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7018 Views 32 Replies Latest reply: May 7, 2012 9:24 PM by tywebb RSS
New Member 3 posts since
Apr 24, 2012
Currently Being Moderated

Apr 24, 2012 3:09 PM

Sent rental inquiries to 2 different owners, no answers...

I was searching for a monthlong rental in Hawaii, and sent inquiries to two different condo owners listed on the HomeAway website.  I'm new to Home Away, but never received an answer from either of the two owners.  Just followup email from Home Away.  I've now looked elsewhere and booked a rental.

 

I know the importance of being responsive, since I also have a second home (not listed on HomeAway).  This lack of communication doesn't help all the rest of the Home Away registered owners.  I doubt I'll be back to the Home Away website to  try again.

  • Contributor 233 posts since
    Dec 26, 2011

    Thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback on the owners who did not respond to you.  I know that most of us do respond much sooner, within the hour if possible.  Please let me know when you want to spend a month in the Pacific Northwest!

  • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011

    I can sympathize with your frustration about non-responsive owners.

     

    I am an owner and a frequent traveler.  I respond to inquiries about my home within an hour. 

     

    I recently had an experience similar to yours trying to rent a home in the vicinity of Yosemite National Park.  I submitted 4-6 inquiries and didn't get a response from any of the properties until approximately 48 hours had passed.  Two inquiries went unanswered.

     

    I rented a property that was listed by a property management company on a different site.  The company responded to me within minutes of submitting my request for a reservation. 

     

    I had a similar experience renting in Santa Monica.  I'm puzzled by the number of owners that list their homes but do not respond to inquiries. 

     

    It's unfortunate that the actions of these (few) owners give a potential renter a poor impression of the owner community.  The majority of owners are devoted to their guests and committed to providing excellent service from the time an inquiry is submitted to the end of their guests' stay. 

     

    Please don't write off the entire community due to the actions of a few. 

  • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
    Nov 5, 2011

    Bummer

     

    I'm in Hawaii and try to answer as soon as possible. Sooty for your disappointment.

     

    David

    Sent from my iPad (3rd Gen) with Aloha  Please visit vacation.ninolehawaii.com

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011

    That's not very nice for you.  I'm in Hawaii and I always answer within the half hour usually....but I work from home and can monitor emails coming in, all day.   Some owners spread themselves too thin with their rental, a regular job, etc..maybe they're just "too laid back"...but, I don't want to make lame excuses for anyone.  Owners should answer every inquiry, IMO.  We can assume that some owners do not bother answering if they do not need the booking ...which is poor biz practice...they don't realize the damage they do to themselves and to the rest of us.  I always answer whether I have the opening or not.

     

    HomeAway, VRBO and the other HA sites list thousands of rental owners in the State of Hawaii.  I sincerely hope you find your perfect spot to vacation here.  And, I hope you won't follow through with your boycott of HA ...it doesn't hurt HA...it hurts us!  It just takes it out on the rest of us here because of a couple of owners who weren't professional enough to respond.   Wishing you a wonderful Hawaii experience.  Aloha.

  • carol Senior Contributor 2,150 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010

    Did you check the calendars for the two properties to make sure they were free during that month?  I get so weary of responding to people that my property is already booked for that time period.  I'm so tempted to ignore the inquiry, but I don't.  However, many other owners have stopped responding when their calendars are full. 

     

    Also, did your inquiry have more information than just the basics?  Maybe you could share the text of your inquiry. 

     

    When I get a bare-bones request just asking if the house is free for a set of dates, I often think the traveler is sending out dozens of  inquiries.  I like to see someone explain why they are coming to my town, what appealed to them about my house, how many people, and maybe ask a question or two specific to my house that sounds like they have actually read my ad. "We really like your house because it has a first floor bedroom for Granny" or "We'll be in town for the choir festival and need a house as big as yours for our two families".   It doesn't have to be a super-long explanation, but something a little more than the bare minimum makes me think you might actually be serious about my house.

     

    Remember that we are letting guests into our beloved homes and we have to trust that they will treat them with respect.  We have to build up a relationship with the guest, and that starts with a serious and thoughtful inquiry.  

    • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
      Jul 27, 2011

      In an ideal world potential guests would provide full information, to the satisfaction of each owner, in their initial inquiry.  I do not judge the potential guest by the information provided in their initial inquiry. 

       

      I answer all inquiries I receive about my home.  I do not have standards that potential guests must meet to receive a response.  If my home is reserved for the period requested, I offer alternative dates and/or suggest they might consider my home for a future stay.  I have turned some of these inquiries into repeat guests.  .

       

      As for my own travel experience, my inquiries that did not elicit responses were more than adequate, in my opinion - they included dates, number of guests, ages, and purpose of travel.  .

       

      The calendars for the properties appeared to be up-to-date and the dates I was interested in reserving appeared to be available.

       

      In my opinion, every inquiry deserves a response. I would not wish to treat someone in a way that I would find displeasing.

  • stjvilla Active Contributor 624 posts since
    May 27, 2011

    About 6 weeks ago we took over answering our HA and VRBO inquiries from our on-island management company.  They are a very small office with only one person answering emails and they manage 34 homes.  One day, they received inquiries for 17 of their homes from the same woman wanting unavailable dates and detailed quotes in addition to all the other inquires they normally got.  Well, that is just too much for one person to cope with so we decided to answer the inquiries for our house.

     

    So far we have had two bookings and can definitely tell if an inquiry is of the "scatter shot" variety or specifically about our house.  We really don't need too much information on them upfront - dates and number of guests are vital, other info is optional at that stage.  We respond with a custom reply as quickly as possible (usually under an hour unless they email us while we're asleep!) and, if we don't hear back, at least we know we are doing the best job we can, which is why we are doing it.

     

    We feel everyone should get the courtesy of a response, however brief.

    • wiffle Contributor 217 posts since
      Feb 23, 2011

      In my opinion, the ability for potential renters to send bulk inquiries has really degraded the owner/renter experience.

       

      If I get an inquiry that indicates that the inquirer has not even read my listing (asking about pets in my pet-free home, too many guests, booked dates, etc.), I don't bother answering.

       

      I am so tired of the bulk inquiries. I used to take the time to answer every one but now not so much. I would say 95% of the times I've responded to what I believed was a bulk inquiry, I get no reply at all. I think I have a good nose for the bulk inquiries.

       

      I know, I'm a bad person!

      • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,357 posts since
        May 25, 2011

        I'm with Wif. It's mazaing how many "bulk" inquiries I get  referring to our home as a Condo, Beach front house and things mean the traveler has NOT read my listing at all!

         

        I do try to respond to most of these types( with a simple template that doesn't give much info). BUT, not always. Too many times I've had people want to argue over my maximum occupancy rules. Now, if they want to bring 12 or mmore I just tell them it's not available ( because it isn't, for that group).

         

        I'm wondering if the pending legislation on VR rentals in HI is putting some owners ina state of flux.

        Debj

      • sophie Senior Contributor 969 posts since
        Mar 4, 2011

        wiffle,

         

        I also agree with you. At one point I had 4 homes that I own and manage which is a huge job. When someone sends an inquiry for over the amount of people accepted, under the minimum stay requirements and the time frame is ALREADY booked all for one stay, they probably won' get a response from me either.   Renters need to do their due diligence also in checking to make sure the property can accommodate them and the property is actually available for rent instead of shooting out 100's of inquiries! I wish to rent to conscientious renters.

         

        thax says: I would not wish to treat someone in a way that I would find displeasing.

         

        I am actually displeased when renters don't respect me or my business when they are sending thoughtless inquiries that clog up my inbox and my time when in actuality they have no intention of renting my homes anyway.

      • stjvilla Active Contributor 624 posts since
        May 27, 2011

        Wiffle - we don't think you're a bad person (as far as we know!)  We should clarify that we do not get as many inquiries, thoughtless or serious, as many of the rest of you.  It's low season and, as a rule, people are not booking Caribbean vacations at this time of year.  So if we get one a day, it's about right.  Hence, we can answer them all easily!

