Fairfax Expands Holiday Presence

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Last week Fairfax Media owner of Australia’s number 2 real estate portal Domain.com.au and number 1 holiday rentals website Stayz.com.au purchased Occupancy Pty Ltd for $29 million. Occupancy Pty Ltd operates rentahome.com.au and takeabreak.com.au who make money mainly through the booking fees paid by┬áholidaymakers when they book accommodation online.

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood said Occupancy was growing strongly and had huge market potential. ”Occupancy also provides a perfect fit with our stated strategy of expanding in the online transactions sector, where we are committed to further strengthening our position”.

It will be interesting to see whether Fairfax integrates the two new sites with their Stayzs platform. As one of the biggest issues in the holiday accommodation space is making sure calendars sync across all online platforms for a property.

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  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted March 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm 0Likes

    My bet is they will leave them seperate brands but syncronise the bookings.

    Leisure is a growing market and it’s huge, there are, I believe, 600 tour boat operators n Qld alone, that’s one category one state.

    This is of course beyond just accommodation but if all leisure activities incuding accommodation were on the one site it could be bigger than any real estate site out there at present, as a business model.

  • Ryan O'Grady
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 8:06 am 0Likes

    If they can synchronise the bookings/calendars then that is good but what would be great (for short term property managers and landlords) is if the portals can speak to their trust accounts. This will streamline the booking process reducing headache and admin for managers.

  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 8:54 am 0Likes

    I agree Ryan, that would be fantastic.

    http://www.realholidays.com.au does not let you book online, the search is poorly exucuted and the properties do not come up in the correct price range dependant on whether it is low, shoulder or high season.
    The project was not completed in its entirety as these things were speced out in the original plan, hence it is no more than a directory of agents holiday rentals.

    The Farifax sites are able to do these things and are much more user friendly.

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 9:46 am 0Likes

    “hence it is no more than a directory of agents holiday rentals”

    I don’t see a problem with that, it’s the same as a property for sale isn’t it ?

    People either book online on the portal or contact the agent or property owner direct, many would prefer to deal direct for holiday rentals in any case. Then they know exactly what they’re getting rather than risk duplication if the listing is on another site and is booked through there as well.

  • Vic
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 10:37 am 0Likes


    Do you know what realholidays charge their agents for listings? Is it on a per property, monthly or yearly subscription or leads basis.

    I would suspect it is on a monthly subscription.

    Having been involved in the accommodation and tourism industry for a while the system of % payments and monthly settlements is out of proportion to the value given by these accommodation sites. And can only be worthwhile if the system does most of the selling and accounting.

    Say for example a house for $250pw was let everyday for 12 months, the site would get around $8000 commission. If the owner had 10 such homes, the price would be $80,000.

    On the other hand an advertising site may charge a monthly fee/annual fee which is a fraction of this cost.

  • Phil McGuinness
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 11:05 am 0Likes


    100% synchronisation 2 ways from Trust to web and web to Trust is just about to be released. The Rentalz/Securebookit system works a treat. Provides XML Feed for data, calendar, pricing has been working for about 10months with full availability to Rentahome. It haspricing, offers and feedback to agent without having to retype any information once a booking is secured. This is pricing Credit Card or Direct Debit information all encrypted and automated. A full press release in next few weeks.


  • Tatiana Mijalica
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 11:29 am 0Likes

    Holiday rentals should be dynamic and in real time as most travel/accomodation booking services now. If a property is on more sites, the booking system should be same so there is no double up.

    We book a house every summer and don’t use realholidays anymore.

    By the time you get onto the agent, they email you a list of current rentals, the weekly booking rate is never what it appears on realholidays.com.au as you are looking at high season and the advertised price only allows one season, you have to go back to the website to check which property it is, in most cases it doesn’t show up on the map, fill in a booking form, send it off, the property may have been leased, get back onto the agent for a new list of updated rentals…

    The process is a drainer, it is not user friendly at all.

    I don’t want a week turnaround, emails, phone calls, filling in forms. I just want to book accomodation then and there, when I have time to look for it and get it off my To Do list.

    Vic, not sure – last I knew of it, it was an additional sub cost on top of the normal residential subscription.

  • Vic
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 11:39 am 0Likes

    Thanks Tatiana,

    You make good points. I’m the same. I always use expedia or the likes. Or sites that can take me straight to the reception desk.

    However, there still is a need for and advertising site like Glenns.

  • Daniel O'Meara
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 11:48 am 0Likes

    Vic – realholidays charge a monthly subscription fee on an annual contract, same as with residential and commercial. When they brought in the fee, virtually all agents cleared out and theres’s been no development work on the site for several years.

    Stayz now works in with YesBookit allowing calendars and payments to transfer over to the trust account but the fee structure is horrendous plus YesBookit are going to be taking a % as well. I imagine that this arrangement will keep Phill out of the loop and mean that you’ve probably missed the boat.

    rentahome and takeabreak are both pretty ordinary sites offering holiday letting agents nothing tangible but they added a % onto each booking. The fact that fairfax would pay $29 million for such an ordinary set up blows me away. The reps from rentahome could never actually tell me how they’d ‘add’ business to us except that they had ‘massive search volume’ which they wouldn’t substantiate.

