Short Term Rentals Just Got Real

A recent San Francisco law scheduled to go into effect August 1st 2016 requires Airbnb to verify that its hosts have registered with the city before Airbnb is allowed to show ads for their homes online. Airbnb is now suing the city of San Francisco to try and stop this law from going into effect.

Airbnb and tech groups argue the new law violates the Communications Decency Act.

“This legislation ignores the reality that the system is not working and this new approach will harm thousands of everyday San Francisco residents who depend on Airbnb. It also violates federal law,” Airbnb said in a blog post announcing the suit. “This is an unprecedented step for Airbnb, and one we do not take lightly, but we believe it’s the best way to protect our community of hosts and guests.”

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Full story at Techcrunch.

Did Airbnb Plagiarize?

Shortly before the 2008 presidential election, Airbnb had a brilliant marketing campaign, pitting ficticious breakfast cereal “Obama O’s” against “Capt’n Mcains”, which they then turned into real cereals, at least for a limited time.

It seemed they lost the plot and gone completely sideways… breakfast cereals? Really?

But it was a phenomenally successful campaign, and we believe, it gave a great boost to their business in the early years and put them on the map.

However, while we may be 8 years late in reporting this… the jingle used for the Obama O’s cereal sure sounds awfully familiar, a bit too familiar.

Vacation Rental Founder’s Net Worth

Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb is valued to be worth $3,300,000,000 according to Wikipedia. Joe Gebbia, the other co-founder is estimated to be worth $1,900,000,000. Airbnb was founded in late 2007.

Brian H. Sharples, founder of HomeAway and VRBO doesn’t have a billion dollar net worth, its more in the $30,000,000 range, but he does pull down a cool $6,000,000 a year in salary and bonus’s by some estimates, HomeAway.com was founded in February 2005.

Jeffrey Hock, CEO of Free-Rentals.com, the leading free vacation rental platform founded in 2004, congratulates the late-coming vacation rental platform founders for their success.

That said, since Free-Rentals is not a publically traded company, Mr. Jeffrey Hock is under no obligation to disclose his net worth.

Yet, one brave investigative journalist managed to obtain a photograph Mr. Hock’s walk-in-closet while lost in the South wing of his mansion looking for a bathroom. This picture is the only known indication of the Free-Rentals founders net worth. Godspeed Mr. Hock.

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Link To Your Personal Vacation Rental Website

Free-Rentals.com is against the notion of walled gardens, keeping vacation rental listings locked up in a dungeon and tightly holding the keys to exploit the resulting bottleneck that exists between rental owners seeking guests and guests seeking rental units.

Free-Rentals.com is a site built and managed by vacation rental owners for vacation rental owners. We believe in the sharing economy, we believe in providing value to both vacation rental owners as well as guests seeking a holiday rental, rather than exploiting both parties.

Therefore, all listings on free-rentals.com will be able to post a link to their own personal website that showcases their vacation rental unit or complex. We not only help market and promote your vacation rental, but also your website.

Free doesn’t just mean no money involved, it also means…. Free.

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Post a Video Of Your Vacation Rental

Free-Rentals.com is pleased to announce we have added the ability for vacation rental owners to post videos of their holiday rental into their listing page at free-rentals. All for free of course. Here is a sample of a video from one of our happy members based in Siesta Key Florida, their private website is http://www.siestakeybeachrentals.com/.

Video and Link to website posted with permission of owner.

HomeAway VRBO Alternative?

HomeAway owned VRBO has hit an all time low in customer satisfaction. Consumer Affairs website has given VRBO a 1 star rating, which is the lowest they can go. Customers are certainly not happy, and it shows if you read through the 850 or so reviews. Sitejabber users posted 450 reviews gives both HomeAway and VRBO just 1.5 stars.

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Here is a sample of some of the reviews…

This reminds me of the time Netflix tried to raise their prices for mail-in and streaming subscribers. I completely agree with everyone else’s comments on this site… Really, It’s just a terrible business decision from VRBO.

