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6040 Views 21 Replies Latest reply: Apr 26, 2012 1:21 PM by sophie RSS
loscuatrotulipanes Community All-Star 231 posts since
Oct 7, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Nov 7, 2011 10:45 AM

What's With All The Complaining?

Having read through the troves of threads on this forum, I have trouble understanding exactly what all the VRBO/HomeAway complaining is about.

 

Respectfully: I am a multiple property owner, manager, and frequent traveler myself so I think I have a grasp of all 3 sides of the equation. What I don't understand is, wouldn't the time you spend complaining about VRBO/HomeAway be more valuable spent exploring other avenues of promotion for your rental? Instead of arguing that property managers have infiltrated and saturated the listings or moaning that the guest review process is too complicated or sulking because your leads aren't as good as they used to be: wouldn't it just be simple to exercise some consumer independence and use another vehicle to promote your property? Or...get ready for this one because it's groundbreaking...perhaps, do it yourself?

 

I would like to see the VRBO/HomeAway complainers use their disgruntledness as motivation to get introspective: improve your own marketing portfolio and increase your own bookings so you don't rely so heavily on others. How many of the complainers have their own optimized website (can be less than $100) with a reservation system (can be as cheap as $5/month), ads in magazines/newspapers (can be free)...etc. From some brief glances, you are all charging upwards of $100/night for your rentals. How you believe a $300 (equal to 3 nights) VRBO membership entitles you to anything more than a handful of bookings is hard for me to comprehend. And for those who threaten to build the NEW OWNERS ONLY site: I say kudos to you! It is extremely difficult, expensive, yet honorable challenge to tackle.

 

My point: I understand entirely the frustration that comes from being the long-time client of a mom-and-pop shop that is hugely successful and no longer intensely personalized. I too used to get better leads from VRBO than I do today. But times are changing: deal with it. Use VRBO or HomeAway as a compliment to your own private marketing force. Listing sites should be like great, delicious side orders: not the main entree. If you don't have time to market your property yourself, hire someone else or get super creative: but don't blame VRBO.  That's just B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

 

Matt is the author of Renegade Marketing for Vacation Rental Owners: attached is a free preview to his report.

Attachments:
  • New Member 4 posts since
    Oct 31, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 7, 2011 12:10 PM (in response to loscuatrotulipanes)
    Re: What's With All The Complaining?

    So you are saying that it's OK for VRBO to impose anything they want on the owners, and we shouldn't say anything although we are paying to be on the site. Yes, many, if not the majority of us do also have our own personal websites. We style it to our liking because we pay for that site. If VRBO was a free site, then they have the right to do whatever they want, however, we are paying to be on the site and should be able to voice our concerns. Yes, times are changing, but some of us would like to have a personal, friendly rapport with our clients because that's the way we do business. VRBO should notify us of these major changes, and we should be able to opt in or out.

  • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 7, 2011 1:04 PM (in response to loscuatrotulipanes)
    Re: What's With All The Complaining?

    Although not among the most vocal complainers, I do have concerns about the direction in which the homeaway, vrbo, and associated websites are moving.  I've been advertising on these sites for many years.  I've been doing this since the days of bulletin boards for advertisings in the health club, supermarket, university, community center, etc. 

     

    I would happily pay my annual fee, and have for years, based on an exchange of advertising space for my dollars. Instead I am learning that I must pay for other services, reservation managers, credit card payments, online this and that  (you name it the parent company appears ready to create it and charge for it), to maintain my advertising space on the website. If I don't pay for additional services that, in my opinion, have nothing to do with advertising my property, the original purpose of these sites, I end up being penalized in the order of advertised listings.

     

    There is an effort on the sites to force people to pay for services they don't want or need to achieve parity in advertising for their property.

    • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
      Jul 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Nov 7, 2011 3:37 PM (in response to loscuatrotulipanes)
      Re: What's With All The Complaining?

      "Perspective?"  I disagree.  If you can explain how myriad management add ons are related to posting an advertisement, other than producing $$$ for the company, I would greatly appreciate it.  I see $$$ as the relationship, nothing more.  More $$$ for the company, useless product for me.  I fully recognize that other homeowners might see value in these products and that's fine, but this has been, until now, a site for advertising rental properties, not a credit card company, or an insurance company, or a management company.  The advertising purpose of the website is being subjugated to these other purposes that are very much unrelated to advertising, EXCEPT that the company has bundled them together.    I realize a company can do this, that's their choice for their company.  I do not see any benefit in this for the individual owner that simply wants to advertise.  My property is likely to be buried at the botton of the queue.  Where is the exposure in this?  The company may be profiting but that isn't translating into additional views for properties like mine.   I believe the nature of the site is changing and it's moving away from it's original, primary purpose. 

    • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
      Feb 10, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Nov 7, 2011 7:12 PM (in response to loscuatrotulipanes)
      Re: What's With All The Complaining?

