19 Replies Latest reply: Apr 14, 2016 10:55 PM by twobitrentals RSS

    Why I am selling my vacation rental

    Active Contributor

      Hello my friends! It has been nearly a year since my last post or response to a discussion topic. For those of you who may have forgotten about me or are new to the forum, I've been an avid user of VRBOs since the early 2000's and purchased my own VR in 2010 and listed it on VRBO.com.

       

      Over the years I have been a huge supporter of the many changes that were made. Some of them were good ideas and others not so, but I went along with them anyway. VRBO IMO has gone from what I would call a "mom and pop" listing service to a ridiculous company. One that puts profit over everything else. Don't get me wrong, I think they deserve to make money. But, they will no longer be able to leverage my VR.

       

      I am honestly not sure what it was that put me over the edge and decide to sell. Was it the "listing quality" metric, or the "Best Match" metric or the "BIN" metric or the new "Service fee", I am not totally sure. But, I can tell you that I am no longer allowing VRBO... uh hem, HA.... u hem Expedia to manage me on how to become a "successful" owner. I've always been a good little soldier and followed their ridiculous ideas, no matter how silly it was.

       

      I believe where Expedia has really missed the mark is assuming that each owner has the same goals. WE DON'T! I was in it to maximize my revenue and having a 12% Cap Rate was definitely achieving that, but VRBO was originally set up to allow single VR owners the opportunity to supplement their income with having a few rentals a month. It made for a much more personal experience. I always felt like I was dealing directly with the owner and unfortunately it has become much more of a transaction than it was an experience.

       

      I logged on about a month ago when VRBO implemented the new "Service Fee". Wow was I surprised when Sharples actually posted about the fee. What a bunch of garbage. Either he is truly a fool or he is just spreading BS, because there is no way a potential guest would ever assume the "Service Fee" is a great idea. There is no value in it for the guest.  All it does is put the owner in the position to have to reduce their rate to make it more affordable for the guest. While my average guest stay at 2 nights they are already spending nearly $600 with taxes and fees and now adding a $43 service fee was just too much to swallow.

       

      Immediately after the fee was implemented, my page views plummeted from 1300 the prior year/month to less than 300. My inquiries went from 13 the prior year/month to 2. I originally thought "Well, I will give it a go and see what happens". Well, nothing happened.

       

      I saw other newer VRs who were a "Pay per booking" in my area were booking and I as others who were a subscription listing, were wide open with no bookings. This confirmed what I had been concerned with all along, that when it came down to it VRBO could and would manipulate the visible listings. Unless I played by their rules (which change monthly it seems), I wasn't going to get rentals.

       

      While I am quite sad and it breaks my heart to sell a business that I worked so hard to manage these past 6 years, I will wake up April 21st and know that I am no longer a slave to whatever rules they wish to make up in order to leverage me even more.

       

      To all of my friends who I have made over the years (Especially Twobitrentals), I do wish you well. Its a tough business and I hope you are all successful. To those who Ihave bickered with over the years  ( including Swlinphx), I hope you know it was out of passion for the business and nothing personal and I wish you the best going forward.

       

      Matthew

        • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
          u0999 Premier Contributor

          "All it does is put the owner in the position to have to reduce their rate to make it more affordable for the guest. While my average guest stay at 2 nights they are already spending nearly $600 with taxes and fees and now adding a $43 service fee was just too much to swallow."

           

          The moment the owner reduces the rate, EXPE will just up their fee to "fill in" the gap. Just that simple.

          • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
            ruthejp13 Senior Contributor

            Good luck. Unfortunately my home didn't sell the past 3 months and I have to stick it out until Fall. But I just got a call from someone who said they originally found me on HA and then found my website directly. YEAH!!!

            • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
              thaxterlane Premier Contributor

              Wishing you the very best dancingpines.  I'm sorry you are having to give up your business.  It is heartbreaking.  I hope your future endeavors are everything you wish them to be . . . .  Take care.

              • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                Active Contributor

                Wow No body needs to add to your post. I think you hit every topic square on the head.

                You mentioned Sharples as the evil one. I truly believe that everything bad that has and will continue to happen to what was once the place to be is the direct result of the CEO of Expedia but you nailed it.

                 

                Good luck to you with the sale of your property and best of luck to your future ventures.

                • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                  twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                  Well, you know how sad I am to see you leave and how sad it is that owners are making this very "final" decision. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed your posts, your friendship, and your wisdom. Matt; I think there will be many of us that will either be selling in the future, or renting long term......what a sad decision to even contemplate, let alone actually carry through with. I have only had 2 bookings  and they were before the service fee. Not even an inquiry since the service fee. I may be deciding the same thing come August when my last guest leaves.

                   

                  Best wishes to you Matt and hopefully HA/Expedia is listening to the decline in listings, even if they aren't listening to our words.

                   

                  Stay in touch and let us know how you are doing.

                    • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                      Active Contributor

                      My wife was in tears when we received an offer on the home. They were not of joy, but of sadness. We really enjoyed our time as owners and made many great friends over the years. It was such a personable experience, one that I will  never forget. I was so in love with the idea of owning a VR that we were going to look at a VR in Tahoe and then my wife reminded me of why we are selling.

                       

                      I think the saddest part is the loss of a legacy. My hope was to turn it over to our son at some point. He is 9, but is quite sad as well. He was tearing up because we will no longer go there since its 13 hours away. We are going there for a final time tomorrow and my son has asked that we go to his favorite hot dog stand this weekend. (the VR is in a Bavarian Community). I thought it was quite touching.

