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22558 Views 54 Replies Latest reply: Jan 10, 2012 3:20 AM by swlinphx RSS
msdebj Senior Contributor 1,362 posts since
May 25, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 3, 2012 12:33 PM

New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

Hope everyone checked their emails today. Big changes coming to VRBO ( don't know abt. HA & other sites)

 

I'm kind of confused.It appears that my # of photos will double, and my lisitng will move up per my tenure, in the area my home is (Galveston is broken up into many "areas"). At least that's what I'm getting from the email. That's not really any different than it is now,except ranking by # of photos.  Does everyone now get an up grade to the # of photos?- i.e. You have 8, now you get 16; you have 16, now you get 32?

 

The one thing I do see is that the thumbnail I was promised ( and paid for when I upgraded from 5 to 8 photos that disappeared 4 months into my contract) will return.

 

Anyone figured out  how  this Subscription Level stuff will work? I'm assuming I'll have to pay more for things to move up the listing page but can't figure out what. 

 

Maybe I'll have to wait until Thursday, but if anyone has figured out the subscription levels I'd love to hear it.

Thanks,

Deb J

  • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
    May 21, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 3, 2012 1:27 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    I still have not received the so-called email regarding the new pricing sturcture.  Can you copy and past the email here?

     

    Thanks...

  • Contributor 26 posts since
    Jan 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 3, 2012 2:16 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    No email notice and I can't even sign in.

    Where I rent, Sapphire Bay, Saint Thomas they merged 3 neighborhoods in a single listing about 6 months ago.

    My listing is now in about 65% down in the pack.  Per my tenure if I upgrade to the highest level I will improve my results to only 35% down in the pack so what's the use?

    I've received much fewer inquiries than ever since the change and grow more disenchanted by the day.

    I was a VRBO renter long before I became a property owner and thought they were doing more right than wrong. 

    Since becoming a renter I've begun to have my doubts.

  • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
    Nov 5, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 3, 2012 11:34 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    Have to say I am NOT happy with this change. I currently have two units on one property- 2 VRBO listings. Am currently finishing up a third unit  and had expected to list n VRBO even though I've not had any VRBO bookings yet. To me this is forcing us to upgrade. If I had wanted and felt these extras were important I would have upgraded on my own. In my own case, I felt it was more beneficial to have these extra features on my own website and have been working that direction. Increased photos, maps, video, not sure why a potential client would want to leave VRBO to visit my website. So far, all my VRBO inquiries appear to be the spam variety, none actually reading the listing and none respond to my follow up.

     

    As I had made an inquiry to my own listing, I'm also on the VRBO spam roster, getting regular emails about other VRBO stuff, but never again reference to my original inquiry. Today was a companion piece to the upgrade notice, basically putting the traveller on alert to increased danger of ID fraud if not using the VRBO payment system. Another slam!!!!!

     

    Might have to take a look at the guy that posts about doing your own marketing.

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 4, 2012 3:40 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    Is there a Moderator:  May I inquire why all VRBO Members did not get the email about subscription changes today?   Some of us with many years ....with listings going back to 2001 with maximum photos have not been informed of changes.  What determined the "seniority" for some Owners to be pre-informed?

     

    P.S.  Oh...I have to wish all you Moderators a Happy New Year.  I know Modertors are doing a job...not making policy. You "chime" in when you can make a point  .....and you read our ramblings and rants. This Community Forum is a nice feature.

    • meredith HomeAway Employee 384 posts since
      Nov 18, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 4, 2012 10:02 AM (in response to anja)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      Hi anja,

       

      Happy New Year to you as well!

      VRBO staggered the emails based on the number of photos members currently have.

      Every customer will receive an email by tomorrow.

      You can find all the info here.

       

      Thanks,

       

      Meredith

      Community Coordinator

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 4, 2012 10:05 AM (in response to meredith)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        Thank you Meredith.  I was curious....because I have 16 photos and my property was first listed in 2001.  But, no notice came to me.

      • info@stayattremblant.com Active Contributor 543 posts since
        Aug 25, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 4, 2012 10:08 AM (in response to meredith)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        Hi Meredith,

        Since we have your attention (yes?) I was wondering if you could feed a request back up the HomeAway management chain?

         

        My request is:

         

        Please include owners in the discussion of web site updates and feature enhancements in focus discussion groups prior to deploying new features.  It would go a long way to ensuring "buy in", developing features relevant to and supported by owners, making us feel valued, showing HA commitment to their customers (us owners) and, ultimately, driving the success of the industry.

