83 Replies Latest reply: Aug 12, 2012 11:04 AM by jennywren RSS

    "Occupy VRBO"

    bobbie32 Community All-Star

      Express your opinion here - let everyone know how you feel about the changes that took effect on January 5th.

        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
          susaninrehoboth Senior Contributor

          Here's the thing-I'll be darned if I can figure out what my annual cost will be. I currently have 12 photos. I renewed for my third, and possibly last, year in December. I'm in an area with 244 listings. VRBO says I'm tier 5 although, at least for now, I'm in the same position.

           

          Does anyone know the new cost? I guess it has nothing to do with how many photos I had in my listing before today.

            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
              shannon.martin HomeAway Employee

              Hi Susan,

               

              Based on your level of 12 photos (which converts to the new tier 5), your annual renewal cost next December will be $558.93. This will give you 16 photos, a thumbnail, the owner profile and a video tour if you want to post one. I hope this helps!

            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
              bobbie32 Community All-Star

              1)  The change is good for those that want to pay less.  They now get a thumbnail photo and can now also show 16 photos. 

               

              2)  The change is bad for those that have previously paid the minimum, as now the lowest tier pays $50 more a year.  It is a sneaky way to raise fees, telling you that you are now getting more for your money.

               

              2)  The change is bad for those that have paid more for years - not what you signed up for - seems unfair.  Rates will likely increase for the top tier too and you will get nothing more in return. 

               

              3)  Wonder what is next?  They need to raise more money to satisfy investors. 

               

              I have not seen what they are now doing for inquiries since the change - have they messed up that too?  Does a traveler that sends you an inquiry get a confirmation telling them that they should also check out 10 other competing listings?  I still don't understand how they determine what those 10 other competing listings are???

               

              Reality is that HA/VRBO has a problem - how to take in more money.  They now offer insurance and credit-card processing and will be pushing that as we all saw in an earlier email this week.  - highly suggesting that a traveler use a credit card to be processed through their HA source or be concerned with fraud and/or identity theft will occur.  And warning travelers that sending a personal check is a bad idea.  What's next???

                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                  msdebj Senior Contributor

                  12 photos puts you on Tier 5? Holy moly!!!! what in the world does it cost to get to Tier 1? a million dollars? Seriously--- I can't figure this out either.

                   

                  Of course, since I cannot access my account today -- again I can't do anything anyway.

                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                    bobbie32 Community All-Star

                    Just a thought - keep accessing the site and try to access the edit feature of your listing.  The more people that do this, the more likely HA/VRBO will have to deal with the negative feelings toward the changes.  It will crash the site and we will all lose potential renters.  Then they will have to deal with refunds - the longer the site does not work. 

                    • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                      New Member

                      Have you listed on rentalspot.com?  They are completely free.  It is certainly a good way to complement your VRBO listing.  You get a free link as well.  It is a very professional site.  They are Instant Software(Homeaway) Partners.

                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                          Contributor

                          I am going to take a peak at this site, thanks for the link.  I've been VERY happy with VRBO since I joined maybe a month ago but as of today am feeling discouraged due to the fact that my inquiries are not showing up and potential guests are now getting an auto responder rather than my response.  The auto response comes some 20 minutes after they inquire where as I can do it in five minutes.  Now I'm seeing a lot of other complaints so I dont' know how my membership is going to pan out for me this  year.

                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                        otttoyboy Active Contributor

                        I like the change.  I think it's good for potential guests ( they can see a thumbnail, a map, many pictures ).  I think it's good for owners ( we can show off our properties better ).

                         

                        I hate the price gouge that VRBO is doing to implement the change.  +$50 for something that should have been part of the basic system anyway.  Note: fees have increased over 120% since I joined in 2006 from $149 --> $259.

                         

                        I don't like the tiers.  Personally, I think we should all simply refuse to pay anything but the base rate and force VRBO to implement a better search so customers can home in on properties that meet their travel needs.

                         

                        Given that VRBO is a business and need to grow profits, I suggest that they implement a pricing system for their advertisments where the fee to advertise is based on the rental rate of the property.  It is unfair that a 1-bedroom condo must pay the same fee to advertise as a 6-bedroom chalet.  The ROI for them is totally different.  Don't think that can work?  Check out e-bay -- prices are tiered based on the value of goods sold.

                         

                        (Sorry, big property owners, I know that opinion won't be popular with you -- but VRBO is not treating us all fairly).

                         

                        @bobbie32 -- love the thread title.  ;o)

                         

                        P.

                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                            bobbie32 Community All-Star

                            Peter...

                             

                            I have to disagree that ranking should be based on the size of the property and thus rent.  I think they already offer that search feature - based on the number of bedrooms or the number a rental can sleep.  But the reason I disagree, is that we start our pricing based on an occupancy of 2 people and then charge for additional people up to a max of 6.  We love having honeymooners rent our place so we are fine with the cost for just 2 people.  We do not base our prices on maximum occupancy.  So see, we are all different the way we handle our rental. We would hate it if everyone is put in the same box and had to structure our rates like everyone else.  

                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                otttoyboy Active Contributor

                                Bobbie32,

                                 

                                To be clear, I also do not think that the ranking should be based on size of property.

