HomeAway has forgotten who they work for! Remember the old saw "You dance with the one that brung ya!" Well HomeAway management sure has.
When the HomeAway companies start charging a fee to vr renters to access our inventory than, they can solicit reviews.
I welcome reviews by my guests! Out of some 100 guest reviews there was only one that was really outragiously "off the wall". I left it in the on-site guest book but didn't post it on my websites. Other guests have had fun writing margin notes & comments on the crazy review! However, I made that choice...not some bored HomeAway clerk! That my beef....my property, my bought and paid for ad...my website!
I've already taken steps to wean my company away from HomeAway owned sunscription sites.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve let one listing expire, and am letting my others expire as well. It makes no sense to continue to feed the hand that bites. VRBO/HomeAway is the gorilla, but if Owners would stop renewing their listings, they might get the message. Doubt it, though. They are not into listening to the people paying them. I started a while ago to refocus money spent on VRBO to other areas. It makes more sense than giving it to these guys when they allow disgruntled guests to impact my income. I am a simple person, but feel that when I invest in something, it should be an asset rather than a liability.
OK, please don’t hate me but I gotta say it. Some VRBO shoppers are great, but a lot of them are just plain cheap – they want a champagne cabin for the price of a beer. They’re pretty much all price shoppers and will pit one VRBO property against the other in a price battle to negotiate what they want to pay. I’ve had to walk away after investing a lot of time and energy in shoppers because at the end of the day, if someone is that cheap, do you really want them in your home anyway? I realize it’s part of the job, but I also grow weary many times from dealing with the average VRBO shopper. And to give them the power to impact my future rentals, with the endorsement of VRBO???? I think not. I’d rather invest in attracting a quality shopper vs price shopper any day! A shopper who starts the conversation with “What a beautiful place” and not “What’s the best deal I can get?” That’s what I’m talking about, Willis!!
Hi Smiley, that’s difficult if you’ve got one property, and that’s where VRBO/HA flexes their muscle. We have six cabins we own and friends have asked us to take on their properties as well, so I have a website that I am investing $$ in to optimize and grow organically (meaning not spending a fortune on Google Adwords or pay-per-click advertising).
I think one of the best ways in today’s social media craziness is to get a business Facebook page set up for your cabin, and market it to relevant groups. Research other Facebook pages that have relevance and “like” them. Facebook pages have a thumbs up “like” button. We have a lot of wineries, restaurants, fly fishing, zip lines, horseback riding, shopping, etc. and we have searched Facebook for their business pages and clicked the “like” button for those pages that have relevance to staying in a cabin. Whenever you update your Facebook page with anything (could be reduced rate to get a rental into your place for the weekend), it will send your Facebook message to all those sites that you “like” and to anyone else who also “likes” them. You can get a lot of visibility by doing this. I am learning a lot about Facebook (and may not have it completely understood yet), but it’s a very powerful tool and can give you web visibility. It also provides you with your own site where web browsers can scour your page and give you some placement power on the web. It’s not an overnight cure, but if you take the time to do it and update your site frequently the web crawlers will come back for new information. The more you update, the more the crawlers will come back for new information and updates, and the more steam you gain – and control. I believe Facebook is powerful enough that you might be able to cut loose from VRBO at some point. Some businesses don’t even maintain websites anymore – just a Facebook and social media pages. It’s powerful enough to have made Mark Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire in US, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. VRBO is pretty old school – their search stinks and I hear it all the time from frustrated shoppers. At least it’s worth a shot. I use Mainstreet Host to help me create a business Facebook page and they did a great job. I have seen less dependence on VRBO, and a higher quality customer visiting my site.
PS: Same with Twitter ( you can have all your facebook updates feed over to twitter and start following a bunch of relevant tweeters too). It’s a new world and it takes some time to get used to it, but it does allow you to be in charge of your own destiny to a certain degree.
PPS Is there any social media experts out there who can offer advice?