         

        I know there was a survey done to gather opinions but there seems to be a missing step.  If you include us in the decision making process, you may find these forums quickly turn around from being critical of HA to supporting them. 

         

        You may also find that we have some good ideas to help your business.  As things stand now, I think HA is in trouble -- your paying customer base is unhappy.  How will you turn this around?

         

        We want to be part of our success and yours. Include us!

         

        Thanks,

        Peter.

      • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 891 posts since
        Sep 3, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 5, 2012 10:40 AM (in response to meredith)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        Thank heavens for this forum so I know what's going on with the VRBO changes.I still haven't received the email from VRBO. Any others that haven't received their notification?

        Susan

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 5, 2012 11:08 PM (in response to meredith)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        Thank you Meredith......someone from "support" sent me an email and she looked into it.  Thank you for helping.

  • info@stayattremblant.com Active Contributor 543 posts since
    Aug 25, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 4, 2012 9:07 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    Since this is a more appropriate forum for this discussion, I'm copying my comments from another thread here:

     

    This is very interesting to me and I’ll admit to being conflicted.

     

    I have always contended that VRBO / HA should not charge for photos or thumbnails or posting of videos or inclusion of maps.  Those should be basic items available to all listings.  It seems, on this point, they have finally listened.

     

    I welcome the ability for a small one-bedroom property like mine to finally be able to have these basic elements without having to pay the “photo extortion tax”.

     

    On the other hand, VRBO has found a way to charge me an additional $50 to get what should have been included in any basic web ad.  Additionally, I will still be unable to afford any $29.99 bumps to my subscription level so there’s no guarantee that the additional $$ for a basic listing will have any payback whatsoever.

     

    What VRBO should do is enhance their search so that properties that best meet guest travel criteria bubble to the top.  Forget all of this subscription and “pay-per-placement” nonsense.   Again in the ideal world, we’d all simply refuse to pay for the additional subscription levels and just let the guests decide what is best for their travel needs.

     

    P.

  • amyg Active Contributor 323 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 4, 2012 10:39 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    Deb, I haven't seen the announcement email either but from what I've been able to glean it sounds like this is a $50 VRBO price increase neatly packaged in a product touch-up. 

    • skiandglee Active Contributor 509 posts since
      Apr 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 5, 2012 8:21 AM (in response to amyg)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      Amy,

       

      I agree.  Just like my gym membership and my health insurance, it goes up every year.

       

      I hate to complain, I get great results from VRBO but with 2 listings, it just seems like I am getting annual price increases x 2 for the same product.

       

      Rick

       

      p.s.  It would be nice if they allowed members to create a second listing at a reduced rate.  I also list with my local chamber of commerce website which actually gets more hits than my vrbo ads and they allow additional listings at $79.  Initial listing is $249.

      • info@stayattremblant.com Active Contributor 543 posts since
        Aug 25, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 5, 2012 8:48 AM (in response to skiandglee)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        Just a note:

         

        On Jul 27, 2006, I joined VRBO at a listing rate of $159.

        At my 2012 renewal datel, the rate will be $349.

         

        This is an increase of $190 in six years or a 120% increase over 2006 rates. 20% per year (based on 2006 rate).

         

        I can not think, offhand, of any other product or service that has had sustained increases of 20% per year compared to their 2006 fees.  Also, while the site looks beautiful, I would also argue that the ROI has significantly decreased (fewer bookings vs. cost of advertising) since 2006.

         

        This additional $50 per listing will really hurt us owners with small properties who simply can't afford it.

         

        Peter.

  • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 891 posts since
    Sep 3, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 4, 2012 7:40 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    Meredith,

     

    Does anyone know if/how VRBO will inform people viewing listings that the levels have nothing to do with any aspect of the actual listing? I'm concerned that people will perceive a higher level to mean a nicer, better place to rent.

     

    My area has 245 listings. Some of these listings are for rentals up to about 1/2 hour travel time in the summer. The owners of these listings know the town where they have their rental listed is the tourist draw so they list their property as being part of this town, even though it is not. Just doesn't seem right that part of my listing placement will be determined by properties not in the same town. Can anything be done about this?

     

    Thank you.

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 5, 2012 9:25 AM (in response to susaninrehoboth)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      Does anyone know if/how VRBO will inform people viewing listings that the levels have nothing to do with any aspect of the actual listing? I'm concerned that people will perceive a higher level to mean a nicer, better place to rent.

       

      The higher ranking is not something designated on each listing or indicated to the traveler/viewer.  It is just the sort order your listing appears when a search is conducted.  This can change to if they filter the list by price, availability, number of rooms, area, etc.

