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7978 Views 16 Replies Latest reply: Oct 25, 2013 11:58 AM by cmballer RSS
New Member 23 posts since
May 31, 2012
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 6, 2012 3:47 PM

New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

I have verified this with three phone calls and also a written response from VRBO. When a property is sold, they are no longer allowing the  listing to be transferred to the new owner.  This is a brand new policy because you can still find the VRBO instructions for a transfer dated May 12, 2012. The major impact, of course, is that you lose your reviews and even more importantly you are assigned a new high number which puts you at the end of the line. 

  • shannon.martin Contributor 221 posts since
    Feb 23, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2012 8:58 AM (in response to jtcaputo)
    Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

    Hi Jtcaputo,

     

    You are correct in that we've made a recent change in this policy. We are constantly reviewing our policies and procedures and will make updates from time to time.

     

    For futher clarification on this change, much of the information contained in a listing is owner-, rather than property-, specific. When a property is sold, the new owner may take a completely different approach to managing and outfitting the property, and to hosting travelers (thus the reviews may no longer be applicable). There may also be a gap in reservations while the ownership changes occur. Additionally, the tenure (or seniority) of the original listing belongs to the original listing/property owner, and cannot be transferred to the new property owner. This supports our commitment of transparency for travelers to accurately understand the length of involvement that the property owner has had with that property and their tenure of advertising that property on our site.

     

    To support our commitment to providing a trustworthy marketplace, VRBO requires listings that undergo ownership changes to receive a new owner account and listing number, and for the new owner to build a listing that reflects the current property details.

     

    As a publicly traded company, HomeAway is required to keep financial history tied to a listing and owner account.

     

    I hope this helps answer your concerns.

     

    Regards,

    Shannon

    • 2barefeet Contributor 89 posts since
      Mar 15, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jun 7, 2012 9:41 AM (in response to shannon.martin)
      Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

      If the vrbo listing number is assigned to the property owner and not the property this would solve all problems.  I don't mind losing my reviews when I sell/buy property but having to start at the bottom of a new 'neighborhood' is ridiculous.  I potentially could have been a client of VRBO/HomeAway longer than the owner listed above my new property, but the renter would assume I am new to the site.  Maybe if that is not an option is there anyway to add a 'member since' column?

      • mauioceanview Contributor 251 posts since
        Jul 22, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jun 8, 2012 12:12 AM (in response to jtcaputo)
        Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

        jtcaputo, I agree totally with you. We have bought several condos, some with and some without VRBO history. It has been a long struggle on the one without VRBO history where we started out at position #50 (and have since slid to #59 as others upped their pictures or came back online). Even now, there's little traffic as most guests don't get down to #59. I think most of our inquiries come from our own website which uses the VRBO calendar and refers them back to the VRBO listing.

      • shannon.martin Contributor 221 posts since
        Feb 23, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jun 8, 2012 1:15 PM (in response to jtcaputo)
        Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

        Hi jtcaputo,

         

        I am sorry for the policy change that occurred during your  escrow period.  While in the past, the low listing number on a VRBO listing was deemed important to owners and thus offered as tangible value in the sales of a property, we’ve never supported the “selling” of listing numbers per our Terms and Conditions. We believe the property itself, its description and photos depicted on our site, and the caring people (owners or property managers) that open these homes for rent contribute to the value and attractiveness of the rental, not just a low listing number.

        We’ve recently made changes in the way owners choose to pay for placement on the site, which allows any owner to decide how to best spend their marketing dollars (and keeps the entry point lower for everyone).  We’ve also recently added more advanced filtering to VRBO, based on traveler demand, giving travelers better ways to locate the property that best suits their needs, not just forcing them to scroll top to bottom of a lengthy list of properties in a particular area. We believe these types of changes further enhance the benefit of purchasing a listing on our sites, while giving each owner and traveler greater flexibility in how they use our marketplace. 

         

        We do hope that you decide to list your new property with us, we’d be happy to work with you to determine the right listing product for your property to help you maximize where your listing will appear in search results when travelers are searching for rentals.

         

        Regards,

        Shannon

        • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,362 posts since
          May 25, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Jun 8, 2012 4:25 PM (in response to shannon.martin)
          Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

          I'm sorry to hear that you were mislead by your Realtor and previous owner.

           

          However, if you think about the reality of someone purchasing a " business", in this case a Vacation Rental, this is a fairly normal practice.  I've never  known of a business who's "Turn Key"sales inlcudes all advertising sites. Too risky.

           

          You'll find a great amount of assistance in these forums that will help you get up tp speed on ways to market and advertise your home.

           

          If you have a nice property, and a basic market plan you should be fine.

           

          I think you'll be fine, if you are passionate about owning and managing your home yourself. If not, you should look into a Property Management company to help you.

           

          Best of luck to you! And I hope you'll stay active in our forums!

          DebJ

            • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
              Nov 5, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Jun 8, 2012 8:36 PM (in response to jtcaputo)
              Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

              Seems tome this is a policy change that should have been announced with a future implementation date.

               

              If you were in escrow before change was announced, HA should honor that.

                • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
                  Aug 9, 2011
                  Currently Being Moderated
                  Jun 8, 2012 11:27 PM (in response to jtcaputo)
                  Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

                  Mauioceanview....and now I ...also agree with you....and  sodamo expressed it well.  I think the policy change should have been announced for a later  implementation date.

