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14656 Views 44 Replies Latest reply: Feb 22, 2013 9:06 AM by island4 RSS
New Member 21 posts since
Mar 30, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Feb 24, 2012 5:48 AM

My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

I have ads with Holiday Rentals in the UK which then get posted on other Homeaway sites. I live in a small town called Castellina in Chianti, in Tuscany.

 

Before January, my three apartments were three of 35 rentals in this small area on Holiday Rentals. I got a reasonable if not stellar level of enquiries.

 

But in January, two new 'agencies' (Travelopo and Easy Reserve - diffrent agencies but same phone numbers, so same business) and all their properties have been dumped into HomeAway, nearly 10,000 properties in all. In my little town, the number of properties has jumped from 35 to 100 overnight.

 

What does this mean? For starters it means my enquiries have all but dried up, and in the most important part of the year too. Instead of being twice as high in Feb as they were in Jan, my Feb enquries are less than 1/3 my January levels.

 

Basically, my advertising is now no longer working. There is no point whatsoever of renewing my ads with Holiday Rentals, even if they are publicised in other Homeaway sites too.

 

And the story doesn't end here. Try and find out who owns these companies and you hit a brick wall. More Homeaway acquisitions perhaps?

 

So in the space of 2 months HA have ruined both my principal advertising routes: Holiday Rentals (& Howeaway) and VRBO.

 

So where on earth do I go now? Where do I advertise? HA own everything. I'm already with Flipkey/Tripadvisor. Who else is there that still caters to independent property owners rather than managers and agencies?

 

And where can customers who want to rent direct from owners go to find nice places to stay?

 

I must admit to feeling very dejected and disapppinted. I have no idea what I should be doing now... This is my peak time for enquiries and my main avenues for enquiries are disappearing fast. What's going to happen to my business?

  • loscuatrotulipanes Community All-Star 231 posts since
    Oct 7, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 27, 2012 1:35 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Simon, I feel your pain. It feels helpless when going up against big property management companies with large marketing budgets, if nothing else, because their properties flood and dilute the market. But if you ask yourself "am I comfortable relying on 1 or 2 listing sites for my rental(s) to survive?" the answer, from a properly aware and motivated vacation rental owner, should always be "no." 

     

    My pep talk: use this jolt to kickstart an entirely new self-made marketing campaign for your 3 rentals. This is your opportunity to get creative and proactive in your branding and online presence. From the very basics to the very advanced, there are tons of resources online to help independent vacation rental owners generate bookings. I was in a very similar position to you about 5 years ago and I can attest, personally, to the fact that doing your own marketing will be the most challenging, rewarding, and profitable decision you make after buying the property itself.

     

    The best part of it all is that your investment (both time and money) is 100% in your hands. Listing sites are a nice compliment, but if you are serious about filling your rentals, you need to face the facts and start outlining your plan of attack. I cover a lot of these techniques in my report but in general, the first step should be to go on the offensive!

     

    1, 2, 3...GO SIMON!

     

    Matt

    Author of http://www.VacationRentalMarketingBlog.com

  • New Member 17 posts since
    Nov 20, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 1, 2012 5:17 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Simon,

     

    As to not give away important information that your competition can get ahold of (property management companies) please message me privately at bbelcher1973@gmail.com.

     

    Loscuatrotulipanes is correct that you need to take this in to your own hands.  I have some options that may interest you...and there is something out right now that many property managers don't understand...so they are not using it (YET!)...so you have an opportunity right now to take back some power.

     

    I'll be happy to discuss over email.

  • New Member 6 posts since
    Mar 2, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 5, 2012 10:50 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Good afternoon Simon,

     

    I'm sorry to hear about the recent activities that have all but dried up the enquiries for your rentals. I'm sure you know this, but many owners are finding it to be very important to have your own website for your rentals. This makes it easier for past guests to re-book, or for refferrals to find your properties specifically. Are you currently marketing your rentals with a professional and user-friendly website? If so, great!! If not, you can get a hold of me at tyler.m@reliablerentals.com and I can see what I can do to help get you started with your own website. Good luck going forward!

