“Mr. Hale is no longer with the company,” a HomeAway customer service representative told a homeowner on Saturday. “He is off to other pastures.”
Confirmed by the company, the news of Homeaway COO Tom Hale’s departure comes as a surprise. However, during Hale’s tenure as COO, HomeAway has faced a series of difficulties, including the roll out of major initiatives (i.e. its “Best Match” sort algorithm that almost immediately resulted in a decline in inquiries and bookings for many homeowners). In early November, Expedia announced its intent to purchase HomeAway and that it would be adding a traveler fee in order to compete head-to-head with Airbnb and to increase its overall “take rate.”
In late 2015, Expedia completed its acquisition of the company for $3.9 billion and revealed a plan to triple HomeAway’s earnings to $350 million by 2018, and consequently, the traveler fee was implemented in February 2016.
As a result, HomeAway’s suppliers – both homeowners and property managers – pushed back.
Some suppliers vowed not to renew their subscriptions, other turned to social media to complain, and many looked for marketing alternatives. The traveler fee was seen as the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in a long series of HomeAway’s actions which dictate fundamental changes in the way the vacation rental industry operates between suppliers and travelers.
In March, a federal lawsuit was filed that accuses HomeAway of engaging in “bait and switch tactics” after rolling out the new service fee for customers.
COO Tom Hale quickly became the face of the changes, fielding questions, accusations and attacks on HomeAway Community forums, on Q&A webinars and on social media.
While the comments directed to Hale were at times vicious and personal, Hale towed the Expedia line and maintained – without exception – that the new policies were good for suppliers and good for travelers.
Hale stepped into the COO role last year after Brent Bellm resigned from his position as President and COO. The moves were announced the same day that HomeAway posted first quarter financial results that fell short of investor expectations, contributing to share prices dipping 13 percent in after-market trading.
Details surrounding Hale’s departure are unknown.
Expedia is scheduled to report on Q1 2016 earnings on May 5.
I felt it exactly on novemver 1. i had been at the top of the list for almost 11 years. then when i could not figure out why my place was not rented for thanksgiving i saw i was number 119.
I even flew to austin and sat with Tom Hale, back in March. he was great explaining to me how to set up the page and gain the most out of it. all this best match. and i had to keep explaining to him that as a traveler i want to make all the judgements on why trip,, not a computer. some homes could end up having something else that i enjoy, without listing it on best match. and even as an owner, i want to make the decision case by case to accept a traveler, or offer something else added for their trip. its been rough. i had purchased a major fixer last year, and knew it would be a great rental, especially since it has a pool. but alas, i realized i better put it right on the market and sell it. cause that kind of expose, i was not prepared to keep and let it sit there doing nothing. I am sure my rents since nov. 1 have fallen maybe 25 percent on my first home. i just knew there could be a flood of homes coming on the market now due to this same concept. those that bought specifically for rental.
anyway , he suggested i buy into the platinum before they switch so that it can last for another year, instead of being moreso on the bottom of the list. i did that for both house. thats a lot of dough …….i just wrote to him yesterday, and ask about refund for the difference that i am not using for the new house, since i sold it. now i see why he did not get back to me……he is gone. very interesting. but i guess vrbohomeaway is going to keep what he stared.
I understand that business models need to change to keep up with the times, but it needs to be based on sound market research. Clearly Expedia did not do the research in trying to change VRBO to compete with Airbnb. Would a 2-3% service fee be ok to charge to clients, maybe, but 4-9% – get real. We have a rental that on average got 2-4 booking from VRBO per month. Now we at best are getting 1 booking every 2 months. How can this be the result of good business decisions. Funny, to make up the difference we have just listed with Airbnb.
Every single one of us feels the same way. What are we going to do about it I have to renew next week and have been talked in circles every time I try to get some understanding about which option is best for us. They finally hired enough people so that someone answers the phone, but they all talk the same party line. Renew at platinum and you’ll get that preferential treatment for one year while all the kink are worked out of the new system. I am at platinum and have a global listing but no global customers and very few inquires for my peak season. We will loose our family home if this doesn’t star working again. Have gone to Airbnb but this is a whold other level of nightmare. Maybe we need to act as a group, but how
For some reason this platform will not let me put in a question mark, odd
Maybe he was fed up with all the changes and the direction the company was going in himself. I doubt it was HIS decision to add fees. A lot of owners have just been migrating over to other sites, HomeEscape, Trip Advisor, etc. after the new fees.
We list our place in VRBO and I agree with everyone that there is no justification and no value provided to the prospective renter for that fee. It is simply a way on increasing revenues.
What I have been doing is discounting by the same amount of the service fee to the families that rent from us.
It is bound to affect our volume of rentals. So far we are doing OK.
I agree the fee is nonsense but I won’t reduce my rate to compensate for the VRBO greed. We now process our payments through another credit card processor and bypass VRBO-HA. They increased their credit card fees this year without a single word to the customers, they are out of control and hopefully things will change.
