27 Replies Latest reply: Mar 29, 2019 7:31 AM by u0999 RSS

    Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway

    royguti Active Contributor

      I've been doing the short term rental game close to 4 years, started with Homeaway and it was great, I would actually pull some inquiries from Airbnb and bring them to Homeaway as well BUT now I don't feel the love; I had a very shady guest that put a pet in my home, smoked pot,, had people sleep in the house that weren't in the guest list, kept extending the day of check-out (I would agree) and then wouldn't make a payment until late evening,  begging all day to make payment and finally paying late evening after I would tell him he has to leave immediately for no payment, basically he acted like it had to be done in his time frame and my requests to pay were a bother, the third time he tried to extend (again same day after I told him he needs to let me know and pay the night before, no hotel lets you stay without paying) I had to lie and tell him that someone had already booked the house that day, something seemed fishy extending the morning of check-out every single time, thank God he left because I thought after all his shadiness and rudeness he would probably overstay, anyways he left the house like a dirty hotel room, food on the floor even in bedrooms, no pots or dishes made and all over the place, sticky stuff all over the floor (cleaning lady was cussing this guest), including taking out my "No Smoking - smoking is an automatic and immediate eviction" sign and putting it away and ripping out all the pages of my guest book, I let him have it when he left and I knew after that he would probably do a negative review, so he did, a 1 star review (worse I've had was a 3 star review because of the once in 40 year basement floodings in Michigan, so out of my control, so not even a bad review just 3 stars because they had to cancel and find another place), saying the house smelled, so get this, for homeaway that's a total legit review even though he tried to book the house 3 times after the original booking, he even tried to book AFTER I told him it was already booked, how insisting to try to book a 1 star home! even offered to show homeaway the texts between this person and myself but they're not interested, to add insult I responded to the review and they took it out! (might be because I added the first name of the person in the review will check tomorrow), so I'm closing to pulling my 3 listings that are on Homeaway, have 4 more than I was planning on putting on Homeaway but at this rate they're staying only on Airbnb.

       

      What type of service is this? I've had around 150 bookings with them between 3 listings (great reviews), planning on adding 4 more this month and I get this? This company is going on the deep end, we created a local FB short term rental page and most of the people that are ALSO on homeaway (all of them are on Airbnb) are having issues and thinking about leaving Homeaway as well.

       

      Correct your ship Homeaway, you're not on the good side of hosts anymore!

        • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
          planthealth Active Contributor

          I had a woman who left a 2 star review because she was trying to extort me for a free stay because 1 1/2 days during her stay the roof was being repaired without our notice as the HOA did not tell us in advance nor did she call to tell us. We could have moved her from our 1 bedroom to a 2 bedroom condo in a different building HAD SHE LET US KNOW, but she did not and when we did not pay, IN HER REVIEW she states she was mad she did not get $ back. But because she did not say the 2 stars was because of the lack of refund VRBO wont pull the review.

          So this bright line policy causes everyone to work harder to get bookings from sources other than them whereas if they would partner with us maybe we would be less motivated to get guests via their competitor platforms. Makes no business sense.

          • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
            twomoreyears Senior Contributor

            I can feel your pain - that guest was horrible.  I hope you rated them 1 star as is appropriate for their behavior.

             

            But if you quit every platform that won't remove an unfair review, you'll soon run out of platforms on which to advertise.  So take a deep breath, maybe drink a glass of wine (or two).   Future guests will be able to figure out this one-star is not representative of your property, particularly if the review they posted was rambling or somewhat incoherent and you have a lot of other good reviews.  Call CS and find our why your response was pulled and if you can write a new one.  If you can write a new one, post a draft of your response here, and we'll help you edit it.


              • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                royguti Active Contributor

                I did, and a response that maybe was a bit to emotional but hey it is what it is, Homeaway used to have the best guests but now that the sharing economy is getting well known the shady ones are avoiding Airbnb and using Homeaway to hide substandard criteria to join the website,usually it's younger people that you would think would be going thru Airbnb but no, they might already be banned from Airbnb and now going to the easy to join homeaway. You're right I should have a glass of wine, ended up with 2! I don't know what I'm going to do but all I know is that Airbnb is not perfect but doing MUCH better than homeaway last year and this type of behavior is unacceptable from any reputable company.

              • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                I Don’t think this is an HA issue as much as an isolated bad guest. Just respond professionally and your other reviews will support your property assuming all are good

                  • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                    scottr Active Contributor

                    I think we are seeing the effect the OTAs in general, are having on guest behavior.  It's been 4 or 5 years since I have had a guest say "Thank your for sharing your home",  or "Thank you for accepting our reservation".   Hotel model, yields hotel guests.  

                      • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                        feibus Senior Contributor

                        I blame <insert hated politician name here>.

                         

                        Seriously, it's about as logical as blaming booking platforms for boorish guest behavior.  Boorish guests are boorish because that's who they are.  The platform has nothing to do with that.

                         

                        98% of my guests are amazing and considerate.  I blame HA for that.

                          • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                            ohst8er Premier Contributor

                            +1 to what feibus said.   

                             

                            Set a minimum age  for primary rental first of all (mine is 25).  Limit your minimum length of stay to 3+ nights (mine is 7 nights in peak season).  Set your booking window, mine is no bookings more than 6+ days.   Set VERY SPECIFIC rules, list them on your website, list them on your rental agreement. DO HAVE A RENTAL AGREEMENT.  DO NOT allow anyone access without said rental agreement signed and full monies paid.  Some on here require an image of the cc and DL before booking.   I do not, I don't have an opinion for you either way on that one.  

                             

                            Once you get a booking, search your guest online and on FB.  I know we are told we shouldn't "profile" people, but I do.  What I mean by that is, I've been around long enough that when I hear a certain name I can generally determine what generation they are from.  There were two situations when this worked out for me.   One was a guy who had a name that told me that he was probably only about 20 years old.  Fortunately for me he had a very distinctive last name.  I searched this person on FB and sure enough, he was a 21 year old college student who's most recent post was "Headed to Hilton Head for a few days of R&R to blow off some steam after exams, who's in??"  Followed by several F Yea buddy!  I'm in, let's party, comments.  Um yea, no, not at my condo.  I proceeded to call him back and tell him how super family oriented we were, how we had plenty of toys in the closet for your little ones to play in the sand, etc.  He never followed up.  That one was easy.

                             

                            A second instance was when I had IB in place.  This young gentleman booked my condo, paid his first payment, and in his comments explained to me that he was a grad student and he and a few other grad students were looking for a quiet break after exams.  He shared with me which University he went to as well.  Just one problem, his college profile told me he was a Sophomore on the hockey team.   H to the No!!! 

                             

                            Once the booking is complete CALL THEM.  You can generally get a feel for people when you do.  If they don't reply right away, try again.  and again.  Send them a text if they don't reply to your call, be polite but persistent.  You want to go over details. Have you been to the area?  etc.  Make them engage you.  Be friendly, engaging, encourage questions, etc.   Send them a rental agreement, send them a list of things to do in the area, stay engaged up to and including when they check in. 

                             

                            And, GET A RING DOORBELL at your front entrance.  (be sure to disclose this in your rental agreement so there are no surprises for the guest).  It doesn't help you know what's going on INSIDE, but it gives you a feel for who is coming and going.  

                             

                            I have found that the more I encourage my guests to become engaged with the process, generally the better they leave my condo.  And the better review they leave me. 

                            • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                              u0999 Premier Contributor

                              agree somewhat... disagree somewhat. Boorish guests always existed, that part is true, But previously, when most owners could talk to the guest BEFORE booking and get a "feel" whether guests is a right fit, a lot of these guests were not rented to if owner had a spdey feeling about them. so the situation was prevented in the 1st place. Now with the "walled gardens" of major OTAs (and don't tell me that Expedia guests do not have anonymous "click and book" hotel mindset) the boorish guests have more chances to actually book and stay and create havoc.