  • amyg Active Contributor 323 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010

    Sandyp, I'm really sorry for your experience but I'll bet that if you had sent out several more inquiries, you might have had maybe a 50% return on your inquiry.  With only two inquiries, you had a pretty good shot at having zero follow-ups.  Sad but it is a numbers game.  And there are owners who are lame on replies, I'll give you that.  But for those of use who aim for 100% followup, even if we're booked, it gives everyone a black eye. 

     

    I had an experience last week where a lady wanted info on our cabin.  I wrote her back within one hour.  Three days later, she writes "Second request..." and I write back within 3 hours, forwarding her my original response.  A few days later I receive, "Third request..."  This time, I picked up the phone and found out my responses were in her spam folder.  Many people do not think to check spam folders. 

    • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
      Aug 9, 2011

      That's a great point, amyg!   That does happen.

       

      I had the very same experience a few months ago.  I answered the first inquiry within minutes of getting it...and I included a nice offer packaged well, and helpful answering the initial questions.

       

      I heard nothing back.

       

      A day later:  SECOND  [in caps] INQUIRY....the person was firm.  I very politely, and even apologically answered immediately by email {no phone was given}, and forwarding my detailed response from the previous day.

       

      I got no response.   THIRD REQUEST!!  ....and this time it was a blasting rant against me, getting personal.

       

      I answered 'politely'....and the inquirer responded with a hammering assult, an abusive email full of CAPS and !!!!!!!!!!!...

       

      I couldn't stand being abused when I knew I was not "wrong".  I asked her to phone me.  She did.  I suggested she look in the "trash or spam" filter....and she HAD MY EMAILS  {caps intended here}!

       

      I then "politely" informed her that she should "check" her trash folder regularly...and then "check her manners"....because I would never welcome anyone like her to my home.  Aloha and goodbye.

    • stjvilla Active Contributor 624 posts since
      May 27, 2011

      This brings up a question; assuming you have received the inquiry from the VRBO or HA site and have responded from the same site, might that response go in the potential renters' spam file?  We have responded recently to 12 inquiries and heard nothing back from any of them.  That isn't necessarily a red flag for this kind of problem, but it is a lot of silence.  Of course we could call the people who give a phone number and say something like, "We hope you received our email, if not check your spam file."

       

      What does anyone think?

    • wiffle Contributor 217 posts since
      Feb 23, 2011

      I am glad you found a nice place to stay. You just never know why a good, qualified inquiry goes unanswered.

       

      I didn't see mention of how long you waited for a reply before you moved on. Perhaps the owners are traveling and are not as connected to the internet as many of us are, or perhaps the home is not available (rented long term, sold, etc.) and the listing has been left to expire.

       

      Who knows? Just speculating. I answer most legitimate looking inquiries within a hour or less.

  • New Member 7 posts since
    May 5, 2012

    I find that about 30% of inquiries go un answered.... I stayed in a large gated vacation home area near Disney last year.  We have stayed in the development before but my original place is under new owners so I opened up my search again.  I picked 10 that looked to be high quality after fully reading the reviews and the descriptions.  I sent 10 inquiries and only got 7 back in total.  2 or 3 responded within 12 hours.  2 responded within about 36 hours and 1 responded a couple of days later and 1 was a week later.  The rest never responded.  Of those that ever responded, I sent a list of about 10 or 12 short answer questions to help me make a good choice.   3 of those never responded at all.  Of the 10, it came down to 3 I had to choose from.  My questions were pretty basic like do you have this or that in the house, Do you have extra towels, Is the property manager also the cleaning service, What is your deposit policy, Do you have spices, salt, and coffee filters in the house.  So it should not have been my questions that scared them off.  I find lots of owners weed themselves out. 

     

    All I expect is a response within 24 hours and you will tell me everything you can about why I should choose your property over any other.  If you say you are going to get back to me, do so in a timely manner.  I don't send out a ton of inquiries when I look for a property.  I really try and do my research first. 

     

    If an owner/manager doesn't respond promptly to an inquiry, I worry how they will respond if there is an issue.    I also don't look for just the cheapest price but I have found that prices on what look like almost identical properties can very greatly.    I also prefer to deal directly with owners and not property managers.  I also like it if an owner tells me that the reat is $xxx.xx and it either is or is NOT negoitiatable.  I also try to book as far out as I can.  Usually six monts or more. 

