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I was actually referring to myself as a chronic complainer. Totally frustrated and realized that no matter what we say these bandits will not listen so why bother. Someone said the other day that they really do not care if we renew the listing or not. It is all about catching a fish.... if a fish gets tossed back they have all the bait to hook another fish.
I, too, have been wondering why my inquiries were not making much headway. I sent VRBO the following letter. Read it and see if this a big enough issue to the rest of the community. Letter: when I signed up on vrbo and homeaway, I did not know that I was not getting exclusivity when someone was interested in my property. If I have gone to all the trouble of putting all the information in the ad: pictures, reviews, etc ; then why is it that when someone clicks on my property, you automatically show them 5 more options that are my competitors. I paid for exclusivity. You did not tell me when I signed up that I would not have ad exclusivity. This is good reason for a class action lawsuit. Fine print, being what it is, does not exclude you from being up-front with your promises to help me sell my property. The byword is MY PROPERTY. If other people are interested in other people's properties, then let them click on their posting. I plan on finding a lawyer and I plan on persuing this. If you are willing to change your practice, please let me know as soon as possible.
Tupelo 77 you've got my vote. I am extremely angry right now. Yes, I didn't sign up MY Property with VRBO or Homeaway to have you advertise someone elses property. I want to know how long they have been doing this. I am not sure then why I am advertising on either site if they are just going to offer someone elses property. Fighting back on this one is mandatory. Kristin
Don't mean to rain on your parade, but after reviewing a number of the recent disturbing comments on several of these forum sites, I inquired about and a fellow owner posted how to look at the agreement we entered into when last signing up. I think it may be on the VRBO site, under Terms and Agreement, or Terms and Conditions. In any event, what we probably all agreed to was that HA/VRBO specifically reserved the amend the agreement at any time....And goodness knows, they've been taking full advantage of that with all the recent amendments/changes to the site. I'm just not sure you'd be all that successful. My thought is that we can only react with our pocketbooks, and that means not renewing your advertisement. If you've got some other good advertising alternatives and are gettin good results, you'll be fine. If not,......
Just to clarify, when a traveler sends an inquiry to a property owner, they are taken to a confirmation page that also displays a list of similar properties. This list is not emailed to the traveler and is only visible on the inquiry confirmation page.
All of our traveler-oriented features are designed to make our site more efficient and useful for travelers. Keep in mind that you also benefit from this feature when your property is displayed on the confirmation page of similar properties.
I hope this information is useful and please let me know if you have any further questions.
I gotta say...as a vacation rental owner AND a marketer, I kinda side with Travis/HA here. What's so bad about them showing other similar options to someone after they've submitted an inquiry to your site? Other "you may also like this product" features exist on a million sites. It's the nature of the internet and membership sites are no exception. Would you not sell your book on Amazon (who reportedly makes ~25% of sales off recommendations) because they suggest similar books? You're paying a couple hundred bucks a year to be listed with VRBO or HA. If you're THAT concerned about potential clients finding other properties after they've potentially found yours, then you're probably not doing enough marketing elsewhere. Just my two cents...
I am not sure that I agree with "traveler-oriented features." The problem is the traveler is responding to a specific property and you are advertising other properties which I completely disagree with. First the traveler is not paying to advertise the owner of the property is paying you to advertise their specific property. I think that homeaway is trying to better the system, however I think they need to listen to the people that actually pay for the advertisement. I am sure there are many owners out there that have no idea this is happening.
loscuatrotulipanes>> then you're probably not doing enough marketing elsewhere
We can't afford it. HA has purchased the bulk of the effective sites (VRBO, A1, Renters.org calendar, realholidays.com.au, vacationrentals.com, etc, etc...)
They then proceeded to raise the costs and devalue the service to us individual owners -- especially those of us with small properties who must pay the same amount as large villas to advertise. I have a very low ROI on my HA advertising investment.
The truth of the matter is that today as things stand, HomeAway group of websites has an effective monopoly and we owners are forced to use them. Until a viable alternative becomes available, we will be obliged to pay the outlandish fees that they're imposing.
It's not going to be easy -- HA is purchasing up the viable contenders as fast as they become compeitive. Personally, I WANT to walk away -- and I did for several years. But the reality is that if we want to rent our properties, we owners are currently at HA's mercy.
Also, just my opinion, but I'm not overly concerned with other properties being displayed to potential guests -- we all want guests to choose the best property for them. I do, however, strongly object to how easy HA/VRBO is making it for guests to make multiple inquiries without even reading the listings &/or looking at the availability calendars. This wastes my time and theirs.
