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"I suspect that 90% of potential renters don't read the info available to them . . ."
I agree. I believe most renters view the photos, some may scan the list of amenities, and send off an email to the owner asking for all of the information contained in the text that accompanies the listing.
It's common to receive emails asking about dates (many websites warn against assuming dates are available until confirmed by owner), specific location (especially if the guest is unfamiliar with the area), and rate (there are owners that negotiate and this seems to have created an expectation of negotiation in many guests).
I too have a template that I work from to answer inquiries and it doesn't bother me to be asked questions. My listing encourages people to ask as many questions about my home and the area as they like. I consider providing information part of the process and I believe the more information I provide in my first response, the more of an edge I have over my competition!
Apologies for taking the conversation even further off topic . . . .
I did talk to an attorney ( just one opinion so better to get two or three) and he suggested writing to the legal Dept. At Vrbo. I did a search for Vrbo terms and conditions and found the part where I thought there was a violation. Vrbo is to advertise a single vacation rental property. It doesn't say along with ten options provided by Vrbo. In fact Vrbo isn't supposed to get involved in picking out properties for guests to review. There is an email address to write to if you feel the current policy violates the terms and conditions of the contract, perhaps legal@Vrbo.com. You could also sue them individually if you can show your business was less since the policy came into effect. See if you get a response to your email.
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Hey all you wonderfully satisfied VRBO/HA owners, I can't afford to commiserate with you as much as I would want but just had to add some fuel to the flames. Every now and then I will, under a false name, ask for information about my property. This allows me to see what VRBO and HA sends to these "prospects" as far as follow up mailings. Today, this is what I recieved from VRBO. See above message!
You may think, in a perfect world, that a company that took your money to represent you in the process of renting your vacation property may support you by sending a past prospect some sort of gift certificate toward a vacation rental. The "gift of travel" could be toward one of us owners instead of an owner of a bed and breakfast, who does not pay for VRBO's services.
This company does an absolutley wonderful job at trying to make life miserable for the people that pay for their services. Where is the conscience in all this? I am a Texas Aggie, class of '77. I bet this whole program was instigated and devised by some tea-sipping University of Texas alumni in Austin. Wanna bet???
I'm not one to defend VRBO / HA as my level of frustration is quite high with their business practices.
However, I just wanted to mention that I did not make an inquiry on my property and I also did receive the same e-mail as above. I don't think the advertisment above is related to e-mails sent to prospects as a follow-up.
Of course, that could mean it's worse -- they're spamming us as owners using their e-mail database. But I don't see any conclusive evidence of this.
Its our lucky day isnt it. I tried to copy and paste and couldn't. I am glad you could. Isn't that great you advertise and they use your advertisement to prey on your inquiries. They own bedandbreakfast.com.
I have asked in a separate post that I would like answers from Travis about this.
I, too, did NOT make a "self-inquiry".....and I also got that same advertisement. They are "marketing" to us, members....to use their gift card. What did I think when I got that promo email? I deleted it immediately. I believe that it is possible to get "unsubscribed" from their "marketing" mail list. Tell them you do not want to receive their 'promo' emails.
So a guest clicks on (chooses your property) inquire about your property and is redirected to an advertisement for another, completely different site, owned by VRBO.
This is just wrong. It s also I am certain, legally wrong. It's outrageous.
I have not heard back from legal@Vrbo.com. I hope the rest of you, instead of just venting, will go to the terms and conditions to read what they're actually supposed to do for us. Then, for yourself and the rest of us tell them we want them to change their policy to reflect the terms and conditions in the contract as follows: this is VRBOs terms and conditions as they pertain to our discussion:
"to offer for rent in a variety of pricing formats, A SPECIFIC VACATION RENTAL PROPERTY to potential renters . . . WE ARE NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION BETWEEN TRAVELERS AND MEMBERS even though we may from time to time provide tools that relate to a booking, SUCH AS A TOOL TO ENABLE A TRAVELER TO ENTER INTO A TRANSACTION TO LEASE A SPECIFIC PROPERTY DIRECTLY FROM A MEMBER."
VRBO, redirecting TRAVELERS away from Booking a specific vacation rental is clearly not allowed, either by redirecting the traveler to ten options, after they've already made their choice,
Nor by redirecting the traveler to other, different types of properties not even on the website, such as bed and breakfasts, owned by VRBO. Clearly VRBO is in violation of their CONTRACT .
VRBO is involved in picking the ten properties, making them involved in the transaction. VRBI is involved in the transaction by marketing their own bed and breakfasts to the traveler who has already chosen our property!!!.