       

      VRBO just changed their ranking from number of photos to a tier system like they started with HomeAway, so there is now less and less difference between the two sites (only the name and color scheme).  I guess this is a good thing as it is stupid to doubly penalize advertisers for not paying more while also having travelers possibly overlook them if they have no more than 5 photos, when all VRBO really cared about in the first place was having a system for us to pay more for higher ranking.  However, since the photo ranking is replaced by tier ranking that cancels each other out so the only real difference in the announcement is yet another price increase (disguised for us "dumb owners" as an enhancement).

      • New Member 22 posts since
        Jun 15, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 5, 2012 10:07 AM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        I was surprised today when I glanced at VRBO listings in my Siesta Key area and first noticed there were no photo #'s listed and that all now have a thumbnail. I was shocked to find out the billing has changed and an annual membership now allows 16 photos. Good! BUT I WAS JUST BILLED $538.92 on JAN. 3 for my annual renewal of 13 PHOTOS!! AND IN OCT I PAID approx. the same for my renewals on my 2 other properties! How can a company gouge a customer like that? When I phoned VRBO to inquire I was told that the reason I was billed the "old amount" on Jan. 3 was because the new 16 photo-inclusive price didn't come into effect until Jan. 5th!! And no, I certainly did not receive an email from VRBO informing me of any changes. I wonder how many others were billed hundreds of dollars more for their renewal with 9 or 12 or 14 or 16 photos... just weeks or days or hours before the Jan. 5th date?! I am requesting a refund, of course, and am told it will be reviewed. Very sloppy, very poor managment of the company's "new and improved annual price".

        • meredith HomeAway Employee 384 posts since
          Nov 18, 2010
          Currently Being Moderated
          Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

          Hi bestsiestakeyrental,

           

          We apologize that you didn’t recieve the email notice, I hope you have recieved one by now.

          If you paid on Jan 3 for 13 photos you are automatically placed in level 4 from the top (to maintain placement with what you had for 13 photos).

          Please let me know if you have any questions.

           

          Meredith

          Community Coordinator

          • New Member 22 posts since
            Jun 15, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Jan 9, 2012 12:04 PM (in response to meredith)
            Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

            I'm now informed that I am at tier 12.Paid for 13 photos this past year. Was billed $538.92 two days prior the new billing of $349.Now refunded $239.92.That's the old $299 annual fee for no extra photos, right?What's going on? Why did I not maintain at least my tier level 4 or where I was?I am now below my neighbor who signed on with VRBO a year after myself, who has only ever had 7 photos. She's a tier or two above me???

             

            Sue

            941-312-6183

            http://www.bestsiestakeyrental.com

             

             

            Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2012 11:42:46 -0600

            From: community@homeaway.com

            To: suehons@hotmail.com

            Subject: Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5 - Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

                                                                                            Seek Advice. Get Answers. Optimize your Vacation Rental Business.

                                                                                            Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

             

             

                created by meredith in Advertising your Rental(s) - View the full discussion

             

             

             

            Hi bestsiestakeyrental, We apologize that you didn’t recieve the email notice, I hope you have recieved one by now.If you paid on Jan 3 for 13 photos you are automatically placed in level 4 from the top (to maintain placement with what you had for 13 photos).

             

            Please let me know if you have any questions. Meredith Community Coordinator

             

             

             

                 Reply to this message by replying to this email -or- go to the message on Community

                 Start a new discussion in Advertising your Rental(s) by email or at Community

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          • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
            May 21, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Jan 9, 2012 12:12 PM (in response to meredith)
            Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

            I too, never received the e-mail notice of the new tier structure.  It is now January 9th - and several days after January 5th!  How many others also did not receive "THE e-mail"? 

    • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
      May 21, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 5, 2012 10:26 AM (in response to susaninrehoboth)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      Currently the listing ranking or order has to do with how much you pay for the listing and your seniority.  I think the change of now allowing everyone to have 16 photos may have to do with server capacity.  If they keep on increasing the number of photos they will quickly run out of space.  Those that have had 16 photos will obviously see an increase - maybe this year - who knows.  I think the other reason for the change is that they probably had complaints from those that had fewer photos, in that travelers might have thought that those with fewer photos had something to hide.  It did not make them look as legitimate as those with more photos.  The traveler never knew why some listings had 16 photos and some had only 5 photos.  So now the playing field is equal - you just pay more to be ranked higher in the placement.  I also think that they may eventually reduce the number of photos that everyone has due to server capacity.  Frankly 16 photos is a bit too much.  You do not need to show 16 photos to show what a rental has to offer.  As they increase the number of listings, I guarantee that the number of photos will be reduced.  But obviously the rates will not decrease. 

