15 Replies Latest reply: Jan 30, 2019 3:37 PM by kiheiretreat RSS

    Spam guest impacting ranking

    jeanhalle New Member

      My rankings have been harmed by a spam traveller.  In this case, I marked the traveller on my phone as spam and he no longer appears in my inbox. However, my response rate it is 90% and the details reveal it is this spam traveller. I did not respond to the traveller because I knew he was spam and marked him as spam. This seems like a system glitch. Is there any way to fix this?

        • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
          homeaway_community_manager HomeAway Employee

          Hi jeanhalle,

           

          Welcome to the Community!

           

          This came up recently in a different thread. The long and the short of it is that you should reply to every inquiry. If you feel it's a spam inquiry, reply not available and then mark it as spam as you have been doing. The good news is your response rate will go back up as you continue to respond to new inquiries. Response rate is based on the last 10 inquiries. Thank you.


          Erinn

          HomeAway Community Manager

          • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
            kiheiretreat Contributor

            This happened to me a last year when a company that creates vacation rental videos "offered" to shoot a video of my property while I allowed them to stay in my property for a week for no charge while they filmed the video. I was not interested and marked as spam and it was removed from my Inbox. I then noticed that the 24 hour countdown was still ticking down on that inquiry in my Inbox. I called into CS and was told that I should have replied and then marked as spam. I explained that I had always marked as spam and the inquiry was removed and deleted from my Inbox and was no longer part of my countdown.The CS said that now it was still part of the countdown unless I reply but my response rate would increase with new inquiries. Since the inquiry was removed from my Inbox, I could no longer reply to stop HA's 24 response countdown. Touch luck for me as far as CS was concerned.

             

            Frankly, that isn't acceptable response when HA has changed the rules without informing their user base. After I stewed for a bit, I went back to the email inquiry that was sent for the spam request and click on the "Respond to this Inquiry" button in the email and was surprised (and pleased) the inquiry was still available when I click the email link. I left a "Not interested" reply and HA's 24 countdown was terminated. Not sure if this still works since I now reply to all so I haven't tested it since. So if you are still within your 24 hour countdown and have the email inquiry, you might want to give it a try.

              • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                Remember that you can respond from your regular e-mail too, then log into your account and push spam! Quick and easy! I was not aware of the change either and anything that look like spam was just pushed as spam....glad that others have brought this to the Community!!!

                  • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                    kiheiretreat Contributor

                    twobitrentals My main issue is that I need to respond at all. HA changed the requirements without making them known to owners, I had previously marked illegitimate inquiries as spam and that was the end of the process. I was trusted to make that distinction and the inquiry was removed from my Inbox. I am not interested in responding to a spam inquiry from someone selling something via my HA booking channel. I don't think that owners should be held to an increasing higher standard when vacationers are seemingly not held to any type of standard.

                     

                    IMO, it just seems like the business model gets more and more one-sided against the interest to me as an owner.

                      • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                        twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                        I think that they want the ability to decide what is truly spam. Some owners in the past admitted to hitting the spam button when the guest just didn’t meet their property requirements. I believe it was in response to the guest not reading the listing which would indicate that they were not a good fit for the property. While I agree that guests ”SHOULD” read before sending a request, they aren’t necessarily spam in the true sense of the word.

                         

                        I don’t remember what thread that was on, but it was used to eliminate any further contact by the guest/owner. (A shortcut if you will to reponding why they were not a good fit for the property).

                         

                        So, maybe you need to set up an auto response that just simple says “NO THANK YOU” and then push spam.

                         

                        And we bob and weave through the changes and try not to tear our hair out. It’s just all part of doing VR’s(ever changing platforms)

                          • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                            kiheiretreat Contributor

                            Why not flag owners that consistently mark items as spam instead of painting all owners with broad brush? If we are to "bob and weave through the changes" then they could at least make it a priority to communicate those changes to owners instead of owners having to resolve through trial and error to only their detriment (ranking). While I do not feel the needs to correspond to inquiries that are not remotely interested in booking my property, I will do so if that is the requirement. However, I need to know the rules and if/when they change. Change is expected, clear communication to your customer should be as well. Owners are held to a standard of communicating with their guests in a timely fashion, one would hope that HA could fulfill the same standard to owners.

                              • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                Here was a thread that I started last year in response to those that used the spam regularly, but I can’t find the original thread....

                                 

                                There are some real benefits to being in community to be aware of changes as they happen???

                                 

                                https://community.homeaway.com/message/261263#261263

                                  • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                    kiheiretreat Contributor

                                    Thanks for the link to that thread which further referenced a thread where the OP received the same "inquiry/offer" from the same people who contacted me. The OP started that thread on 3/14/2018, I was contacted with the similar messaging on 11/05/2018, almost 8 months later. What (if anything) does HA do to people who spam on a regular basis who are soliciting business and are not in the market for accommodations?

                                     

                                    Re: Previously marked as spam?

