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Is anyone else in the UK having loads of enquiries but hardly any take up of bookings or is it just ME?
I have requests for one or two nights in the middle of high season weeks, Nobody seems to look at the calendar first, that I keep up to date and always asking for the price when its quite clear what it costs for a week. I had one enquiry for a family of ten people for one night! My cottage is only advertised to take two+two, I did'nt reply. My greatest problem is with overseas requests, Home and away translate my advert, I pay extra for translation but when I reply is it translated back in their language , No, because it dos'nt go back hrough the HomeAway site therefore they have to find out how to translate it via Goggle etc , I get few replys. Is anyone there?
Well, certainly receiving perhaps a few more enquiries this year which appear to be very generalised in their requests and are no doubt 'copied and pasted' into several holiday enquiry forms (isn't it annoying when they ignore the calendar and prices, and can't even be bothered to acknowledge receipt of your reply!), but it sounds to me as if you are receiving 'spam' or 'scam' enquiries. Quite what they aim to get out of it I'm not at all sure, but they're usually pretty obvious - just like the one you described requesting one night for ten people. I rarely ignore enquiries, but something as blatantly obvious as this would have me doing just as you did - ignoring and deleting it.
As for overseas enquiries, we rent villas in Crete and receive a reasonably healthy interest from Germany, Holland, Austria, Belgium, France, and more recently, Denmark. We decided against an foreign upgrade or 'translated' advert and fortunately for me, most of these enquiries arrive in very competent english. If not, I will spend some time using Google Translate, replying then both in english and the enquirer's native language, with fingers tightly crossed that there isn't too much confusion or misinterpretation. Our 'terms and conditions' and our 'travel information' etc. are in english and I'm always a teeny bit anxious that check-in/check-out times might be misunderstood or certain facilities and descriptions mis-conveyed.... So far, we've had nothing but fabulous foreign guests and some really great reviews. I have a tendency to be a little overly verbose when dealing with english-speaking guests (you might have noticed?!), but with overseas guests where there appears to be a risk of misunderstanding, I try to keep it all very plain, clear and precise to avoid mishaps.
As for the HomeAway translation service, I really cannot comment as it's not something I've tried or used.
Not sure if everyone else has noticed, but here in Crete the market was recently (the last few months) flooded by larger managing organisations (TravelOpo being one that readily springs to mind - see their little logo on the advert headline) thus diluting the smaller advertiser/private owner meaning that it's harder for us to keep up in the search results (though not impossible!). The upshot, I feel, is that there are more very generalised enquiries from a wider section of the public who, perhaps, are unused to a more personal booking experience...
In my opinion, this is probably great news for HomeAway's revenue streams but it has 'cheapened' the site and become far too 'cold' and impersonal. I think it's what they might call 'progress', but I think it's short-sighted and they are leaving the door open for the next HomeAway as was...? I'm certainly going to be seeking out alternatives for next year if things continue in this vein.
Hi paul great to hear from you, i agree with you , its getting like these companies get gready and eventually alinate their best clients us. I came away from cottages 4you last year as they joined Hoseasons a big group in uk.
They were taking almost 45%of my booking. So i have decided to go it alone this year , hard work but at least i get what i earn. I didnt quite understand about travel op and the relationship with homeaway. I do seem to get enquiries through HomeAway mostly but i also belong to www.indepentcottages.co.uk which is very much more personal and you can be more interactive without having to pay extra for special offers or late availability, its getting the public to find us thats the problem. They seem to like the security they think they have with the more prominate firms but they dont realize how uncompermising they can be when things go wrong where as i like to think that you can be more flexable with the personal approach. Great to be getting all this feedback i thought i was on my own.
Unfortunately the only way to legally abstract yourself from the now hoeseasons group is to give them notice that you are not going to renew your contract with them. I think before may the season before . For example i gave them notice in may 2011 that i would not take up a new contract due to begin the next jan2012.. They tried there best to change my mind phone calls e mails but i stuck fast to my desicion and i am glad i did because with home away and owners direct i now only have five season weeks left and had bookings also jan feb march. you have to do it by the book with th big comps or they get nasty. You can take up to 11weeks between april and oct inc, no two weeks can cover bank holidays and you are entitled to let these yourself as long as it is for as much or more than they arevasking , which is fine , you get all the money, of course they object but thems thevrules unless they have changed them now.You can block off nov to march inc for your own use but you have to specify this at the beginning of each years contract. I had no trouble with being up in the search engine i think it depends on how original you heading is! While your tied in with them i should try and work with them but get out as soon as you can , they cost me a fortune in commision on each let and double weeks took full two week commission for no work at all. Send in you letter of intention to not renew your contrct with them and they may change their tune.
