14 Replies Latest reply: Nov 21, 2011 10:06 AM by lrbaldwin RSS

    Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!

    lrbaldwin Active Contributor

      I copied and pasted my post on the customer support forum, but it belongs here too.  Did you all know this?

       

      "

      I've read a couple posts mentioning this, but I didn't see anything like that on my listing.  Aha!  Now I know, and I'm really NOT HAPPY!  I did a test inquiry on my listing, and as soon as I hit the Submit button, there was a list of links to10 other houses in Duck, NC, with 4 bedrooms.  Now I don't know what the owners of these cottages pay VRBO, but I'm paying the max with 16 pictures.  I DO NOT APPRECIATE my listing leading my prospective renters to somebody else's house. 

       

      HomeAway/VRBO:  PLEASE remove this "feature" from my inquiry submit page.

       

      I'm so upset about this that I'll break with protocol and post in another forum, possibly more if there are appropriate forums.  I want to make sure the powers that be see this, and I want to make sure everybody who lists on VRBO realizes what's going on.  Like me, most people with listings do not realize this since they don't send inquiries to themselves."

       

      Chatterbox Too on The Outer Banks of North Carolina

       

      Thanks,

      Linda

        • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
          Contributor

          This issue has been mentioned on several other threads.  If you have a Facebook account join in on the discussion at  VRBO Independent Owners Untion.  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/VRBO-Owners-Union/192290787514907

          • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
            kristin.r Contributor

            I don't know about you Laura, but my inquiries are horrible.  They don't respond back after saying " are you still available" I respond and nothing is ever heard of them again.  Its crazy right now.  Plus I get people inquiring( thanks to VRBO / HA) who are inquiring about dates that are not available.  You might be interested in these properties however we (HA) think that we (HA) should determine which homes/ condos suit our customers ( the traveler) needs.  They (HA) are deciding which condos/ homes are suitable or similar to our homes and then offer those to our potential guests who have inquired about OUR HOMES.  They have created a nightmare for travelers and owners alike.  Actually my name is Kristin and I sent myself an inquiry from my altered child (Sally), Sally has been getting advertisements from Homeway constantly since making her bogus inquiry. Frustrated beyond belief. Kristin

            • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
              anja Senior Contributor

              Yeah...we know.  We've been "chatting" about this.  Catch up and read all the previous posts here.

              • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                Contributor

                After reading all the threads about this SPAM inqiry issue.... I came to the realization that VRBO/HA has turned the site into a bidding site like eBay.   I have been using this response below to weed out the SPAM type inquires.  The way you can tell if you have received a Spam inquiry is typically they leave no phone number, no narrative about themselves or share anything that describes your home. 

                 

                So to weed SPAM inquires out In the Subject Header I delete INQUIRY and change it to RESEPONSE.  This way I can tell if the email is coming back from what appears to be a SPAM inquiry. 

                 

                When making a follow up phone call the potential renter is so confused that even when I give them the listing number they cannot figure out which home I am talking about.  I have to describe my home to jog there memory.  So now to SPAM inquiry folks I start out with  short narrative describing the home in hopes it stands out from the rest of the pack. Sad...very sad that VRBO/HA has turned the site into a bidding site not a listing site.

                 

                This is an example of my SPAM Inquiry Template:

                 

                Thanks so much for your interest in our (short narrative to help describe my home). 

                 

                We would be delighted to accommodate your request as we have the dates you requested still open.  I see you found our home from the HomeAway or VRBO listing site.  Most folks using these listing sites are sending out spam type inquires to multiple owners.  Please understand that a great deal of time and energy goes into preparing a quote.  Therefore, if our home is high on your list than after you have received all your bids please share them with us.  If the property we are bidding against is a comparable property than please give us an opportunity to provide you with a comparable offer.   

                  • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                    thaxterlane Senior Contributor

                    While I appreciate your frustration I'm not certain that replying to someone by telling them they sent you spam is a good way to start a relationship.  It sounds hostile, to me.  I doubt I would rent from someone that replied to my inquiry, whether sent to an individual or multiple listings, suggesting I had done something wrong.  My understanding is that spam = bad.