I also object to how easy it has been made for guests to pit owner against owner for pricing. Guests send out multiple requests and state things like: "Give me your best discounted rate." VRBO / HA needs to protect owners from these kind of abuses of the web site rather than enabling them and offloading all the extra work onto me and other owners. I have a full-time job and rely on HA to do some basic filtering of guests for me.
Travis>> they are taken to a confirmation page that also displays a list of similar properties.
Does the system ensure that the guests' requested dates are available for properties it recommends?
I hear you. Having to rely on one external service for leads, as a small hotelier or small budget vacation rental owner, is dangerous. The moment they up the price or change their ranking algorithms, you're toast. My recommendation is to build a better, more balanced flow of leads. As I detail in my report (http://www.boostoccupancy.com) there are a LOT of free or inexpensive ways to increase your reservations. I outline merely the 54 most effective. As little guys, we just need to be more creative and nimble. Just a couple tiny snippets concluded from the report:
- Nominate your rental for travel awards: you may not win, but it's free and great press.
- Get inside press circles: use services like HARO and PRLeads to get featured in top international publications.
- Write articles for blogs: thoughtful, expert articles will earn you backlinks from powerful niche websites.
- Create a website of your own: these days, this can be done for less than $100 in one afternoon.
- Offer freebie nights as barter for advertising credit in local magazines/newspapers/shows.
Use enough of these free outlets and you'll have a more balanced flow of reservation inquiries. Then when you want to say "adios" to VRBO/HA or any of the other sites they're swallowing up, you can do so knowing you're being comfortably booked elsewhere
Until this gets figured out, FLIPKEY was another rental website that I had good luck with and with their offers, I was able to advertise for free. Check it out!
Until this gets figured out, FLIPKEY was another rental website that I had good luck with and with their offers, I was able to advertise for free. They just sent another offer today that includes free service for a year! Check it out!
Thanks for your quick response. I understand what you are saying, but keep in mind that I am paying for MY ad to be advertised. If someone clicks on MY property, the assumption is, because I paid for your service, that MY ad would show only. As it is, my competitors ads are shown along with mine after a prospect clicks on my ad. People/prospects perusing through the listings are not paying for your service. Your advertising, when I decided that I would contract with both VRBO and Homeaway, lead me to believe that you were going to advertise MY ad. I'm not a fine print reader, as are most people, but if you had mentioned that my ad would not be exclusively shown to prospective renters, I would not have contracted for your service. If a prospect clicks on my property, I want them to exclusively see my property. But in the meantime, if they click on my property, and only my property comes up, they are more likely to actually read my ad. I have put a lot of time and energy into my ad and I am extremely proud of it, but you are diluting my listing by allowing competing properties to be listed, also. As you can see in the Community, there are a lot of your customers that have paid for your services and are just now finding out that they are not getting as many inquiries as they used to and are not getting what they thought they contracted/paid for. I can tell prospects are not fully reading my ad because prospects ask silly questions that the ad answers in detail. Prospects are just hitting as many listings as they can because you have made it easier for them to see more of my completion. Unless my ad is read, exclusively, there is a smaller chance of getting a rental.
I asking VRBO and Homeaway to be proactive about this problem. The economy is tougher, there are fewer prospects now, and I/We have paid for your services. It is a great service. Be on the property owner's side and please change how the properties are listed and make the ads exclusive when clicked on. After prospects have read the ad and get to the listing's last page, you could then ask them if they want to book or go back to the geographical listings. I don't mind that. Unless you change your policy, I will be looking for another rental service.
This is the full letter that I recieved from Travis. I assumed he works for VRBO and Homeaway.
Hello everyone, Just to clarify, when a traveler sends an inquiry to a property owner, they are taken to a confirmation page that also displays a list of similar properties. This list is not emailed to the traveler and is only visible on the inquiry confirmation page. All of our traveler-oriented features are designed to make our site more efficient and useful for travelers. Keep in mind that you also benefit from this feature when your property is displayed on the confirmation page of similar properties. I hope this information is useful and please let me know if you have any further questions. Travis
Again, it is the dilution of my ad that I have a problem with. I benefit if prospects actually have more reason to read my ad. Instead, they are automatically given more listings to look at. This dilution is the reason I am not getting more inquiries. And I know that they are not reading my ad completely because of the silly questions they ask (my ad easily answers these questions).
I can understand, from a traveler's viewpoint, you want them to see as many ads as possible. But it is your responsibilty to give us what we paid for. The answer is described in my previous reply. Be on the owner's side!