We've been advertising with HomeAway for some years now, since its earlier guise as Holiday Rentals. The site has never delivered the bulk of our business, but has always done just enough to justify the expense and the time to maintain the adverts.
However, over the last couple of years, the level of enquiries has dropped and the price has increased quite considerably. Visibility on the site increasingly seems to depend on paying considerably more for a "premium" listing. HomeAway seem to be increasingly keen on moving to a commission based model in which they collect money from holiday makers and delay passing it on to the property owners until the traveller actually arrives at the holiday property, something that will do wonders for their cashflow but nothing at all for ours. This, they claim, will improve security for the holiday maker, though it is hard to see how, since the rental contract will remain between the owner and the traveller and the level of recourse to HA by either seems a bit hazy, to me at least.
Of the enquiries we do get, an increasing number are fake, mostly concerned, at the moment, with gathering email addresses from property owners for follow-up phishing attempts to conduct an identity theft. These run along the lines of " I just tried to pay for my sister's holiday, but I couldn't, so could you send your bank details again. Oh, and a scanned copy of your passport, because my bank need proof of identity." Obvious, but irritating.
The site is not particularly easy to use, either as an owner or as a traveller. I tend to find my own holiday rentals on other, less confusing, sites - just because an owner has paid to have a premium listing doesn't make their property the most suitable for my wants, and I like to have a direct contact with the owner, so, personally, I will not be handing over my cash to a third party for "safekeeping."
Overall, HomeAway might do well to remember two things:
Firstly, they are the broker in a deal between a traveller and an owner and a successful broker works hard to keep both principals in the deal happy. They should forget about imposing conditions themselves, and;
Second, the internet is a big place. They are not the only show in town, even if they are the biggest at the moment.