     

    -Tyler

  • Active Contributor 343 posts since
    Nov 18, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 5, 2012 11:51 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Simon,

     

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the Community, and I’m sorry to hear that your inquiries have decreased recently.

     

    HomeAway includes property managed vacation rentals as well as owner managed properties in order to provide the widest choice possible to consumers - and thereby remain the number one site for holiday rentals.  Hopefully you’ll find some comfort in the fact that when HomeAway adds extra properties to a location like yours, we also optimize search to that location (though the impact of SEO weighting can take a few months to yield results).

     

    Also, as you likely know, many travelers do not browse by location level, instead opting to search via refinements such as date, property type, and number of bedrooms. In this regard, it becomes less of a sheer property numbers game, and more about if your property matches what travelers are seeking. In addition, for those travelers who have a preference, there is a filter for properties managed by owner or property manager. Finally, a major component of search order is still filtered according to how up-to-date your listing is, so you can ensure you’re at – or near – the top by keeping your calendar updated.

     

    I hope this information is helpful, and wish you the best.

     

    Laura


    • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 874 posts since
      Sep 3, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Apr 3, 2012 8:01 AM (in response to laura)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      Hi Laura,

       

      I advertise on VRBO, not HomeAway so maybe that's why I don't understand this portion of your reply about position being determined by how up to date your calendar is. If this is true for VRBO, how does this work?

       

      Thanks for your help.

       

      Susan

  • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 874 posts since
    Sep 3, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 2, 2012 6:18 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    I totally agree with you. Listings for Rehoboth Beach, DE, where my condo is located, are up to 269. Of the last 8 added to tier 5 ( the only tier I can track at this point), only 2 are managed by owners. There is no separation by area and there are many listings that are "near Rehoboth Beach". Several of these listings that are "near" are at least 1/2 hour drive to the ocean when there is beach traffic.

     

    I've contacted VRBO asking that listings be subdivided, perhaps by oceanfront, east of Route 1, etc and to not allow listings that don't have Rehoboth zip code to be grouped with Rehoboth. No response from VRBO-big surprise-Not!!

     

    I'm fortunate that about 2/3 of my rentals are repeat tenants. I tried FlipKey and got 3 rentals, 2 for off-season weeks that have never rented before. When my listing expires in December, I'm going drop my listing on VRBO and see how rentals go. If need be, I'll resign with VRBO but at a much lower tier than I currently have.

    • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 874 posts since
      Sep 3, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 20, 2013 5:38 AM (in response to susaninrehoboth)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      In April, I complained about 269 listings. Since combining with HA, Rehoboth Beach is up to 364. I've had 1 booking since Jan. 1 from VRBO for a prime summer week which would rent no-matter where I advertised. I did drop to lowest tier when I renewed. 3 bookings through FlipKey, including a 3 night rental mid-week rental in early April, my first ever for that time of year.

       

      If I don't get a VRBO/HA booking for spring or fall, I may drop them.

  • New Member 21 posts since
    Apr 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 3, 2012 4:05 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Simon,

     

    Although I am new to the community and to listing with VRBO, I completely agree with you and others that are going through this uncomfortable situation.  As a new property owner, I am listing with VRBO and have noticed that competition is unfairly balanced with large corporate entities.  My wife had previously rented from VRBO for many years and remember a time when the folks listing were personal owners only, not huge corporations.  I know that I am preaching to the choir, but I had always thought that VRBO was built on the understanding that this was to be a safe haven for the personal owners to have a fighting chance against the "big boys".  This appears to no longer be the case.

     

    I realize that companies need to make money, but IMHO I think that HA and VRBO have lost focus as to whom their target customers are and should be.  I have a feeling that once every "golden egg" is squeezed from the goose, VRBO will become a haven for large coporate owners, agencies and time share companies.  Although perhaps these companies may continue to pay, It will become a wasteland in respect to its original intent.

     

    I pause and think that VRBO may lose touch with its customers to such a degree it becomes a Netflix blunder, and some person of vision starts a new site that holds true to its intent where we can have a chance once again......  Just food for thought.