Had a look at TravelOpo now, luckily for me it dosnt list the uk but i can see what you mean about Home Away taking them into their boosom so to speak, it wont do them any good . I have already decided next year to sort out a few more local personal sites geared to scotland in particular as i have found you have to be a certain sort of person to be looking for a vacation here in scotland and therfore they are looking for scottish sites. I have to work on my meta tags and keyword skills to get further up the listings though. Been to Crete, loved it can u send me details of your property.?
No, the 'TravelOpo' logo is to be found on a plethora of new adverts recently arrived in one fell-swoop, almost doubling the number of available villa rentals (here in Crete, at least) and therefore flooding the market and making it somewhat more cut-throat. I'm sure it's all perfectly legit and that they have simply purchased a huge number of advert listings at a greatly discounted rate, and I can see why HomeAway would want their business... I'm just whingeing because I'm an old curmudgeon and don't like change!
I really like OwnersDirect.com for a much cosier, personal and 'touchy-feely' advert, but they are part of the HomeAway umbrella and I don't doubt they'll 'streamline' things and make it all 'slick' and homogeneously sterile too - but I hope not. Problem with OD is that they don't offer a proper means of adding guest reviews other than by a small paragraph area to 'copy and paste' guests' comments. I always think this is pointless as I could write anything I want so no one's going to believe any of it?!
Ho hum... where would we be without a good old moan???
You are not alone. Very few people seem to read prices, numbers catered for, Friday or Saturday bookings etc. HomeAway / holiday-rentals provide more enquiries than most. I am very annoyed by cottages4you who indicated a certain income but it hasn't even produced a quarter of that. Then when I started putting in 'owner bookings' they tried to 'fine' me like judge and jury. Their admin is burdened by paperwork, they take too long to inform me of a booking so that double bookings occur. They informed me that they spend millions on getting on Google first pages but you have to have the right key words to go up and they use American words (like 'vacation' instead of 'holiday'). They are also between me and my customers. Although its more work, its better to manage your own bookings I think.
Same story here in Brazil. Receiving in average 5 inquiries a day but very few bookings. It's imensly annoying when nobody cares to read the prices or bother to check if we're available! It's always the same questions. How much for xx days? Can I bring xx guests? Does the property have a pool? Is it far from the airport? Far from the beach?
It's all written right there in front of your face!!! Read please!!! It's hard to be polite and proffessional sometimes!
I started with holiday-rentals.co.uk in 2002 and have always produced the lion's share of the business for me...however this year 2012 it's HomeAway.com tht has bought the most bookings in followed by Fewo.de - .co.uk has nosedived.
I get the usual time wasters - 1 this morning classic waste of time 5 people for 1 night - we are fully booked until end of September (bar 1 week in August) and we only do weekly rentals.
But saying that had another one last week for 6th June week (our busiest of the year & I'm booked right through to 2020) but by opening up a dialogue and helping I believe I've turned it round to a booking for nex year at a different time of year...so yes, imo you need to answer every enquiry no matter how irritating they seem to be...apart from abvious scams where you give change from a $1,000,000 cheque type thing!!
I've been advertising several properties in London & other countries on Homeaway websites since 2007 & 1st few years most enquirers seemed to be genuine, about 15-20% converted to bookings. In 2010 & 2011 there was a nasty trend for many "timewaster" or "copy/paste" enquirys where my flat was unavailable, above their budget, or they preferred another one so would never book mine, so only 5-8% became bookings. With the amount of admin time (& therefore money) taken to reply each query, this was doing huge damage to my business.
Since i added in my Description Text in capital letters "Do NOT msg me asking about availability or prices, you can see this yourself in calendar below & rates table below", then thankfully in 2012 my timewaster enquirys have dropped a lot, nowadays probably about 10-12% of enquirys are converting to bookings.
I advertise on 4 or 5 other websites apart from Homeaway, they all have this same "timewaster enquiry" problem & still the vasty majority of my bookings come from Homeaway.
One trend i've noticed is that enquirers who don't put a tel-number hardly ever book. Out of the ones where they put a number & i get hold of them on the phone for a chat, then atleast about 50% of them end up booking. So Homeaway should make it mandatory for enquirers to put both a landline & mobile tel-number.
Look fwd to your comments & feedback guys...
Hi, I live in Kos and rent out a cottage. I've been with HA since we started 3 years ago - the first two years were great nearly all my enquiries turned to bookings (80%). But this year, we have had loads of time wasting enquires. Most of them don't even bother acknowledging our reply to their enquiry !
It seems everybody everywhere is having the same results. It's encouraging actually because I thought it was just me they were ignoring or I was doing things wrong . I think it's just the economic situation in the European countries ,. Take heart I don't know what's happened this weekend but three bookings I thought were dead in the water have suddenly booked and I've just had a booking out the blue for next week. The've all woken up !!
