Tripadvisor is actively seeking to sell its collection of five vacation rental brands, Skift has learned. The move comes as it focuses more on its experiences, restaurants, hotels and media companies. Rentals represent a fraction of a digit of Tripadvisor’s total revenue.
Tripadvisor hired bankers, was spreading a prospect and making calls with potential buyers about a month ago, according to several sources.
If Tripadvisor manages to find a buyer, the deal could include the U.S. brands of Tripadvisor FlipKey and VacationHomeRentals, Holiday Lettings and Housetrip in the UK, as well as Spain.
Potential buyers could include Expedia, Booking, Airbnb, Oyo and Vacasa, as well as local actors perhaps in the UK and Spain, for example. Perhaps even a private equity buyer might be able to come in and try to sell pieces, or take the course.
The Tripadvisor brand itself in holiday homes would not have been sold completely, but the application could have been authorized, according to a source. For example, Tripadvisor Rentals may generate demand, but the vacation home can be booked on FlipKey with a new property.
A Tripadvisor spokesman declined to comment on this story.
It makes sense that Tripadvisor would like to keep a holiday product in some form, giving up operating costs. Tripadvisor has yet to offer users rental options if it wants to remain true to its vision of providing end-to-end solutions to facilitate the so-called “perfect trip”.
Tripadvisor rental offers are primarily obtained from individual owners, not property managers, who list their properties for free and pay a commission. This could be interesting for some buyers because this type of rental is laborious to sign up for.
Tripadvisor has been building vacation rental brands since 2008, when it invested in Flipkey, and a few years later took over majority control. Tripadvisor acquired the UK Holiday Lettings in 2010, purchased Spanish wallpaper in 2013, participated in VacationHomeRentals in 2014 and added Housetrip in 2016. Tripadvisor also shows the advertisements obtained in an agreement with Vrbo.
But if Tripadvisor was still in rental acquisition mode in 2016, in recent years it has downgraded its efforts in the sector since its offers have failed to catch on and competition from the likes of Airbnb, Booking, Vrbo and local actors turned on.
In fact, unlike its two reportable segments, Hotel, Media and platform, and Experiences and catering, Tripadvisor groups its rental activities into a category called Other, which includes Rentals, Flights / Cruises / Cars, SmarterTravel and Tripadvisor China.
In 2019, the “other revenue” reported, of which rentals were a component, amounted to $ 165 million, which is only 11% of Tripadvisor’s total revenue.
A couple of vacation rental industry sources we contacted expressed skepticism about the value of Tripadvisor’s rental brands, which are viewed as poor in comparison to many competitors.
“It would be a very difficult set of businesses to sell,” said one source.
Another caveat is that it is not known how the coronavirus pandemic influenced Tripadvsor’s sales efforts for its rental business.
Photo credit: This Sun Valley, Idaho vacation rental was advertised on FlipKey. This is one of the vacation rental brands that Tripadvisor is trying to sell. Flipkey