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To qualify my earlier vent, whilst I stand by my "coercive, authoritarian & grabby approach..." opinion I don't think the basic fee for HA is particularly bad value, as it is about the only marketing you need to do to keep a property occupied. They clearly spend most of their programmer dollars on the most important thing, SEO and do it well. It's just that their other dollars are spent along the lines of how MS always did business, make the product look sexy for a sales demo environment and don't waste time adding things to please your existing customers, you got them already. I used to find in S/W feature triage meetings that there were those who never saw a bit of enforced logic they didn't want to code in, and the more businessey types who just wanted the system to be easy to use. HA seem to lean towards the former. Their treatment of their VRBO ugly duckling fits in as part of natural brand building desire.
I suspect that heading into IPO's the bankers' analysts probably do trawl through any forums etc of a prospective investment, it sure helps them get a feel for the state of mind of the existing revenue stream. In this light, venting away & venting often might indeed get us a bit more of what we ask for. Me, i just want the calendar to indicate same day changeovers and have been asking for it for 3 years, have never had any meaningful response to my requests, not even with my poll on this site showing a 90% agreement that it's a good idea.
Interesting article on Tnooz about potential liability problems with reviews:
We are 6 days away from canceling our VRBO subscription due to the REVIEW process! It is extremely unfair and allows renters to "bully" homeowners with no accountability. We had an unflattering review that stated incorrect facts and gave us a 1 star. We just finished our 7th season and have only glowing reviews the entire time. Now we are about to have a negative review published on our site/internet that isn't even true. We have had a hard time even getting someone at VRBO to hear our side of the story.
Hum, where did TRAVIS go???????
Are these people daft? VRBO and Home Away are acting like a three year old, sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "I'm not listening, I'm not listening lalalalala" This is corporate America today. Screw the customer, screw customer service, just give us your money!
By now it it OBVIOUS that VRBO/HA have made a BAD decision! Change it! Ask yourselves "Who is your customer? Is it the renter? No, it's the HOMEOWNER STUPID!!!!!
START LISTENING TO YOUR CUSTOMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Like TripAdvisor, VRBO is more concerned with fake positive reviews, than bogus negative reviews.
OWNER FROM ITALY
HI PAT, WELL VRBO IS GOING DOWN THE DRAIN, I NEVER GET ANY CLIENTS AND IF I DO, DESPITE THE WONDERFUL APPRECIATIONS, THEY ARE A REAL PAIN IN THE ART SO I HAVE THOUGHT OF MOVING OVER TO HOMELIDAYS A VERY GOOD WEBSITE IN EUROPE, HALF AS EXPENSIVE AND WHERE OWNERS SAY WHAT THEY THINK OF THEIR CLIENTS
GOOD LUCK, IF I INTRODUCE YOU WE BOTH GET A DISCOUNT
Hi internet screamer. There is a little button on your keyboard called caps lock. Please press it.
Homelidays is owned by the same people. The review system is better, so is the booking mechanism. I wonder how much HomeAway paid for the site.
Bobbie32 thanks for sharing this great article about fake reviews. Oh my.....what will they think of next....hiring someone to write positive reviews is pretty imaginative. With the VRBO/HA open system you could see how something like this could be happening. Flipkey's review system is a system that is designed to support the homeowner not the renter. They have a closed system so the only way you can have reviews on your listing is if you elect to send out invitations asking your guests to write a review. If an owner elects to Opt out of Reviews they can just choose not to send out any invitations.
So exactly how does Flipkey work? We have avoided advertising on Flipkey as I HATE TripAdvisor, since one fraudulent review can ruin a small business. But I have been to their site and it appears that a renter can post a reivew without being contacted by the owner. But maybe you have to get further into the process in order to get the review to appear - correct?
The aspect of having to actively solicit reviews does not appeal to me. And the only way to move to the top of the list on Flipkey, is to solicit reviews since they base placement based on the number of reviews - both good and bad reviews. If you have no reviews you stay at the bottom. You bet, people will probably pay someone to post bogus reviews in order to stay on top. Just doesn't seem right...
We have used VRBO many times in the past. Before we book a rental, we read the reviews both good and those with a gripe. If there is one bad review out of several, then we figure there was possibly a difference of opinion and we ignore it, unless it is dirty or bed bugs were found. If there is a trend - thin walls, noise from the street etc. then we will move on. Hopefully the owner of the property will take care of the problem where possible.If there is a cleanliness issue, this is devastating for the owner.
Is there some way that an inspection or a receipt from a fumigator be submitted to VRBO and the review removed from the site? Some hotels, the Four Seasons in Mexico City as an example will respond to comments left on their site - and deal with the issues. No reviews of a property indicates to us that it is likely very new and we would probably find somewhere else with more feedback. If your listing does not allow comments, we absolutely will not rent from you.
mexberry... I don't want to discourage from using your method of choosing a place to stay if it works for you, but you might want to understand why some places have no reviews. We have had our vacation rental for about 15 years and have been on VRBO for many years. We do not solicit reviews. I dislike it when someone asks me to post a review, so I refuse to play the "review game" with our vacation rental. There are so many bogus reviews on VRBO and TA, since friends and family are often asked to post positive reviews. And now we hear that there are people that will post a positive review for a fee... ( www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/technology/finding-fake-reviews-online.html?_r=1 ) .
We have no reviews - positive or negative. Most of our guests want to keep our place a secret and refuse to tell other people about it so they will be able to get a reservation again and again. Our availability calendar should speak for itself as we get booked up well in advance - mostly with repeat guests. Thus, not eveyone needs to play the same game - sometimes the old fashion way works - talk to the owner and study the photos, look at the availability calendar and make the decision on your own. Why should I trust a total stranger, particularly since they might have been paid to write the review???
Hi Bobbie32 ...
As far as I can tell, on FlipKey / TripAdvisor, you can get reviews in one of 2 ways.
1) You use the FlipKey system to request reviews ... you enter the e-mail addresses of previous guests (even if they have never used FlipKey). Then FlipKey send a professional looking e-mail that says "So and So Owners of X Vacation Rental have requested your feedback." And that e-mail provides a link that allows the guest to go in and post a review.
2) The guest (or any random person) can visit your FlipKey web site and post a review. HOWEVER ... before the review is posted, the owner is notified and asked to verify that the reviewer is someone who honestly stayed at the guest apartment. Therefore, if you don't recognize the name of the reviewer, the owner can block the review. Note that the owner does not get to read the review, before deciding to block it or not. Only *AFTER* you accept it and say YES, this person stayed here ... then you can read what they wrote.
Hope that helps!
Thanks for the explanation, but I refuse to use FlipKey since they use the number of reviews to place your ad. The more reviews you have, the higher the placement. I hate TA and FlipKey is a TA company. TA will not monitor the review process and I refuse to play the review game. I will quit renting before I have to solicit reviews.