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Owner, Property Manager, or Traveler
You might have heard, a big change is in the works. We are in the process of developing a more secure form of communications where both owners and travelers can be confident they are talking to each other.
We have been listening to feedback and want to hear more from you.
Our goal is to fight phishing by designing a great solution for improved communications while minimizing the impact of the changes. Phishing is serious threat to the internet and vacation rentals are a high ticket item attractive to thieves. It’s hard to understand real impact. Until your email account has been phished, and travelers have been defrauded using your email account, phishing can seem like “someone else’s problem.”
While the purpose of these changes is to bring you improved security, you will benefit from:
Click on the link below to walk through some of the screens are working on – by no means are these screens final and your input will help us improve them. We’d like to hear what you think so let us know what doesn’t make sense or what you would like to see done differently.
Thanks in advance!
Director, Product Marketing
I understand what you are trying to accomplish but the the proposed system doesn't work for us. We have many properties. We advertise in many places. We reply personally to each inquiry email using pieces of carefully formatted and linked text and images. Our system involves using the built-in Autotext feature of Outlook. We use the email correspondence to build a file on the guest on our computers and in our control using the email correspondence. How will we use the Autotext function in your solution? How will your system preserve our careful formatting and embedded links in our Autotexts? How will we store the guest correspondence on our server where several of us can get at it? You need to provide a means for us to opt out of your solution.
I agree with the previous poster Annaanna. Large advertisers need to be able to opt-out of this system. I have dozens of listings. I cannot work with the new Conversation system. If you've been listening to the feedback from this discussion thread http://community.homeaway.com/thread/4590?start=0&tstart=0 with over 600 replies it is overwhelming against this new system.
I just have one little VR that I have been managing for many years. I already have a system in place that works for me. I do not need or want HA to control my customers access to me or mine to them. This just seems like such a bad idea. HA is not my rental agent. I went independent years ago. I don't need you people telling me how to run this.
If your "goal is to fight phishing by designing a great solution for improved communications while minimizing the impact of the changes" you have toatally failed.
1. Maybe it "fights" phishing (maybe not), but HA / VRBO has already solved that. If you enable it, VRBO texts you when you get an inquiry and HA can send the inquiry to another e-mail address (that is never used to respond, therefore can never be phished). Make one, or both of these mandatory and the phishing problem is gone.
2.Calling something "a great solution for improved communications" does not make it "a great solution for improved communications". That is called "sales speak". It is not a "great solution" for anything.
3. The impact of this change is anything but "minimal".
This may be attractive to new people just coming in but to the vast majority of your "seasoned" users it is absolutely horrendous, and it may not even prove to be a benefit to anybody.
Let me be clear, I do not like it at all.
Maybe it "fights" phishing (maybe not), but HA / VRBO has already solved that. If you enable it, VRBO texts you when you get an inquiry and HA can send the inquiry to another e-mail address (that is never used to respond, therefore can never be phished). Make one, or both of these mandatory and the phishing problem is gone.
Paul, I hear what you're saying but as far as the quote above, not all of us use or pay extra for SMS texting on our cell phones or mobile devices and many of us rely on landlines still for business calls (or forward to cells when away). Any solution that forces users to subscribe to SMS text services is not comprehensive or fair.
As far as the second point, when you say HA can send the inquiry to another e-mail address are you saying that would be the only address they send it to and then you respond from another address? That e-mail address you specify is still an outside e-mail address which can be hacked or password discovered (although maybe less likely if not used for outgoing mail). When my password was once breached they logged into my ISP's mail server to reroute my e-mails then delete from server so I never knew they existed, and I'm not so sure that means they wouldn't have been able to discover the password to the one used for incoming only, but again it is probably less likely since not used for outgoing or listed as a contact for you anywhere else on the Web.
The problem is though, how many homeowners or managers are going to set up a separate e-mail address on their own and be sure to conduct business this way without being told, and then if they don't be held liable for not doing that? I think HA/VRBO is trying to devise a solution that does not rely on the customer having to take all the security precautions on their own, but instead a system that secures everyone, regardless of whether they go through the steps to set what you describe up.
One thing I didn't think of before submitting the survey questionnaire is that we do rely heavliy on text formatting (colored excerpts, italics, underscore and/or boldface). I'm assuming that will not be available in the Dashboard Inbox, but even if it is, will that same formatting show when saved to our outside personal e-mail address too?
Thank you for the chance to comment on the proposals. I'm very interested in this feature....but I had one problem ... when I used the link to start the survey, I managed to input the first 2 survey questions...using "next" to get to the next page.....but then the survey *ended*...."thanking me for my input".
I never got further....I never got to see the examples. Can you send me a new survey link, please?
I have just one vacation rental but Homeaway and VRBO are not the only site that I advertise on, I have my own system to control bookings and enquiries and by Homeawy introducing this new system will mean that I will need to control two systems which will double my workload and I do not like the thought of applying for a booking and not knowing their phone number or email.
I feel that Homeaway is trying to take over the control and I dont feel for me it will be to my advantage.
I tried to do the survey and chose "property manager" and the survey closed immediately. I believe that means that you will not lock property managers into this system. Please confirm.
Thank you for requesting feedback.
It seems that this issue (see violet's comments), the concern that inquirers will go elsewhere if required to sign-up and what will happen when an owner can't access internet or HA is down again (Sandbox) or some part of it isn't working (again) are the biggest issues and of the most concern and problematic owners.
Excellent feedback and I couldn't have said it better. I appreciate that Paul immediately picked up on the obvious. Calling something "a great solution for improved communications" does not make it "a great solution for improved communications". HA is not our rental agent; we don't need you to track or store our enquiries in an HA-run archive. We want to control it ourselves.
I agree (and said it many times over and over) about never being foolish enough to wire money as with Western Union. That is how almost all phishing and owners scams have been perpetuated. However, what is wrong with money orders? They're deposited just like checks and can be tracked to a bank account once deposited. Do you mean you are worried about them being cashed? They still have to show ID to prove who they are to do that. Money orders and cashier's checks have been viable options for us in lieu of electronic payments which charge a processing fee.
We too occasionally accept money orders, but only when there is ample time before the booking to ensure the money order is legit, not counterfeit. My understanding is that the problem with money orders is for renters. If a renter sends a money order to a scammer only to learn later that the propery listing is fake, they have absolutely no recourse. This is what can happen with fake Craigs List postings.
Also, thank you Mauirentals for bringing up the sore point that HA has removed all the watermarks from our photos, making it even easier for scammers to copy our VRBO or HomeAway photos to create fake Craigs List postings.
Thanks so much for your feedback. Here are some answers for your questions:
Thanks for your comments. If I understand your concerns, I wanted to make sure and clarify when you see the email address and phone number. You will not be able to see the inquirer's email address and phone number when you receive the original inquiry, but as soon as you click to reply to that inquiry, you will see the inquirer's email address and phone number within the Dashboard. We understand how important 24/7 access to the Dashboard will be and we are committed to making sure it is available.