22 Replies Latest reply: Oct 31, 2014 7:38 AM by gymbeau RSS

    An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey

    Active Contributor

      I get more quality inquiries from Flipkey because I have the option to modify my “Edit Inquiry Preference” to do the following:

       

      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

       

      I wish that VRBO/HomeAway would see the logic in doing the same and make it a choice for Owners to block certain inquiries. We don’t care for Mass Inquiries as they are Spam Inquiries and takes a lot of our precious time.

        • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
          anja Senior Contributor

          Hi -tfv.  Thank you for that information.  I just happened to wander over to this Traveler section ....I find this "Flipkey" inquiry format interesting. I think other Owners, including myself, have recently commented about the inquiry system/preferences, etc.....not specificially what Flipkey does as you shared...but some similar suggestions.  I do not use Flipkey {yet}.  That other discussion was in the Owner section.  I'm not certain how many Owners "journey" over to this section for Travelers....so maybe you should put it up on the Owner section, as well {?}.   It will probably start a useful discussion, among us, over there, where some  of us have commented about the 'poorly targeted' inquiries due to the way the inquiries are "managed" by HA/VRBO.  I, for one, have recently suggested that they "mandate" the inquiry form so it must be completed, in full, or it will not be sent to the Owner(s).  And, if there could be "preferences" that can further narrow down the "results"...for both Traveler and Owner...that could be useful for both "Client Groups".  I would like more "targeted" inquiries to my property....according to the preferences that I would like to be able to 'set'....and then Travelers could [would] most likely get more responses from Owners.

          • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
            susaninrehoboth Senior Contributor

            Here's the thing from 2 prospectives: As a VR owner with a listing on VRBO, a got an inquiry a few weeks ago without number of people. This inquiry turned into a week rental for Christmas week for 2 people. Last year, I had an inquiry without specific dates. This ended up being a high season week rental and the tenant has booked again for 2012. So, I don't care if people inquire without all the requested information. People are busy. As a renter, I don't want to give my phone number until I know that there is at least some chance that I will rent the place I inquired about and often this decision depends on the owner's response. (I won't rent through property managers) Also, my dates are usually flexible so I sometimes leave that section blank.It seems a lot of owner's posting on this forum are getting hot and bothered when they should be viewing every inquiry as a potential rental. If an owner is going to be upset about an inquiry, just hit the delete button. That takes less than a second.

              • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                otttoyboy Active Contributor

                Susan,

                I think that you misunderstand the issue.

                All of the reasons you list above are valid reasons why a guest might want to send an inquiry without complete information (in fact when their dates are flexible, not including dates IS the complete information).

                 

                I doubt that any owners are having issue with legitimate inquiries like those you detail above and, speaking for myself, I also appreciate when people ask about my property and specify flexible dates, etc. I reply to all inquiries as a matter of integrity and good business which is part of why I would like to have only quality inquiries -- potential guests who have expressed an interest in my property.

                 

                Hitting the delete button is a band-aid (and one that disrespects the guest).  It is not a solution and should not be an acceptable solution for any owner, in my opinion.  This would also entail owners guessing which inquiries are targeting our properties and which are not -- surely error prone and we may miss a booking.

                 

                To clarify the problem is that HA/ VRBO have enabled guests to make inquiries without even looking at our listings or our calendar -- and, to make it worse -- HA have automated this process for guests resulting in effective SPAM to owners.

                 

                P

                • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                  mareblue Contributor

                  just to add something more on your comments which i found them very correct.

                  this summer 5 families changed their summer holidays days adjusting them on my availability.

                  among them one   3 couples (i accept only 4 people per villa.) finally agreed to rent a villa for 4.

                  all above were new guests,not repeated guests.

                  therefore i believe is not always black or white sometimes is grey and it is not wise to exclude anything,because of answering a non well "documented" enquiry.