                               

                              I have quite a few direct guests who contact me is response to my Facebook  advertisement. They ask questions, they interact, they message me before committing to the booking. The spill the beans about their family composition and their plans. That is vetting in itself. So I have an opportunity to weed potential trouble maker out. Not so with OTA click-and-book (even if it starts with initial inquiry) model.

                            • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                              twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                              Not only do my guests thank me for the time, they are very honest if they have broken something or taking something home with them accidentally. So, I can’t agree with your comments about the last four to five years. Have I had the occasional not so great guest ....sure but that’s just life

                          • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                            patpat Contributor

                            I feel your pain as well, and also hope you rated the guest a 1 so other owners don't end up with them. And I hope you responded to the review with a smile on your face with future guests in mind, because everyone knows in all businesses there are those customers that can be absolutely horrible and will never be happy. I have often thought that after a year of all 5 stars reviews, wouldn't it be nice if vrbo/ha allowed us to drop any one review of our choice? (Wishful thinking!) Call it a Christmas gift or an anniversary present if you want. Just thought it would be something positive when there has been so much negativity. There seems to be a lot of internal things going on at vrbo/ha. Seems like they are "trying" to make things better, but without seeking input from owners, it makes things worse in the long run. I wish they would put out a survey to all owners on what needs work, because they say they are working on certain things, then months go by and nothing, then there are other issues and we're told they are "working on it". And again, time goes by and the issue is forgotten because something else they decided that needed fixed gets "fixed" and causes the next issue and so on. And when you write in on the "feedback...nothing.  I see this as a pattern that needs fixed.  So just like you, I kind of feel the same way: "getting near the end of the road with HA". But is the road any better elsewhere? I only recently decided to give it a try. I just started signing up with ABB. Didn't want to, but I am. I did not want the hassle of managing multiple online accounts. I wanted simple. Post my place on one .com and share our VR with good people. I think I will also set up a paypal account and put that on my websites since I do get a lot of traffic from our visitors's bureau, and stupid me, I have my sites directing the traffic to vrbo because I didn't want to hassle with processing. But if vrbo/ha doesn't want to work with us owners, why should I be directing the traffic to them?? Loyalty goes both ways and I'm not seeing it from them.  Just like twobitrentals, I have so many guests that take the time to thank me for "allowing them into my home" or "sharing our home". They send me pictures, They've given me gifts. And that just warms my heart. And that way overpowers the horrible guest. But when I use the vrbo site and it changes so often, and not for the better/makes my job harder, and then when I login here and see complaint after complaint after complaint, my blood starts to boil a little. It just shouldn't be that way. I guess we should hang in there and hope for a better 2019?

                              • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                feibus Senior Contributor

                                Allow me to just clear up one of your misconceptions: I'm one of the owners whose feedback has turned into actual features (and another is in beta now).

                                 

                                Feedback left on the page where you have an idea actually ends up on the phone of the project manager responsible for the page, and it gets tracked, and if enough people leave the same feedback, it gets put on the schedule.  If you want to get a response directly from a page's PM, show up at the yearly conference, where all the PMs are there ready to talk with you (and usually promise you nothing, but at least you are 100% certain they heard you and wrote it down).  It's not many companies where they make so many from upper management available to their users, so take advantage of it.

                                 

                                Does the development schedule sometimes change?  Absolutely.  Same with every company I've ever worked with.  It's the nature of our business environment where the fastest to respond sometimes wins.

                                 

                                I'm not negating how you feel about what is going on.  I totally get your frustration.  But I wanted to clear up impressions that were not matching my first-hand experiences.