                                     

                                    Yes, it seems like most owners here seek out assistance here on the forum first, instead of CS due to lack of knowledge/competence. It is a valuable resource due to invested owners looking for answers and homeaway_community_manager who appears to be one of the hardest working people at HA.

                                      • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                        twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                        I Agree.....you won’t find many that work as hard as Erinn, we are truly blessed to have her on the Community. There were 3 community managers before her since I have been here and while they were all truly wonderful, helpful people, Erinn (in my opinion) is by far the most involved in the forum and extends an incredible amount of personal effort in helping each and every one of us.

                                        • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                          ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                          kiheiretreat,  I know you say it's the "same people who contacted you", but there's no way to know for sure.  This scam has been going on for years unfortunately.

                                           

                                           

                                          I had an issue a few months ago with spam coming into my email box (not VRBO, my regular email).  I got 30-50 spam emails EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I blocked and blocked and blocked.  What I found as I looked thru the blocked emails was this: 

                                           

                                          emails would LOOK like they were the same address the "name" was always the same, but upon closer inspection they emails were just similar.  the extension might be @pixelo.de but the name would be something like 82D43ste@   and the next one would be 78Dst5*xtlfe@  and the same ending.  I'd get 10 like that.  Then another grouping from (fill in the blank with some nonsense characters) @notionschapter.com .  Some real random stuff.  30-50  A DAY.   I'd block and block and block and it was like they were breeding.   There must be some random auto generator out that churns out these emails.  It would be like trying to kill a cockroach infestation by poking each one with a toothpick as they hatched. 

                                           

                                          I also learned that every time I clicked on these to expose the email address so I could copy paste it into the place where I could block them I was basically sending out a message that I was a living breathing individual and to keep sending more. 

                                           

                                          Now, I'm not tech savvy enough to wrap my head around the hows of how to fix this, but it sounds like a colossal nightmare.  That's why I was asking, and I'm hoping Erinn can reach in at some point to give us some idea of what happens to these inquiries.  If clicking them as spam can somehow stop them, that's great.  But if even OPENING them to mark them as spam is somehow causing the breeding, that's a serious problem. 

                                            • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                              kiheiretreat Contributor

                                              ohst8er While the message differ based on marketing to a specific market - Oregon vs. Hawaii. The messaging is very similar; no dates, exact verbiage for multiple sentences with others are geared to each specific market, same financial investment and sign off. As I mentioned earlier, my "offer" included the option for them to stay for free in my property.  As I can't share their email address on the public forum, it is a gmail account geared towards a specific location; along the lines of spaminquiryforvideosofyourhawaiiproperty @ gmail dot com (not the email address used...obviously). They may use that same email address for all their "inquiries" or they might have multiple emails that market to a specific market(s) they are focusing on.

                                               

                                              I choose to believe that it is the same people/business but that isn't my core issue. Changing the rules about marking an inquiry of spam and not letting owners know and then having CS service brush it off and saying that your metric will return to 100% when you get 10 more inquiries is an unacceptable response from CS. If I am not trustworthy enough to determine what is spam, penalize me if I abuse marking inquiries as spam instead. If that is not an option (it appears it isn't), then if the rules change, communicate that to me.

                                               

                                              Why not generate an auto-response when an owner marks an inquiry as spam stating that the inquiry is under review as to its legitimacy. I am sure that it could potentially become self-managing. If someone was spamming properties and received messaging that indicated that their inquiry was being flagged, I would think that they would move on to other channels to secure business. Not sure if HA can trace ISPs for inquiries or if it is even a big enough pain point for them to invest in the time for a solution that didn't potentially (unfairly) penalize an owner for no reason. It seems like it is easier for them to offer the band-aid solution that they have already implemented.

                                               

                                              If there are stats that show that there was/is rampant abuse by owners who are marking legitimate inquiries as spam, then share the need to change the business rules with owners. Basic communication.

                                • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                  jeanhalle New Member

                                  Now that you mention it I remember a similar problem with the countdown still showing. Actually, this is just poor customer service because VRBO knows it is a programming issue but chooses to advise that we respond to spam as a cure. Spam should never get priority over what is right as far as ranking and service both to travellers and to owners.

                                    • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                      kiheiretreat Contributor

                                      jeanhalle Yes, I agree it is poor customer service. If I mark something as spam, I don't feel that I should have to engage in any type of correspondence even if it is just to say "no thanks". I don't think that it is a programming issue, I think it is working as HA wants it to work.

                                       

                                      I don't feel like there is widespread abuse by owners marking inquiries as spam. What would be the purpose? I think that all owners are looking to book their units and welcome any legitimate inquiry When phone numbers were visible, I would get contacted by realtors, insurance agents, web design companies, cleaners, property management companies, etc. I pay to list my property on HA to obtain bookings, not to be marketed to by anyone who wants to scrape a website for contact information.

                                  • Re: Spam guest impacting ranking
                                    ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                    I would personally like to know what exactly happens to an inquiry once it is marked as spam.  Does it go to a spam department to be looked into?  Or does it just get flagged by '"the system" rendering that particular email unusable?  homeaway_community_manager, do you have any insight?