      While I agree there are many avenues that owners can and should explore, I think the frustration with HA/VRBO  lies more in the fact that for a number of us, the product we thought we were signing up for no longer exists.  You are absolutely correct  - if we don't like the terms and conditions, we are free to move on.  However, in a period of just mere months, the changes that owners have experienced are mindboggling.

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 7, 2011 8:16 PM (in response to loscuatrotulipanes)
    Re: What's With All The Complaining?

    I agree with you that an Owner's efforts for self promotion should be multiple...not solely dependent upon one online advertisement on a HA portal. But, you appear to have the impression that Owners in this Community are clueless about how to market. I have my own website which brings me the majority of my inquiries {it is well SEO-ized...I've had the website online for years}... I have been reviewed by major travel guides:  Frommers, Fydors, a couple of lesser-known travel publications {they visited my place}... and a few individual "travel writers" who blog {one of whom will spend 2 nights, one night in each of my cottages, this week, for an indepth review --- at her request}. My place will also be a mention {a recommendion} in the next issue of "Budget Travel" magazine {again, their request...and one of them has visited us}. All  of those marketing efforts are unpaid for.  I have good reviews on TripAdvisor as well {a free listing}.  I am registered with my State's official "Travel & Convention Bureau" [$fee$} appearing in their online publications.  I am a member of a private "alliance" of vacation rental Owners...which has a website where I upload my adverts,  specials, at least once a month... I engage in {and invest in} various offline and online promotions.  So...we Owners in the Community are not "uninformed" about marketing.  And, we are not "complainers". The Owners in this Community  pay for advertising on HA/VRBO  websites...and the company claims not to be "in the middle" of the deal...but the company seems to be impacting the deal starting with an "Inquiry Process" that focus mainly on "The Traveler" {by the company's own admission}, the "Owner" feels less served ...both "The Traveler" & "The Owner" clients express a negative impact to the "Inquiry Process"....and they both express unfairness to the "Review Process".  Some Owners feel the company is manipulating them to pay higher premiums for tools such as more images for higher rank at a high cost....some Owners believe there is a return of less traffic to their ads, untargeted traffic when it comes, a "review" process that is "troubled"...with no vetting process for the "Validity" of each "Review" by VRBO to "protect" its Paying Client from "The Extortionist" and the "Revengful Guest" syndrome.   These seem to be a few of the major grievances among the "Paying Clients - Owners.  And, you think that Owners should not question any of this?  They should not seek some management response? They should not feedback the company with suggestions?  They should not expect an *easy to implement* improvement to the system which could *easily benefit* both of HA/VRBO's client groups - the free-using Traveler + the paying Owner? Maybe some of the Owners with grievances are not {yet} taking more initiatives in self promotion...but their voice is not less valuable. You are also correct that Owners can just *divorce* from HA/VRBO and move on. Those who stay and continue to support the company do so for valid reasons.   I have been with VRBO for several years...long before the HA take over. I actually have no problem accepting change, per say....but I do think that the strategy to put more emphasis on the "Free-Using Traveler"...over the "Investing Owner" is a poor one...and I think that the company will catch on to that, eventually.  What company caters more to some of it's "investors" than others?  The Owners are asking for an improvement to "The System"  with an aim to service BOTH clients...but especially "The Paying Client" better.

  • victor.nawrocki Contributor 87 posts since
    May 21, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 11, 2011 5:04 PM (in response to loscuatrotulipanes)
    Re: What's With All The Complaining?

    Homeaway seriously runs the risk to being more focused on thier IPO then thier customers.  Many companys have gone that way.  For our sake, I hope HA is not one of them but they keep writing on the wall.

    • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
      Jul 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Nov 12, 2011 7:33 AM (in response to victor.nawrocki)
      Re: What's With All The Complaining?

      I'm beginning to think, and I may be "slow", that small owners are not the customer of choice for this company.  My guess is that there is more promise (and profit) in the property management companies than the individual owner of one to three properties.

       

      The focus appears to be shifting away from the individual owner to the manager (the word owner in vrbo is surely irrelevant at this point given the number of properties that are professionally represented by rental and resort companies on the site or owned outright by rental and resort companies; are time shares next or have they already arrived?) and I don't think anything will re-focus the company on the small owner.  The $$$ are not with the small owner, the $$$ are in aligning with the large players in the vacation rental market. 

       

      But it is good to "talk" with other small owners about these and other issues.

       

      Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

      • everydayisearthday New Member 26 posts since
        Apr 23, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Apr 25, 2012 8:26 PM (in response to thaxterlane)
        Re: What's With All The Complaining?

        Having just come from the HA Summit 2012, I can say that the attendees as well as the staff and the management are boggled by the velocity and the magnitude of change in this business.  There were so many investors, managers, and people who are doing everything they can to keep up with the pace of their own imaginations for where this business can go. It's so much bigger than HA and VRBO. and everyone is giving it their all, knowing that's what it will take, to grow their business and to stay current.  Anyone who is stuck will get left behind.  That was my take on the whole experience.

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