Amid a devastated travel industry, Vrbo has optimism for its future

If you had to pick any location in America to own a condo, you could do a lot worse than Breckenridge, Colorado.

The ski resort at the foot of the Rockies has a population of less than 5,000 and a median income of about $ 86,500. A four-bedroom condo in this snowy area was recently listed for $ 2.4 million. Twenty-five years ago, a gentleman by the name of David Clouse was fortunate enough to own a condo here. But Clouse had a problem. When he wasn’t at the residence, the place was just an expense.

Clouse could have rented his condo by doing what everyone else did in 1995: listing it in the classified section of the newspaper. But, instead, he turned to what people called the World Wide Web.

It turned out that the online vacation rental listing was working very well – so Clouse started accepting listings from other people. Before long he had a start-up: Vrbo, which meant vacation rentals by owner.

Vrbo started in 1995 after David Clouse took to the web to rent his condo in Breckenridge, Colo. (1) and that list grew to become a platform for others (2). In 2011, the Vrbo (3) site recorded 180,000 rentals. Today, there are more than 2 million, including this seaside getaway in Malibu, Calif. (4).Courtesy of VRBO; 1: Getty images

Today, of course, there is no shortage of sites offering short-term leisure rentals, including Tripadvisor, and, of course, Airbnb.

Like much of the travel industry, online rental markets have been hit hard by pandemic lockdowns. Unlike much of the industry, however, these platforms have a little more reason to be optimistic for the months to come.

“The past year has been incredibly difficult on many levels,” Vrbo’s vice president of global brand marketing Lish Kennedy told Adweek. “[But] I’m optimistic about 2021. ”Assuming a sufficient number of Americans wanting the Covid-19 vaccine can get it, Kennedy believes travelers stuck at home in 2020“ will make up for lost time ”by booking on his platform.

In many ways, the accommodation industry has suffered the most cruel cut in the pandemic. “The hotel industry is on the verge of collapse,” reads an August report from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Yet, according to data from research firm STR, while the pandemic lowered hotel occupancy rates by more than 77%, the impact on rental accommodation platforms was much less – around 45%.

Airbnb’s declines did not stop its IPO late last year. And although Vrbo took a publicity stunt in the spring, when Airbnb offered full refunds for pandemic-related cancellations and Vrbo failed to do so, leaving it to owners instead, its position in the market remains intact.


In 2019, Vrbo did what many maturing brands need to do: update its logo.
By replacing the blocky capital letters rendered in a sans-serif forest green, figures were rendered in flowing bands like the icing on a cake. According to the company, the new font was meant to evoke the stripes we see on vacation.
“From board shorts to ski wear to the classic French Breton … from umbrellas on the beach to wooden cabins in the mountains … from geological streaks to the crest of a breaking wave,” the company said in a statement. communicated.
But the redesign had another purpose. He also moved the brand name from an initialism to an acronym: Vrbo was meant to be pronounced.

While Airbnb accounted for 44% of vacation rental listings in Q4 2020, according to AirDNA data, Vrbo held 34%. And according to a survey commissioned by Vrbo in August, not only did 82% of Americans already have vacation plans for 2021, but the popularity of “outdoor” destinations like the Vrbo listings genre has increased dramatically.

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