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5723 Views 21 Replies Latest reply: Jul 1, 2011 12:37 AM by tfv RSS Branched to a new discussion.
New Member 11 posts since
Jun 16, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 16, 2011 10:36 AM

OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent

I have very frustrated with the number of inquiries that i receive from both VRBO and HomeAway where people have not checked the online calendar first for available dates. I am writing at least 20 to 30% replies for dates that are already reserved.  I would ask the administrators of both websites to PLEASE put the calendars up front OR have a note which automatically requests that guests check the calendars FIRST before inquiring.  It is like the calendars don't exist! 

Is anyone else having this problem? 

  • Active Contributor 343 posts since
    Nov 18, 2010

    Hi tnmtnldy,

     

    Thanks for your feedback on the HomeAway and VRBO calendars. I'll pass it along to the calendar team. Also, I thought you might find some helpful information in these related discussions: why guests don't check calendars or rates, and people who don't use the calendar.

     

    I hope this helps.

     

    All the best,

    Laura

  • Active Contributor 343 posts since
    Nov 18, 2010

    Hi Cindy,

     

    Thanks for the additional detail, and wow - it's great to hear you've been a happy VRBO customer since 1994!

     

    I have passed your feedback along to our VRBO product team. As you can see from the other threads, you're not alone in your wish that more travelers would check a property's calendar before inquiring.

     

    We are constantly looking at ways to improve both the owner and traveler experience on our websites. We greatly appreciate your time and feedback, as it helps us determine how we can improve the customer experience.

     

    Thanks again, and I'll keep you posted on calendar developments!

     

    All the best,

    Laura

    • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
      Dec 31, 2010

      I love the ideas here.

       

      Many times people have called me, saying they saw our listing on HomeAway or VRBO, and do we have availability for next week?  etc.  And I say, "No, we don't, did you see our calendar on HomeAway or VRBO?"  And they say "No, we didn't know there were calendars?"  And then I have to tell them to scroll down in the HomeAway listing, or to click on the "Availability" link to pull up the VRBO calendar. 

       

      Cindy, you made me think of something .... when the guest sends their inquiry, they normally enter the dates ... couldn't HomeAway or VRBO do a cross-check with the calendar in the database?  When the potential guest clicks "Submit" or "Send" for the inquiry, couldn't VRBO / HomeAway make a "warning message" pop up?  The warning message could say something like "Oops!  The calendar for this property shows that time as BOOKED / UNAVAILABLE.  Please revise your requested dates or select a different property."

       

      Wouldn't that be AWESOME?

       

      And it sounds like something do-able, with technology!  It would make our lives so much easier! 

       

       


        • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
          Dec 31, 2010

          Hi Meredith,

           

          Also please put in my idea about having a message come up, which alerts the guest to the fact that they are submitting an inquiry for dates that are already booked.

           

          Ideally, it would actually give them an error message when they hit "submit" for their requested times .... it would say, "We are sorry, but the availability calendar shows that your requested dates are already booked.  Please re-consult the calendar for this listing or find a different property for your requested dates."

           

          It would be great if the error message did not allow the person to even proceed with the inquiry.

           

          What do you think, Meredith?  I believe it should be possible?

           

           

          A further note: I think it could be a feature that the vacation home owners could opt in or opt out of.

           

          For example, HomeAway could have a box which we could either check or not (as owners), which says:

           

          (checkbox) Allow inquiries for dates that are already booked.

           

          The default would be that you would NOT allow and therefore would not receive inquires for dates that are already booked. (Because that's what I think most owners would want.)

           

          But if an owner had a situation where he does want to receive the inquiries anyway, even for times that are booked ... he could check that box in his "Edit Listing" area.  If he checks the box in his Edit Listing area, then he will get ALL inquiries, even the ones submitted for the times when he's booked already (according to the calendar).

           

          I think this would be a great solution for everybody!  If the guests start getting these error messages, they will start to get a clue that in fact these calendars do exist!  This will save the guests a lot of time and heartbreak.  It frustrating to pick out your very favorite places (not being aware of the calendars), and then to find out (from the owners) hours or even days later that none of these places have availability during their requested time. 

           

          This improvement would be a big win-win for the owners and the guests.

