38 Replies Latest reply: Apr 7, 2014 6:50 AM by mommap RSS

    Lots of inquiries, few renters

    New Member

      We have been renting our property for about 6 months on VRBO and we are reasonably pleased with the number of renters that we have had. What I am surprised by is the large number of inquiries that we get where the prospective renter asks if the property is available for certain dates, I reply that it is available, and we hear nothing further. Do renters tend to send out large numbers of inquiries and then rent from whoever is more chatty, more informative, or offers a discount right away? I'm not sure if there is more information that I should add to my responses. Also the calendar is kept up to date, so the available dates are on the listing. I always respond promptly to inquiries. When I used to rent properties listed on VRBO I would read lots of listings, decide which property was best for our family, and send an inquiry to that one property. It seems that is not what most renters do?

        • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
          New Member

          I have been advertising for 3 months and find a similar problem.  Some weeks I have many enquiries, but converting these to bookings is poor.  I was wondering whether the rental agreement, the request for for a deposit or something else is the reason behind this.  Do you use a rental agreement or request a deposit?

            • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
              New Member

              In my case inquiries seldom get to the point of discussing rental agreements, deposits or anything else. The prospective renter asks about a certain date, I reply that it is available and say that I would be happy to answer questions, and I hear nothing further. I'm wondering if I need to get more aggressive and "sell" the property in my initial response.

                • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                  New Member

                  I experience the same: an enquiry, which I think I answer politely and which I resell and I also supply all information regarding the price for the period, the deposit required for the booking and the rental agreement for reading so that the client is aware that the deposit converts to a refundable (subject to conditions) security deposit on booking.  I find few people read the advertisement, the appartment restrictions or conditions, when browsing.

                   

                  Having said the above, I am also doing 'something wrong' as I am not coverting equiries to bookings.  Where it has converted, I have done as described and had a swift response back.

                   

                  Have you read 'Listed 1 week - nothing but bargain hunters and flakes - Is this the norm' posted by Scout2786?  It is listed a few entries below your query and has provided me with some pointers.

                   

                  I will continue to look at your post due to the similar issue we seem to have, but I will now be quiet as I do not have the answer or experience to help you.  Good luck.

                    • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                      sophie Senior Contributor

                      There is a wealth of information on this forum about actual inquiries to bookings. If you type in INQUIRIES on the search bar above, it will give you hours of good reading on the subject.

                      • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                        New Member

                        I did a search for inquiries as suggested. Apparently the ratio of inquiries to bookings is higher than I would have thought. Based on my own use of VRBO in the past I would just send an inquiry when I had already decided that I wanted to rent that property, but it looks like I am not typical. I didn't actually find the information about responding to inquiries relevant to my issue. I have never had an inquiry from a scammer, or anyone asking for a discount, and I'm not having any problems responding to questions in an appropriate and timely manner. I simply don't know what to do with the many inquiries that just ask if the property is available. Personally if I asked that and received a long hard-sell or phone call in return I would be turned off, but maybe I'm again not typical.

                  • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                    New Member

                    We are a newly listed property in Woodstock, NY and my experience thus far is that we receive an overwhelming majority of inquiries from prospective renters who for whatever reason do not check our published rates, minumum stay policy, availability calendar, etc., before contacting us. I am wondering whether there are enough others experiencing similar issues, such that the VRBO/HomeAway.com web sites may do something to better raise the awareness of prospective inquirers to the importance of first checking on these critical details, prior to sending their inquiries?

                      • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                        old_frog Contributor

                        Like others above my ratio of inquiries to bookings is not vry high.  I attribute this to VRBO/HomeAways system that permits inquiries to go to similar other houses in the same geographical area.  It is apparanet from many of the inquiries that the person is inquiring on another property or simply doing a broadcast search.  Simply, wht we are getting spam from the system.

                         

                        In speaking to a sperson yesterday, it became apparent that the person was not familiar with the area, the house, or other details.  I know it is up to me to sell the property, but....  a bit better vetting by the system is what I expect but am not getting.