                                I advocate that pricing of the advertisment should be based on rental rate (not even on property size but, rather, rental rate).

                                 

                                >> We would hate it if everyone is put in the same box and

                                >> have to structure our rates like everyone else.

                                 

                                I don't see why you'd need to do this.  I'm sure you have a base-price / average price that could be used.  There will always be exceptions but I think what I propose is, by far, more fair to the majority.  There are obviously nuances with such a system that would need to be considered.

                                 

                                Imagine being in my shoes and having to pay $349 to advertise my small one-bedroom condo (3% of my gross income on the property) while a large villa pays exactly the same amount that represents less than one day's rental to them.  Something seems broken.

                                 

                                P.

                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                msdebj Senior Contributor

                                The odd thing is I upgraded to 8 photos, from the basic 5 (from which I'd been getting very good confirmed rentals) last April, with a contract stating I'd have a thumbnail.  I did -- for abt. 2 months, then the thumbnail disappeared. 

                                 

                                I never was able to get THAT resolved.

                                 

                                Then, once VRBO instated their "referral changes" - pushing other island properties out to MY inquires- my reservations have fallen WAY off.

                                 

                                I'm not afraid of competition. Our home serves a unique type of traveler, and our rates are very competative.. However, the fact I am paying more to have other homes advertised just is NOT what I signed up for. I would never has entered into such an agreement.

                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                    bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                    My guess is that they will start charging for their "referral changes" - pushing other properties out to YOUR inquires.  You will pay to come up amounst those 10 competing properties.  It is only a matter of time. 

                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                        otttoyboy Active Contributor

                                        I think they’ll probably even charge for the privilege of having other properties pushed out to guests who inquire on MY property.  Of course, that makes no sense whatsoever, but they'll try it.

                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                    Contributor

                                    This change may actually back-fire on them.  I have been purchasing 16 photos and every time my renewal comes up I say to myself 12  photos if fine as I still will get a thumbnail photo....problem is it is such a hassle to call wait on the phone to finally reach customer service to help you drop the photo count.  I end up saying oh...what the heck will just order the 16 to avoid the hassle factor.  So in my case I have a few properties in locations where they only have a handful of rentals and 16 photos is crazy to be paying for.  Was actually pleased that they are making it nice and easy to drop my photo count to a minimum because I will get the thumbnail anyway. 

                                     

                                    Oh and one more thing...I did a test drive on HomeAway's new pricing scheme...had 1 month left before my listing expired so decided to see what would happen if I changed from Classic to Gold for the month.  On HomeAway's main site it performs just as they describe but on a Mobile app not one single thing changed was still back on page 5.  I have checked daily for the past 9 days and nothing has changed.  They really should have given some sort of notification that upgrading to Gold will not have any effect if travelers are using the mobile app.   

                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                        Contributor

                                        Speaking of change - for the Owners who have until recently only posted a few photos, this means that they must now spend time and money to fill in the 16 "free" photo slots.  I have always thought that 16 photos was a lot, especially for a small rental unit - after all, we are not publishing a "Home and Gardens" magazine layout...

                                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                          New Member

                                          Two days ago, on January 3, VRBO billed my credit card to the tune of $538.92 for the annual renewal of my 1 bedroom condo, with 13 photos. Today I find out that 16 photos are included in the "new" annual fee of $349! I have called to complain and demand a refund (how can this company charge me $190 more for the 13 photos rate vs today's rate of 16 photos for $349?). How many others paid their auto-renewal in the last few days, or even last few months, paying hundreds more than the new annual rate? This new rate, new 16 photos inclusion, new "tier" ranking has been very poorly handled. And no, I did not receive the email that supposedly went out to "all owners".

                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                              bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                              I deleted the auto-renewal feature right after it went into effect.  At the same time I called them and requested that my listing be taken from 16 phtotos to the minimum of 5 photos upon the renewal date and they said they would do that.  My lisitng fee is due in March, but they are still showing the renewal price based on 16 photos or what is now called the top tier.  So I will have to send them a check in the mail and not renew online.  They hate to receive checks - but there is no other way.  Good enough for them...

                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                            bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                            If all the homeowners in a given town or area got together and agreed to hold to their current ranking, they could all save and not pay the $50 increase.  It will take an organized group to fight this.  Since we now all automatically get 16 photos, it would mean that we would drop one so-called tier to stay in the same position if we pay what we have been paying up until this change.  But we would all need to stay in touch and my current competition is ruthless and does whatever it takes to ruin our business.  I have to constantly stay on my toes.  So it would not work for me, but perhaps other homeowners are closer and would like to work together to save some money. 

                                             

                                            In fact, if we could all sign up for the first tier and agree to placement based on seniority, we could save a ton of money. 

                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                              Contributor

                                              Community Friends I just have to put in a good plug for Flipkey and tell you about my positive experience with them a few moments ago. Well recently guests have been telling me that they feel Flipkey reviews are of more value because they are part of Trip Advisor and like the ease of adding a review with Flipkey.  I noticed last night on my Flipkey listing where they had this neat feature where you can copy a code and all the reviews will post on my own personal website.  When I tried to load the code it just would not show up so I clicked on contact us and sent in a help request.  Here is the kicker....I received a message back from technical support in less than 10 minutes staying they fixed my problem.  So bottom line if I had the choice to invest in AWAY or TRIP which one do you think I would choose ?