                     

                    Also, why are you engaging in bidding wars?  My home has a set rate.  That's the rate for a weekly rental if you want to stay at my home.  I don't care about other homes in my area because I know I have set my rate appropriately for the location, size, and amenities included in my rental.  I've researched the market and determined my price.  I rent my season, on the Cape and Islands, from year to year without fuss.

                     

                    I think your response is crafted to address YOUR feelings about the Homeaway/VRBO inquiry process and reflects your frustration, rather than responding in a friendly and engaging manner to inquiries that may very well be legitimate from the guest's point of view.  I'm not sure what you hope to accomplish.  After all, the potential guests are simply using the site as directed.  If we, as owners, are dissatisfied, I don't think unloading on the potential guests is an effective way to handle our frustration. 

                  • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                    Contributor

                    Some folks in the community may not be having the same problem with SPAM inquiries or in an area where bidding is going on.  I am receiving dozens of these SPAM inquires a day and had to come up with a system to sort out SPAM inquires from GOOD inquires because I was spending far too much time on responding to inquires that would waste my time and would take away valuable time from a good inquiry that was specific to my home.  With these SPAM inquires 99% of these people you never hear from again...they never bother to respond to emails or return phone calls.  I assume because the system allows them to blast out so many they just cannot keep track of them all.  I changed to this system a couple of months ago for only the listings that are in areas where they have heavy listing competition and the inquiry seems to be SPAM like.  This system has proven to work well for me because now at least I hear back with a bid and have a better understanding as to who I am competing against (some forward a copy of the bid). whereas before I never would receive any response. 

                      • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                        thaxterlane Senior Contributor

                        If you do not mind my asking, where is your property located?  I have been considering, as I review the topics on this forum, that location is important in determining rental process.  Some properites are year round rentals and others have a high season that is well defined.  This is definitely a factor, in my mind, in deciding how to market your property.

                         

                        My property has a short high season in a popular destination which appears to work to my advantage. 

                        • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                          anja Senior Contributor

                          Wow...I wish I could say that I was getting dozens of inquiries from VRBO. I have gotten a few recent *spammed* inquiries from VRBO, and they were obviously so vague and generic....not one of those people  reviewed my property....and when I replied to them ALL...not one of them answered.  I always send an answer, for example, in the subject line, and then in the first sentence of the reply,  that "defines" which property I have...I even include a thumbnail image of one of my cottages.  I still haven't gotten any replies from the VRBO *spammers*.

                           

                          Very disappointed in how this is working out for both the Owners *and* the Travelers {it seems Travelers are also protesting VRBO, for other reasons:  they think VRBO is *only interested in helping the Owners and coud care less about the  Travelers!  I just found that out by reading the Mendelson's Muse {Google it}. It' full of protest from Travelers against VRBO for their bad service for Travelers!  They claim that VRBO + OWNERS are the scammers, together against them, the Traveler!

                           

                          Therefore, the new and improved system  that HA has introduced across their advertising websites...the system that changed everything that, in my opinion was good about VRBO, does not seem to be helping the Traveler *or* the Owner as much as it is planned and intended to do.

                           

                          I can forgive a company who marketing methods do not work as best as intended...but it's hurtful {for them and for clients} when a company does not seem to want the feedback from the clients. The clients are heavily invested in all ways: Owners with the property and Travelers with their hard-earned money for vacation investments.  When you read the comments from BOTH sides of the coin, it seems that Owners and Travelers are complaining about each other....and it's getting "mean-spirited"....but we're both sets of clients wanting to use {HA/VRBO} a service....trying to use The Service, and getting frustrated with The Service...and With Each Other. So, it seems The Service is hurting!   I respect any company, and I will support, pay for service and goods of that company that Serves Me...and My Traveler/Guest well.  I continue to keep my VRBO account, for now, because I am hoping {HOPING} that company will take a look at the discontentment "out there" and "in here"....of both of their target groups/clients....and not "give in" to any of us, per say, but start to look seriously at WHY we are unsatisified customers with the The Service, currently....but start to implement a fair+balanced approach to serving both clients.  Right now, we feel pitted against each other, we're operating withing a flea market mentality that Travelers have been prompted to participate in {via the generic one-size-fits-all inquiry}...and Owners are either getting too many untargeted inqjuiries...and/or no responses....and/or too many "low ballers" out there that want literally everything for nothing! Another guy, just a few days ago "shot out" an inquiry....I answered it ...and for one of my cottages which I reduced right now to $160 a night.... he and his wife had the nerve to tell me that they would "give me" ..{wait for this}  $50 + tax  a night.  GIVE ME!?  This is not a flea market...or a garage sale.  I offer not only the garage, but a beautiful, fully-equipped, fully-stocked, landscaped, spotless, home....near the best white sand beaches in Hawaii.  They would GIVE ME $50 a night for it.   Thank you VRBO.