The SERVICE FEE imposed by HomeAway VRBO is corporate greed at its core. It will be the hard working AMERICAN PEOPLE who save all year for a decent vacation who will be forced to shell out a little bit more. The folks that cant afford it wont book and that’s when the owners get hurt. It is truly SAD.
I am a homeowner of a single property that has been fully booked on VRBO for the last 10 years. Since their changes were implemented in February, 2016 I have seen my inquiries and bookings drop down to zero. Their “Best Match algorithm is a joke. You indicate owners are leaving VRBO in droves. I am very unhappy with the VRBO changes and have been looking for other reliable marketing alternatives but not having much success. Where is everyone going–I am looking for other options.
Are Rodolfo Todini, I have three apartments in Rome used as Holiday for 7 years always with VRBO and then with HomeAway.
Everything was going well until August 2015. Then suddenly declined requests so reservations. I pay two annual installments: one to HomeAway and another at Homelidays. For some months now I see that is charged to my customers even 6-10% for protection from owner! As if my 7 years of presence and 210 reviews all (almost) 5/5 not worth anything!
Too much pride and too much desire to earn money without a worthy consideration!
Maybe he left because he had moral issues with what was being done. Maybe he left because it was his idea to make these changes. Maybe he is the fall guy. Maybe he is the one responsible. Something tells me it’s Brian SharKles who is the bad guy here.
Homeaway and VRBO have devastated my vacation rental business. I manage high end rentals that would get hit with a 500 dollar penalty disguised as a service fee. Even though my guests are wealthy, they are refusing pay this added tax for getting nothing in return. I dont blame them one bit, this is entirely the fault of the crooked management at Homeaway being too greedy. My bookings are almost non-existent for the summer.
I may be a dreamer but wouldn’t it be lovely if Brian Sharples also left and the original VRBO team returned.
There is an old saying we use here in the South….IF IT AINT BROKE, DONT FIX IT.
These morons have made a monumental mistake but they are just too plain greedy or stupid to admit. As a result Home-Away VRBO will eventually implode…and for ruining our little rental business I vow to never ever do business again with any Expedia related entity.
I hope you go completely bankrupt.
Hey, get ready to be sued lady… did you check your sources? I heard he was at his desk today. (Ha!) Duh, someone told a message board on Facebook that I guy left his job. Great reporting.
Thanks for your concern, but we did check this story out before we posted it.
These fundamental site and commercial changes are board decisions, based on shareholder value and will be implemented accordingly.
Tom Hale looks like he has taken the full brunt of the discontent, but who knows what he thinks.
Clearly staying was not an option personally or maybe corporately, who knows.
Lynnette- Well said. This is how 99 percent of owners feel and are getting more distressed by the adoption of these terms and approach. Its simply not a hotel room most of the time and is a cherished possession that most people have worked their lives to buy. To commoditize a million micro-businesses of which 50 percent are direct owners this way is not only very hard but dangerous to their bottom line. It could be done so much better.
Good Riddance..the whole lot of them are bloody parasites..they and he deserves every vicious I sult
There is no intention at this time to roll back the service fee. No one should feel any loyalty to VRBO as it is no longer a group of owners offering their properties to travelers. It reeks of micro-management and deceit.
One should also note that “lyin Brain” Sharples has been appointed to the Board of Directors of GoDaddy. I hope the GoDaddy sees the light before another good company gets distroyed
HomeAway has done an incredible amount of damage to its brand and reputation in the last six months. It remains to be seen if they can reverse course and salvage whats left of their company. Owners are fleeing in droves.
Can I point out for the umpteenth time how much I LOATHE being called a ‘supplier.’ I am a homeowner. I didn’t buy my cabin and fill it with a library of regional natural history guides and outfit it with locally relevant ephemera and antiques to add to the whole remote Cascades outdoor experience in order to treat it like widgets heaped in a cargo container headed for Pusan by the cheapest mode possible. No. It is our family cabin & we let people pay us money to defray the cost of sharing an entire regional experience with them. I’m not Tom Bodett. The light at my cabin, unlike that of a grimy freeway-side motel room staffed by a half asleep night clerk is not ‘always on.’ Guests might have to plan ahead. They might not get immediate gratification. But that’s the beauty of it. They get something palpably different for their effort.
Oh, so perfectly well stated.
As an “owner,” this is certainly happy news, but only if some of the newly instituted policies get reversed. My inquiries are down and my bookings are down since the institution of this new “guest” imposed fee.
This guy ruined this company and with the mass owner exodus hopefully Expedia will feel the wrath of small business home owners. Investors get out now before its too late.
Im not sure he was fully respnsible but I do know that in a short time VRBO has lost much of its creditability with both owners and the general public because of their service fee. I can only hope they see the light and change back to what they once were a leader in the rental market.