                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                  bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                  Forced reviews and the fact that the number of reviews determines ranking is THE reason I will not do Flipkey.  They keep sending me offers in the mail which I no longer open and mark "return to sender".  I hate TA and always have since they allow someone to post a review based on a conversation - not even a stay.  There are those of us that like reviews and those of us that hate reviews - I hate reviews since I know that many are fake reviews entered by family and friends.  And now you can pay someone to post reviews - they are called "review banks" - 5 bucks for a positive review.  No thank you...

                                                    • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                      otttoyboy Active Contributor

                                                      While it's true that there are places to go to get "fake" reviews done (e.g. fiver.com), I personally think it is not as common a problem for vacation rental properties as the media hype would lead you to believe.

                                                       

                                                      One only needs to be on the inside of one or two tech newstories (and know the facts) to understand how the media can blow things way out of proportion.

                                                       

                                                      Certainly the fakes are often not that difficult to spot.  I'm not defending TA or Flipkey in any way from an owner point of view (I have no personal experience advertising there yet) but from a guest's POV, I like that I can get a good sense of hotels, etc. from the reviews.  I do, of course, apply my own common-sense, tech-saavy & BS filters to whatever I read.

                                                       

                                                      Note: from what I read TA has a hotline for owners if there is a dispute about a review.  Their review form also requires the name of the person who signed the rental agreement and states:

                                                       

                                                      "Verify your stay: We only accept reviews of vacation rentals from people who actually stayed at that property. Guest of record and date of stay will be presented to the manager to verify your stay. We will not share the content or rating of the review with the manager."

                                                       

                                                      A guest phone number is also required.

                                                       

                                                      ref: Tripadvisor responds

                                                      ref: Tripadvisor investigated for fake reviews

                                                      ref: Tripadvisor's Fake Review sickness

                                                      ref: Tripadvisor's CEO discusses fake reviews

                                                       

                                                      P.

                                                       

                                                      Note: I don’t have a FlipKey listing.  I’m not a Trip Advisor advocate.  I’m just saying that FlipKey and TA seem to be doing the right thing from what I can tell.  Full disclosure: I plan to list there in the next 12 months.

                                                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                          bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                          Like I previously said - some folks like reviews and some folks don't.  I know that one negative review could shut me down, since I do not solicit reviews.  I have NO reviews, either positive or negative, since most of our guests want to keep our place a secret and refuse to tell others about it since they want to be able to get a reservation again and again.  I personally do not trust reviews so I do not use them.  I have stayed at places before that are horrible yet they get good reviews - go figure.  I only turst opinions from people I know and not total strangers.  But everyone is different.  If reviews work for you, then so be it. 

                                                           

                                                          I no longer keep any of a security deposit when someone trashes my rental and does damage.  I no longer keep any of a deposit and/or rental payment when someone cancels their reservation the day before arrival.  I do have a rental agreement and do collect a security deposit in an effort to keep people honest and on guard.  But it is really a useless document since I will let the renter out of any responsibility for his/her actions.  I do this becuase I do not solicit any reviews.  It is my choice and I refuse to play the review game. 

                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                            anja Senior Contributor

                                                            Thank you for providing those links on "TripAdvisor".

                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                            Contributor

                                                            Not only that, Herein the UK a friends rental had a review sent to Trip Advisor by one of her repeat guests of many years and they were suprised to then receive an e mail from Trip Advisor promoting other rentals in the same area in competion with the place she stayed in . The guest contacted my friend to tell her this was happening and in disgust she withdrew her advertisment with them. So what you are talking about with VRBO is all news to us. I don't think people in the UK would take kindly to a firm they  are paying good money to promote their property were actively promotoing alternative's to their prospective clients. It's not Cricket!

                                                            Home Away .co.uk  is run differently but I can tell you one thing , I have un=clicked my instant renewal button!

                                                            We have a new Reservation Manager being introduced and I don't like the sound of it .

                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                            msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                            VAca- I just had the almost same experience with Flipkey. How nice it is to actually matter to those you're paying $$ to for a product.

                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                            msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                            Looks like VRBO (& all HA) has just tried to legalize the old " bait and switch" realty laws. Its against the law in my state- but I imagine Texas has no such laws....

                                                             

                                                            Lucky for me I've got the ear of several of my state"s US Congress folks, since I used to Chief of Staff for one. 

                                                             

                                                            I'm tired of trying to play nice.

                                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                              msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                              Looks like VRBO (& all HA) has just tried to legalize the old " bait and switch" realty laws. Its against the law in my state- but I imagine Texas has no such laws....

                                                               

                                                              Lucky for me I've got the ear of several of my state"s US Congress folks, since I used to Chief of Staff for one. 

                                                               

                                                              I'm tired of trying to play nice.

                                                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                Contributor

                                                                American Greed at it's finest by HomeAway though VRBO.  All they need is strong fair competition and their (VRBO) pricing will fall!

