The move comes just weeks after HomeAway received a record breaking $250 million funding round in the US – one of the biggest investments in an online travel company of the past few years and the largest a “vacation home” aggregator has ever received.
The new website is the result of a major initiative by HomeAway in recent months to build a platform and user interface which could be rolled out across its sites around the world.
Co-founder and chief executive Brian Sharples told Travolution this week that the online travel sector has “finally noticed” the holiday home phenomenon, triggering a string of start-ups entering the market in the US and Europe.
A recent PhoCusWright report said the holiday home market is worth around $24 billion a year in the US. HomeAway currently accounts for around 50% of all holiday rental online traffic in North America.
Sharples said estimates for the UK and mainland Europe were around $25 billion a year.
“We have been a huge sleeper industry for many years but people are making a big commitment to the sector now,” he added.
HomeAway has traditionally been a subscription-based system for home owners but the launch of VacationRoost in the US has prompted the company to consider an online travel agency-type model.
Sharples said a hybrid system, where some owners continue to deal directly with the customer and others use a booking platform on the site, could be introduced in the future.
He added that the recent funding round could be used for further mergers and acquisitions.