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This concept is used in some way by all HomeAway sites! They say it's because owners don't respond to inquiries and they want to make sure the guests get some response. But the reason is very simple: HA WANTS TO PRETEND THEY ARE GETTING LISTINGS MANY RESPONSES PER WEEK. This way they seem like are earning their money...
The result, the respect level for our property has dropped to nil. In the first 2 years I had never had a guest say they would book then NOT PAY! This year, 20! 20 **** customers who make me block the dates off and write an invoice -- it is REPULSIVE. HA never sees the big picture. They should be lifting us up but the efforts of the Austin office tear us apart. AND THEY DON'T CARE. Their material tells guests to submit to multiple homes. REALLY, HA, REALLY? Does my time have no VALUE? No wonder why some owners don't respond to inquiries - THEY HAVE BECOME WORTHLESS! (stop your auto renewals)
When a prospective guest contacts you it's often the personal connection that makes the decision. If Vrbo interrupts the process by offering other options, they've damaged the connection, causing you to lose the guest. I don't want Vrbo to take my potentially committed guests away from me.
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Wow, that is horrific. You are using their invoice system and they are causing you to lose bookings. That is proof of loss. I'm so glad I've never used their invoices.
You're right. If we don't auto renew we can at least make a statement. I think we need to hire an attorney with a list of demands.
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I wanted to take a moment to respond to pinecreek - started to do this yesterday and got interrupted. I want to make sure you understand that owners are very happy for your success. We are not a group that covets the success of others.
You don't mention how long you've been with HA/VRBO, but for those of us who have been with them for sometime, it really is a different site than what we started out with many years ago. In fact a majority of the changes we've experienced have occured just within the past year. And these aren't changes that we were made aware of by any stretch of the imagination. There's a little clause in our contracts which provides that HA can change the terms of the contract at any time - which makes any relationships we have with them a real moving target.
Just off the top of my head, I can think of a number of items that have changed - reviews cannot be opted out of, and yet they've made it more difficult for guests to submit a review. For owners who wanted them or relied upon them, this has been a real difficulty. For owners who didn't care to participate, they feel like they have no voice on how they're operating their business. HA has interjected itself in between the owner/guest relationship. While initially it seemed as though it was offering the owner "new products", it simply is a way for HA to to financially benefit from nearly every aspect of the transaction. They can work the calendar, the payment, do automated responses, provide property damage insurance, the follow up reviews, etc. etc. And some of the techno bugs haven't even been worked out yet from these products. Perhaps what has been most disconcerting is that the owners have been led to believe for years that by using more photos and by their seniority, they will achieve "top-of-the-list status". This status has now been de-emphasized because when a potential guest sends an e-mail inquiry to the home they're really interested in, they are bombarded with the "Hey, you liked that rental, maybe you'll like these rentals too!" memo. To me, there is just something fundamentally unfair about that. And yet HA/VRBO will point out to us that we receiving so many inquiries - they're worthless spam - it's a spammed inquiry that I take the time to respond to and it's all for naught. (And here we've been wondering all these month why these inquiries sound so....vague, like they haven't even taken the time to read the ad, check the rates, or look at the calendar - it's because they haven't!)
There has been some commentary about how quiet the HA reps have been of late. Can you blame them? I'm certain they are all nice people trying to do their jobs. But what can they say to us at this point? HA has obviously made its business decisions, and the individual owner just doesn't impact HA's bottom line any more.
To the extent that we had some voice in the product, that has been diluted by all the third party advertisements that appear on nearly every page of HA/VRBO. While I don't mind an ad for a laxative, an ad for what can be considered as a competing business somehow seems fundamentally unfair.
And so pinecreek, I do think the grumblings you've observed on this discussion are legit - we were all very happy with the site as it originally existed - it's just not that site now. Not what it used to be...too bad!!
Vrbo is redirecting potential guests away from the one home they already chose to ones Vrbo manipulated them into choosing. Vrbo is manipulating and redirecting guests away from us away from guests who first chose us. Vrbo can manipulate for any reason and we can never discover the reasons because they are in control.
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I, too, was in the middle of an answer to pinecreek but got sidetracked with other things. I am glad you set him/her straight with regards to the history and insidiousness of this change we have all witnessed from HA/VRBO. Yes, there are people who, for multiple reasons, have not had to question what was going on recently. But for a goodly proportion of owners, we have seen a degradation of the value of this company to us. Owners are paying for representation that we are not entirely receiving. Your addition to this discussion gets kudos from me.
Thanks tupelo. I have to be honest with you, over the past few months, I've seriously considered just not participating in this forum any longer, but I do appreciate the camaraderie and have picked up some good pointers, tips, and I hope, network friends. I'd like to think I have reciprocated to some extent. There have been occasions when I've expected HA just to shut a line of discussion down but, to its credit, it at least permits us to commiserate. For that, I thank HA.
I agree traffic. I really think this entire thing is a tactic to drive up their ranking in the Search engines so the can tout themselves at the getting the most hits on the web, even though most of them are useless to US its customers.
A lot of junk leads do not equal quality leads.
What difference does it make if I put my owners on VRBO or if they do. When you do not live in the area it is very smart to have a property manager to oversee your property. A lot can happen and that is why they rely on me to keep an eye on things, not only guests but maintenance issues. It can get really cold were I live and my owners appreciate us looking in on there cabins to make sure heat is up, windows and doors are closed and locked. Frozen pipes are not uncommon here. Wind is a big thing also. So if they are going to pay us for that then they might as well pay us for doing it all.
Having a properly manager gives I believe owners piece of mind. I guess I am not here to ***** so I think I am part of the wrong forum. VRBO is one of the best places I have found to advertise and I seem to get 98% of my inquires.
I have been with VRBO since 2006. Sorry I feel they are doing a good job for me I guessI am on the wrong forum. I am not one to do a lot of complaining. If I don't like something I just don't do it anymore.
No pinecreek - you're not on the wrong forum - you've been fortunate enough to have a great experience - kudos to you and VRBO. Perhaps it's the geographic area, the type of VR you have, your pricing, client base - it could be a number of factors. However, a number of owners just don't feel the same way. As noted earlier, were other sites available that resulted in the VRBO exposure, some owners would leave. But that just isn't the case, so owners will have to make a decision when their year rolls around - to stay and renew or vote with their pocketbooks! And you're absolutely correct - in some cases having a property manager is the way to go. If one isn't comfortable with the internet, have good local people in place or just isn't comfortable managing long distance, it would benefit him to have "feet on the ground". Again, some owners just don't feel the same way. The argument with agencies or property managers using the site deals more with the financial end of things as opposed to the service they provide. In some cases, large agencies that also provide property management services have larger advertising budgets than individual owners do. I may be speaking out of turn, but I think a number of owners felt the gist of your commentary was one of "If you don't like it, leave", and while that's a simple response to what you've been reading, what some of the remarks were meant to demonstrate are the legitimate difficulties some of us have experienced in the past year.
I read the Vrbo terms of service and it definitely appears that Vrbo is in violation of it's own rules. They say the site is to allow owners to market an individual property. It never says to market an individual property along with ten alternative properties.
So I'll be contacting a lawyer to have them review it and if they agree, contact Vrbo legal, which Vrbo advises to do in the event a policy is in violation of their terms of service.
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