First, I want to be clear that my properties are still being booked, although I am aware that other owners are not seeing the same results as in years past.
I am lucky, because my properties are situated in a location that is currently "in high demand" but our area and rental market blossomed late, so I have less competition and I was one of the early ones to rent.
So I have a good solid history and track record of reviews.
I have listened to other owners and PM complain, and I have heard about the drop offs in reservations, and I understand that it is possible that I too will see a drop in bookings ( believe it or not I am still on a metallic subscription...I may be one of the last to come off and this has probably also kept me propped up over the last 2 years ).
So ... in fear of the future, I have spent the last 2 years wondering....where have all guests gone?
Here is what I have decided....what do you think?
I believe that once the decision was made by the "powers that be" to turn HomeAway / VRBO into a "Booking Site" ..... everything shifted.
The entire site concept now is to move a looker into a buyer as quickly as possible, and to place only the "best match" properties in front of the looker.
In doing so, the site has eliminated the very reason that the public signed onto VRBO.
In the past, I believe, they came on to VRBO to dream...to fantasize.....to browse .....maybe to reserve....but to enjoy the hunt and come back again.
This is how I approach all my shopping.
I BROWSE. I enjoy the process of buying. I compare. I love coming back until I score the perfect item.
I want to feel welcomed as I peek around, I want to take my time, and I even like to touch and consider purchases out of my price range, that I would never buy.
I believe that HomeAway/ VRBO has methodically driven the browser, the shopper, the dreamer, and thus the future buyer, away.
The rental site is no longer friendly to a slow browse....it is more like a Foreign flea market....where the buyer is grabbed, hustled, stalked, and hounded.
If you aren't ready to buy at a foreign market ( think Mexico, Isreal, Turkey, etc ) then it is NO Fun to be there....it is incredibly aggressive and the shopper has every reason and desire to run away....to get away as fast as possible. No fun unless you want to negotiate and buy.
How much fun it is really to buy a new car? Most of us approach a car purchase with total dread.
I think that due to "Best Match" and Book Now, and the new methodology,..... a lot of our property browsers are Gone - gone elsewhere so they can happily dream without being hammered into a final decision or commitment. Gone because the fun is gone. And without the browsers, the future purchaser dwindles away....the lack of dreaming lookers becomes a spiral down.
What are your thoughts? Where have the bookings gone?
Are we losing the future?