                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                  Contributor

                                                                  Interesting article posted on Yahoo Finance yesterday.  Article Headline "Stay Away From HomeAway" so obvious the only thing AWAY has going for them right now is they created a monopoly.  They no longer have customer loyalty so as soon as another solid player comes along they are going to see customers leave by the masses.  It is so odd...first rule of any well run company is customer satisfaction is number one but Away seems to think it belongs at the end of the list.  http://seekingalpha.com/article/317972-stay-away-from-homeaway?source=yahoo

                                                                    • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                      bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                      Thank you sharing this article.  Wonder what is going to happen when rental owners do not renew at the most expensive tier?  They stand to lose a ton of money.  And investors will quickly bail...

                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                        msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                                        Very telling financial article- especially since they chose to focus on Homeaway..

                                                                        Thanks for the link.

                                                                         

                                                                        Are we ( real money makers for the company) sitting ducks?    Having personal experience with the Telecom boom & bust of the late 90s {hubby was an IT contractor at the time}, I think I''l really get cranking on alternatives. I wonder what would happen if HA goes bust.

                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                        bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                        By the way...to determine the tier group that you would like to be in, now takes alot of work since everyone will now have 16 photos.  You don't see how much the competition is willing to pay, so you have to keep inching your way up until you reach your goal.  It used to be easy when you could see the number of photos each rental had.  Now you have to do the work or rely on and trust VRBO to tell you what you need to do to move up the list. 

                                                                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                          gabriel Active Contributor

                                                                          I am really happy to see the changes in VRBO, in the past since I did not have 16 pictures, my ad was a "Craigs List" style with only text and difficult to stand out.

                                                                           

                                                                          Now they have improved significantly and the ads stand out more, the new key to success is to have a great first picture to grab the renter's attention.

                                                                           

                                                                          I am glad VRBO is not converting to the airline pricing that charge for every peanut and soft drink, and now includes many freebies similar to Homeaway

                                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                            bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                            For those of you that want to find out the new rate system based on tiers, it appears that it is not posted on theVRBO website.  They sent it to a select few, but not all. In fact, they have old info as to how to improve you position - rates starting at $299 for 5 photos.  I think they figured that they will wait just before until everyone's renewal date to inform the majority of users.  I was never informed of the changes and if it was not for this forum, I would never had known.  They also have hidden the tool to remove the auto-renewal - can no longer be found.  I wonder what else is up their sleeve???

                                                                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                                                I can't find the Auto renewal opt out option any where. Mine is set to renew in may and I want to opt out now. Any suggestions?

                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                    bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                    I also can't fnd the auto-renew feature.  But as someone explained in another discussion, if you have turned it off, it won't show again until after you have renewed your listing by credit card.  I had the feature turned off right after I discovered the forced auto-renew many months ago.  I will drop my annual fee by starting with tier 12 and intend to pay by check and slow mail prior to my renewal date.  I will then decide if I want to move up in the listings gradually - might help to save a few bucks to do it gradually and not all at once since the costs are pro-rated.  So then I will have to turn off the auto-renew feature again. 

                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                    bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                    Update...it appears that there is now a new blurry list of the tier rates - you have to keep zooming and the see that the rates have changed - now starting at $349/year.  Yesterday (January 8th), the same zoom feature was showing $299/year.  I understand that if you start the renewal process the new rates will also be available, but only if you start the process.

                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                    bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                    Does anyone know how the order of the discussions on this forum work?  I thought it had to do with the latest postings - the more activity, the greater chance of a discussion staying at the top of the list.  But appears that if HA does not like a particular discussion, they drop the discussion and it is then nowhere to be found, or you find it at the bottom of the list. Thoughts anyone??

                                                                                    • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                      New Member

                                                                                      A 17% price increase in the current ecconomic climate is untennable. For those of us earning in Euros this price increase translates into something like a 30-40% increase. Who can afford that?

                                                                                       

                                                                                      VRBO has been the jewel in the HA crown since it boought them a few years ago. Interestingly, we had a HA marketing manager staying here a few years back and he implied there was resentment at VRBO's success within the group and that many withing the HA HQ wanted to bully VRBO management into towing the line.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Well, it looks like they've finally got their own way. They have put money before their cusomers and ruined a good product, all in the aim of homogenising their portfilio. Idiots.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Everyone needs to make money, of course we do. But we don't hike prices without reason or we'll lose business. We know that: why doesn't Homeaway?

                                                                                       

                                                                                      There really is only one way to respond to Homeaway and that is to reduce the amount you pay to them and try alternatives. I have multiple properties and will be cutting my ads on VRBO by 1/3 this year in order to try other sites. Maybe I'll be able to find one that cares about customers as well as money.

                                                                                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                          bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                          Totally agree...it will be interesting to see what others do when they hear about the new tier structure.  Many have not heard about this yet, so I think the worse is yet to come for VRBO.  This forum reaches only a few, relatively speaking. 

                                                                                           

                                                                                          It is hard to believe that someone might pay $678/year, but if they are making mega bucks and the majority of their bookings come from VRBO, it is a small price to pay.  It is the little guy that gets hurt the most - there is no chance to compete with the big boys.

