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HomeAway Software Blog

Bill Furlong's New Year Letter

Tags: 2015, New Year, Product Improvements, 2014, UserVoice, Glad to Have You, V12.NET, Escapia, server-based

As we enter 2015, we at HomeAway Software are excited to dive into a new year of helping you increase your bookings and operate your business more efficiently.

By all accounts, 2014 was a successful year for our customers. A large majority of the vacation rental managers we spoke with during the many events in the last several months of the year (RezFest, the VRMA conference, our breakfast seminars, etc.) reported that their business strengthened in 2014.

In 2014, we focused on numerous ways to deliver on the following three pillars of our commitment to provide as much value to vacation rental managers as possible:

  • The best software products to improve your efficiency and increase your bookings.
  • The best connectivity to third-party business partners, so your software serves as a springboard for you to build a stronger business.
  • The best support in the business, so you can get the most value out of our products.

In 2014, our product offerings were dramatically strengthened by the addition of Glad To Have You to the HomeAway family. In past customer advisory board meetings, many members asked us to focus on offering tools that help you delight your guests and owners, in addition to tools that help you and your staff operate efficiently. The acquisition of Glad To Have You helps us deliver on that goal by letting you connect with customers on mobile devices, the use of which continues to grow at blazing speeds.

2014 was packed with over a thousand enhancements to our products as a whole, including the following:

  • Enabled Escapia use with browsers other than Internet Explorer, which allows customers to use Escapia on Apple Mac computers and also to accomplish select tasks on an iPad.
  • Released the state-of-the-art reservation grid for V12.NET customers.
  • Expanded our new lead management system to include both V12.NET and Escapia customers.
  • Introduced the mobile housekeeping and maintenance app for Escapia.
  • Completed a major initiative to upgrade all customers (on web-based and server-based products) to PCI-compliant versions to provide enhanced credit card processing security.
  • Released packages on V12.NET and extras on Escapia.
  • Launched beta programs for our business dashboard, a new API with support for booking extras and packages, and electronic signature modules.

In 2014, we also did a number of things to help you connect in more ways with more business partners. The biggest initiative was the launch of our distribution partnership with Expedia. We also added a number of other new partners to our ISILink and EscapiaNET distribution programs. Our focus on packages for V12.NET included support for adding packages through an interface on booking engines offered by web development partners. And we added a number of features to make it easy for you to have the best possible content on HomeAway listings.

Much of the work of the Customer Support team is centered on consistently providing the help and answers you need to get the most value out of our products. We measure our support team’s success primarily by the speed at which we resolve support cases and the feedback from customers like you once a case is closed. We were gratified that both measures ended the year equal to or better than they were at the start of the year – always a challenge in years when we introduced as many new things as we did in 2014.

Our biggest innovation in support has been to consolidate, update, and modernize our documentation and self-help information. We created new Support Homes – one-stop shops for you to find all the self-help articles, videos, and documents available for your software products. The advantages this brings to you are extensive, as the information is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For simple questions, a quick Support Home search can yield your answer much faster than calling or emailing customer support. We are adding new self-help content at an accelerated rate, but what is already available is proving to be very helpful for the clients who are using it. We’ve been seeing 3,000 to 5,000 articles viewed each month. For many of our products, there are almost as many views of self-help articles in a month as there are support cases.

Finally, while it is most important that we helped you build a more successful business in 2014, I’m happy to report that our business was strong in 2014 as well. We are proud that more new customers than ever chose to use our software solutions. Additionally, more of our customers than ever chose to upgrade from one of our older, server-based software products to V12.NET or Escapia. A report released by VRMIntel on the software used by VRMA members is encouraging news that our software solutions are the fastest growing products in the business. That success allows us to reinvest even more in our products, support, and connectivity so we can do even more to help you build stronger businesses in the year ahead.

As for the year ahead, we have a full slate of initiatives planned to help make 2015 an even better year for our customers. Those priorities include improving the breadth of our training resources, a full general release of the electronic document signing solution and the business dashboard that we previewed at RezFest for V12.NET and Escapia, a new mobile experience for guests using your Glad to Have You mobile hospitality app, improvements to housekeeping in Escapia and V12.NET, more ways to automate your payments processes, improvements to correspondence in V12.NET, new APIs to power additional features on custom websites, and integration with more online distribution partners. Keep in mind that timelines and priorities are always subject to change. If your top priority isn’t on the list above, rest assured that in a typical year we make as many as a thousand improvements to our products and I expect 2015 will be no exception.

By the way, if you are interested in getting your wish list on our to do list, the best way to do that is using something new that we introduced in 2014 for V12.NET and Escapia. When you enter your idea in our new feedback web tool (powered by UserVoice), you can either add your idea to the overall list or vote for a similar idea if someone else has already made the same request. Doing that helps us make sure we prioritize the enhancements that will have the biggest positive impact on our customers’ businesses and it also makes it possible for us to ensure you are notified when your request is released in the software.

We enter 2015 with a renewed commitment to provide the best products and services that we can for our customers, with gratitude for getting to work with a wonderful team and customers, and with pride in serving an industry that provides unforgettable vacation experiences for travelers and terrific service for vacation home owners.

Here’s to a fabulous New Year!

Bill Furlong

Vice President and General Manager, HomeAway, Inc.

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