                        • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                          victor.nawrocki Contributor

                          This "feature" is allowing for a great number of SPAMMERS.

                          The other thing that is bad is when a traveler fills out a request everything they wrote remains so they can quickly send it to another owner.  I have 3 houses and i will get 3 "inquiries" that are EXACTLY the same.  HomeAway should be getting us qualified people not spammers.  But they also want to keep the number of inquires we get real high - that way when we don't book it looks like our fault not theirs. 

                          • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                            New Member

                            I've called them in the past, and honestly they didn't know what I was referring to; that was surprising. I check out the service on occasion by sending myself an inquiry...that is how I found this feature. It isn't needed, and has made me wonder about if the advertising I'm paying for is really advertising other properties.

                              • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                                New Member

                                 

                                Thanks for these posts. I didn't realize this was going on. Just tried the test inquiry and sure enough, when finished, a list of other possible rentals comes up. We had been wondering why inquiries and responses were declining, guess now we know. We have used VRBO since 1996 but it is becoming less and less of a useful site. We pay for the 16 pictures and now HA has the nerve to continue to increase rates for this service at the same time they devalue our listing by adding incentives to visit someone else's property. Simply put, they are using our property to increase interest in other properties. Charge us more each year and make it harder to secure rentals.

                                 

                                This, combined with all the property managers now allowed to use VRBO - VRBO has migrated from a very useful and trusted site, to a less and less useful advertising medium. What really bothers me is that travelers are losing trust in the site. Once that I done, it can’t be regained.

                                 

                                Not sure we will renew next year.

                                 

                              • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                                marym Active Contributor

                                Oh yeah.  I received a recent inquiry that noted they were "looking for the best place" and that our house "took the cake".  Now I ask you, if you read this, don't you think you'll get a reply??!  I respond w/n 12 hours, give them all the information and....NOTHING!   Normally by this time, I have Christmas holidays rented out.  This year not one inquiry.  HA/VRBO what were you thinking???

                                  • Re: Advertising everybody else's listings too!!  Please stop this!
                                    lrbaldwin Active Contributor

                                    A closer look at the 10 properties VRBO suggests to my potentia renters immediately after they sent an inquiry TO ME:

                                     

                                    7 properties are AGENCY MANAGED

                                    3 properties are owner managed

                                     

                                    It is clear that my listing, the most expensive offered by VRBO, with 16 pictures, is advertising OTHER PROPERTIES, many of which pay HALF what I pay for my listing:

                                     

                                    Only 2 of them pay for 16 pictures

                                    1 has 14 pictures

                                    2 have 12 pictures

                                    HERE'S THE DEAL BREAKER:

                                    1 listing has 8 photos

                                    4 listings have only 5 photos which means they are paying HALF what I do, and these are all agency listings which may pay even less than that.

                                     

                                    I SHOULD NOT be SUBSIDIZING the listings of my competition!!!!!

                                     

                                    I respond to every inquiry in less than an hour (except for those that come in while I'm asleep) and I have not heard back from a single potential renter in SIX WEEKS!!!

                                     

                                    Of all the changes that have been implemented by HomeAway since I signed up with VRBO, this is the most damaging to my prospects for renting my cottage.  It is just plain WRONG!!!

                                     

                                    I would like to communicate with somebody at HomeAway who has some knowledge and power regarding this change.  If anybody has a phone number or an email address, please pass it along to me.

                                     

                                    Thanks,

                                    Linda

                                    Chatterbox Too in Duck, NC, VRBO listing

                                    Chatterbox Too Web Site