    So far, every site has wanted to hit the agent and the owner in the guts with fees without actually offering anything useful. The source of over 80% of our bookings is Google and I don’t see that this will change in the forseeable future. None of the portals seem to have any staff who have worked with holiday rentals so they don’t really seem to know what on earth they are doing and they rarely actually talk to the agents; when they do, they don’t change anything anyway!

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm 0Likes

    Yes Vic, mine’s just a portal at this stage with a very long way to go, still feeling my way through it, there might be a need to have agents on board as well as some have hundreds of listings same as sales agents, this requires a similar backend as a real estate portal but I’m not going down that track yet.
    I don’t really want a pay by booking model but I have the facility to switch over to that very easily if I change my mind.
    If it’s possible I’d like to keep it simple.

    Daniel – “The fact that fairfax would pay $29 million for such an ordinary set up blows me away”

    Fairfax only pay on income and need for the site, it’s a simple equation.

  • Phil McGuinness
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm 0Likes

    Out of the loop… mmm. Daniel we have worked with holiday trust accounting and rentals for 30+ years. I think Rentahome and Takeabreak are great sites and business models. You seem to be out of phase with reality. Fairfax paid $29m because they can see where the return will be. They can see a better technology. Our fee structure to the agent is almost nothing compared to other alternatives. Yes agents are paying way to much. A lot of agents should move on with their feet. In fact our standard trust accounting license and 1 small monthly additional fee for ‘SecureBookit’ covers it all. We have not missed the boat at all in fact our holiday trust accounting business goes from strength to strength.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm 0Likes

    BookingEzy.com.au is the best and less costly option we have found.
    They use an amazingly easy set-up and it means listings on Realholidays can be managed from the agency like this: Click on Check availabilityin the Realholidays listing.

    [Groups like YesBookit and Fairfax etc are having a lend if they think agents are going to keep paying a % of a letting fee in 2011 when this is now available!]

  • forsaleforlease
    Posted March 15, 2011 at 9:18 pm 0Likes

    I run a small holiday accommodation business which I am looking to build. http://www.dinnerplainholidays.com.au
    What do the experts in this space recommend to make this happen?
    What sites produce enquiries?
    The accommodation I own and manage is very seasonal and my vendors and I am willing to offer generous commission outside the winter months for bookings.
    One of my biggest problems is the cost of bookkeeping and accounting costs without a good booking program that is linked with accounting software.
    What are the pros and cons of the different site feeders?

  • Sal Espro
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 8:58 am 0Likes

    Just from my experience, linking to book-keeping and accounting software could be useful if you have several properties, but I would suggest it is not necessary for one or a few properties. Even agencies with quite a few listings don’t like paying the extra cost that comes with such integration.
    Just an opinion….

  • Frequent Traveller
    Posted March 18, 2011 at 6:12 am 0Likes

    I recently travelled to Mauritius and came across ‘Locazion’. Brilliant site packed with all the information I needed for my stay. They’ve recently launched their holiday website in Australia (www.locazion.com.au) and it’s fantastic! They do not charge the advertiser any commission which can result in substantial savings for both the advertiser and traveller. I personally prefer to communicate directly with the owner for peace of mind and for negotiating the best price!

  • Kevin Johnson-Bade
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm 0Likes

    YesBookit are not charging a % commission for bookings coming from Stayz.

    YesBookit’s users already have the option to feed to and synchronise properties, availability and tariff data across Stayz, RentaHome and TakeaBreak. Bookings enter the agent’s YesBookit system directly with payment going into the agent’s own trust account, and YesBookit enters the bookings into the trust/property management system automatically.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted March 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm 0Likes

    But I presume Stayz et al still charge the commish tho’, Kev? ­čÖé

  • Don Peterson
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm 0Likes

    We run 100 holiday properties with online booking, no longer on realholidays or realestae.com.au and are reviewing the whole stayz situation and the end of the day there is only so much money to go round. It’s time to look at the alternatives.

  • Vic
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 7:15 pm 0Likes


    Would love to talk to you about an alternative. I think we have a good fit. If you have time give me a buzz on 0413040892 to explore some options.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 10:26 am 0Likes

    Hi Vic and Glenn, what are your sites please?

  • Vic
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm 0Likes


    http://www.watersidepropertysales.com.au – or just click on my name above

  • Glenn Rogers
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm 0Likes

    http://www.weekend.com.au or just click on my name ­čÖé

  • Glenn Smith
    Posted April 16, 2011 at 11:55 am 0Likes

    As an interested party I went to the Stayz / Occupancy research focus groups at Fairfax Media the other night, really it was a market research evening poorly run with little of no direction, terribly unsure on what they were trying to achieve or understand.

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