    • mauioceanview Contributor 250 posts since
      Jul 22, 2011

      as an owner I try to respond as soon as possible. As such, my statistics show that 25% booking rate (1 in 4 inquiries will end up booking one of our condos). Responding asap definitely has a large role in that (that, and we have really nice condos). But keep in mind, owners may be away on holiday, dealing with 'life' or who knows what. It could be that they come home from vacation, see the inquiry and think - well, it's too late now, I'm sure they've booked already. Who knows.

       

      On a similar note, when I send an inquirer the information they have asked for, very few have the courtesy to email back saying, 'thanks we found something else'.

      • New Member 7 posts since
        May 5, 2012

        I always try and let them know one way or another.  It takes little time to send a "Thanks but we chose another house (Insert type of property here)."  Sometimes they ask why we chose another palce and I am happy to state our reasons. 

         

        I also understand an owner may be away.  I don't rush into a choice but a prompt response or at least an auto response is nice to get.  I also try to let owners know my time frame on choosing a property.  Usually I take 7 - 10 days to decide. 

         

        For me, the more pictures I see on a listing the better or at least a simple external website with an abundance of photos.  I also like to know about the specifics of the unit. The more info the better!!  I also look at the owner and their bio if it is listed.  I always look at the reviews too.  The more recent the better but I also pay attention to reviews from the same time period I plan to be there.  More reviews the better.  Things like the cooking supplies (salt/pepper/spices), the cooking equipment, the recent upgrades, extras in the unit, and anything that make the property stand out from others in the area.  Once I find one in an area I like, I just return to that property if possible. 

    • wiffle Contributor 217 posts since
      Feb 23, 2011

      You are telling us what you sent to the owners who responded to your original inquiry. What did you send out initially? A bulk inquiry?

       

      There is a tone that owners detect when a bulk inquiry is sent.

       

      Why would an owner tell you that "the rent is $xxx.xx and it is or is NOT negotiable?" Is the rate not on the listing?

       

      One of the dumbest questions I get, and a surefire way to tell if I am dealing with a bulk-inquirer looking just for the lowest price, is the rate question. My rates are listed, and are not a mystery. They are fair rates, based on what others are charging in the area. And, don't get me started on negotiators. It is hard to believe that owners are negotiating six months out, but I guess that could happen.

      • New Member 7 posts since
        May 5, 2012

        When I am going someplace, I look at the area and see what is available.  I pick what appears to be the best few properties and contact those.  Sometimes, that is three or four and it might be up to ten but that depends on the location and what is available.  When going to Disney in Florida, there are about 240 properties that meet our basic needs.  Of those, about 25% are probably the ones we would really like.  I try and weed through those and pick the best I want to contact that have shown avalability.  (I always look at the calendar first) I usually send five or six inquiries but last trio to Florida, I sent 9 or 10.  I sorted through those for about a week of comparing and came down to three.  Then I split hairs like what was in the house, who recent things were updated, owner responses, and a re-review of the photos and then consider information provided by the owners. 


        I really try to be straight forward in my initial inquiry.  I send the sameone to everyone so I have as much of an apples to apples comparison.  I list my dates, that I have used VRBO several times, that I have VRBO references, how soon I plan to make a choice, and that I have follow-up questions.  If they respond, I send along a list of questions I keep from my experiences using VRBO and a few that are specific to this trip.  In all, I have 12 - 20 questions I send.  If they answered a question in the intial response, I try to delete it. My questions are mostly yes/no or one sentence.  I think it should take no more than five minutes to respond.  (I ask things like if they are the owner, if they use a management service for booking, who does the cleaning, how long they have owned, if the pictures are accurate and how recent they are, check in/out times, what the parking situation is, are extra pillows/towels in the unit, internet available (fee), and similar questions. 

         

        I try to be straight forward and forthright in my approach.  Here is what I am looking for, give your details so I can try and compare apples to apples.  You know your property and the area, sell me on what makes you stand out or at least worth the extra money for your place.  I am always looking for the best balance of value and quality.