                                                                                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                          bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                          Okay...I am seriously considering FlipKey, but I have sent them a question and it has been several days and they have not responded.  Could they be overwhelmed with people switching from VRBO to FlipKey?  Any tips for getting in touch with FlipKey to get a question answered?  Thanks...

                                                                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                              msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                                                              Bobbie- that could be the case. I recently signed up with them, and emailed them questions during the process. I got a phone call within a few hours, and follow up emails. I'd say, try again.

                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                  bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                  Okay, I kept trying, but found the best way is to actually send an e-mail to membership services rather than use their help buttons that got me nowhere.  So I sent an e-mail and immediately got a response telling me that they would reply to me shortly. 

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  It must be the full moon - I am having to deal with hassle after hassle right now.  Yesterday it was Verizon - got 10 different answers to the same question and was on the phone with them for 4 hours - YIKES!  Finallly gave up and had to dump 2 perfectly good phones so now I have no cell phone.  That company is even more messed up than VRBO!!! 

                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                  Contributor

                                                                                                  bobbie32...I may be able to help you?  I already advertise with FlipKey.  I get several rentals through FlipKey....I also get a lot of people looking 3-5 nights in the summer.  I only rent weeks or double weeks during Peak seasons.  The FlipKey ad automatically is advertised on TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals too...and they produce a very nice picture video with music on the TripAdvisor site.  It looks really good and uses the pictures you put on your ad.  I have 53 pictures on my ad....nothing extra in the pricing for the number of pictures.  In my case...TripAdvisor produces similar to VacationRentals.com as far as commits to a rental...not quite as good as VRBO.  The FlipKey Vacation Rental site is fairly new comparatively speaking compared to VRBO....I was with them when they were free and since.

                                                                                                    • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                      bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                      I am still awaiting an answer to my question from FlipKey.  But question for you...don't you have to solicit reviews in order to have FlipKey produce?  Most of our guests want to keep our place a secret so that they will be able to get a reservation again and again, so I don't see anyone willing to post a review.  So do you get bookings without reviews?

                                                                                                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                          Contributor

                                                                                                          Before there were "Reviews" on these ad sites, I had no problems renting my 2 places.  I had a few Guests books that were full of compliments at both places.  Now I advertise each place on 6 different websites and wherever the guest contacted me from (the ad), I ask some of them to give us a Review at that site.  Why don't I ask all....I just don't take the time to do so.  Some who call, write or email me what a great time they had at my place and how much they enjoyed it, will not give an online review....even though no one will search them down through the Internet.  I sometimes solicit reviews for 5 of the 6 sites....1 doesn't collect reviews.  I have raving reviews but very few will put them on your ad after their vacation without a nudge.  When the vacation is over.....vacationing for most, is over until next year.  75-80% of those I ask to post a review will.....and I ask around 30% of my guests.  I can't remember reviews all the time either.  I do make sure my guests and vacation properties are very well taken care of.  Reviews do help!

                                                                                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                              msdebj Senior Contributor

                                                                                                              Bobbie. I recently signed up for Flipkey ( free trial, so no biggie. If I

                                                                                                              choose to saty I can pay monthly or by the year). Once I did I've received

                                                                                                              nothing but great customer service.

                                                                                                              BTW, I went "live" there yesterday & got 2 inquiries over night- no

                                                                                                              bookings yet, but we'll see.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              As far as reviews, their system is very similar to the old VRBO one. YOU

                                                                                                              decide who to send a request to- and get to review it before it goes online.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              That all said, I've found that abt. 95% of my guests I chose to send a

                                                                                                              request for a review on the old VRBO system did. Of course that was the old

                                                                                                              system where it was simple,they didn't need to create an account,etc. (

                                                                                                              Flipkey has a similar "old" system. None of them seemed to mind, as they

                                                                                                              understood that if they like my home & wanted to return I simply HAD to be

                                                                                                              able to have it rented.

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              If returning guests really like you place they know the peak seasons and

                                                                                                              will make sure to contact you early.

                                                                                                              Regards!

                                                                                                              Debj

                                                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                        Contributor

                                                                                                        Flipkey is producing results for me across the board and on a couple of my listings I have no reviews ....so Bobbie in response to your question it has not made a difference if my listing has a review or not.  Like msdebj said Flipkey is similar to the old VRBO no junk inquires what I receive is targeted to my property.  Although I have never been a fan of reviews the fact is they are hear to say.  My guests are giving me feedback that they prefer Flipkey's review process and since they have that great widget where reviews show up on my own website I have started to use Flipkey exclusively.  I then enter the review manually in the VRBO/HA site.  I am so greatful to this community for telling me about the Free Flipkey offer....the switch has been such a positve experience! 

                                                                                                         

                                                                                                        Oh and update... we are on day 4 and still no response as yet from my help ticket with VRBO.  I guess since they went public they no longer care about if we renew or not.

                                                                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                            Contributor

                                                                                                            Just to clarily, on Flipkey you can approve the review, but you can't read it before its approved. All you know is that a certain person wrote it. If you dont approve it within a certain time they will just post it. Flipkey also suggests other properties to the customer. I don't find it much different than HA. Annual fee is $300.