       

      Every host site has to decide early on, how they will rank the listings.  Some do it alphabetically, some do by seniority, some randomly rotate the listings, so you never know at a given point in time where you will end up. The ABC way of ranking does not work, since most people quickly figure out that they need to have a title or name that starts with the letter A.  And is seniority fair?  If someone has been in business 10 years and someone is just starting out, should they be treated equal?  I think seniority is a way to keep people on board.  If you leave to find another advertising site, you lose your seniority, plain and simple.  So using seniority probably works for HA/VRBO in order to keep their listers.  The only problem with this is that there is no benefit for a new lister to pay more in that they will always be at the bottom.  I think this is the biggest challenge for HA/VRBO. 

       

      What I object to most about HA/VRBO tactics is that they do not listen to those that pay the bill.  They claim that they listen to the traveler as well as the homeowner, but I think not.  I use VRBO as a traveler and I have never received a questionnaire from VRBO.  And I certainly have never received a request for input as a homeowner. 

       

      As for budgeting and the cost to advertise, I was always told that 10% of your intake should go towards advertising costs.  So if you take in $50,000/year, your advertising costs could go as high as $5,000/year.  But this is for ALL advertising costs including personal websites that promote the business as well as rack-cards, business cards, and other advertising mechanisms such as those offered through GOOGLE.  I would be curious to know what % others pay.

      • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
        Aug 30, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 5, 2012 10:31 AM (in response to bobbie32)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        I think the other reason for the change is that they probably had complaints from those that had fewer photos, in that travelers might have thought that those with fewer photos had something to hide.  It did not make them look as legitimate as those with more photos.  The traveler never knew why some listings had 16 photos and some had only 5 photos.  So now the playing field is equal - you just pay more to be ranked higher in the placement.

         

        That's exactly what I said in my post above.

         

        What I object to most about HA/VRBO tactics is that they do not listen to those that pay the bill.  They claim that they listen to the traveler as well as the homeowner, but I think not.  I use VRBO as a traveler and I have never received a questionnaire from VRBO.  And I certainly have never received a request for input as a homeowner.

         

        Well of course the everyday casual traveler that does not pay for the site and may use any site they want on a whim should not have the input paid subscribers like us have unless the travelers are paying for their services as well.  We are the customers.  They want to make it appealing to travelers so travelers will use it so that we will advertise so that HomeAway/VRBO makes money off us.  The traveler however has no investment in their business.

        • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
          May 21, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Jan 5, 2012 10:42 AM (in response to swlinphx)
          Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

          I think you missed my point...I do not think they listen to ANYONE, and certainly not the one that pays the bill.  All they listen to is their pocketbook.  They have always said that they listen to what the traveler wants - I think they lie. 

          • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
            Aug 30, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Jan 5, 2012 10:54 AM (in response to bobbie32)
            Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

            The trick is to make it seem like you listen (or maybe even actually do listen) but do what you can get away with to maximize profits even if it is not in the best interest of the traveler or advertisers.  Just be creative and make it seem like you're offering them a deal.  They put a lot more money into advertising to draw more listers and travelers to their site but I'm afraid that means more and more listers being a needle in a haystack and then pitting us against each other to pay more and more to have a fair chance.  Being too big can also be a bad thing, if you can't see the forest through the trees.  It's the difference between being lost in the shuffle on a very popular site or standing out nicely on one with less traffic.

  • New Member 1 posts since
    Jan 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 5, 2012 2:15 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    I have 5 listings with Homeaway and VRBO and have been on both sites since 2005 and have always had the most photos posted(currently 16) and I have NOT received an email for any of my listings?!  Just happened to check on line for other purposes and stumbled upon this dibacle!

  • carol Senior Contributor 2,158 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 8, 2012 9:27 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    If you look at this change from their corporate point of view, the new pricing structure actually makes sense.  We owners are the paying customers, so to improve their profit, they needed to figure out what we are willing to pay more for.  And that turns out to be better placement on the default search page.   It's no different from the airlines who now charge more for "premium" seats like exit rows or rows nearer the front.   Personally, I prefer this pricing structure -- where we all have a choice -- to one that would have increased everyone's cost to the same high level.   Admittedly, my house is in a location with only one page of rentals, so search position is really not an issue for me.  But if I lived in an area with 100 or so listings, I'd be willing to pay more to stand out. Getting one extra booking would make it worthwhile.