                   

                  There seems to be policy changes on a "blow by blow" basis with no warnings....but HA really doesn't have any obligation  to warn owners ...but their policy changes do, indeed, affect the bottom line of our small businesses.   HA has the right to change their policy ...but every change impacts how the website performs for us....and we are  an important part of  "their bottom line".

                   

                  You'll have to decide which "level" to choose for advertising that would give you the best exposure on VRBO. But, that's  only one website....no one should ever "put all marketing eggs into one  basket". You  need to diversify marketing,  in any case.  Were there any other "reviews" online...like on TripAdvisor that you can "point to" in your advertising?   Did the previous owners have a physical guest book that you can "glean" comments from to upload them onto your OWN WEBSITE...on a "guest reviews" page?  You could "point to" such a page in your ads.

                   

                  So, now you've lost the HA-VRBO  "history" of the property and the traveler reviews.   That doesn't mean that the  property that had so many great reviews can not generate more great reviews...it's in your hands to achieve them, now.

                   

                  But....did you get the owner's guest data...their customer database?  It could help you to get some  "comments" generated in some strategic places, online, to kick off "traveler feedback"...that's missing from the past.  Here's my thinking.....

                   

                  When a business is sold....there  is a customer database that often is included into the "deal".  If you have received the previous  owner's customer  data, you can send ONE message out to the list to announce and  introduce yourself as the new  owner of  XYZ.   Send  one mailing {whether email or snail mail} inviting them to "opt  in" to receive more info from you ...or just draw their attention to "new ownership"... invite them to your property's  NEW  VRBO ad page, your FaceBook ....or your website...blog...whatever you have....in fact, all of the above.    Include a photo of yourself, and announce  any upgrades you've made to the rooms / property....new amenities ....fresh photos .....new rates....any services you're offering...etc.....welcoming them to a return visit ...and I would consider offering a  special   "discount rate"  on their first return visit.

                   

                  You might capture some loyal past guests.

                   

                  If you use FB, they might visit your page and "comment" about having stayed at the  property in the past....FB or other social networking vehicle is one way to try getting past reviewers to comment online, again, about their visit to your area...and where  they stayed in what is now your property.

                   

                  This is work...time spent on "marketing" ....but that's what is needed in this competitive trade.  If your property once  had a lot of great reviews...you will do great pleasing your future guests, too.

                   

                  Question:   How would you feel if  the "history" and the "reviews" could transfer to new owners......perhaps with a "mandated" message at the top of the ad page that with something like:  "All reviews starting from Month/Year  are merited to "new ownership".....or some such  message to highlight that "fact". That discloses the reality to travelers....and it's still up to you, new owner, to meet their expectations.

                • New Member 1 posts since
                  Jun 15, 2012
                  Currently Being Moderated
                  Jun 15, 2012 4:13 PM (in response to jtcaputo)
                  Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

                  I have a similar scenario to jtcaputo, but I am the former owner who sold the property -- turnkey with transferrable VRBO listing written into the contract. Immediately upon closing I began the transfer process and learned of the change.

                  Once I swallowed that pill and the new owners agreed to open a new account, I ran into another roadblock.

                  I was told repeatedly (for over a month now) that the listing cannot be transferred due to technical problems. So I am forwarding inquiries to new owners and updating the calendar for them. My subscription expires in a month and VRBO cannot promise to have the functionality fixed by then. They say they do not have a work-around or manual process to do it. The system simply can't do it and I have to wait for the technical people to fix it.

                  In my industry, that would be totally unacceptable.

                    • amyg Active Contributor 323 posts since
                      Dec 10, 2010
                      Currently Being Moderated
                      Oct 23, 2012 11:10 AM (in response to jtcaputo)
                      Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

                      I was very surprised to stumble across this thread today.  Has VRBO notified listing owners of this change?  Did I miss something? 

                       

                      Every owner I know is under the impression that when they put their vacation rental on the market they can transfer their VRBO listing number to the new owner.  This was the long standing policy and I can remember reading this last year on your site, so I know I'm not going on heresay. 

                       

                      I am very disappointed in this policy because it hurts new owners.  While it may be said that a high (newer) listing number is not as much an issue as it was before HA employed it's new algorithm-style listing architecture, I know the benefits of a low listing number.  I own VRBO 18856, 51745, 134504 and 308275.  While these properties are very different and you are somewhat comparing apples to oranges, the inquiries for 308275 pale in comparison to my 18856 and 51745.  Even 134504 gets several times more inquiries per year and this property is only 2 miles from 308275.  I'm a real estate photographer and have background as a journalist and worked extensively in the advertising industry.  My listings don't have quality or "completeness" issues.  So the listing numbers do have considerable intangible value to present and future owners of vacation rentals.

                       

                      jtcaputo, thank you for sharing your story and I am very sorry for your situation.  This should not have happened. Any buyer who is going to rent by owner needs to know of this policy change before entering into a contract.  Homeaway's committment of transparency to travelers does not seem to carry over to the paying customers who list properties on VRBO.  If HA wonders why so many listing owners are disgruntled or disappointed, it need look no further than its policies and poor communication.

                       

                      Amy

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 25, 2013 11:58 AM (in response to jtcaputo)
    Re: New VRBO Policy - Xfers no longer allowed

    I'm going to reply to this thread, just to give it a "bump," in the hope that others who have not seen it yet might.

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