                    • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                      margaret Senior Contributor

                      I want to receive all of my inquiries, I will decide if it will work for me or not and reply accordingly. It comes back to owners having control of our properties and our guests. I don't want my advertising site to choose which inquiries I receive.

                        • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                          mareblue Contributor

                          fully agreed,7 years in the business i always answer all enquiries rcvd from 06.00 until 24.00 hrs in a maximum 20 minitues.(even if i have or not have availability)and always proposing alternative days.

                          y cannot imagine how many turned to bookings.

                          i will continue myway,i will take the maximun HA is giving me or will give me and when chaplin or sharplin i dont rememer his name decide to cut the direct communication with the potential clients,i will cut also my money to his nest.

                          p.s. from august 2012 when he bought or change the set up of the magnificent company"holidayrentals uk" it was obvious for me that HA is trying to be the next booking com.so we worked hard and today we are depending only abt 13-17% on HA.,thank y chaplin

                          • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                            swlinphx Premier Contributor

                            I want to receive all of my inquiries, I will decide if it will work for me or not and reply accordingly. It comes back to owners having control of our properties and our guests. I don't want my advertising site to choose which inquiries I receive.

                            I don't think anyone was suggesting (at least I wasn't) that there be mandatory filters, just optional ones like FlipKey employs shown in the original post of this thread.  I think choice is key, and it has benefitted me to be able to block inquiries for days below my minimum.  We list minimum charge as one week but minimum stay as 5 nights (assuming they don't mind paying a full week).  However, I don't care to receive inquiries for less than 5 nights because we don't want to operate like a hotel for many reasons, not the least of which is the residents here and already contentious attitude many have toward short-term rentals at all.

                             

                            Also, it depends what the traveler sees when a filter is applied.  If I choose not to allow inquiries where any of the dates are booked I would be perfectly happy if it prompted a warning alerting them to this and then gave them the chance to alter the dates.  I would not want it to totally block them without a warning however.

                      • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                        New Member

                        I personally would applaud this type of option, however I have turned more than a few of those generic inquiries into bookings by personally responding and answering questions, even though at the time it seemed to be a waste.  Most of those people think we are all part of some huge rental property corporation and when they find out we are really just like them, regular folks with one property that we own and manage,  their attitude changes a lot.  We can educate people via our replies to inquiries.  It doesnt always achieve anything, but every little bit helps. 

                        • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                          swlinphx Premier Contributor

                          I stumbled upon this old thread from three years ago.  With the current version of the system on HomeAway/VRBO, which of these are automatically blocked, which are simply a warning to the guest before asking if they still want to send, and which are options the owner/manager may choose?  I don't believe we have any options we can control now, but I'd like to verify where it stands since that has been discussed with earlier versions of the software.

                            • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                              anja Senior Contributor

                              swlinphx wrote:

                               

                              [...] With the current version of the system on HomeAway/VRBO, which of these are automatically blocked, which are simply a warning to the guest before asking if they still want to send, and which are options the owner/manager may choose?  I don't believe we have any options we can control now, but I'd like to verify where it stands since that has been discussed with earlier versions of the software.

                               

                              Okay....I'll give it a shot  (apology, in advance, if I'm recalling anything incorrectly).

                               

                              This 'old' thread is still relevant, today  (at least to us, The Community Members who are engaged in The Community Discussion).  [I wonder how many "Members" we are, now?  Wasn't there a total visible before this new Jive Platform was introduced?  I can't find it, now.]

                               

                              ---------Extract from the (above) OP-------------
                              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

                              -------------------------------------------------------------

                               

                              The "advantage" is mostly on The Traveler side;  we, The Owners have little to no control over whether the inquiry is actionable, e.g. whether it will "send" regardless of it's content or lack thereof;  no blocking by us.  EDITED to add:  it's been awhile since the OP....is Flip Key still giving "blocking protocol" to Subscribers?