In the last several days we have had several odd enquiries - all for times that are clearly marked as Unavailable on the calendar. A friend in the area has had the same experience - with some of the same people! Anyone else? As a scam it seems pointless. My only guess was that, as we had received no enquiries in recent weeks, this might be a way to make us owners feel that our adverts are drawing interest.
I have 2 properties on here and received an enquiry for each within 10 minutes of each other both for this week and both for just 4 nights. I too wondered if these were sent to boost my enquiry levels?
What I don’t think anybody is saying looking at the responses is that these enquiries are automated. As Homeaway.co.uk give an enquiry guarantee or your money back it is obvious that they are sending the enquiries. My enquiries are always from countries who’s language I do not speak so therefore I am unable to phone and although I answer them (in under an hour) via email and Google translate I never get a response. I just wish they would stop this activity so I could concentrate on answering real enquiries.
If this is so , i wish they would stop it too, it's wasting our time and frustrating when you can't make contact with them I too have had most of my enquiries from abroad , saying that I have have honest enquiries and bookings in the last week from France Germany USA and Saudie Arabia so it really isn't necessary for them too worry. ARE YOU LISTENING?
Enquirers very rarely check the calendar and price so I've just accepted that. Sometimes they're seeking a discount but often they're just taking a punt.
I get plenty of foreign enquiries and always reply in English which doesn't prove to be a problem - ALL my guests this winter were from outside the UK including visitors from Australia and Africa.
I do sometimes get weird enquiries asking for odd durations and with evidence that the enquirer has not read the ad. I ignore and delete these as often they are phishing emails and if you reply your email address will be comrpomised. My email was hacked a few years ago and I had to erase the address and create a whole new account. I can trace the hacking down to an enquirer asking for a three week stay and offering a premium for mid wek transfer. I probably get three of four of these a season and you have to develop a nose for the bogus ones.
I agree with you - I don't believe HomeAway send bogus enquiries. About 60 - 70% of mine convert to bookings and almost all so far are from HomeAway and I don't think I've ever had one without at least a mobile number. If I suspect something odd, I will try to call, or even text, that number.
If I get no reply to my email response within a week, I send another email, asking if they are still interested in my property or if they have found another more suitable. Most then come back to me, either to confirm a booking or say they have found something else. If I don't hear anything, I file the email in a 'cancelled enquiries' folder in case they contact me again later or I want to do a marketing campaign next year.
Most of my bookings are from Germany, France, Netherlands and the UK but I've had bookings from Australia, Hong Kong and the USA. Most people speak at least a little English, enough to at least to establish that they are genuine. I am married to a Dutch man and now speak fluent Dutch. I can also write it pretty well but I I find it better to write in English as there is no risk of being misunderstood. With other languages, German for example, the Google translation service is OK but can make a real confusion out of long sentences as the grammar and word order is so different. The automatic translation doesn't always account for this. If you do use it, try to write simply and use bullet points or lists.
Hi I've had quite a few, usually from strange sounding names-you know they are not serious-they want 2 days starting 'tomorrow' etc. Usually they ask odd questions too and ask about your health-I don't even bother replying as I know they are bogus.
When I first started advertising 6 years ago I received many scams but very soon I could easily pick them out.
My biggest bug bear comes with the the writer of the original post Jennywren.
As owners we take the time and effort to supply all the details of our property including availability and prices and yet enquirers waste their own time and mine by just not checking properly if we have available what they want in terms of price and acceptable arrival and departure dates. I get SO FRUSTRATED ...
I agree with duca.duke that phone number should be compulsory. Much easier to pick up the phone and discuss with enquirer than to compose (I do have templates) and send email.
I also send a follow up email if enquirers have not booked but most do not even have the courtesy to respond.
Recently had one who wanted 8 people to stay where we sleep 6 bringing their own blow up bed. Reminded them that our dining table seats 6 as do our sofas ...
The joys of renting out our holiday homes ...
Hi , i dont quite see why i am your biggest 'bug bear'!
I agree with everything you say . I also have a contact telephone number and have taken a few late minute bookings via phone. Enquirers just dont take the time or trouble to read the info.tharefore wasting my time and theirs. Tha new layout of the dashboard on HomeAway sure DOSN'T help. It took me a while to work it out how i get various parts of the info , iam sure my customers wont even get
Hi, So not only have my enquiries dropped or no conversions anyway, but now the only enquiries I am getting are for 2 nights when it quite clearly states a 3 night minimum stay!! I always reply & give them a price but hear nothing more.very very frustrating.