                                                                                                             

                                                                                                            They all have the same goal - to grow their business and make money. None of the companies are out here for the sole purpose of helping us acheive our goals. Yet, they have built and provided something that produces results. There is no better option or we'd all be there.

                                                                                                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                So if FlipKey posts the review anyway, whether or not you approve it, what can you do to stop a potential negative review from an unhappy renter?  What's the point?  Can you disapprove or disallow a review?

                                                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                    Contributor

                                                                                                                    Quote..."FlipKey now allows guests to submit reviews directly on Flipkey.com and TripAdvisor.com.  To protect managers/owners from false reviews, we allow you to verify the review's stay prior to publishing their review.  You have 1 week to approve or deny guests from leaving reviews.  If no action has been taken after one week, the review is automatically published.  Once a review is approved, you can read and respond to reviews just like reviews you've collected through the invitation process."  They go into more Review detail on another page.

                                                                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                        bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                        Do you have any experience as to what happens if you do indeed deny a review? 

                                                                                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                            Contributor

                                                                                                                            No experience on that .....all 5***** to date.  Before Flipkey....TripAdvisor had reviews on many condiminums in the Myrtle Beach area....treating them like hotels at the time.  They had reviews on those complexes from vacationers and I owned 1 condo, in a complex that had 216 condos in it, in North Myrtle Beach.  Our complex had and still does have a very high average but it said nothing about the individual condos themselves.  Apples and oranges as far as individual condos or how the guests were treated.....the only common them was outside the condos.  I remember reading one lady's Review....she loved everything about the condo she was in and complex and gushed about them.  She gave it a 3 star because of the Realtor....something they did not respond to on time and the tough time at check-in.  Of those 216 condos...there is around 185 different owners and most have nothing to do with that Realtor but that Review shown for all.

                                                                                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                            New Member

                                                                                                                            As for TripAdvisor reviews, one of our renters submitted a rather long and glowing review.  She got a note from TA asking her to revise it.  She did and resubmitted it.  Neither I, the owner, nor she the renter ever heard from them again.  The review was never published.  It seems they arbitrarily decide which ones they would like to publish or not. 

                                                                                                                        • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                          otttoyboy Active Contributor

                                                                                                                          drrental>> Yet, they have built and provided something that produces results

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          True -- but there is another spin to this statement.   Five+ years ago VRBO provided something that produced results -- in fact, better results than it does today per my personal experience.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          What is happening is that HomeAway group is still providing best-in-class vacation rental performance but "best-in-class" now comes with reduced performance, increased cost and increased complexity compared to years ago.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          I don't think they are serving us owners as well as they could be and there is definitely a focus on profits over owner services.  

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          I wouldn't mind so much if they grow their business and make money if it wasn't negatively affecting MY business with lower ROI, higher costs and an increase to my workload since I now need to reply to low-quality "bulk" inquiries.  Also, they have purchased up much of the viable competition which leaves us with not many choices (currently) to move to.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          The Market will sort this out.  Since there are dollars in this industry and the barrier to entry isn't actually that high in the web-space, viable competitors are, undoubtedly, not far off.  Perhaps Flipkey will emerge as HA's primary competitor -- the next few years will be very interesting.


                                                                                                                          P.

                                                                                                                           


                                                                                                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                              bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                              I do agree with you.  But how do you know it is the fault of the "new" VRBO features and not just more competition that has created all the problems? I used to get way more inquiries that turned into bookings and now those numbers have dropped off.  But there are now many more rentals to compete with - most with lower nightly rates, and for me, more rentals closer to the featured attraction.

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                              I cannot really say that it is because of the "new" VRBO site features that I see fewer bookings.  I can say that the costs have sky-rocketed and I think the site is unfair to those that pay to advertise in favor of the traveler's online experience.  I can also say that I do not like the new tier method of ranking and the forced review system.  I can also say that I think VRBO/HA mismanaged how the new rate structure was introduced.  I can also say that VRBO/HA is now a monopoly and the anti-trust violations should be addressed. 

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                              On the other hand, if you have not seen a significant increase in competition in your area, you are in a better position to say it is the fault of the new VRBO site and features that has caused the problem. 

                                                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                  otttoyboy Active Contributor

                                                                                                                                  >>On the other hand, if you have not seen a significant increase in competition in your area,

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  Just speaking for myself, my property is in a resort.  There has been no significant new construction in the area that would compete with my property.  It's possible some more owners have begun renting their properties but I can see no evidence in my area to support this.  Competitiion seems to be pretty much the same as before.

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  Note that I didn't say bookings or my property performance is down -- I said that VRBO performance is down.  Those are significantly different statements.

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  P.

                                                                                                                                    • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                      bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                      <Note that I didn't say bookings or my property performance is down -- I said that VRBO performance is down.  Those are significantly different statements>

                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                      Point taken... through last year about 50% of our bookings have come from VRBO.  I will have to wait until the end of 2012 to see if bookings through VRBO decrease.  Last year was our best year yet, but VRBO was probably not the reason for the better than average year. The cause for the increase is yet to be determined.  There was a PBS special that featured National Parks, and Opra did a show that featured one of the Parks - the one in our area. Due to the economy, I also think many people are taking their vacations on American soil rather than traveling to Europe or other countries. 