                          • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                            msdebj Senior Contributor

                            I've learned over the years to not put all of my advertising eggs into one basket (VRBO/HA). It's paid off for me, to advertise on several other venues.  I've found my return on investment (on advertising) to be much better since I've done this.

                             

                            There are sites that allow you to pay by the month, local tourism sites, etc. I think it's a good idea to assess your ROI every 6 months and adjust accordingly.

                            Debj 

                        • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                          Community All-Star

                          I have been renting our cottage for four years through VRBO.  I keep my availability calendar up-to-date, have all my rates and fees posted, etc.  I receive a lot of inquiries for dates that are not available, for parties that are larger than my maximum number, and asking for my rates.  It is obvious that they haven't taken the time to really look at my listing.  I don't understand why people make inquiries this way, but they do.

                           

                          I have also been a renter who uses VRBO and I look very carefully at all of the information on the listing (including the availability calendar) before I send an inquiry.  Unfortunately, many owners and property managers do not keep their calendars up-to-date.  As a result, I may send out 4 or 5 inquiries at one time because I know that my first and second choices may not be available even though the calendar indicates that they are.

                            • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                              anja Senior Contributor

                              This is one of my favorite topics:  the OP asks...and the thread is about...  "ba ba ba....hearing nothing further" ...from inquirers.

                               

                              Since it was "invented" it's been my pet peeve that the combination of the "bulk" inquiry feature + the exposed 10 competiting properties in our locations for every search that a traveller carries out,  are what is affecting the "response" level ..(.the lack thereof)....and real outcome  [ROI]  for us, in my opinion

                               

                              I am immodest to claim:   "I do GREAT response!"   The ball goes to the court of my "inquirer" quickly and thoroughly. 

                               

                              It's always been a competitive trade, especially in high tourist areas such as mine, but never before have I had so few "responsesfrom prospects whom I  "thought"  were interested in hearing from me about "my" property.  But,  no no no....they are actually taking the easy path:  to "search" by sending ONE email  to MANY owners, instead of approaching me with specific interest.   And...phoning them, if they dare to include a telephone number, gets me their *voice message*....and they do not call back.

                               

                              Okay, I've been in this trade for years....I get it...if I continue to keep my listing here, I am having to accept that "bulk inquiry / competition exposure"  *search feature*  that has been offered to travellers, and then work harder to stand  out among my competition.  I do work to stand out, anyway.  So, we have to  create eye-catching headlines, make competitive offers...and to purchase high levels, use RM etc...to get higher listing placement, keep the calendar current ....make sure our key words are the right ones...etc...eventually log in to respond (dread that) and respond quickly to the traveller...etc....and more and more hoops to jump through to "get the ROI"....and the favourable "feedback", online.   Whew.  Okay...I do this.

                               

                              From time to time  I read the "traveller forum" in this Community.  And...

                              I have a *new pet peeve*.  It's the "traveller inquiry behaviour" ...and I suspect that it's been influenced as a result of HA making it ever so much more convenient for **travellers*** to find a property.  So, now my pet peeve for "the bulk feature...etc.  is even BIGGER. 

                               

                              The traveller sends us "generic" unspecific and unqualified messages, still.....in spite of the "filter" that's supposed to bring us more "qualified" inquiries. It seems that we still are getting the "unqualified" in our inboxes.

                               

                              But an issue that I have with travellers' inquiry behavioiur is that they ...the *travellers* ....wonder  (ref. read their complaints in the traveller forum on this Communitywhy they do not get responses from *owners*.....when they...  the  ***travellers themselves*** ... do NOT  respond to the information we send them --- after we've received  ***their (bulk) inquiries.***    

                               

                              I use templates for responses, but they can not be used without "customizing" them.....and I'm also finding myself answering questions the travellers include in "comments".....----anyway responding to them all takes time.

                               

                              So, why is it that the travellers complain about not getting responses from owners.... yet... it seems a common reality that we, owners, do not get replies from the travellers whom we "serviced" with our offers?   We spend a lot of time to service the inquiry.