     

    The old structure -- basing price on photos -- was derived in an environment where perhaps they were worried about limited server space.  Server disk space is getting cheaper and cheaper now, so there's no financial justification for increasing cost based on the number of pictures.    More pictures serve the traveler better, and allow the traveler to make better choices. 

     

    Each of us should be carefully monitoring the traffic we get from Homeaway, VRBO, and other sources, and looking at booking to inquiry ratios as well as the number of bookings we get from each site.   Then we each can make an educated decision about whether the $349 or higher price is worth it.  When I added a VRBO listing last year, my inquiries skyrocketed and last year VRBO was the source of almost half my bookings (even with only 5 photos!), so it is worth it to me.

    • Contributor 26 posts since
      Jan 3, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 8, 2012 10:30 AM (in response to carol)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      I wouldn't mind paying more to stand out but changes made months ago have made that impossible.  Be very grateful and keep your fingers crossed that VRBO doesn't decide to merge neighborhoods on you. I used to be on a listing with two pages  but they merged 3 separate areas a few months ago and my listings are lost in the crowd no matter what I do.  Pay the flat rate and I'm 70% down the list.  Pay the top amount I come up to the 38%
      My inquiries dropped to near zero when they made the change.

      I was on H.A. for a year but got few inquires and my booking success was lower.
      The user can still split by neighborhood but the option is missed by the vast majority of users.

      Your airline analogy doesn't fit the situation.  If I choose to pay more for a better seat at least my primary objective is promised, that is if all goes to plan I will reach my destination. 

       

      My objective with VRBO is to recieve inquiries and there is no way now to acomplish that because of thier actions.

       

      A logical to you corporate point of view from your perspective is only greed from mine.  Fair to you and unfair to me, what's the sense in that?

      • Contributor 60 posts since
        Sep 21, 2011

        My objective with VRBO is to recieve inquiries and there is no way now to acomplish that because of thier actions.

         

         

        If thats the case, there is no sense in advertising here. I know there is a lot of frustration with HA and VRBO. I keep reading that people are going to stop advertising with either - but then read they have renewed at a new, possibly higher cost. I don't get it! If it's not working or you find it to be too expensive, stop supporting it.

         

        I advertise on Flipkey at $300 a year. Don't see much difference between Flipkey at $300 or VRBO/HA at $349 (other than HA offering reservation manager and such). I personally don't think the price is outside the norm.

         

        (This is not directed specifically at you St.Thomascondo, your post just inspired my comment)

    • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
      May 21, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 8, 2012 1:22 PM (in response to carol)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      I too think that VRBO/HA has a right to make money, especially since they are having to cater to their investors. And we, as homeowners, have a right not to participate.  But what bothers me most is that HA is now a monopoly. They have bought out all (or almost all) of the competition so there is nowhere for the homeowner to go. It will take a class-action lawsuit to deal with the anti-trust issues they have now created.  And the larger they become, the worse the situation gets.  I do not think there is an easy solution to the ranking issue.  Senority does not work because new advertisers get screwed and it is impossible for them to raise their ranking position.  Higher rates for a higher ranking position does work to a degree; but used in conjunction with seniority, is also unfair to newcomers - why would they want to pay more if they are always going to be at the bottom.  And alphabetizing the listings does not work, since everyone will change their name to start with an "A" - been there, done that.  Automated rotating of the listings seems like a fair way to go and could be supplemented with advertising done in a side banner that one pays for.  Advertising on the side could be done with a pay-per-click feature in an addition to paying more for a higher ranked ad.

       

      Bottom line is that VRBO/HA needs some serious competition.  They also need to be more realistic about the cost to advertise.  Increasing rates by 120% in 5 years is ridiculous. If they lowered their rates they might find that more people want to advertise on their site - they will lose advertisers if they pull the kind of thing that happened on January 5th.  FlipKey is a serious competitor, but you must deal with reviews if you choose to use them. I have seen businesses destroyed because of fake or unfair negative reviews. If they figure out a better way to monitor all reviews (both positive and negative), then I might consider using FlipKey.  FlipKey may think that they have a way to monitor reviews, but TA does not - anyone can post on TA.  And once a review is posted on FlipKey it is automatically posted on TA. If you withhold money due to damages, you are screwed and if you charge a justified cancellation fee,  you are screwed.  If you get angry with a renter over some meaningless issue, you are screwed.  So for now, I cannot and will not go there.  