                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                      But we have noticed that there is so much more competition in the area probably because people have chosen to rent their vacation home rather than going into foreclosure.  I think 2012 will be a very telling year...

                                                                                                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                              Contributor

                                                                                                                              Just for the record, I put in a help ticket 5 days ago with customer support to change my VRBO listings that are expiring from level 1 to basic and no reponse.  It would be so much easier if they would just give us the ability to down grade levels ourselves.

                                                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                  bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                  Tip in contacting VRBO - you either call them to make such a request or you e-mail them and resend the same e-mail 10 to 15 times so it stands out.  It could take several weeks for them to respond to one single e-mail.

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  for e-mailing use... support-cs@vrbo.com>

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  for mailing them your check and request to downgrade use...

                                                                                                                                  VRBO Inc
                                                                                                                                  PO Box 671788
                                                                                                                                  Dallas, TX 75267-1788

                                                                                                                                  to phone them use... 1-303-680-9280 - this phone number worked in 2010, so I hope it is still valid.  If you phone them you can use a credit card to make your payment. 

                                                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                  New Member

                                                                                                                                  I strongly dislike the new changes which are disadvantagious to the listing of our Marbella, Spain apartment.  I am thinking to not renewing my VRBO listing and am looking at alternatives.  Compared to Homelidays, VRBO is MUCH more expensive, has much worse customer service and has produced fewer rentals for us over several years.

                                                                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                    bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                    So today, I get an invoice form from VRBO in an e-mail.  This is in response to sending an e-mail to them telling them that I want to downgrade and need the address where I can send a check.  They also include how to pay by credit card. Nice... 

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                    I might also add that in previous years I would call them and they put the downgrade amount due online for me to just follow through as normal.  But now, they are making it as difficult as possible to downgrade.  What a game!

                                                                                                                                    • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                      bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                      The phone number to call to downgrade and pay by credit card is now...

                                                                                                                                      (877) 202-4291

                                                                                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                        Contributor

                                                                                                                                        I filled out a support request 6 days ago to downgrade all my listings to basic and this is what they send back to me today.  I actually had to read this over a few times because I could not belive that in order to downgrade they will not just change your account so you can make payment on line...you actually have to fill out another form requesting a phone call appointment (no joking read below).  They are making it so difficult to renew it sounds to me as if HomeAway is trying to put VRO out of business!

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        Thank you for contacting VRBO.com Customer Support. I am sorry for the delay in my reply.

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        There are two main changes to your VRBO listing as of January 5, 2012:

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        1. All VRBO listings now include 16 photos, a thumbnail photo, a traveler map and a video tour including in your membership fee.
                                                                                                                                        2. Search position is now determined by subscription level rather than photos. Within each level, tenure will determine your search ranking.  The price for a classic membership is increasing from $299 to $349, with each additional level being $29.99.

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        To learn more about how to improve your performance, visit:

                                                                                                                                        http://toolkit.vrbo.com/subscription-levels

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        To read a blog about the VRBO changes written by HomeAway's co-founder, visit:

                                                                                                                                        http://community.homeaway.com/blogs/homeaway-insights/2012/01/03/introducing-vrbocom-subscription-levels-and-price-changes-and-how-they-impact-your-listing

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        You must contact customer support to downgrade your subscription level. (I thought I had already done this 6 days ago).  You can contact us at your convenience using our online "Click to Call" system. This allows a customer to type his/her phone number into an online support form (located at the link below) and receive a call connecting them to a phone agent in our support center.

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        To request a call:

                                                                                                                                        - Visit the Help page at http://help.homeaway.com/?brand=vrbo

                                                                                                                                        - Click Contact Us on the right.

                                                                                                                                        - Click the Phone tab at the top.

                                                                                                                                        - Fill out the required information on the form.

                                                                                                                                        - Enter your number and click Submit. You'll need an open phone line. We will call you immediately. Please note that the Click to Call service is available during business hours only (daily, 7am - 7pm CST).

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        If you need further assistance, please visit our Help page at the link below to find commonly asked questions and answers.

                                                                                                                                        http://help.homeaway.com/?brand=vrbo

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        Thank you for using VRBO.com—offering more than 150,000 rentals in 100+ countries worldwide.

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        Best regards,

                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                        Diana

                                                                                                                                        • VRBO.com Customer Support
                                                                                                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                            bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                            Unbelievable!   I never use the online baloney, but send an e-mail directly to customer support and usually send that same e-mail about 10 times.  Or just use the phone number noted above in a previous post.  Or send a check (address noted above) for tier level you want along with a note requesting the downgrade as of your renewal date and NOT BEFORE.   You can also use a credit card - just give the usual info for using a credit card.  But you are correct, you will not be able to pay by credit card online if you downgrade.  So you will need to play their silly game. I will send you the form they sent to me in a private message.  Best of luck!

