This week, HomeAway Software announced to its property management (PM) software clients that it plans to migrate users to one common system, as the company is consolidating V12.NET, Australia-based YesBookit, and Escapia property management platforms and will move users to “a new, improved version of Escapia.”
Today’s release from HomeAway Software (aka Vrbo) states, “With these changes, V12.NET (V12) and YesBookit (YBI) will continue to work as they do today, but Vrbo will no longer add new features to these technologies. V12 and YBI users who transition to Escapia will benefit from new features and functionality that will result in opportunities to increase revenue and grow their business, new automation and integration capabilities, and valuable insights into market trends.”
This is not the first time HomeAway Software has shuttered a software system. Earlier this year, the company shut down PropertyPlus, another one of its enterprise-level software systems, after spending two years transitioning PropertyPlus users to V12 (although a number of V12 users moved to other software providers, including Streamline, LiveRez, and Virtual Resort Manager—all of which have recently been picked up in a private equity-funded rollup led by GSV). In addition, in May, HomeAway Software discontinued support for Escapia websites that the company had been providing for PMs.
- Vrbo’s press release about the changes (see below)
- FAQs for PMs related to the recent announcement (see below)
- Upcoming HomeAway Software Webinar Link to discuss changes, Aug. 22, 2:00 pm ET
Lisa Chen and Ryan Hutchings Offer Insight into Vrbo’s Decision
Yesterday, we talked to Lisa Chen, vice president of Vrbo’s Global Business for Integrated Property Managers, and Ryan Hutchings, general manager for HomeAway Software, to learn more about HomeAway Software’s decision regarding its property management software consolidation.
According to Lisa Chen, after speaking to approximately 2,000 vacation rental managers, she received feedback that PMs wanted to use their software to more easily manage rates, do a better job serving homeowners, and automate different areas of their businesses that are “painful for them and highly manual.”
Chen said, “We looked internally at our technology, and what we realized is that we couldn’t run as fast as could and we couldn’t be agile in the way that we were operating three software products. Now we have a vision for what we want to do and where we want to go.”
“We want to create the best software product—such that property managers never have to think about using any other software ever again,” Chen added. “Basically, we want to start using AI and machine learning to help them achieve their goals.”
Ryan Hutchings added, “We took a lot of time and [received] a lot of input from customers and research and studies and put that all together and [asked ourselves] what would be the best solution for our customers. As we look forward, we think we have the opportunity to do something big for them [PMs] and that solves a lot of their pain points. We want to be best in class, but we also want to take advantage of all the technology we have at our fingertips that we have here at Expedia Group and Vrbo, and integrate that to provide a better solution for the property manager.”
We asked Hutchings when they made the decision to stopped selling V12. He replied, “We don’t have any specific dates. I can tell you that, when we announced last year that we’re investing in software with the broader group, that all of these decisions were a series of events. As we looked at the strategy, we said we’re investing in software—and we started that last year—and our goal was how do we find the best solution and where should we put that investment. It’s been a rolling decision throughout that time of various considerations.”
We also asked how many HomeAway Software customers are currently on V12 and YBI. Hutchings said, “We can’t share exact numbers, but I can tell you that when you look at size of customers, Escapia is by far our largest solution for property managers compared to the other two. Both V12 and YBI have a customer base that’s very specific in the way that we sold it to them as far as their solution. Escapia is still the market leader as far as the volume of property managers using it.”
Impact for HomeAway Software Users and Technology Partners
V12 and YBI software users will now decide if they are going to migrate to Escapia or find another software solution.
Hutchings said, “We’ve gone to great lengths to consider the impact that this has on customers. We don’t take that lightly. We know that any transition, regardless of what system it is from or to, is impactful for PMs. We are also considering that, because of this solution that we are providing, we have other considerations and concessions we are offering for our customers; and that can range anywhere from additional support and trainings to waiving our implementation and initial setup fees so none of that will be included when they make this transition.”
However, according to Lynell Eaddy, founder and president at LSI Tools, the fees associated with implementation and setup are only part of the equation. “At LSI, we have spent the past 30 months converting PropertyPlus clients to V12 and other software choices, and we just finished our last conversion in May,” Eaddy said. “The conversion process to a new property management system is always painful and expensive for property managers. The costs associated with the staff time required to research available options, to configure their new system, and the training required for their entire staff is generally twice the cost of purchasing their new software. For those companies that switched to V12 over the past two years, they are now faced with the difficult choice of which PMS to move to and budgeting the time as well as expenses associated with a new cost center that was not projected to occur again for a decade.”
Eaddy also pointed out that PMs are not the only ones affected by HomeAway Software’s decision.
“As a vacation industry software provider, I understand why HomeAway would want to move to a single PMS platform rather than supporting multiple products and continuous development. It makes sense for them internally from a cost perspective and strategically. However, suppliers and HomeAway’s Channel Partners are particularly impacted, especially so for those companies that provide customizable solutions which take extensive time to configure and code for each client. These are costs that are not always recoverable from the client and in some cases will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars before the process is complete. The PropertyPlus demise forced many companies to reinvent themselves. They now face putting aside other strategic objectives to repeat the process yet again.”