                               

                              Yet...travellers do not take 60 seconds to type out a brief response to us, like.....

                               

                              - Thank you for your reply to my request. ....I'm just researching several properites, at this point.

                              -    "ditto"....I've already found another property

                              -    "ditto"....Your offer doesn't meet my budget

                              -    "ditto" ...whatever.

                               

                              We send "offers" into the "abyss" ...travellers just don't respond ....after we've done the work to answer their questions and even send them offers that are customized. 

                               

                              Also....

                              I'm wondering, as many here seem to continue to express (including myself) that we have all of our listing details in order, up to date,  and there is now an "enhanced" search filter for travellers to use....why do we still get inquiries that are "unqualified"

                               

                               

                              P.S.  I don't expect anyone to have answers to any of the above....it's just a Monday "rant" about the "non- response" beef that travellers have about us...(I've been reading the "traveller forum again").

                                • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                  old_frog Contributor

                                  Actually, it was a good rant.  I rather enjoyed reading it.  Thanks for the suggestion about visiting the traveller forum.  

                                   

                                  In consideing this, HA/VRBO benefits greatly from this model.  They quote leads.  The more spam leads they can generte, the higher their numbers.  Thus, they more they push their perception that they dominate the market. 

                                   

                                  Tather than pushing the idea of using trusted/vetted vacation homes and travellers, they appear to push the "shopping" and "best deal" behaviour as well.  That probably explains the number of last minute bargain hunters and those willing to "give me xx" for their desired time period. 

                                   

                                  With this general warriness in the market, they then are able to market their PDP to home owners and Carefree Rental Guarentee (AKA: Travelers Insurance) to the travelers.  Assuming close to $100 per traveller ($49 from the homeowner side and anequal amount from the traveler).  Add to that a cut on the merchant processing and the listing fees from the owner, it becomes a very nice business model.  I now understand why this market went through "roll up" a while back.

                                  • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                    mex-paradise Contributor

                                    Yes, yet another monday morning rant. Please don't reply I just need to vent.

                                     

                                    We have been listed on VRBO for 2 weeks. During that time we have had one positive experience which actually resulted in a good booking for 3 months. Since then all we've had are either flaky requests which ask for dates already booked, or with incorrect information, emails which bounce back, or people who have sent out so many enquiries they can't remember which place is ours.

                                     

                                    Even worse, since I speak Spanish, I get really whacky phone requests such as can you accomodate 18 people? WHAT!!!!!!

                                    Our house is a 2 bedroom townhouse, it clearly states sleeps 4, then the offender asks if I can find them a place for 18 people. Huh? I'm not a travel agent.

                                     

                                    Currently we both feel like selling the place asap. This whole request issue is depressing.

                                      • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                        Senior Contributor

                                        Please don't reply I just need to vent.

                                         

                                        Sorry in advance.

                                         

                                        .We have been listed on VRBO for 2 weeks. During that time we have had one positive experience which actually resulted in a good booking for 3 months.

                                        OK so let me get this straight.  You plunk down $349 listing fee to VRBO and withing a week or two you get a 90 day booking?

                                         

                                        Marriott, Hilton, and Radisson would KILL for that kind of action.

                                         

                                        What are you expecting?  A machine that prints $100 bills?

                                        .

                                          • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                            mex-paradise Contributor



                                             

                                            .We have been listed on VRBO for 2 weeks. During that time we have had one positive experience which actually resulted in a good booking for 3 months.

                                            OK so let me get this straight.  You plunk down $349 listing fee to VRBO and withing a week or two you get a 90 day booking?

                                             

                                            Marriott, Hilton, and Radisson would KILL for that kind of action.

                                             

                                            What are you expecting?  A machine that prints $100 bills?

                                             

                                             

                                            *********************************************************************************************************************************

                                             

                                             

                                             

                                            It was Just a general rant about flaky enquiries not a criticism of VRBO. In fact today I'm pretty sure I have another month in the bag. Answering moronic questions for already booked weeks or trying to fit 18 people into a 2 bedroom townhouse. Sheeesh, it gets on your nerves.