                                  • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                    patpat Contributor

                                    Sorry if I wasn't thinking clearly. I was simply thinking of some recent communications. For example, the many times owners have asked for guest information on the front reservation page and have been told "we're working on it", and it's not there yet.  How long has that been an issue?? Then to all of a sudden have a new payment detail where we now have to click to get to another screen to see detail information, which won't print out on the same page. And if memory serves me right, I believe the change was met with a lot of requests for more change. I'm sincerely doubting there will be a change as requested because there are more issues needing attention. There are missing reviews and payment problems. What is going on??? I only suggested a survey to go out to all owners because I feel that most owners have gotten to the point of where they just don't care anymore, that it's hard enough just managing their own properties then to try to make things better for everyone else. There are so many owners that don't even know about this forum. Yes, I get that there are some owners that have a lot of input. But is it the input the majority is wanting? And as far as showing up at the conference....I starting calling last January to see when and where the conferences were going to be. I called and asked every month or so. I probably have not been an owner as long as you, so have no clue as to when a typical conference is held. All I knew was there were 3 conferences the year before and due to circumstance could not attend any of them. So this year I wanted to go, but had to wait and wait for the date. I was very frustrated because we needed a lot of time to make personal, business as well as VR arrangements. So once I heard what the date was, and was able to make our arrangements, the conference was closed out! So why did vrbo/ha wait so long to announce the conference this year when in the past they announced closer to the beginning of the year? And I wasn't the only one. And I certainly hope you're not negating how I feel, because I am always more mildly mannered. I can promise you, if I am one to speak out, there are so many more that are sitting back complaining, which gets nowhere.

                                      • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                        twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                                        patpat -

                                        There are, and will always be, issues that some. or most, owners think need to be changed.  The business environment today is change or die.  HomeAway/VRBO certainly have things they can improve.  But they've made a great number of changes over the past few years.  And some of the the things are good.  We asked for cancellations without penalty - they now have some, albeit limited.  We complained about the ranking by guest rating - that a property with one five-star review ranked higher than a property with 99 five-star and one 4-star review.  They came up with a filter by rating, with the highest cutoff at 4.8.  We want guest contact information prior to accepting a booking - they have the Premier Partner program where you can get the contact info.

                                         

                                        Sure, there's more to be done.  A flexible date search would be killer great (for instance, 5-7 nights sometime in June-August).  Most of us still are begging for a more strict cancellation policy than the 100% 60 days, but less strict than NO REFUNDS.  And they are cautious, as most large corporations are, and don't reveal a lot until it's ready.

                                         

                                        I'm not negating how you feel.  But HA/VRBO is not completely unresponsive - they just might not prioritize what you want them to prioritize.

                                          • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                            patpat Contributor

                                            I'm not sure where you're getting that I think there should never be change. I've never said that. Competition would kill if there was no change.There has to be change. Look at what you just said..."you had to "complaint" to get your desired results. I think that's a shame and a waste of time for a company of any size.

                                              • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                patpat I think you should reread what twomoreyears wrote.  You are putting words in their mouth that they absolutely did not say. 

                                                • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                  twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                                                  patpat - Then how would you change things?  HA/VRBO does send out surveys from time to time, and they do have focus groups already.

                                                   

                                                  Remember, you have hundreds of thousands of owners, each one with different wants and needs.  You have millions of guests, many of which are new (hopefully), and you are trying to build something for the future.  Oh, and many owners are older farts like me (late 50's) but you have to compete with AirBnB to get the millenials and younger, who grew up with "technology" and instant gratification.  Don't forget the shareholders - they need their money NOW, so everything that you do has to increase the number of bookings or the margin per booking - you can't do something just to make the owners "happy".

                                                   

                                                  How would you do things differently to accomplish the objectives better?

                                                    • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                      patpat Contributor

                                                      First of all, I am truly grateful for all the hard work that all of the owners like you put into making changes for the better. I really am, and should have said so earlier. But you have to admit that a lot of changes cause some adverse side effects somewhere else, and that, in turn, causes a lot of complaining. I had to laugh at one of the problems a little while back, can't remember what it was, it was just a small glitch, and some people on this forum just made a mountain out of a mole hill. The problem was quickly solved, but the complaining was ridiculous.


