Flipkey, with TripAdvisor as its backer, wants to fish in the big pond, but it has big obstacles in the way and a lot to prove.
By Dennis Schaal
Flipkey CEO TJ Mahony knows something about competing, having earlier in his career created the Compete.com website. But his TripAdvisor-owned vacation rental website has a mountain to climb if it is even to get into the conversation with its bigger rival HomeAway.
Traffic figures from what used to be Mahony’s Compete.com, which measures the U.S. online travel marketplace, tell part of the story. As of May 20, HomeAway.com boasted nearly 2.3 million monthly unique visitors and Flipkey had about 30% of that, or 676,671.
That doesn’t even take into account HomeAway-owned VRBO.com, which recorded even larger traffic than HomeAway.com at nearly 2.9 million monthly unique visitors, according to Compete. (Compete’s numbers aren’t exact, but they do a better job than most of approximating market share.)
Part of this huge scale advantage for HomeAway is reflected on the search engine optimization front, which is key for vacation rental owners and property managers seeking a bang for their listings bucks. In other words, if they list their properties on Flipkey, what kind of clout will they have in the search engines?
If you do a Google search for “Orlando vacation rental,” the top three organic listings are for HomeAway websites, followed way down the page by one for Flipkey and another for TripAdvisor.