  • island4 Contributor 33 posts since
    Jun 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 10, 2012 11:07 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    I have no problem with free enterprise and competion.  However, when management companies dump their "condos" in the "home" section, raising the listings from 12 to 116 in 5 days, I have a big problem!  We all need to play fair. Place your properties in the proper location and description.

    • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 862 posts since
      Sep 10, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 10, 2012 11:40 AM (in response to island4)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      +1

      • Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 10, 2012 7:40 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
        Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

        I've obviously stepped into the shark pit, with this conversation. I was sincerely just trying to help you - what you do with the advice I've offered, is entirely up to you.

         

        Last piece of advice:  Quit dwelling on what you cannot change. The industry WILL move on, with or without you. For the sake of your property, don't cut people down who take time out of their day to help you.

         

        Good luck and I wish you the best.

  • New Member 21 posts since
    Apr 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 10, 2012 9:02 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    In regards to justin's argument, I find some issues with it.

     

    1) My understanding is that VRBO was formed for *owners*, not property managers for a reason - To give the owners a fair chance against conglomerates/corporations with higher marketing budgets.  Unfortunately VRBO/HA has now "sold out" and as such, in come the PMs and their ilk.  I do not feel that PMs are *owners*.  They do not have a "skin in the game", as they do not carry the same risks or burdens as an owner.

     

    Consider this:

     

    If a PM rents a listing, great for them.  They get a cut of the money.  But if they don't rent, they don't lose a dime.  They may lose an account(if they perform poorly), but they do not lose money.

     

    We as owners pay the mortgage(if one is present), utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc.  PMs do not.  The PMs risk is akin to playing the stock market where you will only gain, but never lose a penny on the investment.  Isn't that nice ?

     

    2)  I also feel that it is insulting to tell others to "ween themselves" from VRBO/HA and seek other marketing strategies.  Most here do not have the budget that PM companies do.  Additionally, most will agree that direct mail is nearly worthless and most other ventures in marketing will not compare to the return on VRBO/HA(although that is slowly diminishing for the above reason).  The majority of traffic for those seeking rentals by owners are here.  It is folly to think otherwise.  As another counterpoint, if VRBO/HA is not the way to go(as suggested above), then why are PMs flooding VRBO/HA so vigorously?

     

    I just feel as though the argument justin offered is just not true and I couldn't in good faith let it go unnoticed.  Yes, we may be on the "same side" in the following respect: To make money and have a successful business venture, but do not mistake: A property management company is NOT the same as an owner listing here.  We've got far more in the game.  I think that this is why owners get so upset.

     

    Just my two cents,

    Uncle Bob

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 3, 2012 2:53 AM (in response to unclebob)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      Has any one read this article?  I found it very interesting to see how owners view property managers as a threat and vice versa:  The Culture Gap Between RBOs and Professional Managers is Disappearing

        • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
          Aug 30, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Oct 3, 2012 4:02 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
          Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

          Well, as a "figment" I must say your temperament is far from cool and seems quite over-emotional and histrionic. Perhaps you can learn to voice your opinion civilly without making personal attacks or references.  This is a community forum where adults are supposed to discuss things rationally, not fly off the handle.

            • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
              Aug 30, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Oct 3, 2012 8:31 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
              Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

              Darn, I tried but there's just no fooling you with your ever-vigilant presence (which strangely seems to be confined to this one thread).  At any rate, it took you after almost 700 posts to expose me!  It's true, I'm a plant by HomeAway/VRBO.  If I link to an article that means it's all part of a grand collusion that runs so deep that even I can't begin to delve into all, at least not here in a public forum.  I should've known I'd be discovered one day.  You're just smarter and more observant than the hundreds of other users on here that I've interacted with I guess.

               

              Oh, did I mention how your endearing sarcastic and pompous tone so encourages others to respond positively and accommodate your accusations?

              • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
                Aug 30, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Oct 3, 2012 9:09 AM (in response to swlinphx)
                Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

                Not that it matters at this point, but just for the record I didn't see it as a direct shot at owners per se, just interesting to see the things owners fear about property managers competition on the same listing sites and vice versa, looking at it from both viewpoints.  I also thought it was interesting that they seemed to make the point that all in all the most important aspect is the quality and price so maybe neither has as big as an advantage as the other fears they do. The point of the piece was to somewhat quell each one's concerns and resentment toward the other.