In talking about PM concerns, Lisa Chen said, “What we are doing is ensuring that this is the last [software] transition PMs will ever have to do. That is because everybody will get the value that they need for their businesses with better features and automation that will help them be more effective at their job. Ultimately, we want to help them be successful from a top line, but we also want them to get home for dinner and not have to be thinking about what their software couldn’t do for them that day. So we are looking at this as this is the last transition that they will ever have to make.”
Hutchings added, “From our standpoint we hope that they [PMs] see that we are investing in our software division, and that represents long-term commitment. For something like this transition, we know it takes time. We also know that where we are investing—which is in the software, the technology, the support, and what’s coming—it takes a major investment and a major long term commitment to do so. We know that the customers will see that; when they see this road map and see everything we are putting into it, they will appreciate the additional support and the additional technology and the solutions that we will provide because it is important to us that they understand where we are putting our money and how we are going to invest in those areas for them.”
We asked Chen and Hutchings, “Isn’t this what PMs thought they were getting when they moved to V12 from PropertyPlus?”
Hutchings replied, “I would say absolutely. They definitely transitioned to V12 understanding that—at the time—HomeAway Software was investing in V12, and we continued to do so, just as we were investing in all our products. The difference now is we are actually saying that we are going to invest more into one solution. We still had multiple products at the time. It split resources and time and efforts internally, and that did not provide the best solution for the customer. So now we have an opportunity to do even better and that means that all the investment is going to one place instead of to multiple places—and that’s a new solution for the customer.
The primary question that V12 users have is: When do I need to transition? (More FAQs below)
HomeAway Software said: “We know this is disruptive to your business. We’ll work with you to make the transition as seamless as possible and ensure that it fits a schedule that works for your business. We’re building tools and teams to help support with making this as easy as possible. Eventually, V12/YBI will be shutting down. We anticipate this process will be complete in approximately 24 months. In the past, we told you we would try to give you 24 months notice and we want to accommodate that. Our goal is to find the soonest time that works for your business to transition so that you can take advantage of the great tools we’re building on Escapia. From now until V12 shuts down, we will continue to fix high priority defects, and all new features will be added directly to Escapia.”
Lisa Chen added, “The good news is that there aren’t a lot of people who recently switched [from PropertyPlus] to V12. Most of the people on V12, frankly, have been on it for a really long time. So when they [PMs] looked at Escapia, it probably wasn’t anywhere close to the Escapia that exists today. As we have continued to add features and functionality over time, we’ve been doing so across platforms. So one thing that is important to remember is that their perception of Escapia doesn’t necessarily match what the product actually can do.”
Ali Breaux, president at Sun Realty in the Outer Banks—and V12 user—said, “The vacation rental management software industry has evolved considerably over the past ten years. There are a lot of exciting developments in software and ancillary support tools, aimed at enhancing and streamlining operations. My team and I are excited about researching modern and robust platforms that will offer greater flexibility, power, and room to grow and evolve with our company.”
HomeAway Software FAQs About Software Changes
Q: What is happening?
A: HomeAway Software is consolidating its three property management software (PMS) products — YesBookit, V12.NET and Escapia — into one software system that will deliver faster technological innovation and twice as many customer support hours to property managers. V12.NET and YesBookit customers will be asked to transition to the new version of Escapia.
Q: What is the platform this new technology will be built on?
A: We evaluated all three of our software products to review which code base is best to build upon. And while we understand each is unique, we determined the Escapia code base to be the best to build on to quickly create the most robust technology for all of our PM Partners. While Escapia and V12 were traditionally meant for different types of PMs, as new features have been added and these products have evolved, they’ve become increasingly similar.
Q: How does this impact me?
A: V12 and YBI will continue to perform as they do today; however, all new features will be added on the Escapia platform. Your business will be asked to transition from V12/YBI to Escapia, and we’ll work with you to decide if Escapia is right for business.
Q: Why is HomeAway Software making this change?
A: Over the years, we’ve been investing in new features on V12 and Escapia. While these products were traditionally meant for different types of PMs, as new features have been added and these products have evolved, they got increasingly similar. When we took a step back, it made sense for everyone to get the benefit of being on one system. That’s why we’re consolidating our three software products. You’ll have the best of three PMS products with features that are important to you, plus more robust tools using modern technology. The benefits of all customers being on one platform are faster delivery times, more modern technology with innovative features that can help you grow your business, and even more support hours.
Q: What happens to V12/YBI?
A: Eventually, V12/YBI will be shutting down. We anticipate this process will be complete in approximately 24 months. In the past, we told you we would try to give you 24 months notice and we want to accommodate that. Our goal is to find the soonest time that works for your business to transition so that you can take advantage of the great tools we’re building on Escapia. From now until V12 shuts down, we will continue to fix high priority defects, and all new features will be added directly to Escapia.
