Would be hard to beat VRBO for activity!
Here's a comparison of VRBO and HomeAway for one lakefront property, in the same two-year period (very short-season weekly rental):
VRBO had 24,000 hits, 180 inquiries, maybe 20 bookings;
HomeAway had 4,000 hits, 64 inquiries, maybe 4 bookings.
It might look like HomeAway gets a higher percentage of inquiries based on so many fewer hits, but since most of the bookings came from VRBO, theirs turn out to be the higher quality inquiries. (Love those statistics!)
In regards to your note about multiple entries same guest. I have noticed too there are a few cases of multiple entries out there. One i found had five entries same guest. Most Owners, however have had what happen to me. I gently, but aggressively, seek online comments. Guests are quick to write in "in-home" guest books but slow for the on-line ones. After asking for an on line review and waiting a couple of weeks I entered word for word the guest book review. Then a month later the online review appears. Presto... two reviews unintentionally, and guest what, you can't even get Home Away to remove a favorable duplicate review.
Also, I noticed a couple of multiple reviews for the same group visit but different guest's family members leaving their own review. I think this is probably OK as long as it is not excessive.
Smiley, thanks for the posts.
No question about the number and quality of replies from the VRBO version of HomeAway's sites.
I had both VRBO and HA running listings at the same time. I was on Home Away's main site for a year and got fewer inquiries and only one or two bookings. I spoke with the sales agent who redirected my HA listing to VacationRentals. The result has been a lot more inquiries and a better ratio of bookings.
The issue, however, is of customer care, and by customer I mean the VRBO-OWNER's who pay for the listing. Our concerns are not being addressed. Here the company seems not to be concerned about our opinions. Yes, for now, they deliver a good results from the some of their products, but if they don't hear us out, we owners are a resourceful lot and we will find other marketing avenues that will work just as well. Free market will fill the void with competitive sites.
Results for the home owner are dependent on FAIR reviews. As abuses in the system by both malilious reviewers and competition from non owners increase on HA sites, our booking will go down and we will go elsewhere.
This whole issue reminds me of what we are going through with yelp.com with our family-owned business. Granted, we don't advertise on that, but people post reviews--much more readily I think than for vacation rentals, and there's nothing you can do about ones you feel are unfair, except send a response.
I had no idea repeated or duplicate reviews could be unintentionally posted on our sites. I assumed if it was word for word, the HA person/staff would watch out for duplicates and take /leave out the redundant review.
It's unfortunate that you as a homeowner can't take out your hand typed review from your physical guestbook that you posted online. It made me suspicious of the homeowner for what looked like intentionally inflating their review numbers.
I apologize if I offended anyone out there who has had this unintentionally happen to their listings.
I apologize, I may not have been clear. There may be a system for remove completely duplicate reviews having the exact same wording. I am not sure one way or another. I made an owner entry from the hand written guest book and it is much different from the on line verbiage made by the guest themselves at a later date. I'll have to go back and look, but it may not even be real apparent that entries are reviews for the same guest's stay unless the viewer is specifically looking for duplicate entries, intentional or not.
I don't think anyone is offended. Those that are are more than likely guilty abusers who think that deception is justified by profit. In the end they will be proven wrong. The discussion here is enlightening and a greatly informative exchange of ideas. All the entries have been great.
Thanks to all again.
Thanks for the clarification Diver. I don't think anyone would be "throwing stones" for the situation you've described.
What I had read was the same review, word for word, submitted by the renter and then resubmitted by the owner, word for word again, on later dates with perhaps months between the owner's re-submissions. Crazy. Because the date of stay was the same when a person chose to "View all Reviews" these duplicate submissions all showed up listed in a stack on top of one another so it was easily identifiable as copies. It just looks -suspicious? -poorly edited by the owner?- which leads to the appearance of inattentiveness to their listing site (or by extension- their property???.....)
For those of us who are presently still with HA/vrbo there seems to be room for internal improvement of the review system in addition to the "Opt Out" option many would like to see re-implemented. Too bad HA/vrbo doesn't seem interested in these improvements that could help the homeowners and the potential guests.
I have managed my own rentals for 8 years. Ive used vrbo for about 6 yrs. I have never focused on reviews. I dont even remember opting in or out. I just looked at my vrbo admin page and I noticed that I can invite guests to review my property or add guests comments myself.
I am not sure how vrbo knows that inquiries turn into renters but for me I do not store any email addresses in my ad site calendars. I block out the dates without details about the reservation.
I had heard that vrbo sends review solicitation based on the email addresses you have entered in your calendar.
Not sure if this is true, but for me I havent had any problems. I get plenty of inquiries without reviews, so Im not convinced that reviews increase your bookings....maybe if your property doesnt sell itself, or your a diamond in a rough.....
I have contemplated starting a vacation rental ad site for owners only!
As for the moment,
start investing in the other choices you have. Some are;
I advertise on all of these and although they do not bring me as much traffic as vrbo, I hope and encourage them to do so!
HA/vrbo doesn't solicit any reviews(from any source as far as I know) for a homeowner so I am not aware that a homeowner is vulnerable if they include emails or any additional info in their personal reservation calendar. I don't include email info because it would be redundant for my own bookkeeping method. They also have "No obligation" to discern if a submitted review was actually made by a real renter or not. Hypothetically, anyone could submit a review on any property. The only safeguard against this occurring is that a homeowner can dispute the renter review in which case HA/vrbo may send an email to the renter asking that they send proof of their stay in your home. I recently went through something similar to this when a renter submitted a review years after the stay and stated the wrong date of their stay. I disputed the date, an email was sent to the renter, and the renter changed the date on their review. Had the renter chosen not to make the change (somewhat voluntarily) I'm not sure how hard vrbo would have pushed them for proof of the date of their stay- but that is the stated policy/procedure of vrbo. I'm leaning towards thinking the incorrect dates would have remained online indefinately.
I own and manage 3 vacation rentals in a tourist town but I also rent other properties around the world a number of times per year. We stayed at an apartment in a resort town last year and I left an "average" review. She deserved a bad review but I made it better than what it should have been.
The owner was furious and her was response was a total lie. She actually stated in her response that I had canceled and never even came to the property and was trying to swindle her. She claimed she refunded me also.
Well, she then told VRBO that I never stayed at the property. VRBO contacted me and wanted proof that I had stayed there. So, I emailed my canceled check with the vrbo # on it, all the e-mail correspondence, the instructions for check in and the key code she send me. They had the nerve to tell me that wasn't proof enough that I stayed there and they pulled the review off.
I was forced to send vrbo a picture of my husband laying in the bed to prove that we stayed there. I'm sure someone got a chuckle from my embarrassment.
I am removing my 7 listings from VRBO one by one starting today, I've been with them for more than 5 years. alway had great guest but recently I got one person want part of their money back or write bad review, it is so truth of : "BAD REVIEWS FOR REFUNDS"
I prefer find else where to put all my 7 listings now and I am telling every other owner about it. I think many owners just give those **** their refund back to avoid bad review but I am not going to do that. if every owners remove their listings from VRBO, then their will think twice about what they doing to people.