  • New Member 21 posts since
    Apr 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 10, 2012 9:12 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Wow,

     

    Did Justin delete his own post, or did it get pulled ?  Interesting........

     

    Well I suppose the last part of the thread will not make much sense without his post, but I think people get the jist of it.........

     

    UncleBob

    • Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 10, 2012 9:41 PM (in response to unclebob)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      I deleted my own post. Check your inbox unclebob. If you look at EVERY SINGLE contribution I've made within this community, you'll see that I only try and offer my professional opinion to help out owners who are trying to go at it alone. Not for money. Not to gain your business. Simply to help.

      I'll continue to focus my efforts to helping those who are receptive.
      End of discussion.

      • New Member 21 posts since
        Apr 3, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 10, 2012 10:54 PM (in response to justin.urich)
        Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

        Justin,

         

        I checked my inbox.  All I could find was your friend request to me, but nothing about you deleting your post.  Sorry if I missed that.

         

        As for the "End of Discussion", I think that we can both agree that this discussion will probably continue as folks support one another through their frustrations, which is natural.  I do sincerely hope that owners do not "quit" in their efforts to plea for VRBO/HA to protect and support the owners, as it was intended at the founding of this site.

         

        I do not feel that my posts were personal attacks, just true statements of fact and were pertinent(which is likely why the post is now labeled as a "Helpful Answer").  My intent was never to cut an individual down, just to state facts.

         

        However, I do notice that you have compared the group to a "shark pit", need to "quit dwelling..." and have now been dismissed with "End of discussion".

         

        Although you may indeed have something to offer other folks - It is tough for folks to be receptive when this is the tone.  That's all.

         

        UncleBob

         

        P.S. I did look at your other posts and felt that these were non-promoting and appeared genuine, which was encouraging.  Ironically, while I was composing a message in your defense, I received this last post and then wrote this ....  Sometimes it's worth giving some time before posting(emotions can run high).......

        • Currently Being Moderated
          Sep 10, 2012 11:30 PM (in response to unclebob)
          Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

          Unclebob,

           

          The "shark pit" reference was a metaphor for me (pm) in a discussion with a group of sharks (owners) - meaning that I seem to be the bait.

           

          I stand by my statements of "quit dwelling". You guys have to understand that HA and VRBO are going to continue down the same path that they have been - allowing owners AND pms to submit listings.

           

          You need to accept this, and learn to move forward. This is a very competitive industry - for both private owners and PMs.

           

          And my friend request contained a personal message that read:

           

          "I was sincerely just trying to help you guys. Even though you have a negative sentiment towards me, my door will always be open to you if you need my help."

           

          If there's anything I can help any of you with, feel free to get in touch with me. Believe it or not, there are people out there who can empathize with your situation and want to help.

  • island4 Contributor 33 posts since
    Jun 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 11, 2012 8:02 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Justin,

    As I said, start with PM's placing their listings appropriately. Do not list in a beachfront community when you are 5 miles inland, or condos in the home section. Per my conversation with HA, they state this is a PM choice to make.

    Shame on HA for not screening the listings better, too. I have lost 3 weeks of page views/inquiries due to this problem. I am not "dwelling", but have tried to work out this problem for everyones benefit. In the end, I may have to accept there will always be bullies that will work the rules to suit themselves, and I will move on to better marketing tools. 

  • New Member 12 posts since
    Oct 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 3, 2012 4:46 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Seems like this article is self serving to PM's especially since George Volsky comes from the PM side of business. gvolsky.JPG

  • carol Senior Contributor 2,136 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 3, 2012 10:28 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    Wow, this thread has rapidly become nasty in tone.  Let's dial it back and skip the personal attacks.  I never thought I'd be defending swinphix, but he is clearly not an agent of HA or of property managers, and both he and Justin have made some very thoughtful contributions to this community.  