Sent from my iPad
tupelo77, I find this most recent example of HA/VRBO's cavalier attitude toward owners absolutely nauseating. I received one as well - not as a reply to an inquiry, but just spam in my mailbox. They really are dealing with us in bad faith. Under the terms of the agreement, we (users) and third parties aren't allowed to troll the site and send spam...oh yeah, but they are...
Whether this posted advertisement was in response to a past inquiry by a prospective renter or given to all members of VRBO/HA, it does not matter. What does matter is that this advertisement for bed and breakfast rentals, not our vacation rentals, comes from VRBO. So, someone that once inquired about my property on VRBO gets a coupon for use at a bed and breakfast, whose owner is represented by another VRBO-owned company. This bed and breakfast owner did not pay for VRBO's services. And don't you think that if someone rents from a bed and breakfast, they are less likely to spend their vacation monies to rent a vacation rental from you or me? The knife is being twisted. I mentioned class-action lawsuit many posts ago. If there are any lawyers out there of if someone knows of any, this could be a "Rainmaker" suit.
I would love to open my own website devoted to owners of vacation home rentals on the East Coast. I checked domain names and all the good ones are taken already. But I'm sure that someone or some business could take this business away from VRBO and give the service that VRBO used to give and make it extremely profitable for themselves and the owners that they serve.
PS.....The advertisement was sent to "Lynn". This is the first name I used to inquire into my own rental site several months ago. Lynn just might go with that bed and breakfast now, instead of renting from myself. Boy, it must be later than I thought. Am I confused!
Ok, one more post script then I am hitting the hay. Let me explain that I received this advertisment, not addressed to Dan, but addressed to "Lynn", my middle name which I use to make inquiries of my own site. I have not received this spam addressed to Dan, the name I use in my listing and the name I use when dealing with VRBO/HA. Goodnight all.
FYI, HomeAway bought BedandBreakfast.com earlier in the year, if not last year - just can't remember the exact timing. So they not only own all major vacation home rental sites, but are slowly buying up all B&B sites as well. They are headed toward being in violation of anti-trust laws - it is only a matter of time. It's a class action law suit in the making.
This is the letter I recieved and the letter I returned:
Dear Mr. McMillan,
Thank you for sharing your concern; we’re sorry that this has upset you. For the holidays, we wanted to offer HomeAway, Inc. customers the chance to get a great deal on a gift from one our websites. BedandBreakfast.com is the only HomeAway-owned site that offers gift cards—there isn’t a vacation rental gift card yet--so we wanted to share it with customers who we know are already interested in alternative lodging. While they are certainly different, B&Bs and vacation rentals both provide unique and intimate alternatives to hotels, and some B&Bs actually have on-site cottages and cabins much like vacation rentals. We thought these gift cards might be a good match for people who love travel and hotel alternatives since we don’t have a vacation rental gift card to offer at this time. Thank you again for letting us know your thoughts on this.
Shana Herman - Customer Support Team Lead | HomeAway Inc., BedandBreakfast.com, RezOvation, & Webervations | P: 1-800-GO-B-AND-B (1-800-462-2632), extension 2705 & 1-512-322-2705 | F: (512)320-0883 | E: SHerman@bedandbreakfast.com
Dear Shana, I appreciate your quick response. The problem is that this offer (bed and breakfast gift certificate special offer) was sent to a person who previously inquired about my property. That person has not rented from me as of yet, but he is still a prospect. In the meantime, that person is given a chance to buy vacation time from your bed and breakfast subsidiary because of his interaction with and interest in my vacation rental site on Homeaway. Vacation dollars are still vacation dollars. So, if you are giving them the oportuniuty to spend their vacation dollars on bed and breakfasts and not vacation rentals sites that you (Homeaway) represent, this is a breach of contract on your part. You are taking vacation dollars away from me and my fellow Homeaway vacation owners. You are not to open our previous, existing, or future vacation rental contacts to your other services without our approval. We, as owners, have contracted and paid you (Homeaway) for your representation and services to us. Any act on your part to dilute or devalue the services that we owners are offering to vacation travelers is contractually unlawful and class action damages could result.
If someone is looking for a bed and breafast, let them go to Bedandbreakfast.com website and you can make your special offer there. Even though Homeaway, Findvacationrentals.com, Bedandbreakfast.com. are all owned by the same company, you cannot allow one subsidiary to superimpose its offers on another subsidiary, especially when it comes at the expense of the people that subsidiary represents.