HomeAway links up with Rakuten

Expedia Inc’s HomeAway has signed a partnership with ecommerce giant Rakuten as the home rentals sector in Japan bursts into life.

HomeAway will start selling inventory from “Rakuten Lifull Stay”, a partnership between Rakuten and housing and real estate information service Lifull which was only announced a few weeks ago.

The scale and ambition of Rakuten Lifull Stay is outlined in its announcement. Rakuten has more than 90 million members in Japan while Lifull lists some with 8 million properties and has a network of more than 22,000 affiliated real estate stores.

While a lot of Lifull’s business is renting homes and flats to “locals” rather than inbound or domestic tourists, the potential of vacation rental in Japan is significant, driven by a government which has identified tourism as a growth area. It wants 40 million visitors per year by 2020, 60 million per year by 2030. In 2016 the number was 24 million.

But at the same time there is a shortage of accommodation in Japan, prompting the government to pass The Private Lodging Business Law, essentially legalising home rentals. It is this law and the positive regulatory environment it creates that it driving the current activity in Japan.

Rakuten Lifull is offering people who want to rent out their homes through its own platform – and now via HomeAway – a number of support services. The  “operational burden [for hosts] will also be reduced through the development of outsourcing options with external partners,” it said.

HomeAway has previously said that Japan is one of its biggest markets in Asia. The tie-up with Rakuten Lifull gives it access to more inventory in Japan and comes a few weeks after it started working with the destination marketing organisation for the region of Setouchi, listing historic properties in the area.

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