     

    Back to the main topic -- personally, I am not threatened by PMs because my house is distinctive enough to be noticed regardless of the competition.   If your owner-run house is in an area that is swamped by PM-run homes, I can see where you'd be upset at the special offers and discounts that PMs get -- and we owners should encourage HA to keep the playing field level and to make sure all properties are correctly advertised:

    • Every property should be advertised in its true location
    • Every property should be marked as owner-managed or PM-managed
    • Every property should have an up-to-date calendar for that property
    • Every ad should represent a single property -- no generic ads or bait & switch ads that entice a traveler to respond and then direct them to another property
    • Every ad should show current pictures

     

    I see PMs and owner-operators as part of the same industry, and we share some common goals in encouraging travelers to seek out homes instead of hotels and B&Bs when they travel.   Travelers who have a bad rental experience, whether it's in a PM home or an owner-run home, are unlikely to rent any home again.  PMs have an advantage with advertising breaks and backups for cleaning & maintenance, owners have an advantage in providing a more personal experience.  Our industry has had phenomenal growth in the past few years, and much of that is attributable to the PMs and their advertsing power.  

     

    Let's work on making sure HA keeps everyone honest -- then everyone benefits, travelers, owners, and PMs. 

    • Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 3, 2012 10:46 AM (in response to carol)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      Well said Carol.

    • mlbmaine Active Contributor 888 posts since
      Mar 2, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 3, 2012 10:51 AM (in response to carol)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      I agree.  We should all be civil to one another.  I would like to point out that Justin has always been very forthcoming that he is a property manager.  I believe that swlinphx is also a PM (he said he was on another thread) but he does  not usually make that clear in his posts.

      • Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 3, 2012 11:46 AM (in response to mlbmaine)
        Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

        Thank you mlbmain,

         

        Even though I do indeed work for a property management company, I'm always transparent, and if y'all ever need my assistance, I'm always happy to lend a helping hand.

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 5, 2012 4:30 AM (in response to carol)
      Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

      Carol, I agree with everything you said and I think the article itself pointed out some of those things, how we can also look at RBO's and PM's as having a symbiotic relationship, not just always in direct conflict.


      The only thing I don't understand is what was so outrageous about my innocuous statement to deserve such an irate and defensive retort.  Can someone please explain wherein the objection or contention lies, or how it comes off as if I'm defending PM's or anyone for that matter?  I cannot:

       

      Has any one read this article?  I found it very interesting to see how owners view property managers as a threat and vice versa

       

      P.S.  For what it's worth I don't work for any property management company, nor have I once said that.  We both own and manage.

  • island4 Contributor 33 posts since
    Jun 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2013 9:16 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    I wanted to revive this thread to check in on how people were doing with this issue.  To date, my house remains buried in a sea of 80 listings. Only 12 are houses, 68 are condos listed by PM's.  I have e-mailed or spoken to 9 customer service/IT people multiple times since August of 2012.Only one person is owning up to the real problem-HA allowed the listing to go live without screening the information for accuracy.  HA is now stating the PM needs to remove the listing. Yeah, that will happen!  Meanwhile, I continue to answer inquiries about "my condo".  Good news....I have most of 2014 high season already rented through Flipkey. HA customer service seems to have no problem getting in touch with me to bundle or renew. Very sad.

  • island4 Contributor 33 posts since
    Jun 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2013 10:59 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    So interesting! Since my post yesterday, my listed at #9 has now dropped to #20 in rank. What about this is not to be thought of as suspect? I wish the condos placed incorrectly in the house section since August 2012 could be moved as quickly! Anyone from customer service care to respond? If so, please no canned e-mail.....a knowledgable human voice would be nice!

  • island4 Contributor 33 posts since
    Jun 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 20, 2013 8:34 PM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    So right, Simon!

  • island4 Contributor 33 posts since
    Jun 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 22, 2013 9:06 AM (in response to simon.zimbler)
    Re: My ads drowned by flood of 10,000 agency ads

    I revived this thread on February 19th-was #9 of 80 listings in my area (68 of them wrongly placed condos). On the 20th I dropped to #20 of 80, and today I am #64 of 79. And I thought the PM's were the bullies.....turns out customer service is doing a pretty good job themselves.  I am going to refer the irrate inquiry I had to deal with who thought she was looking at a condo with a pool.  Happens when the condos are dumped into the homes section. PS: she went to a hotel.

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