Just awful and THEY PUT YOU AT THE BACK OF THE SEARCH LIST IF YOU DO NOT GO WITH THEIR PLANS, and now that I have signed up, I have not gotten one inquiry and it is over a month. I paid in excess of $2000 for my two homes for 2016 and feel I have just been **.

I join the masses of owners who have expressed their concerns over changes in Homeaway/VRBO. I am happy to see I am not the only one that is saying “What the hell is going on”. I have been happy for 6 years and now went from happy to zero with them. Just got off the phone with them, so far EVERYTHING they told me is not true.

The February 2016 traveler fee is a disingenuous move on the part of HomeAway thus making potential clients suspicious of property owners, creating a loss of business for property owners because it increases the rate by a significant percentage.

Clearly, sentiment has turned sharply negative in the past 6 months, and it will be interesting to see if HomeAway / VRBO can pull out of their nosedive and regain the trust of their core customers.

For those seeking an alternative to VRBO, check out www.free-rentals.com. Free-Rentals.com is 100% FREE! No yearly fees, No commissions, No hidden costs.

Airbnb Revenues Exceed All Major Hotels

Now that Airbnb raised $100 million in new funding, and its valuation at twenty five and a half billion dollars, Marriott International has countered by purchasing Starwood Hotels for $12.2 Billon USD. The Priceline Group made its move by claiming to have listed 21 million rooms for rent.

According to Skift:

“Airbnb’s reported third quarter room nights sold (23.8 million), gross bookings ($2.2 billion), market cap ($25.5 billion) and revenue ($340 million) with major online travel agencies as well as TripAdvisor and HomeAway.

Airbnb’s $340 million in third quarter revenue has left HomeAway, which is being acquired by Expedia Inc. for $3.9 billion, far behind at $130.7 million in revenue. As with comparing Airbnb to hotel chains, gauging Airbnb (largely urban rentals of primary residences) against HomeAway (mostly vacation home rentals in resort areas) is choppy, at best.

Still, despite its projected 2015 operating losses, Airbnb’s revenue picture and traction is clearly on the upswing.”

Company Valuation/Market Cap Q3 Revenue
Marriott International $18.59B $3.6B
Hilton Worldwide $23.2B $2.9B
Accor Hotels $10.2B $1.58B
Wyndham $8.9B $1.56B
Starwood Hotels $12.4B $1.4B
Hyatt Hotels $6.9B $1.B
Airbnb $25.5B $340M
Choice Hotels $2.9B $241.5M

Source: Wall Street Journal, public documents

Vacation Rental Top Photos Contest Ends Soon

With over 6500 vacation rental listing entries, Free-Rentals is gathering a lot of great rental property images, so we decided to extend the deadline of our Top 20 Rentals competition by 30 more days. The selected 20 most stunning rentals will be featured for free on the Free-Rentals.com homepage from September until the end of December 2015.

So please get in your listing now to eligible for a spot on our homepage. Sign up 100% free today. Deadline for this contest is now set at September 1st, 2015.

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Pictured above is a really nice Panama City Beach Vacation Rental unit submitted by David. This image is in strong contention for our “Top 20 for 2015” contest. But we will wait until all entries have been received before making a final decision.

Thanks and good luck!

Value of .01% Stake in Airbnb?

MoneySo, just thinking out loud here, what is the value of a .01% stake in Airbnb? What a great question to ponder, let’s do the math.

According to the Wall Street Journal and CNN, Airbnb currently today July 11, 2015, has a valuation of $25 Billion USD.

So let me get out my calculator while I calculate .01% stake of $25 Billion dollars, wait, that won’t work, my calculator won’t fit in that many zeros.

Computer calculator puts it as follows: $25,000,000,000 X .0001 = $2,500,000.

A cool $2.5 Million USD. That would be nice eh?

While Free-Rentals is hardly Airbnb (yet), we were in this holiday rental industry years before they arrived to the scene. We are now seeking founding partners to help us gain a half million rental unit listing momentum, and we are giving out 0.01% blocks of stock equity in Free-Rentals to our members who help us make that happen.