  • New Member 3 posts since
    Jun 23, 2011

    I have noticed that in the past year, the number of inquiries I get for booked dates has probably tripled or quadrupled.  It's very frustrating!  It seems to be tied with the new feature that allows them to enter dates.  Maybe because all listings still appear (even the ones that are fully booked).  Maybe the results could be sorted with the listings that are available appear first, followed by listings that have partial availability, etc.  I understand the logic that people check anyway because so many owners don't update their calendars, but that's always been the case and mine clearly shows that it is updated frequently.  Lately, it's like NO ONE checks the calendar first.  Any help that vrbo could provide would be appreciated.

     

     

    Thanks,

     

    Karen Whitworth

  • Active Contributor 295 posts since
    Jun 9, 2011

    FlipKey has this figured out and have the following in their “Edit Inquiry Preferences”. HomeAway and VRBO should do a similar thing.

     

    Block some inquiries: Off or On (you have a choice to flag it on or off. If you choose on, the following warning appears, and a list of selection to choose from)

     

    Warning: Selecting any of these options will reduce the number of inquiries you receive by email (not recommended). Many travelers do not have fixed travel plans and may be willing to adjust dates of travel and/or properties.

     

    Block inquiries missing traveling dates

    Block inquiries if traveling dates are under minimum stay

    Block inquiries if any traveling dates are already booked
    Block inquiries if traveler’s phone number not included
    Block inquiries if number of guests is not specified

  • gordon.goode Contributor 32 posts since
    Apr 26, 2011

    I just want to write "Me Too",inquiries don't check calendars when it is so easy to just send their request to 20 or 30 sites without having to check.   I have started iqnoring their inquiry.   I just don't have time to answer all of those.   I do like it that Laura w/Home Away is on board and reading our posts.   Thank you Laura!!!!!!!

    • Active Contributor 343 posts since
      Nov 18, 2010

      Thank YOU, Gordon. We really appreciate the extremely helpful feedback from all of our customers. And I just want to reiterate that Meredith and I pass every comment along to the respective product line teams (in this case, the HomeAway/VRBO teams that handle calendars). Those teams then prioritize the work, and figure out the best solutions. This thread is a terrific example of generous feedback/ideas/proposed solutions from you and other HomeAway/VRBO owners, that I can assure you the product managers are taking into account.

      Though currently I can't provide a specific timeframe on calendar improvements, I can assure you they are being looked at and you are being heard.

      Many thanks again,

      Laura

       

      HomeAway Community Manager

  • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
    Dec 31, 2010

    Regarding the logic of checking "anyway" because many owners don't update their calendars ....

     

    This is really a message for potential guests who might be reading this.

     

    To me, as a potential guest (and I do book with vacation rental properties when I travel!), it only makes sense to "check anyway" when the dates are OPEN.

     

    For example, owners are likely to show dates that are OPEN, which have actually been booked, either because (1) they haven't gotten around to marking it as booked (i.e., calendar is out of date), or (2) there is a tentative booking (waiting for the check to come in the mail), etc. 

     

    So there might be some dates on an owner's calendar which appear to be OPEN but they are really not.

     

    However, if the owner has gone into the system and made the effort to mark those dates as UNAVAILABLE ... chances are, my dear fellow vacation traveler friends, those dates really are BOOKED. 

     

    Fellow owners, you may correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it is VERY UNLIKELY that dates would be marked as RESERVED / UNAVAILABLE on the owner's calendar, when they are actually available. 

     

    Therefore ... fellow travelers, if the dates are marked as RESERVED on the calendar, please do not bother the owners!

     

    HomeAway, if you can help us by offering an option to block any inquiries for dates that are already reserved, that would be fabulous.

    • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
      Dec 31, 2010

      Also, as a vacation rental traveler myself ... if I accidentally submitted a request for a property that wasn't available during the dates I requested ... I would be VERY APPRECIATIVE if I got an error message saying, "Sorry, your requested dates are unavailable at this property.  Please re-visit the calendar and revise your dates, or select a different property."

       

      That would be a "time and frustration" saver for me, as a traveler, too!

  • Active Contributor 295 posts since
    Jun 9, 2011

    Last week, I added the following line that says "Calendar is updated" where my rates are shown, and I haven't gotten an inquiry so far for dates that are already taken.

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