      • info@stayattremblant.com Active Contributor 543 posts since
        Aug 25, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 8, 2012 2:04 PM (in response to bobbie32)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        Bobbie*32,

        Excellent points. I'll make one small addition to this comment:

         

        >> Higher rates for a higher ranking position does work to a degree;

        >> but used in conjunction with seniority, is also unfair to newcomers

         

        It's also unfair to properties with low ASP (Average Selling Price) who won't be able to readily afford to "buy-up" a level.   If guests sort by # of bedrooms, it's not as much of an issue but the default sort places low ASP properties as a distinct (and impossible to overcome) disadvantage.

         

        >> Automated rotating of the listings seems like a fair way to go

         

        A few other sites I'm on seem to do this and I'm quite happy with the results (e.g. ownerdirect.com)

         

         

        P.

        • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
          May 21, 2011

          ~ P...

           

          And how would deal with a 2-bedroom home that rents from $225/nt. all the way up to $400/nt?  We vary our rates based on the number of people in the party, length of stay and the time of year.  I hear what you are saying about smaller places not being able to compete with larger places that have a larger advertising budget.  But they already offer the sort by the number of bedrooms.  Perhaps VRBO should sort by price and that might you give you what you need.  I think that might work for some, but not for others like me, that are based on a price per renter.  We really cannot average the cost - as we would then lose out on a honeymoon couple that is looking for an off-season deal. 

           

          We only have the one unit - yet we have had 16 photos since the competition is stiff in our area - a National Park is the draw.  Our advertising costs are not yet 10% of the total take, but the costs increase every year forcing us to raise our rates.  50% of our bookings for 2011 came from VRBO.  If that drops to 25% then we will have to re-evaluate advertising on this site. 

          • info@stayattremblant.com Active Contributor 543 posts since
            Aug 25, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Jan 8, 2012 4:06 PM (in response to bobbie32)
            Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

            Bobbie,

             

            ASP = Average Selling Price.  You also have that.  There's nothing particularly unique in the way that you're renting as far as I can tell.  I suspect all of our rates vary throughout the year based on season and other factors (one of your factors is number of guests -- many of us do that).

             

            Still, despite how it is calculated, the fact remains that [with very few exceptions], a larger &/or luxury &/or better situated property will have an overall higher ASP than a smaller &/or basic &/or less well situated one for the same given macro-area. 

             

            There is no difference to the concept that I spoke about above even if you to rent as you have explained.  Keep in mind that the concept of ASP is simply an after-the-fact calculation and has no impact whatsoever on how you rent or the rates you charge.

             

            Sorting on # bedrooms helps but does not solve the inequity for properties with lower ASP (I'll call this "smaller properties").  The fact is that smaller properties are paying more to advertise per dollar revenue than larger properties and, therefore, smaller properties have a lower ROI (Return on Investment) for our advertising dollars with VRBO.  This is, in my opinion, an unfair and unsustainable business model.

             

            In the context of this particular discussion, I assert that smaller / lower ASP properties can not "buy up" a level to compete in the default search.  This is simply an observation / fact.

             

            I guess it's debatable if it actually matters.  I really haven't seen any proof other than the word of HA that moving up the list does, in reality, result in more bookings.

             

            P.

            • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
              May 21, 2011

              <the fact remains that [with very few exceptions], a larger &/or luxury property will have an overall higher ASP than a smaller &/or basic one for the same given area>

               

              Not so in our area...a two-bedroom or even a one-bedroom home or condo can rent for more a night than a 5-bedroom house. It is location, location, location that determines the price of a rental.  It has nothing to do with how large or how luxurious a rental is.  The closer to the national park, the higher the rate per night.  Because we need to compete with those rentals that are closer to the Park we need to pay more for advertising.  Our advertising costs are way more and it has nothing to do with the type or size of the rental, and our take is much much smaller.  

              • info@stayattremblant.com Active Contributor 543 posts since
                Aug 25, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Jan 8, 2012 4:03 PM (in response to bobbie32)
                Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

                I think we agree then.  I did say there were many different reasons why a property's ASP would be different.  That is why I carefully phrased it as ASP to make all  factors such as location, size, how luxurious it was, how the owner rents, etc. irrelevent to the point I was making.

                 

                If I understand you correctly, you are saying that your personal ASP is lower than others in your area and, therefore, it's more difficult for you to pay to move up the list.

                 

                Sounds like we are in total agreement and face the exact same issue.

                 

                P.