                                                      I get the big picture. I really do.  I can't really say how I would change things because I don't know who's employed over there and how they test, and that's really not my job. But I would make sure programs work well in all facets of how they connect to other pages, and with all browsers before deployment. I would think of how to free up owners time so they can market and go after more business to make the shareholders happy. So when owners are asking for all guest info on one page so they don't have to spend time going back and forth to write it down,...don't say you're working on it, just do it. (And I don't think it's right that only PP get to see guest phone/info on inquiries - this day and age with crime the way it is, that should be a God given right.)  I really like the changes on the rate calendar esp with having multiple properties. That's a great change that helps, it's so much easier to see and make changes. I would change the reservation calendar back to having the guest name on it instead of $$ like many owners have asked. I would have built a better texting method to keep up with the younger generation like ABB has done. And as far as ABB goes, it's not just the millenials and the younger generation using it. I have a lot of older  folks asking if we are listed on it, telling me of their experiences of where they've stayed with ABB's. And I really don't have time to keep going on and on, My main objective is for the betterment, just like yours is. I hate to see all the negativity on this forum. The person from Hawaii who left the program put that into perspective with the farewell comments. I was thinking of that person when I read this original post "getting near the end of the road with Homeaway". Maybe I should have had a glass of wine too, which you suggested and just not have replied!!

                                                        • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                          ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                          patpat, I won't disagree with your sentiment.  I'm not adverse to change, in fact I've adapted pretty well to it, even the stuff I've initially grumbled about.  I WOULD like to see, as you mentioned, change that has actually been fully TESTED first, or atleast, as much as it CAN be tested. 

                                                           

                                                          Some of the change was, I think, reeling in some of the bad apples.  Some of the change was VRBO now being owned by Expedia and feeling the need to take control of how owners "process" (for lack of a better word) their paying customers, so that Expedia gets their "share."  You can slice and dice that however you want but that's the bottom line for Expedia.  Businesses only exist when they are making money, and when they figured out they could charge a traveler fee, that travelers would pay it, and that that could be a viable revenue stream they also had to figure out a way, as many ways as necessary, to make sure the owners didn't circumvent the system and cut Expedia out of their perceived slice of the pie. 

                                                           

                                                          The bottom line here is, we operate within the confines of the system to make it work as best we can for ourselves, we ask, we suggest (beg, plead etc) for changes when changes are needed, and then we just get on with our lives.   As some of the more seasoned peeps on here have mentioned, it's my understanding this used to be a forum where owners came to share advice and information.  Sadly it's turned into somewhat of a beetch fest.  I'm not pointing fingers, and if I were, I'd be pointing a few at myself on purpose, but imagine if you were a TRAVELER who stumbled upon this site (as it is right out there for public viewing), and thought, goodness, do I want to rent from this company and the owners that are involved here?  It sounds like a colossal MESS! 

                                                           

                                                          And what about the newbie owners?  EVERY WEEK homeaway_community_manager Erinn posts a new collection of community members, and maybe 1 or 2 ever chime in.  The rest probably just read along.   Every forum has their "chatters" and their "lurkers", but I can only imagine what the "lurkers" think about what they've gotten themselves into, or better yet, what they think of US.  

                                                           

                                                          I didn't mean this to be a monologue, or a diatribe, or whatever it is turning out to being.   But I'll just add this... there are people on this forum who are in markets that just aren't cutting it anymore, or they aren't the hot place anymore, or they have too much competition, or their city leaders have done everything they can do to shut down their market, or etc.  I don't know who they are, I don't know which market they are in, but when I look at the clothes people are wearing, and the cars they are driving, and the decor they are putting up in their house I am reminded that things CHANGE.  People change, their wants, needs and desires change.   Travel to anytown USA and there are folks who will tell  you all the usedtohave and usedtobe and usedtobeknownas stories.   Sometimes, despite what you are doing, or what you used to do, or what VRBO used to do, or used to didn't do or whatever, for some of us, our heyday is just OVER, or maybe on it's way to being over.  My market in Hilton Head is HOT.  But will it always be?  Despite the fact that tourism is what keeps the town alive, I've met several regulars that wish things would go back to being QUIET.  They aren't enjoying us travelers near as much as we'd like to think they are.

                                                           

                                                          That's my two cents for whatever it is worth. 