         

        I shouldn't say "rate is or is not negotiatable" but more of a "I will include the cleaning fee in the rate" or I will waive this fee or a resort fee.   I also find that rarely do rates listed ever come close to adding up to what an owner sends me for a rate.  I can't get the math.  I will see the rate and the tax rate, figure it and then they will send back a rate that is much higher.  They will say this fee and that fee and charge tax on every fee.  But sometimes I get a response and the rate is much lower. Some owners seem to stick to the rate shown and some don't.  Usually I am not negotiating the price, they are sending me different prices than what the site says.  I also see that lots of owners that don't update their prices or listing very often.  I avoid those.  I don't ever nickel and dime an owner or try to low ball them.  I just find that what is listed on VRBO as the rate is only the actual rate about 40% of the time.  The rest of the time, there are fees that aren't mentioned or the tax rate is different. 

         

        I find about half the time when the rate isn't accurate, it is higher and the other half it is lower.  I often get quotes back that are well under the shown rates.  I find that happens more if I am six months or more out or on really short notice.  I do tend to think that if someone quotes a rate different than what is shown on their rental page, they are more likely to negotiate their final price.  It seems very rare that the rate listed and the final price I get in the contract are the same or something that could be calculated and come up with the same final number.  Listed rates don't equal the final price very often. 

         

        I don't look just for the cheapest price!!!  I do try to do my homework before any inquiry and if I send an inquiry.  I have also seen units for the same dates that look very similar in photos, similar in description and similar in upgrades be $150/night different also.  That equates to almost double in price on some of the units I am talking about.  I'm just saying like renters, some owners are better than others.  Prompt response with lots of details is what gets my attention. 

        • carol Senior Contributor 2,150 posts since
          Dec 10, 2010

          Wow, tywebb, you are very thorough and systematic.   But sending 20 questions to each of 10 owners seems a bit over the top. Think of it from the owner's point of view -- if every inquiry took us 5-10 minutes to respond to in addition to the 5 minutes we already spend, and if at best we could hope for a 1/10 booking rate, that's a whole lot of wasted time.   

           

          My guess is that you get  a low response rate because few of us would have time to respond to a survey in order to compete for your business.     I like to get one or two questions from my potential renters to make sure they really have read my ad and are interested in my house, but if  had an initial query with 20 questions I'd start worrying that the renter is (sorry, I have to say it) nit-picky and might be one of those trouble-maker guests that we all fear.   Suppose we reply that the pictures are up to date, but when you check in in 6 months, different artwork is on the wall.  Will you sue us or fail to pay for misrepresentation?  Now, I'm sure that nit-picky label doesn't apply to you, but you should be aware of the impression you may be making. 

           

          You really ask who does the cleaning?  Would any answer to that make you choose another house?  I wouldn't in a million years give you the name of my wonderful cleaning lady -- you might be a competitor trying to steal her away from me!!!!  Are you thinking that someone might say that they don't clean the house at all, or have their 12-year old daughter do it?     

           

          In my day job, I work with lots of faculty and students helping them construct surveys.   For each question, we consider the impact of various answers before deciding to include the question.  If the possible answers  to a question do not clearly indicate something relevant, we drop the question. 

           

          Narrow it down to 3-5 questions that are really important to you and I bet you start getting more replies. 

          • wiffle Contributor 217 posts since
            Feb 23, 2011

            While I agree with you, and I would probably be a little leary of 20 questions (especially if they are questions addressed in my listing), tywebb certainly does his/her research! And, renting six months out is certainly a plus for everyone.

             

            To tywebb:

             

            My photos are up to date, and I have made every effort to make my listing 100% accurate. I don't want anyone to be surprised when they arrive at my house. It is sad if other owners are doing anything different.

             

            Asking about spices and whatnot - spices may be there, but are they fresh, and are they stored properly? That is just something I would not rely upon.

             

            Who cleans the house - I consider that an odd question. My reviews all mention a spotless home.

             

            When I look to rent a VRBO home, I pick ONE that I really like and initiate contact. Only once I've had to move onto a second choice due to lack of response.

