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VRBO is no longer what it used to be. I sent myself a rental request from my site that I pay for to see what VRBO was up to with all of the changes...I received an email from VRBO to the prospective renter (me) said they would be contacted within 48 hours by the owner...then, and what gaul, they have the audacity to suggest to a prospective renter, on my site, that I'm paying for...to also look at "these" other properties. What the Sam Heck is that all about. I realize that if they were on someone elses site they might refer them to my site...I'm not interested in that. I don't want VRBO contacting MY prospects in any way shape or form. Renewal is coming up and it may not be a hard decision to make...
Did anyone ever try to contact someone by telephone??? Maybe after you fill in a questionnaire and then wait a day or two for someone to call you back!!!
I'm told that with more pictures, I go further up the list. REALLY??? Go to VRBO.com. Select South Carolina. Select Arbor Trace...I'm about number 44 and yet my site says I'm in the top 10.
I'm fed up
I too have received inquiries, responded immediately, and then.....nothing. I'm not sure if it's just potential guests not responding (they do that) or if it's something with this fabulous, new and improved system that's being foisted upon us....
As a 6 year VRBO owner, I too have noticed a decrease in reservation conversions with the various changes they've made. One thing I would highly recommend for any owner that feels they're losing the grip of control on their reservations is to enlist the help of third-party reservation software. I use one called Reservation Key that costs about $15/month but there are literally thousands to choose from. This means, of course, building your own property website which, nowadays, takes 1 afternoon. Putting all your eggs in the VRBO basket leaves you vulnerable and at their mercy. By using your own autonomous reservation software (some of which you can even link up, using an API, to VRBO's calendar booking system) you control the cards.
Another potential reason for decreased bookings, we found, was that using the auto-complete reservation inquiry form, lots of guests just fire off tons of the exact same inquiry to many properties. With the increase in property listings on VRBO, owners have more competition and thus, a smaller conversion rate. The "Look at these other properties" feature mentioned above emphasizes this downfall.
This all being said, these are two drawbacks of a very successful and effective form of marketing. Property owners in our Boost Occupancy Report agreed that rental owner sites like VRBO, VacationRentals.com, FSBO...etc were a healthy compliment** to their reservation flow.
**Notice the word "compliment" as in, these sites are good used with other marketing formats -- not exclusively on their own. In our report, building your own property website was overwhelmingly the most important factor in increasing bookings, representing 68% of new reservations.
>> [guests] using the auto-complete reservation inquiry form, lots of guests
>> just fire off tons of the exact same inquiry to many properties
This is wasting a lot of my time too. Guests who don't bother to look at the calendar (which we keep meticulously up-to-date) or read the ad. HomeAway & VRBO has to put tools in place to better value Guests' and Owners' time.
I can think of many ways that HA / VRBO could improve the interface for better efficiency and to reduce the number of Guest fishing expeditions (& I have fed these back to them several times).
Why we Owners paying the bills are systematically ignored here is beyond my ken.
Yes, it's gotten ridiculous. The last 10 inquiries I've had were obviously from people who just inquired "in mass" by dates available, or god knows what critieria. They didn't know anything about my home, or it's ameneties.
Icing on the cake---- a former renter sent a request and I answered immediately. then followed up with a phone call. This person had been a great renter, and left a great review, and had said how much they looked forward to returning. When I reached them via phone guess what?? They said they'd received the "comparision list" from VRBO and were looking at those other properties.
Now, I have no problem with competition in my area. I provide a nice home that is larger than most that sleep the same number of guests and is cost competitive. My interactions with my guests are very important to me, as I try to make their experience as personal and good as possible. AND I always offer returning guests some type of discount.
Result of the above mentioned request? The renter went with one of the other homes VRBO referred them to ( and it is managed by a property management company). They undercut my rate by quite a bit : a sales tactic used in the initial email with the renter - at least on the front end. By the time they added their fees, etc. it was MORE expensive. The renter wanted to cancel that reservation and go with my home, but I'd booked it by then.
NObody won. BUT it sure explains why our bookings may be down.
Sad, sad, sad.
This post is so helpful. I could not figure out what the heck has been going on lately. I own two homes in the same area that are about the same size with same number of bedrooms. When the inquiry came in and I followed up they told me the same thing that they had received a list and were comparing another home. The difference is I had no idea that the other home was my own and I was actually competing against myself.
After reading this post I am going to come right out and ask if they would share the other proeprties that they are considering. Like all of you I used to try and be the first quote out of the shoot and was proud to be super responsive.... I think this is starting to work against me....Johnny come lately seems to be a better method. I am going to try a new approach....please gather up all your quotes and save us for last.
I think offering properties other than ours to people responding to ads that WE paid for is dishonest.
I'm paying hundreds of dollars to buy an ad advertising MY property, not the property of someone else, and
for VRBO to use that hook to interest my customer in another property just doesn't seem fair, somehow.
Amen to that. I wish I had a copy of my agreement with HA/VRBO - do you have a copy of yours? I think it was just one of those things where I hit the button "Accept Terms", assuming that it would continue on as it had been before. There's probably a provision in there along the lines that HA can make any changes it wants, any time it wants, and none of us were the wiser.....who knew?!
I went back to my VRBO emails and still have an email including my receipt for payment, but found nothing about an agreement.
I sent myself another test inquiry this evening. This is what came up on the screen after I hit 'send'.
"Increase your chances of finding your ideal vacation rental" and when that popped up, the site was performing a search function.
Then this message appeared: "Sorry, we couldn't find nearby properties that are similar to the property you just inquired about."
My house is the only house in that area on VRBO - most of the community houses are managed by the developers of the neighborhood.
HOLY Cow. I just did the same thing and sent myself a message. I was completely shocked how it tells the potential guest to look at other condo's in my complex. The renter is probably already checking into mulitple properties to find the best deal. I get it all the time where I know they are just trying to find the best deal being the fact its Kauai and expensive. This kind of ****** me off. Let them inquire about my property and stop pushing them to others. I hope your listening HOMEAWAY and VRBO
Okay - I did hear from the two prospects after I contacted them. They said they did receive a reponse from me but had either chosen to go in another direction or my place was out of their price range.
But I did reword my ad so that it clearly states that my house is managed by the owner of the property, not a managment company.
We have to all recognize that VRBO is no longer the great listing site it used to be for home owners. Home Away has made it clear they are putting greater emphasis on property managers but the real focus is on the Traveler. Complaining will not get us anywhere so all we can do is continue to come up with work arounds and keep alert in finding ways to overcome the obstacles they continually put in front of us. With this being said we did more testing on the inquiry competition list. This is what we discovered, on VRBO the competition list seems to stay fairly stable. We tried changing dates and also occupancy and the same list of 8 came up. However, with HomeAway the completion list rotates. After performing this analysis we are much more concerned with the VRBO algorithm.
>>Complaining will not get us anywhere so all we can do is continue to come up with work arounds
I don't think we're complaining. We owners pay the bills for VRBO/HA -- a significant amount of money. I sincerely hope that these forums are seen as constructive feedback. Personally, I'd prefer to not implement any workarounds for the system but, rather, to continue to pressure VRBO/HA to listen and make appropriate changes and to show that they value our business.
Perhaps we need a more structured approach to our feedback. We owners need a champion representative / spokesman/woman. Speaking for myself, I'm far too busy but, hopefully, the community will galvanize and a champion will emerge.