10 Replies Latest reply: Aug 10, 2018 4:44 PM by floridarob RSS

    Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?

    calicalling Active Contributor

      Noticed something interesting today. I think this might be contributing to the over-capacity bookings we all seem to be plagued with.


      Was searching around, comparing pricing and competitors (real competitors, not 'competitive set') for next summer since I'm getting some request for summer 2019 already.


      Searched for accommodations for 16 guests.


      My search returned only 4 properties, one of them mine (sleeps up to 19 legally) and one which is a smaller house, that I know only legally sleeps 14. Clicked on the smaller house and here's what I saw:




      So VRBO/HA gives you this house as an option, and shows you exactly what you need to change to book it.


      Am I overthinking this? Or looking at it with an overly-critical eye?

        • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
          ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

          That explains a lot. I don't think that you are over thinking it at all.  It does not say the maximum number of GUESTS is 14, but the number of ADULTS is 14...we can shoehorn in the 8 kids you are bringing with you.


          My sister-in-law consistently rents homes for her annual vacation based on the number of persons over 18.  There are 25 family members, only 15 of which are over 18.  Renting a home for just the number of adults, disregarding the kids, doesn't seem to bother her at all.  Needless to say, even if I could I would not rent my home to her knowing about this thought process.


          There will be those homeowners who will say that this display would give them the opportunity to adjust their fees and have the guest pay for the extra bodies; but there are those like myself who don't want the listing shown to any guest who is already over capacity in the requested number. 


          Time for an A/B test?  LOL.

            • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
              calicalling Active Contributor

              I guess what seems strange to me is that a too-small property is presented as an option at all.


              Why even present a property to a guest if the group doesn't meet the criteria stated by the owner as required? In this case, the owner clearly does not want more than 14. Yet, the property is presented in the 'available' options, and the guest is told that to book it they must change their occupancy number to 14.


              If your search is for 16 guests, why would the search return show a property that cannot legally accept 16? And why would the searcher be told exactly how to alter the reservation to be able to book? Unless the goal is to have the guest actually alter the number to a dishonest one and make the booking?


              I had a guest book a while back, then message me that her guest number was actually larger than her booking showed. Ultimately she had to cancel because I simply will not agree to accept a guest number above my legally allowed maximum. She was annoyed that I couldn't 'be flexible.' At the time, I didn't really understand why she would try to book with a false number and expect me to accept it. Now it makes a little more sense. If what I saw today happened to her, she probably got the feeling that the 'rules' aren't actually 'rules' since my place was presented to her as a viable option if she just fudged the numbers.

            • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
              green_mango Active Contributor

              Awhile back, I called VRBO as a guest asking about my listing t to compare service fee to what I was seeing online - I asked if I could bring two extra guests and the rep said "Yes!" with no hesitation and suggested they bring sleeping bags.  Then I pushed it and asked if I could bring 4 extra, and he said, "well maybe you should ask the owner" - maybe most owners don't mind 2 over in sleeping bags, but I certainly don't want that encouraged. 

              • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                While I have definite issues with over occupancy by guests who have a disregard for my max. I am NOT reading this the same way that you are. I see that it shows the maximum and that if you want the place you must reduce the number of guests. However, why they had this come up in the search is a very good question. No home should be pulled up that doesn’t alllow for the number shown.


                The only thing I can think is that they may be showing so that guests can book more than one home??? I know a stretch.


                I Am also with Green Mango...NO CS person should ever encourage over occupancy with or without sleeping bags. We set the limit for a reason

                  • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
                    calicalling Active Contributor

                    twobitrentals I totally agree that the crux of the issue (IMO) is that properties which do not conform to the requirements of the owner show up in a search at all. But it also bothers me that the prospective guests is then given the 'magic number' that they need to input in order to make the booking.


                    I try not to hold VRBO/HA as an entity responsible for the statements of individual CS agents. But this is an intentional, admin-level search programming decision and I don't understand what the purpose is if it isn't to make it easier for guests to over-book.


                    Maybe homeaway_community_manager Erinn can set me straight?

                  • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
                    floridarob Active Contributor

                    This is an interesting thread in light of the other thread discussing the fact that properties that don't have the requested dates available are being shown in search results. Many replies on that thread seemed to think that it was a great idea that the guest's requirements were being ignored in the search results they received.


                    Now we have a thread where posters are saying that the owner's requirements should NOT be ignored. I agree, and would point out that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. All requirements should be respected in search results.


                    In my particular situation, we are specifically licensed for a particular number of guests, which includes people of all ages, including infants, and risk losing our state accommodations license if we violate our licensed maximum occupancy.  In other words, additional guests are not an inconvenience or an extra charge, but they put my entire business operation at risk.


                    Additional guests beyond our stated capacity should NEVER be encouraged or allowed.  If this is a test by HA (as was speculated in the other thread) it would be completely reckless and irresponsible.


                    Beyond that, why would HA want to encourage guests to be breaking the rules and requirements of the properties that they represent? This is not what a 'partner' does. It is what someone intent on destroying the quality and integrity of the vacation rental industry would do.


                    The ONLY responsible approach to this is that stated maximums are stated maximums. Period. Guests or owners who 'fudge' or break the rules should be banned from the site, so that everyone learns that the numbers stated (which are up to the owners after all) are the numbers honoured. There simply is no other responsible response.

                      • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
                        twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                        floridarob - I understand your point about owners liking the dates flexibility but not the number of guests flexibility seems to be inconsistent.  But dates tend to be more flexible for travelers than the number in the party (unless they split into two groups).


                        I can't figure out why they (HA/VRBO) don't follow the example of the airlines.  When I search for a flight, I have to input the number of travelers, the dates, and the destination.  If I want to change the number of travelers, I have to go back to the beginning to change that.  I have to select a specific airport, although I have the option to include nearby airports (note it's my choice, not the search engine choice). When I put in the dates, it comes up with my main dates, but also shows options on days a bit before and after my selected dates.


                        That model seems to work well for the airline industry, a major player in the travel industry.  It seems that it would work well for us, too.

                        • Re: Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?
                          calicalling Active Contributor

                          I haven't been involved in the calendar discussion but my first thought would be that dates are a choice, while occupancy is a legally determined value in many markets including the one that this discussion pertains to.


                          Further, guests are often willing and able to slide dates a day or two, but they rarely decide to leave a couple of kids, spouse or parent at home to meet my legally - driven occupancy requirement.