Also, you may want to check out 1st Choice Vacation Rentals – they don’t force you to use Guest Comments and have been around a while. Say they have over 20K visitors daily. Here’s their link and a comment about Testimonials:
Property Reviews - 1st Choice has added a feature to allow guests to rate and make comments about your vacation rental. You can choose whether to include this feature on your page when you log into the Edit Listing page. You can also clear out the reviews at any time. Testimonials of former guests on your vacation rental page are great sales tools.
I’ve also heard Craig’s List generates lots of bookings. I haven’t tried it myself, but have heard that from others. Just watch out for barterers – they are everywhere on Craig’s List.
Also, check out this link to an interview on MSNBC about fake reviews. Very interesting. A hotel owner openly admits writing fake positive reviews for his hotel, and submitting scathing reviews for his competition. Apparently (and appallingly) there are also businesses that exist to create fake email addresses in order to generate “glowing” reviews for their paying clients, and scathing reviews for their client’s competition. Unbelievable.
So I am not sure I understand this. I thought VRBO was just changing the policy that allows owners to opt out of reviews.
Are you saying they are changing the policy that says if there is a negative review it has to be posted? That owners can no longer veto it so it doesn't get published?
If that is the case, I don't love it but that is what tripadvisor and flipkey do and using those sites you just have to realize there are always going to be people who complain , and to just look at the overall rating or the majority.
If a site allows owners to veto negative reviews, then what good are reviews anyway--won't prospective tenants discount them and not trust even the good reviews?
You are correct sjde- I believe on all counts. VRBO is not permitting owners to opt out so everything coming from a reviewer gets posted- the good and the bad. And I agree that it has the potential to make a more balanced, informative platform for prospective guests.
As I see it, the main concern is VRBO's lack of discretion in regards to the truth or untruth of these reviews as often they seem to be generated by folks who made a mess of the house and didn't receive a full refund of their Damage Deposits. Even when homeowners have submitted documentation of the situation, VRBO refuses to take the review off.
My other dissatisfaction of the current Review Rules is that the Homeowner's Response cannot include include symbols or upper case emphasis. So a poor reviewer can rip you to shreds littering their expose' with "quick glance" message assistance (ie. capitals and symbols) and the reader doesn't need to read the entire piece. The Homeowner is conciderably more limited in their effort to provide the reader with that same "quick glance" message. Just look at my message here.....What catches your eye the most, immediately, is my upper case use of VRBO. My lower case info just kind of runs into a blurr.....
You are correct. VRBO is changing the policy that allowed owners to opt out of all reviews. The current system is that owners either get to have reviews, both positive and negative, or they can opt out of all reviews and thereby none will show up.
We, the property owners, are VRBOs customers, so it would be a fairer treatment of us to allow us to decide on each of our properties if we want reviews to show up or if we want to opt out. Why would someone want to opt out? Here are some reasons:
1) The system is biased towards negative reviews. Most renters who have a positive experience will not spend their time to review. One of my properties falls into this category. It is going into its third year of renting and has no reviews, but it has repeat guests every year.
However, renters who have a negative experience are likely to write a review. Therefore if a negative review comes on the property mentioned above, I will opt out of reviews. I do not feel one person with a negative experience should be allowed to outweigh all those who had positive experiences but did not write reviews.
As owners, many of us do not have the time or desire to go out and solicit positive reviews. Those of you who do, will have the advantage over us, but I’m willing to live with my choice as I do not like being asked to participate in surveys or reviews, so will not ask others to do that.
2) Reviews can be exageratedly negative on a very subjective issue. If the experience is totally subjective, there is nothing the owner can say or do that will overcome the negative feelings people will get from reading a scathing review. If that is the only review received, for example the first review on a newly listed property, the owner has no choice but to opt out of the review system or they will have zero chance to realize any income from their property. This happened with another of my listings. No tenant has since mentioned the issue the first renters felt so strongly about and this property also has return renters as it goes into it’s third year. I believe it is more honest to allow an owner to opt out of reviews than to encourage them to go in and game the system, which is what I understand some people do.
