HomeAway: Alumni-to-Alumni Home Rentals?

In light of the fact that the month of August is the last chance many people in higher education will have to take an extended vacation, I’ve decided to profile a neat application that is not *exactly* alumni-related.

HomeAway is an Austin-based vacation rental home company that created quite a splash with this funny Clark Griswold-themed Super Bowl Ad this February.  My favorite line from the ad: “it’s complementary, with an “e” – the water complements the room…it’s not free”.  HomeAway’s success has come from the strong network of home owners who have opted in to the network in search of alternatives to hotels.

This post by Lora Kolodny at TechCrunch gives a nice overview of HomeAway’s recent foray into the mobile application space.  What I found most interesting about the article was the admission by HomeAway’s CEO that he had been skeptical of the relevance of mobile technology to his business:

“HomeAway chief executive and co-founder Brian Sharples remarked that until recently, he was skeptical that mobile could appeal as a medium to travelers using HomeAway’s image-rich travel sites:

“Accessing web from mobile devices, you can’t ignore it now. We had mobile optimized some sites before. But it was only when the iPad came out that I started to get the religion,’ he said.”

It will be interesting to see how this works for HomeAway.  In the meantime, I think there could be a neat twist on this for alumni associations.  I might not feel comfortable letting just anyone use my home, but I would be feel more comfortable renting to people within my alumni communities.  What do you think?  Have any schools every tried something like this, beyond standard alumni magazine classifieds?

In the meantime, check out the video below for a nice demo of the HomeAway iPhone app.



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