Q: How does Escapia work? I’ve always thought V12 and Escapia were so different. Does Escapia have the features I need to run my business?
A: Escapia and V12 are both designed to support you to operate your business. As we’ve made the adjustments you’ve asked us for, these systems have become more and more similar. There are a lot of features in both systems that look a lot alike. We’ve developed some videos to show you how it works and how you can accomplish day-to-day tasks that are important to you in Escapia.
Q: What is the cost of this transition and will my fees increase?
A: Your monthly/annual fees will not increase, and you may end up paying less. For transition and implementation, remote training, regional classroom training, data migration, and support will be included at no cost.
Q: When do I need to transition?
A: We know this is disruptive to your business. We’ll work with you to make the transition as seamless as possible and ensure that it fits a schedule that works for your business. We’re building tools and teams to help support with making this as easy as possible. Eventually, V12/YBI will be shutting down. We anticipate this process will be complete in approximately 24 months. In the past, we told you we would try to give you 24 months notice and we want to accommodate that. Our goal is to find the soonest time that works for your business to transition so that you can take advantage of the great tools we’re building on Escapia. From now until V12 shuts down, we will continue to fix high priority defects, and all new features will be added directly to Escapia.
Q: How will HomeAway Software support me through the transition process?
A: We know how disruptive a transition is to your business, and we’re going to do everything we can to make it as seamless as possible. We have put a lot of thought into how to do this well, what the specific impacts are to your business, and how we mitigate those. We plan to do as much of the heavy lifting as we possibly can. We’ve built tools and teams to support you through the transition. Once you start your transition, you’ll be assigned a project manager who’ll be dedicated to making this transition seamless, including moving your data for you. We’re going to improve the transition experience greatly from where it currently exists and have the support in place to help every customer with a timely transition.
Q: Where can I go to learn more?
A: The best place to learn more and to see Escapia in action is at Rezfest, especially Escapia & V12.NET User Day on Friday, September 27. Sign up here, and be sure to select the ‘Rezfest + Escapia & V12.NET User Day (9/24-9/27)’ item at checkout.
Vrbo Press Release
HomeAway Software to consolidate property management software suite and launch new AI-rich features
Investment behind single software solution to boost efficiency for property managers and maximize their revenue
AUSTIN, Texas – JULY 31, 2019 – Vrbo®, Expedia Group’s global vacation rental business, announced today that it is making updates to its suite of software solutions, known as HomeAway Software, to deliver faster technological innovation and extended customer support hours for property managers (PMs). The changes will consolidate the YesBookit, V12.NET and Escapia property management tools to one software system, a new, improved version of Escapia, to enable faster delivery times and provide the best features most important to PMs that help them operate their businesses more efficiently and maximize revenue.
“The vacation rental industry is continuously changing and property managers from around the world have told us they need modern software tools that will help them excel in this competitive environment,” said Lisa Chen, vice president of global business for property managers at Vrbo. “Vrbo is investing behind one property management software to accelerate development and deliver an industry-leading solution leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that lets PMs grow and scale their businesses.”
With these changes, V12.NET and YesBookit will continue to work as they do today, but Vrbo will no longer add new features to these technologies. V12.NET and YesBookit users who transition to Escapia will benefit from new features and functionality that will result in opportunities to increase revenue and grow their business, new automation and integration capabilities, and valuable insights into market trends.
Vrbo will work closely with customers making the transition to minimize disruption to their business. In addition to extending support hours, Vrbo will help PMs evaluate the best time to transition and offer one-on-one business consultations, dedicated transition project managers, customer-specific transition tools and in-depth demos for the Escapia product to make the transition seamless as possible. With these software changes, property managers can:
- Optimize revenue through new insights and rate opportunity tools that leverage automation and machine learning paired with data from the property manager and the Expedia Group platform
- More effectively manage their day-to-day operations and see how their business is performing year-over-year
“The changes to our software strategy will allow property managers to spend less time juggling tasks like updating rates, managing reservations and everything in between, and more time keeping owners happy and delighting guests who stay in their properties,” said Ryan Hutchings, general manager of HomeAway Software at Vrbo. “Escapia’s new AI-driven features will save property managers time and surface valuable insights that will help them set optimal rates.”
Vrbo will reveal the vision for Escapia and its new features at Rezfest 2019, Vrbo’s annual conference for property managers that will take place Sept. 24-27 in Las Vegas. Learn more about the changes to HomeAway Software here.
In 1995, Vrbo introduced a new way for people to travel together, pairing homeowners with families and friends looking for places to stay. We were grounded in one purpose: To give people the space they need to drop the distractions of everyday life and simply be together. Since then, we’ve grown into a global community of homeowners and travelers, with unique properties in 190 countries around the world. Vrbo makes it easy and fun to book cabins, condos, beach houses and every kind of space in between.
Vrbo is part of Expedia Group and offers homeowners and property managers exposure to over 750 million visits to Expedia Group sites each month. To learn more, visit www.vrbo.com.