                                                                                                                                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                                I might also add that there is a benefit to downgrading, as you find out where you fall in the ranking and can then move up when you want on your terms, not theirs.  It is a way to save a few bucks as the tiers are prorated - ie  - first 6 months at tier 12, and 6 months thereafter at tier 1.  You should be able to upgrade online after you do the downgrade offline.  

                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                It used to be easy to see where you fall in the ranking, as you used to be able to count the number of photos, but not now. 

                                                                                                                                            • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                              Contributor

                                                                                                                                              Here is my latest saga in trying to renew multiple listings with VRBO.  I tired filling out the form and when I try to send it a message pops up that says they are closed and to try sending it during working hours (yet is says available during the times I have tired to send).  I think they are either trying to sink VRBO or only want listings with owners that are willing to pay the 1 tier pricing.  They could put the options on our dashboard if they wanted to make this easy for us to renew at the basic rate. Or so many owners are changing to basic that they are totally overwhelmed.  This is going on day 7 of trying to renew my listings....I would be willing to bet $100 bucks that they are going to report revenues down this quarter!  Not my idea of a well run company!    

                                                                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                  bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                                  I don't think the form is supposed to be e-mailed to them.  All my correspondence with them has indicated that you should call them to give them a cc number, or mail the form along with a check.  I think they are playing a game and will continue to do so until they realize that there are those of us that refuse to play their silly game and will simply find other sources of advertising.  I personally like destination-type sites since they appear to work.  And I must say that when I travel, I enter the destination first and then are able to find lodging at that destination.  I have used VRBO, but most recently have rented places found through destination-type sites. 

                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                  Let me know what happens as your saga continues.  Best of luck!

                                                                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                  bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                                  I just want to say that FlipKey does respond to requests and answers e-mail questions.  I will probably sign up soon, although I still don't know what happens if you get a negative review.  Does anyone know if you can disapprove a review to keep it from going public?

                                                                                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                    New Member

                                                                                                                                                    FLIPKEY they send the review to you the owner direct for your approval.  If the owner does not approve the review then it does NOT get posted this is what VRBO used to do before HOMEAWAY bought out VRBO. 

                                                                                                                                                    so Now homeaway and Vrbo both owned by Homeaway post any reviews and do not allow the owner to have any say in these matters.

                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                    Geranamo

                                                                                                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                        Contributor

                                                                                                                                                        That is not so. I advertise on FK and you only get notified that there has been a review submitted with the names of the writer. You do not see the review until after its posted.

                                                                                                                                                          • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                            bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for clarifying this - I thought this was the case. 

                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                            But I am still trying to find out that if you cancel your listing with FlipKey, does your listing along with any negative reviews remain on TA???

                                                                                                                                                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                                Contributor

                                                                                                                                                                I don't know the answer to that, but I assume if you cancel your listing your entire ad comes down and along with it all reviews. I believe if you cancel the contract with them they no longer have any authority to use your information on any site.

                                                                                                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                                    bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                                                    The way I understand, since anyone can post a review on TA, it does not matter whether or not there is a paid listing.  Long ago, before TA charged for listings, a hotel or B&B could not avoid TA, if someone wanted to ruin the business.  All you could do was post a management response to a bad review.  At that time, the traveling public could not review a vacation rental that did not have an onsite manager. Then TA changed and started offering paid listings on TA for hotels and B&Bs, and paid listings for vacation rentals on FlipKey. So the question is, if you cancel your paid listing, will a listing for your rental still be seen on TA?  I have avoided TA from day one and managed to escape the review process.  But now that I am on FlipKey, but choose not to continue after the 60 day trial, I believe that I will still be in the system and can not avoid reviews on TA.

                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                    Am I paranoid - well, maybe.  It is a long story, but many years ago a guest from H... was determined to take us down and ruin our business.  This continued for about 10 years. Thus I avoided the review game entirely.  As far as I know this particular guest from H... has not tried to recently book under an alias which she tried for many years.  

                                                                                                                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                                        Contributor

                                                                                                                                                                        Oh I see...I didnt know the history of how TripAdvisor works. I guess it's the same as Yelp or any of those sites where you can just randomly post reviews. You may be right that they will stay on TA after the ending of a FK listing...thats not great.

                                                                                                                                                              • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                                New Member

                                                                                                                                                                Are there any current antitrust actions against VRBO and Homeaway for removing competition so they can raise prices without fear of competition?

                                                                                                                                                                • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                                  bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                                                  Anybody know why VRBO has redesigned the site to now put the availability calendar at the bottom and after reviews?  It makes no sense to me why they would have done that.  The availability calendar is one of the most important features and it should be at the top.  I am now getting inquires for dates that are booked :-(

                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                  Any thoughts???

                                                                                                                                                                  • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                                    crescentbeach4u Community All-Star

                                                                                                                                                                    May something like this would work. 

                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                    calendar.JPG

                                                                                                                                                                      • Re: "Occupy VRBO"
                                                                                                                                                                        Contributor

                                                                                                                                                                        That's excellent Just what we need . A summery at the top in full view and perhaps a further explanation below with more detail for people that are REALLY interested in booking.  Your a Ambassador for Home Away , can't you get them to see sense. Otherwise I am afraid they are going to shoot themselves in the foot and we'll all go somewhere else to advertise , on our terms.