          • New Member 7 posts since
            May 5, 2012

            I don't ask for the name of the cleaner but I ask this: "Is the property manager also the cleaning service?"  I ask because I have had two occasions when I arrived (not early) and the unit wasn't cleaned.  One, I ended up doing 80% of the cleaning, dishes, and laundry before the cleaning crew finally got there after being called by the owner.  This was after I drove 12 hours straight through to get to the condo in Florida and nobody had been in the unit for three days prior to my arrival.  The other, we ended up going to get some food after a flight in and then went to the hot tub for a couple hours while the cleaning lady drove up from Salt Lake City to Park City where we stayed. 

             

            My questions are mostly very short like are you the actual owner.  I ask because sometimes Property Managers try to pass themselves off as individual owners. (I have also seen individuals owners list as Property Managers on VRBO for some strange reason.)

             

            I ask about recency of pictures  because sometimes the pictures are more than 5 years old.  But also ask if they have upgraded anything of significance since they posted photos.  I want to hear from them what is outstanding about their property. 

             

            I ask if they have any other references they want me to see besides what is posted on VRBO and if they list anyplace else.  I see some rentals that are listed multiple places and one place has much more info than another.  I want to see as much info as possible so I don't have to ask questions. 

             

            If the whole family is on the trip (I have young kids), I ask if the property is kid friendly.  And I ask if there is a fee for internet.  That is basicly the type of stuff I ask.

             

            I also don't ask all 20 or so questions if they have answered them in the description.    I do try to do my homework.  And as I said, I don't usually send out more than a handfull of inquiries.  Usually 5 or 6 but it depends on the area and how many places look really good. 

             

            I want to be the kind of renter an owner loves.  I am pretty handy and I have fixed stuff in a few places I have rented.  I fixed a messed up gas fireplace in once condo.  I repaired a broken coffee table that had been broken and taped back together before we got there.  I was shocked the cleaning service didn't say anything about the tape because I saw it as soon as I walked in the door.  I have changed light bulbs that were burned out on arrival with none in the supply closet.  I also once rebuilt a gas grill at a unit.  The owner paid me back for the parts after the management company came buy and said they would tell the owner to buy a whole new grill.  I called him and said I could fix it pretty easy.   

             

            I keep those owners in an email file for my references and offer them up if anyone wants them from me.  I read the listings before contact, I read the contract, I make sure I follow the owners rules.  If I plan to arrive early, I get it approved and in the contract.  I also leave good reviews and if I see anything I would want to know about if I was the owner, I email the owner and alert them. 

             

            As far as spices, I just want to know what is in the cabinet.  I don't mind bringing that stuff but if I don't have to, that is great.  I usually waste lots of food supplies like salt, pepper, coffee filters, coffee, butter, etc.  I just hate to waste.  I'm a big fan of take some, use some, leave some in a pantry. 

             

            Sadly, some listings aren't up to date.  Some are but they are very sparse.  The more pics, the more details and the more info about why the unit is better than others is what I really like to see. 

            • wiffle Contributor 217 posts since
              Feb 23, 2011

              I completely get the frustration that comes with a unit not being cleaned on time (or well), or maintained.

               

              I think that is the nature of the beast with VRBOs. Sometimes that will happen.

               

              In all my years of renting VRBOs as a traveler, I have had few issues: One with a prior renter who refused to check out on time (with an owner in another part of the state) leaving us to busy ourselves for hours while the prior renter was ejected. The second was a house in which every dish was dirty, the oven didn't work, and the bathroom sink faucets were disassembled with parts left on the counter.

               

              I think you can find both lax owners and lax cleaning services.

               

              I don't fault you for doing your research, rather I applaud you for that.

               

              I do take issue with the ability to send out bulk inquiries. I think it has destroyed the quality of inquiries and has made owners tired of wasting time answering for nothing.

            • sophie Senior Contributor 969 posts since
              Mar 4, 2011

              tywebb,

               

              After reading through ALL of your posts since you joined May 5, I see that you said that you left reviews on the properties you stayed in. After learning so much about the property, owner, etc.,  may I ask if you leave 5 star reviews after your stay on the homes that you have done the extensive research on?

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