                                            • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                              yosemitevalleyview Contributor

                                              I still mail a physical key.  That requires the renter give me their home address.  I've never had any kind of problem with guests.  Something about this loss of anonymity seems to keep people in line.

                                              • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                dinamight Contributor

                                                I've been through the same thing. It is completely at HA's discretion which reviews get placed and which get pulled, don't let them tell you otherwise.

                                                For some reason that is beyond me, they choose the side of guests over hosts almost every time, even if the review is demonstrably full of lies.

                                                This generates a lot of ill feeling but Homeaway does not care.

                                                • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                  floridarob Active Contributor

                                                  Some of the replies on this thread are missing the point that the OP (which stands for Original Poster) is making.

                                                   

                                                  He doesn't blame HomeAway for having a bad, boorish guest. He blames HomeAway for not supporting him in his fight with the guest.

                                                   

                                                  And that absolutely is a responsibility of HomeAway's.

                                                   

                                                  Just consider if all of the bad, rude, boorish, inconsiderate guests were treated fairly and held to account by HomeAway. And likewise, the bad owners too.

                                                   

                                                  Why, they just might get UPSET and leave the platform, never to be seen from on the site again!

                                                   

                                                  Could you imagine?  Bad guests not wanting to come back and use the platform? Bad owners leaving the site?

                                                   

                                                  Just how bad could that be for HomeAway? How much money would they save on customer support and issues management?

                                                   

                                                  What IS the lifetime value of a customer?

                                                   

                                                  Or brought closer to home, what is the lifetime value of a happy satisfied owner to HomeAway, vs. the value of a rude, boorish, selfish guest who has no business renting vacation rentals?

                                                   

                                                  Some may claim that I as an owner have a bias in my opinion about what the OP says. I DO have a bias. That bias is towards greater customer satisfaction, customer retention, and long term profits. And in the pursuit of those, I believe that HomeAway should be paying close attention to what the OP is saying.

                                                  • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                    dinamight Contributor

                                                    The owners used to be Homeaway's customers. More and more, it's the renters who are now the customers, we're merely "partners".

                                                    The customer is always right, even when he's wrong.

                                                    • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                      patpat Contributor

                                                      royguti, you said you were going to check to see if your response was posted; did it yet? Sometimes all it takes is one stupid word for the "computer" to kick it over to a department to be physically evaluated. Once I had a word "beautiful" (believe it or not) that tripped up the computer, and another time the word was "swing". Both times took almost 3 weeks to release. (Yeah, that long!) And both times were on the guest side review. I've never had a "response" held up, but you never know with their "algorithms". CS should be able to tell you what is holding up the response.

                                                        • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                          royguti Active Contributor

                                                          patpat, first they were going to look deeper into it, supposedly they opened a case, I got very busy with a couple of houses I'm rehabbing and took a few days to get the information to them, once I contacted them again to finalize this they said there was nothing I could do, so not going crazy so I will not renew the subscription, I haven't gotten any bookings since that 1 star rating anyways (although I've gotten quite a few from Airbnb) so will put the listing as well as my other 5 listings as pay per booking BUT I will put it higher than Airbnb so basically the tables have turned, before I used to push bookings away from Airbnb to Homeaway now it's going to be the opposite I'm pushing bookings from Homeaway to Airbnb, if they want book on Homeaway they will have to pay significantly more. So yes, I'm weaning myself off Homeaway little by little, this experience is pushing me to hurry and create my own website and don't depend on asinine rules.

                                                            • Re: Getting Near the End of the Road With Homeaway
                                                              patpat Contributor

                                                              I am so sorry to hear that. I also have a case (cancellation related) where they keep putting me off. It's pathetic. I gave up as well. I put one of my properties on Airbnb and was very surprised at the results. I really don't like their platform, would prefer all my bookings to come from "verbo", but money is money! Airbnb sent out a survey and their CS said they are working on things, so who knows, maybe their platform will improve. I also used to push all my website calls to vrbo as well, but stopped that. Why the heck would I push my direct business to them when they can't fix a cancellation problem their CS department caused, which effects my rankings? I hope your rehadded homes do well. All the best...