  • Contributor 26 posts since
    Jan 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 9, 2012 8:12 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    According to VRBO it's easy to increase inquiries.  Simply improve your placement among the community they decide you should be included in.
    Here is a simple guide that will help you improve the placement of your listing.

    • Be lucky enough to be located in a very small neighborhood.
    • Be lucky enough to not get merged into a large neighborhoodwithout warning.  It recently happened to me in preparation for the new pricing strategy.
    • Pay 225.00  299.00  349.00 for a base subscription then play leapfrog adding 29.99 for each tier upgrade 379.00 409.00 439.00.
    • No keep adding you've got 8 x 29.99 tiers to go.  $678.89 if you want to cut to the chase.
    • Pray VRBO doesn't add more levels whenever it feels like it wants to make more dough.
    • Pray fellow neighborhood listers with higher seniority (lower subscription numbers) get frustrated and call it quits.
    • Pray the others don't engage in this endless game of leapfrog since it will push back to exactly where you started or even lower.
    • Pray you live forever and outlive your competition and gain seniority.


    The absurdity of this system boggles the mind. I can easily imagine a day when a high seniority low digit VRBO subscription number becomes a commodity that can be bought, sold or passed down in a will to the next generation.

  • Contributor 145 posts since
    May 12, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 9, 2012 12:21 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    Got to say HA/VRBO guys are slick...I have five listings up for renewal and when I went to renew they do not give you any option to go down to basic.  I just put in a customer service request to change everything to basic.  It says 3-5 days before someone will get around to reading your support request. You would think that renewal was pretty important on the list as it genearates revenue but not with these foks I guess.  So now lets do a comparison of my experience with the FlipKey folks.....I have been with them for about 90 days and have five listings with them so far and everyone of the listings has paid for the entire year with them so far.  They offered me a discount to switch from monthly to annual and I took them up on it but misread the instructions on how to enter the coupon yesterday so I was charged at standard rate.  What I love about these guys is they assigned me my own person support person.  I put in a help request explaining what happened about 10PM last night and by 10AM this morning already had a nice email from my personal support lady telling me she has already taken care of the credit.  Flip Key understands who keeps the lights on and who pays the bills..... it is their customers! 

     

    
    • New Member 22 posts since
      Jun 15, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 9, 2012 12:30 PM (in response to vacationlady)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      Well, I just got off the phone with VRBO support and found out that yes, I am now renewed at the basic rate, and positioned at level 12. Used to pay for 13 photos, now get 16 photo option, but have to pay $30 for every tier level up, rather than every additional photo. Perhaps VRBO sees logic in that simple explanation. I still feel taken advantage of. Dropped from level 4 to 12. I am not going to pay a dime more than the basic rate. Am not convinced being #280 on the list is much better than being #580, or whatever it amounts to. I have 3 small vacation rentals on Siesta Key, FL and there are 100's of listings. I can't afford to spend close to $700 for each listing to compete in the tier pool.  I'm hoping my guests from the past 18 months find me, even if I'm at the bottom of the pile.

       

      Regarding Flipkey: Last month my guests had a helluva time trying their damdnest to submit a review on VRBO. Only by chance did I find out that VRBO kept rejecting their submission (because they referred to "Villa #3" and that was too identifying!?!). Flipkey had their review online within minutes. Again, today I received an email from guests telling me they submitted reviews to both sites. Flipkey is already posted. Haven't heard from VRBO. I'm getting about 50% of my inquiries from Flipkey.

       

      Hope this helps other owners sort through the new renewal process at VRBO.

      • Contributor 145 posts since
        May 12, 2011

        So just to clarify you called in to VRBO and they changed your listings from level 12 to basic over the phone.  Were you able to use a credit card ?  Bobbie32 says she had to use snail mail before they would make the change to baisc.  No longer taking credit cards seems absurd but with everything else they are doing it would not surprise me.

        • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
          May 21, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Jan 9, 2012 1:21 PM (in response to vacationlady)
          Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

          Just to clarify, I requested the downgrade via e-mail and as of my renewal date.  I have done this in previous years and they have downgraded on the renewal page and have shown the basic amount due - they have altered the renewal page to reflect to new basic amount due and have done this 2 to 3 months prior to the renewal date. But now it appears that in order to do the downgrade, e-mail is not good enough.  I have not called them so I do not know if you can downgrade via the phone as of the renewal date.  Thus it appears to me that sending a check is the only way to do it.  Will be curious if doing it by phone will work???

