Belfast Telegraph

Good news for HomeAway as Britons opt for staycations

Holiday rental firm HomeAway is preparing for a jump in UK business this year as Brits trade international trips for staycations following the pound's collapse.

HomeAway, a rival to Airbnb that offers short term home lettings, says nearly a fifth of UK travellers are more likely to to opt for a holiday within Britain's borders than last year as a result, and that London may not be the biggest draw.

"In relation to the weakening of the pound, we've actually seen a trend of people spending more of their vacations domestically in the UK," Marcello Mastioni, HomeAway's vice president and managing director for EMEA, told the Press Association.

A survey run by the company in the wake of the Brexit vote showed that 70% of Brits have no intention of cutting vacation spending, but most are aware that holidays abroad are more expensive given the pound's 18% drop against the dollar and near 10% fall against the euro.

HomeAway found that 20% are more likely to have a staycation this year than in 2016, with that figure rising to 35% for families.

But the Austin, Texas headquartered company - which operates in the UK through its own eponymous website as well as OwnersDirect.co.uk - says domestic travellers are likely to shun London for the West Country.

"London is more of a destination for maybe extended long weekends. But if you're thinking about an alternative to an international destination for say, summer holidays, then you would consider other domestic destinations such as Cornwall, Devon, Yorkshire, Cumbria and so on," Mr Mastioni said.

The company, which was snapped up by travel giant Expedia at the end of 2015 in a 3.9 billion US dollar deal (£3.1 billion), reported a 61% jump in year-on-year revenues to 210 million US dollars in the third quarter (£168 million), and adjusted operating profit of 74 million US dollars (£59 million).

Despite its growth, it is still lagging behind industry behemoth Airbnb which has 130,000 listings across the UK, compared to HomeAway which has anywhere between 40,000 to 50,000.

"Anybody would like to overtake Airbnb," Mr Mastioni said, but stressed that HomeAway differentiates itself by focusing on full-property vacation rentals rather than single-room lettings.

It has helped the company dodge some of the criticism hitting rival sites like Airbnb, which have been accused of exacerbating housing crunches in major cities like London, Paris, New York and Vancouver - and in some cases led to a regulatory crackdown on short-term rentals.

London now has a 90-day annual limit for short-term lettings, with extensions requiring special permits.

But the Europe head said HomeAway is "inevitably less problematic".

He added: "We're primarily about secondary homes, we're less about primary homes and again we are comparatively much less about cities than about holiday destinations."

Mr Mastioni said he was "in favour of good regulation" that was data-driven or conducted by independent third parties, adding that HomeAway has an "ongoing relationship" and "normal" communications with UK policy makers.

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