a name that doesn’t include non-hotel forms of accommodation.

Hotels vs STRs?

Props to the organization for bringing this issue to the forefront with the second keynote of the opening day, offering up a perspective from HomeAway’s Head Economist and VP of Data Science Justin Rao. And similar kudos to HomeAway for taking a data-driven approach to cut through the noise and offer their side of a heavily weighted debate.

It’s a battle that’s certainly fueled by the media, but also industry associations that act aggressively to regulate short-term rentals. The core issue is if (and how) STRs are complementary to both the hotel industry and local municipalities.

While the presentation was a bit rambling –and didn’t quite live up to the session’s title of “Vacation Rental Industry and Its Effect on Hospitality” — it did highlight just how important data is to HomeAway’s ongoing regulatory efforts. By parsing data, and then providing these reports (eventually) to all municipalities, the company clearly understands the power of counteracting regulatory reactions with detailed data.

Watch the video for highlights of two quite different case studies, one of San Diego, CA, and the other of Orange Beach, AL, which showcase how vacation rentals can impact home values and local economies.

More HEDNA coverage here, as well as on this YouTube playlist.



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