Several years and several community forum moderators ago, VRBO had what I considered a wonderful calendar system. After traveler entered desired dates if any of the days requested were available, a graph similar to a monthly calendar page showed, with x through each of the dates requested that were not available.
I know there is no going back to that system but if scowal posted is an A/B test, sure hope new system it is adapted.
Sorry, but I don't think this is a good thing at all.
In my view, you should be able to search for specific criteria, and only have properties that match that criteria show up FIRST. What is the point of being able to search anything if the results aren't going to match what you are looking for?
If the search results are presented in the following fashion, then I would view it as an improvement: After showing properties that match the dates available, then; "The following properties have availability CLOSE to what you requested, and are shown in case they may be suitable to you or you have flexibility in your plans." But this should only happen after ALL properties with the dates open (and match other needed criteria) are presented.
Just as in showing properties outside a searched-for neighborhood, or any other criteria that makes no sense relative to what is requested in a search, I think it is simply stupid to show results that don't match what a traveller has specified. I can think of no other better/faster way to annoy guests than by forcing them to look through a bunch of results that don't match what they are looking for. I also believe that showing obviously incorrect results would rapidly breed distrust in the site that does this.
Beyond this basic, yet very important, point is the issue that if search criteria can be ignored, this just becomes yet another means for HA to promote particular properties above others, ones which they think will most likely result in bookings and Service Fee revenue.
Why should HA show your property to a traveller, when my property will make them more money? How about because you have the dates available that the traveller wants, and I don't? Would that not make the traveller more likely to book than not?
I am tired of seeing the same properties constantly showing up in search results, even though there are many others that also have dates open. There is no doubt that there is blatant favoritism being shown. Shouldn't the specifics of a traveller's requests be used to even up the playing field, when appropriate?
And what does this say about the metrics that we are being shown? Does it really matter that my property showed up in 15,000 searches, when it was on page 45 of the results, or apparently, I didn't have the dates available anyway?
I understand that this may be a test, perhaps for the purpose of determining how likely travellers are to change their dates if a property they will like much better is offered to them, and that could be valid research to engage in, but I fear that the damage done with the eroded guest experience that will result is too high a price to pay for such knowledge.
I hope that few will agree with you on this one.
You may be an "outlier" in your opinion this time, again, I hope.
Many owners, myself included, have been Begging, for years , for a more flexible search method regarding dates.
Some travelers are flexible, certainly by a few days, and some are totally flexible based upon pricing.
Here are some reasons for a more flexible date search......for example,
- a traveler enters saturday to saturday, but an owner has a sunday to sunday cycle. The guest would flex to either and needs to see that option.
- an owner has a 6 day gap but a traveler inputs 7 nights. The traveler would gladly come for only 6 nights and is happy to cut back a night
- retirees can travel based on pricing and not dates. They want to see open gaps, and are not tied to dates.
The above are just 3 thoughts off the top of my head.
I, for one, am doing handstands and cartwheels to see this improvement in the search engine. It will help close gaps and odd days available, and assist in providing more options to a traveller. It should bring more money into everyone's pocket and is a benefit for everyone. More bookings = happier everyone.
I hope it is here forever.
I want to be an outlier, so thanks for the compliment. Average or common attitudes produce common or average results. Better/excellence/exceptional is always uncommon. My goal is always far beyond common.
Perhaps we can agree on this; I have absolutely no problem with flexibility in search results, as long as the guest is given the option to include them or not. So have a check box that says "My dates are flexible" like they do on Airline booking sites.
I don't know why a traveller would only want to come for six nights if they are intending seven, and there are literally hundreds of properties with seven nights available to them. I doubt that there are few (if any) properties anywhere that are so nice that a guest would give up a single night of their vacation just to stay there. So why clutter up their choices with properties with six nights if that's not what they want? Most shoppers find too many choices overwhelming, and shopping fatigue is a real issue, so why give them more than what they want, if six nights isn't of interest to them?
I can't see any reason why this would help close gaps and odd days available, as you suggest. I think that some may be forgetting about what kind of scale we are talking about here. On my metrics, it shows that my property was shown over 20,000 times in the last 30 days. Perhaps if it was 100 I might care if I got an extra 20 views for people who's search didn't fit my open dates. But 20,000 in a month? If I have a gap, of any size, it is a pretty good bet that there is somebody searching for that gap, or multiple travellers are for a combination thereof.
Showing my property to a bunch of people (likely the majority) who would rather NOT see it doesn't help me. It frustrates and annoys guests.
The way to find out if this is a good idea or not is to survey site users. "Hey Mr. Guest? Would you like to have properties that don't meet your search criteria show up in search results on the site? Yes or No. Would you like to have an option to search like that? Yes or No." But the LAST thing you do is run an A/B test (if that is what is happening) and simply **** off all of your B audience.
If I have flexibility in my dates, do you know what I do? Run multiple searches based on my flexibility, and see what comes up. The last thing I want is to be wasting my time with search results that don't match the criteria I specified. And worse, having those unmatched properties mixed in with ones that do. Ugh!
If you want more guests booking with you, you have to think like a guest, not like an owner desperate for any little bone of a booking that may get tossed their way. Annoying guests and having them give up because the site doesn't function as they intend will definitely not lead to more bookings and happier everyone. It will produce the exact opposite.
Does anyone seriously want to suggest that if they were a guest and doing searches on the site, they would want the search results to NOT match what they asked for? How can anyone seriously think that such a situation would be producing a great GUEST experience?
So I tried this again this morning, and got the same result using Chrome. So I tried to do this on Edge, and did not get the same result. So I figured it was cookies or something odd. So I cleared the cookies and all browsing history, and also rebooted as an extra measure. However, same result. So I got different results by different browsers--which was odd considering I cleared all cookies, etc.
But what is interesting is another poster (Over-capacity encouraged by HA/VRBO?) experienced the same type of result--but it was related to occupancy--not availability.
Since we know HA runs A/B tests frequently, and they cannot comment on them, this isn't a call to beat the drums. Maybe it is a targeted A/B test. Maybe it was a glitch. Who knows. But it was an interesting result.
But bottom line, it would be great to have a flexible search option..,.
I agree a flexible search would be nice but it should be up to the guest if the want to see flexible search results. HA could put the check box for flexible dates back and let travellers decide if they want to use it or not. The fact that it was removed tell me HA thinks it wasn't producing results.