                       

                      Anyway, I won't make this a mushy deal, but I do appreciate all of the knowledge that I have gained from others on this forum.

                    • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                      New Member

                      I'm very sorry to hear that you have found yourself in a position where you must sell something you love and enjoy doing.  My wife and I also have had this discussion about selling our vacation home. It has become abundantly clear that HomeAway is solely about the bottom line and does not have the homeowners' or the travelers' best interests in mind.  They have lost the trust and faith of a large percentage of their clients.  We all know it was a very poor decision by management to switch platforms and I have seen nothing from Sharples or Hale that would suggest an acknowledgment of this or a consideration to make things right again.  On the contrary, I see worse coming down the road when they scrub all contact information from correspondence until after they get their fee.  I can't understand what drove the decision.  I'm speculating Expedia, but I haven't seen that acknowledged and as a result, I would take with a grain of salt anyone else says. 

                       

                      Sad, you and I and thousands of others have taken the time to invest money, time and sweat to build something we love.  HA's mission has now become to remove as much revenue from our hands as possible.  We take the risk, they make the profit.  The actions of this company have become nothing less than predatory.   And that seemed so unlikely when I started my relationship with this company.

                        • Re: Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                          twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                          First - dancingpines - my heart goes out to you.  We only bought a few years ago, but our place is far more than a business investment to us, and I can empathize with you.

                           

                          What drove this whole thing was the selling out of a private company to a public company.  Public companies have a fiduciary duty to put the interest of their shareholders above everything else.  Expedia obviously believes that BM, BIN and the service fee are the way to pay back their shareholders. Public companies are notorious for short-term decisions that make a quick buck, but don't always hold up in the long run.   

                           

                          Unfortunately, most of the "inventory" of HA is private/family companies (or just hobbies in a few cases), and we have no fiduciary duty to anyone else - we can lose money if that is what we want.  So now we have a fundamental disconnect, which is, IMHO, the heart of the issue.  The future is indeed murky.

                           

                          Best wishes to you and your family.  As hard as the decision must have been, congratulations in finding a buyer.
                          .

                            • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                              mtnhomehideaway Senior Contributor

                              Dancingpines - I'm sorry that you had to reach this decision and wish you well. 

                               

                              Villagrandpiton - HomeAway was a public company before it was acquired by Expedia.  HomeAway decided upon the service fee and Best Match BEFORE it was acquired by Expedia.  The responsibility for what is currently going on with HomeAway rests squarely upon the shoulders of Mr. Sharples and Mr. Hale.

                                • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                                  u0999 Premier Contributor

                                  In other words, it is unlikely that Expedia would have ever bought HA if it was not for the "promise" of the future fee bounty.

                                    • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                                      mtnhomehideaway Senior Contributor

                                      It seems some Community members think  everything would have continued under the "old" HomeAway listing model if Expedia had not bought HomeAway.  That's not what happened.  HomeAway was looking for a potential buyer for several months or a year or more.  HomeAway had conversations with different potential buyers before it talked with Expedia.  HomeAway decided to have a service fee and Best Match before it was bought by Expedia.  I read this in one of HomeAway's filings with the US government.


                                      The responsibility for the service fee and Best Match falls on the shoulders of Mr. Sharples and Mr. Hale - not Mr. Khosrowshahi.  Did the service fee make HomeAway more attractive to Expedia?  Quite possibly.

                              • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                                Premier Contributor

                                I also will miss your contributions to this forum and wish you and your family well. 

                                 

                                Perhaps you can console your son with the thought that now you can return to your beloved vacation spot as renters, not owners.  Think of it -- not having to worry if the trash was taken out or the recycling properly separated, not having to deal with cleaning services or lodging taxes or annoyed neighbors!   If you are like me, every trip you took to your VR was a work trip.  Now you can sit back and relax and let someone else do the heavy lifting.

                                 

                                Blessings on your retirement from running a VR. 

                                  • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                                    Active Contributor

                                    Thanks Carol,

                                     

                                    Yes I think your comment about owning vs. renting is a good point. This is the 1st trip in nearly 6 years where I haven't had to worry about maintenance, stocking the linens, worrying about my housekeeper, the hot tub or if there are any leaks when I am gone.

                                     

                                    2015 while my best year financially, really took a toll on me. It was the 1st time we had any damage to the home. 1 group of 6 turned out to be 20 and they put holes in the wall and used the hot tub edges to open their beer bottles. Needless to say we had them evicted before their stay ended. I had another guest damage my z-wave thermostat to the point where the face was broken and I had to turn the heat up or down until a new one was replaced. And lastly, I had a guest move our TV and broke it. Luckily I hadn't refunded him his damage deposit when the next guest emailed me some pictures showing the cable connection was broken. Basically it rendered the TV useless. The guest took several days to respond to my question about the TV and he snarly said that if I hadn't had such a small TV (43") then he wouldn't have had to move it.

                                     

                                    Anyway those days are long gone. I get to take the money and look to our next investment. I think the only way we do another VR is if we use a property management company, but I think it just doesn't make any sense financially to do so.

                                      • Re: Why I am selling my vacation rental
                                        twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                        I started a post about what Carol stated to you and appreciate her words because it caused some serious soul searching on my part about whether there is true joy, or if I am just going through the motions because it is what I  have for several years. It's been a good run and perhaps it is time to consider just what you have done and just enjoy life again and leave the rest to others who thrive on that better than me.