                              First, to be positive.... over the years VRBO/HA
                              --> added to the Travelers' Search the option for, "I don't have dates yet" [which benefits both them and us]
                              --> and when a Traveler "clicks" the yellow button for, "Get An Instant Quote" and types in dates that are *FEWER* than what is permitted by me, a notice in *RED* will immediately appear to them:  "Please stay a bit longer. A stay of 5 nights or more is required for these dates."[for example]
                              --> warns the Traveler when their dates are already reserved (on calendar)

                               

                              However...

                              When a Traveler decides to go ahead and complete "The Inquiry Form" (on VRBO), there appears "no warning notices" for the fields (they are offered to complete) ....they may leave them incomplete / incorrect.  In other words, a Traveler can be as  "negligent" with their information as the Traveler wants and the system does not prompt them to "complete" or "correct" , vis-à-vis what the Owner's preferences may be.  So....

                               

                              --> a Traveler does not have to complete their name field;  they can type in First Name = F   Last Name = T  [I want their full name in the initial inquiry]
                              --> a Traveler does not have to use the field for "phone number"  (I know...I know....it's debatable and relative for the initial inquiry (but, I want a number).
                              --> a Traveler has no "guidance" about what to include in the field for, "Message to owner";  and too often, I get negligent messages like:  "Do you have availability and what's the rate?"   (Which indicates that theTraveler did not even glance at my Rates / Calendar ---- which indicates further s/he probably used "BULK" sending by typing one generic message to send to *everyone* on my island);  which, further, is not helpful because my island is the size of the State of Connecticut, for example.   I can't recall how many times I answered to find out (another email later) that the person didn't want my side of the island -- and sometimes s/he didn't even know that  themselves (....it's a big island).  "Message to owner" could use some 'prompts' to aid everyone.
                              ---> a Traveler can input any number of Adults and Children (regardless of the "minimum" number my listing limits.... without the system 'informing' the limitation.

                              As of today, I still receive untargeted inquiries for both the Traveler and I,  inquiring for too many people, no phone, no informative "Message to owner" that will help, overall, with servicing  the inquirer.  In fact, (and I believe it's a PITA to Mr Sharples)  too many "back and forth communications between Traveler and Owner" exists because the initial "inquiry form" has always left too many loose ends, from the start.  It was always necessary to "clarify" who/what/where/when...and why  before I can know whether The Fit  is good ....literally.....for both Traveler and I.

                               

                              Have no fear.....

                              Mr Sharples has (already) found a solution, he believes, which is to "hotelify" the system, altogether, in the mid-term.  It's easier for everyone to get rid if the PITA "back and forth" communication between The Travelers and The Owners.    Click + Book.

                               

                              Oh...and pardon me for being snarky, today .

                                • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                                  swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                  That was a very well thought out and thorough post, anja! 

                                   

                                  ---------Extract from the (above) OP-------------
                                  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

                                  -------------------------------------------------------------

                                  The OP was referring to FlipKey.  Are you saying they have the exact same options on HomeAway/VRBO (and if so, where)?

                                   

                                  it's been awhile since the OP....is Flip Key still giving "blocking protocol" to Subscribers?

                                  Yes, I just tweaked mine today.

                              • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                                susaninrehoboth Senior Contributor

                                I used to think this was a valuable filtering tool for owners. I've changed my mind. Travelers circumvent the system. I don't know what purpose they think it serves to enter 3 nights rental but put in their message I only want to rent for 2 nights or enter an open week and write I really want to rent the week of xxx see that it is not available.. Please let me know if you get a cancellation.

                                • Re: An appeal to VRBO/HomeAway to reduce Spam Inquiry by giving Owners an “Edit Inquiry Preference” like Flipkey
                                  rinaldomoon Active Contributor

                                  I know this has been asked by many owner's in the past but I want to reiterate that the email address field should have a "re-type to confirm" as one typo by a potential guest who doesn't leave a phone number will be lost.

                                   

                                  They will neither receive a message from HA nor will an owner have any means to communicate via dashboad or directly.