Emerald Coast by Owner (ECBYO.com) announced yesterday that it has acquired regional site DestinFlorida.com in an equity exchange for an undisclosed amount. Both sites are marketing directories that promote direct booking for vacation rental managers and homeowners, charging no booking fees and disclosing all guest contact information.
ECBYO.com is run by ivacationonline.com vacation rental software. ECBYO.com will keep on DestinFlorida.com’s founder, Anthony Morrison, and its staff.
Morrison founded the site five years ago with the goal of building the largest community online of people who love Destin and vacationing in the area. “I think we’ve accomplished that,” he said. “The merger with [ECBYO.com] really means we can serve our community of people who love Destin in a much better way… I think working together we can reach more people, help more people, and, in the end, provide more resources to vacationers to make their experience even better.”
ECBYO will rebuild the Destin site and expand its geographic coverage to feature vacation rentals, restaurants, attractions, and activities in the nearby Miramar, Sandestin, 30A, and Fort Walton Beach areas.
Property owners and managers that currently list on DestinFlorida.com can expect changes to the site in the coming months, including added map search functions, site speed, and search optimization for the 380,000 searches made every month for “Destin Florida.” “It’s like an Indy racecar versus a Chevrolet,” said Joe Godar, owner of ECBYO.com and ivacationonline.com.
ECBYO .com advertises vacation rentals from Alabama’s Dauphin Island to Florida’s Forgotten Coast. Listing subscriptions on the site cost $349 per property per year. Homes listed in the greater Destin area and surrounding towns on ECBYO.com will automatically be listed on DestinFlorida.com for no extra cost. The same will apply to ECBYO’s microsites for communities like St. George Island and the Majestic Sun Condos in Miramar Beach.
Godar launched ECBYO in November of 2016 to push back against changes happening at OTAs and promote direct booking. He’s been in the vacation rental business for 20 years, starting with his first vacation rental in Destin and later managing properties and developing vacation rental websites and software. The direct booking movement is something he’s extremely passionate about, he said. “When we saw what the big OTAs were going to do [with fees] two or three years ago, that was when we made the decision to launch Emerald Coast by Owner.”
“They’re all trying to reinvent the wheel, and the industry got flipped upside down overnight,” he continued. “We’re just trying to do a little bit by bringing it back to where we just want to be your marketing source. We don’t want to take over your business.”
Godar is planning future expansions, including the growth of his other regional site, Smoky Mountains by Owners (SMBYO.com), and a new site in Texas or the Carolinas. “We definitely plan on opening up more areas, and we want to just go slow, to make sure each site and each area is stable and it has momentum going forward.”