        • New Member 22 posts since
          Jun 15, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Jan 9, 2012 1:22 PM (in response to vacationlady)
          Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

          I was up for renwal on Jan 3 (2 days prior the new renewal structuring and new fee). Was auto billed $538 for my 13 photos position. I phoned and questioned why I'd pay $538 for 13 photos when 16 photos now come with the basic renewal. Was given a credit card refund. And now I'm down to level 12 (down from level 4). I'm going to stay at the basic level. There are 600 Siesta Key listings on VRBO. I have no intention of paying my way to thetop or near top of the pile! There are 161 Siesta Key listings on FlipKey. So far, I'm very happy with FlipKey. About 50% of my inquiries come from FlipKey.

    • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
      May 21, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 9, 2012 12:35 PM (in response to vacationlady)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      I understand that in order to move down to a basic listing you need to send a check (by your renewal date) for $349 to VRBO - address is:

      VRBO Inc

      PO Box 671788

      Dallas, TX 75267-1788

       

      There is also an address to send payment via "next-day"courier but I do not know what it is - they don't make it easy to do this. 

       

      Once they have received the check, they will update your account and you will be at the lowest tier.  I think that you can then use a credit card to move up the list if you choose to do so.  I do this every year as it helps to control my over all costs and lets me be in control of my placement per month.  I usually choose to be at the highest tier (Tier 1) for 4 to 5 months a year and those months are right before my renewal date.  Then I have to start the process all over again.  Hope this helps.

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 9, 2012 7:10 PM (in response to vacationlady)
      Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

      They offered me a discount to switch from monthly to annual and I took them up on it but misread the instructions on how to enter the coupon yesterday so I was charged at standard rate.

       

      My FlipKey 3-month free trials are set to expire at the end of the month and I'd like to renew at the annual rate as well.  Isn't the annual rate always cheaper than the monthly?  Are you saying she gave you a discount over the normal annual rate even?  I'd like to know how to get a discount for switching to annual, other than the obvious savings of the longer-term rate.

      • Contributor 145 posts since
        May 12, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 9, 2012 8:29 PM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

        Yes, they offer a lower rate for annual but this was a promotion that lowered the annual rate even further.  I just had to repsond before January 31st.  Call Flip key customer service (they are well staffed no wait time) or contact them by email they respond super fast.  Just explain you heard from another FlipKey customer that they were running a promotion to convert your monthly plan to annual and you would like to do the same.  Good luck!

  • Contributor 26 posts since
    Jan 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 9, 2012 2:36 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    False advertising or playing zero sum game of leapfrog?

    If I pay $247.00 to upgrade to the highest level for the next 9 months I will move from 88 to 37th out of 109 fellow listers.

    1 second later if everyone in my neighborhood paid to upgrade to the highest level I would end up exactly where I am today 88 out of 109 

    Too bad this subscription wasn't month to month like Netflix because it would crash and burn due to the greed shown.

     

     

    What the large print giveth

    Choose Your Search PositionThe higher your advertisement displays within your region, the more likely travelers will inquire on your vacation rental compared to other listings. This is the most important consideration when choosing your subscription.

    The small print taketh away

     

    *Average number of inquiries was calculated using actual inquiries from May 1 - Dec 13, 2011 made to all properties (and in all locations) listed on vrbo.com. Inquiry and listing positions cannot be guaranteed and may vary. We reserve all rights under our terms and conditions, including our right to implement changes for our site, which may impact inquiries and listing positions.

     

    Message was edited by: saintthomascondo@gmail.com

    • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
      May 21, 2011

      If everyone got together in a given area and "organized", and all agreed to pay $349/year for the bottom tier, the ranking would be on seniority and no one would have to play the silly game that VRBO wants you to play. They count on the "competition factor" and count on everyone trying to better the next guy.  They know somehow that people will not accept the seniority factor.  But as you say, if everyone pays for the top tier, the ranking would be based on seniority anyway and VRBO wins BIG TIME.  

  • Contributor 26 posts since
    Jan 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 9, 2012 6:09 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: New VRBO changes take effect Jan. 5

    I've been pretty vocal about these changes and since I still have 9 months till my most critical listing renews I have plenty of time to experiment and test out other vendors.  In the meantime I will add my photos and other stuff they've force fed me, maintain my 12th tier status and pay attention. 

    I do have a bit of good news to report however.  I don't know if the change happened along with the Jan 5th changes or earlier but I noticed earlier this evening that after clicking on a property to view it and then clicking the back button to go back to the listing I am no longer forced up to the top of the page.  That feature did even more to frustrate me while shopping for properties for myself than as an advertiser.  Kudos to whomever was paying attention and fixed that very serious shortcoming.  Tom

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