I have pretty much given up with enquiries coming from abritel.fr (the French version of HomeAway) - not a single person who enquires seems able to check the calendar, or the rates, or the map, or the pictures, or the description of the property. I have had dozens of pointless enquiries where they haven't bothered to check availability before replying, never confirm a booking, and never reply to my email. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, but I am certain it is considerably worse this year compared to our previous two years.
I have had the same experience with arbritel.fr. All the enquires from this site last year were pointless and nearly all my e-mails in reply were returned as not found or they asked ridiculous questions and asked for reserved dates on the calendar. So much so I am not subscribing to this site as an etc this year. However feo.Direckt was excellent I had straight forward bookings, excellent payment and very successful lets. Eight weeks in total from German clients.
I have had the exact same experience with arbritel fr. Enquiries only for booked weeks or no response to my info.
Also I have only belated checked the site and our property details. Stupid I know.The French is diabolical. My French friend was howling with laughter when we read it together. When I tried to amend it however it would not let me correct the French. Do you have to subscribe to it as an extra to do this? Does anyone know this? I did email CS but comme d'habitude no response.
You should be able to edit it. Have you tried going into your edit page &on the top right side ,I think, is a drop down box for editing other sites, pick the French one & when you go to the page you want you should see both the English & the French version. Then start editing
barneysmum as a dedicated mac user the amps thingies used to be part of life...they give me a warm feeling!!! Our address is l'Eglise or is it lampsEglise?!! I think HA have a mac they test the site on but when you see the amp things it can be programming.
Anyway reporting in - I've actually had some enquiries in...2 from HA & 2 from our own revamped website - PLUS wait for it... a review posted onto HA!
I've converted 1 enquiry from our own website & in dialogue with the other - the 2 from HA 1 has replied & the other not so far...24 hours so I don't suppose I will.
But Alpineskimum you should be able to correct the French...I paid for German translation a 1 off payment & when it was renewed they tried to charge me again & took down the translation I paid for...needless to say it came back online!But I'm still not getting any enquiries at all from Fewo which used to be my biggest source.
I have just made an enquiry on my own property to see the process all the way thru and see exactly what Homeaway/Owners Direct are doing. I don't know if any other onwers do this but I do it on all listing sites I am on. Once the enquirer chooses your property you may or may not be aware of the listing sites referal policy which in my mind is totally wrong.
Anyway the enquirer gets a choice to either only enquire about your property, or a group of properties in that area.
In other words your time and effort in attracting customers to your listing is being used to the benefit of others, quite honestly why do we bother. If the listing site is going to do this to us after paying a very large fee for the privilige of attracting customers to our listing.
They will now send your enquiry to about 5 other properties in your area. The area & amount of rooms appears to be the only criteria on setting these enquiries, of the properties that came up when I did it, some were already booked and every property was of a completely different price range, the closest being 50% more expensive and 2, twice the price.
Now I could look at this positively and say that it shows my property to be really good value, but it is wrong to do this, it is quite simply wrong.
We property owners pay a lot of money to these sites to attract customers to our properties and these customers make a free choice in choosing our listing, the site should not be throwing in other properties that these customers have not made a conscious decision to choose.....
This may explain the upsurge in pointless enquiries people are now recieving , it is not the enquirer that isn't checking dates etc. It's the listing site sending pointless enquiries in their name. It also emphasises on their figures about the amount of enquiries made, effectively making it look as though there has been an upsurge in the amount of enquiries coming thru when in actual fact it is a totally false figure.
Hi ! Thank you for drawing my attention to this block enquiries that the company encourange would be guests to do. I just sent myself an enquiry and the same thing happened.
I totally agree with you - shame on them. So much money to advertise your property and then they post another 5 properties for the guests to see.
Not happy about this at all
Hi son and karenlisa
This issue has been discussed on another thread 'Am I alone in absolutely hating the new dashboard?' around p.39. Try this link
You'll find that there are many of us who totally agree with you.
It seems HA doesn't like the comments regarding this refferral system, having locked the discussion. Courtneys comments about a "test" which in fact may or may not change anything is not good enough for me, I have today after quite a lot of e-mailing with Customer services and pointing out the facts that a lot of important info is missing from the site with regard making a calculated decision to join the site, they have finally agreed to return my subscription.
Joining a site that promotes an online payments system for owners to use, but not tell them they wont get access to it for 6 months untill after they have joined, well I know what I would call that, I am sure everybody would come to the same conclusion .
Handing your enquiries to other owners in your property area is quite frankly to unbelievable for words, again no mention on the site with regard this fact.
I think they are slowly realising they have touched a raw nerve with this policy, to put so much store on "Traveller Surveys" without even consulting the very people who pay their wages what they thought is unforgivable. Speak about putting the cart before the horse.
Just how stupid could this suggestion have been and doesn't it say a lot for the management of HA to have even gone along this course.