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We have seen a few threads, where owners are asking questions about the newly-launched traveler account feature as it specifically relates to reviews.

 

We launched Traveler Account to improve their experience on HomeAway.com- and ultimately give them the tools they need to best track, share and review properties.  Travelers are now required to create an account (including a password) to:

 

  • Save favorite properties
  • Write notes
  • Create lists for trips they are planning
  • Share favorite vacation rental properties with friends and family
  • Keep track of properties viewed and inquiries made
  • Write reviews

 

The reviews portion seems to be a sticking point for some of the owners. While we are now asking for travelers to login to submit the review upfront, it is no different really, than the previous review process in which travelers were required to submit an email address, name on rental contract, and location to submit a review.  In fact, it streamlines the process for travelers to write reviews.  Travelers are asked to set up an account once and then moving forward, they may simply login the next time to leave a review. While we are now asking for a password to finish the review, we have reduced the overall friction to submit a review by removing a number of fields such as nickname and city.

 

We heard from some owners that they felt the new process would discourage their travelers from leaving a review.  This is an unfounded assertion. In fact, we have compared the number of daily reviews received prior to implementing the Traveler Account, and the total number has held steady.  We will continue to actively monitor the impact this change has on review submissions. 

 

Best,

Emily Thawley (Product Marketing Manager for HomeAway)

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We are pleased to announce the addition of a new social publishing tool on the owner dashboard for HomeAway.com™ and VRBO.com, which makes it easier than ever to share an update about your rental and create an enticing slideshow of your vacation rental on your Facebook® Profile or Fan Page. Those who click on your wall post and slideshow are directed back to your listing and can find more information about your rental.

 

Additionally, we also integrated the option to Like a property on Facebook or share the property on Google+ via the +1 button for HomeAway.com and VRBO.com. We encourage owners to ask their friends, family and past guests to share their property with their social network by utilizing these buttons. By increasing the number of social shares that occur on their properties, owners are providing themselves additional opportunities to increase inquiries through the expanded reach provided through their social circles. 

 

Below are some things to consider as you begin testing this new social tool, and I highly encourage you to read Jennifer Stafford’s blog post on Social Media Marketing (part 3) for additional tips.

 

Social Publishing

 

Facebook recently reported that it now has over 750 million accounts around the globe, and nearly 3/4 of users visit their accounts daily, even while traveling.   Travel is one of the topics people comment about most often, especially when searching for where to go, and when sharing details and photos during and just after their trip. 

 

Our new publishing tool is an ideal way to make your rental part of the conversation.   A simple piece of news is all you need. Here are some examples to think about:

•    a new restaurant has opened nearby, and it’s really good

•    one of your guests had a unique wildlife sighting

•    a local festival is coming up soon

•    you just finished re-staining the deck and are enjoying a cool drink in the shade

•    all the wildflowers are currently in bloom

•    recent thunder showers have made the mountain view crystal clear

 

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something that might make someone else think how nice it would be if they were there right now.

 

“Marketing” to Friends

 

One of the best reasons to use this new tool is the ability to keep the people you know casually aware you have a rental available.  Sharing your own – or your guests – enjoyment helps keep your place in mind in a way that’s not pushy or salesy.  Even better, when someone in Facebook piles on with a comment, your original post becomes even more interesting and gets shared on their wall for all their friends to see as well.

 

If you want to use Facebook, but want to present more of a business identity as a property owner or manager, you can use the tool to publish to a Facebook Page instead.  This way messages that are posted will be shown only to “fans” of the page – those who clicked the like button on the page – and not all of your friends.  This is a good way to engage with past (and future) guests without having to make everyone Facebook friends. 

 

And the good news is, with our social publishing tool, you can share updates with both audiences if you choose.  Just write one post for friends, then switch your target page, and write another one for fans.  It’s easy.

 

How to get started

 

Visit your dashboard and look for the tab labeled “Get more referrals: Publish a slideshow to Facebook.”  There you’ll see a view that looks something like this:

Screen shot 2011-07-26 at 4.32.20 PM.png

All you have to do is add your comment, then click “Post Slideshow.”  If this is the first time you’ve used the tool, you’ll be asked to connect and grant permission to connect to your Facebook account.  You’ll also be able to choose whether you want to publish to your friends via your Facebook profile page, or fans via a Facebook Page.

 

As soon as you do that, your post will be live in Facebook, and anyone that clicks the play button will see your post expand to an attractive and automatic slideshow, featuring all your property photos that look something like this:

 

Screen shot 2011-07-26 at 4.34.03 PM.png

 

Clicking the photos or on the links in the post brings a reader directly to your listing’s property page.  Each post you make is also captured on the dashboard where you can keep track of what you said before, when you said it, and see which of your posts drove the most visits.

 

Try it today!

 

Screen shot 2011-07-26 at 4.34.18 PM.png