3) False or extortive reviews are not uncommon. If you have to withhold a large part of a deposit or sue the tenants for extreme damage, you might find this to be happening to you. VRBO and HomeAway do not have policies in place to keep false or extortive reviews from being accepted. I haven’t had this happen to me, but I certainly see how it could and would like to protect owners in some way.
Regarding your statement about renters possibly discounting the reviews if there is a way for owners to avoid negative reviews, I don’t see this as being an issue when the owner has opted totally out of reviews. The owner cannot selectively choose which reviews will not show up; if opting out, no reviews show up. The situation will then be similar to a property that has either not received any reviews or is a newly listed property. In either case, the tenant has the sole obligation of deciding for themselves whether they want a property or not. There are many ways in which a tenant can check out an owner and a property to be sure they feel comfortable with their decision.
If you have never had a problem with reviews, you are probably both a skillful landlord and a lucky person and you will have an advantage over those of us who do not choose to have reviews. However, since the above type of things do happen, it seems to some of us that VRBO should be more concerned about their customers (the owners) than they are being by changing this policy and harming our ability to conduct business.
The new policy is much different from the old policy. What I'm asking
for is that the old policy be kept, which allows reviews to be "opted
out of". If your sister does not want to rent a place that has no
reviews, then she doesn't have to do that, she can move on to the next
one. I was trying to explain why it might be good to keep the "opt-
out" option but apparently failed to convince you of that, so it
sounds like we'll just agree to disagree.
I do not believe you are a landlord using VRBO. In fact, I beleive sseveral of these commnets have been posted by staff of VRBO or Home Away.
I currently have a 100% positive rating but have been extorted twice. Both times the complaints stemmed from something aside from my unit. Heck, one time the complaint stemmed from their friends not showing up to meet them and they wanted to go home. Now that I think about it, there were two from 5 years ago where one person complained about there being bugs in WV(seriously) and the other because I did not get the football game they wanted to see. The other from this year was because...sit down for this...the woman felt the stairs were not safe for her one year old to stay up stairs by her self. I was like "ya think"? I should note this are my total complaints over a 5 year period and only two demanded money to keep my reviews clean. But how many does it take?
There is no way this could be viewed as good from an owner stand point. It is not a workable solution.
BTW, for those people who feel the need to interject on a home owners conversation, you should know this particular conversation left this forum and became an e-mail chain long ago.
My aforementioned plan is moving right along.
Well in fairness to the other people who it has happened to, perhaps your comments are far less than objective? You see, I do have a 100% rating. I also beleive some of those complaining on here should rightfully receive bad feedback. However, opting out makes this the choice of the renter. In addition, the feedback should not be posted without the owners discretion. I have two feedbacks that describe my location. One places my unit almost 2 miles away from where it actaully is. May not sound like a big deal but at a ski resort it matters. The otehr lists my actual address so the entire world knows where an empty vacation rental sits unguarded. VRBO has still not acted upon this even though they have been contacted repeatedly.
The bottom line is now is the time for a competitor. I personally have saved every single inquiry I have ever received, rented or not. I will contact them all with my new plan. VRBO pays the bills for this company. It was started grassroots before they sold the site to the current owner. Obviously it is possible to start in a new direction and succeed.
It is definitely time for homeowners to have options in addition to the monopoly that HA/vrbo currently have. Best wishes to those who are trying to expand their opportunities beyond HA. For many of us, myself included, I think we're a little stumped what to do or where to go. A big thank you to ga_cabin_owner, I feel so inept in this regard. An off-forum support in this endeavor, to expand marketing beyond HA, would perhaps be very helpful. I feel uncomfortable having all my eggs in one basket...
Also, on a side note, I was perusing vrbo listings, just for fun, and found many reviews that were submitted by the guest then resubmitted, 2-3-4 times by the owner, inflating their number of reviews by 2or 3 times the actual number. Just another example of vrbo not filtering for accuracy.