                                            .

                                            .

                                    • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                      kristin.r Contributor

                                      Well said Anja, I too saw the decline once HA made all these sweeping changes to VRBO.  First I saw my inquiries dropping over the last several months.  Now in the last week I have had 4 inquiries (yippee) all inquiring about November and one for December. I have emailed the quotes to all and two of the five I have sent a second email asking if they had found another place or were they still deciding.  Not one answer back.:(

                                      I think also the reason for the pick up in my area is the flights were atrocious and they have recently dropped for the fall time.  Who wants to spend over a $1000.00 on a flight to Kauai.  I sure don't.  I also had a lovely inquiry --2 month stay.  Nope I wasn't available because I already have someone in there for the entire month of February.  Again this is the mass email without checking to see that my property was available. Hopefully things will get better for all of us.

                                      • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                        stjvilla Active Contributor

                                        Perhaps because we only started answering inquiries ourselves in the last year, we did not experience any other than the current "shotgun" inquiries.  Although we sometimes wonder about the people who send inquiries who we never hear from again, we don't follow up.  People who are really interested will get back to you.

                                         

                                        All you can do is answer the inquiry as quickly as possible in a friendly and businesslike way.  If the house is available we often say, "June is a great time to visit St. John..." with brief reasons why.  As you discovered by reading the forum, about 10 inquiries will turn into a booking.  Good luck!

                                        • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                          Active Contributor

                                          I have about the same number of bookings this year for my peak season compared to last year, with half the number of inquiries this year than last year. I received less shotgun inquiries when the VRBO “Filter By” came out, thus more quality inquiries & targeted. Although I received fewer inquiries, the number of bookings is approximately the same for my peak summer months, more for my shoulder season which I attribute to lowering of shoulder season prices enough to break even or attract monthly rentals.

                                          • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                            Contributor

                                            I am having the same problem too and it's frustrating. I've been listed for almost a month, lots of inquiries but not a single booking yet (432712) I was wondering if I was doing something wrong. Should I be calling them instead of replying by email? I get lots of last minute inquiries but then hear nothing back after a few promising email exchanges.

                                              • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                crescentbeach4u Community All-Star

                                                Marina,  you have a beautiful property and it takes a while but things will kick in.  I have cruised out of the marinas there and it is a real treat.  May I suggest you post a few pictures of the marina's below you.  They would surely make me do a double take!

                                                 

                                                Good luck,

                                                 

                                                Doug

                                                • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                  iopbeachhouse Community All-Star

                                                  Do not be discouraged, marina. We started slow as well and our initial offers seemed to be people looking for a deal. Once our calendar began to fill and we had some reviews, things started picking up. Now, I have most of the summer of 2013 booked and a good portion of the spring. Things will improve. Give it time.

                                                   

                                                  As others have mentioned, we receive a lot of inquiries from people we never hear from again and suspect they are the "bulk" e-mails these sites make so easy to do. We reply to almost every inquiry (not those that are obviously bogus or lack essential information). Lately, I've received some responses back from people that were told their dates were unavailable and they thanked me for replying! They said they will check with me again next year, but earlier.

                                                    • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                      mauioceanview Contributor

                                                      as Anja wrote back in August, sticking out in the crowd is a big one. I started writing a blog of things to do when on Maui over a year ago. I always tell any inquirers they are welcome to check it out as they are planning their holiday. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from that. It's easy to do also - ours is with blogspot which is very easy to set up and do. I'm told wordpress is a better platform, but I'm reluctant to change it now.

                                                    • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                      densheff New Member

                                                      Marina, you do have a nice property so don't despari!  Call an inquiry ASAP then email if they don't answer.  I've had my property on VRBO for 12 years and I've noticed a lot more inquiries that don't reply this year.  Often I get inquires from people wanting a reply that I suspect are hoping for an  "opt in" reply to harvest your address for an email list.  I I seldom get a reply when there is no phone number and very little text in the inquiry.  There is plenty of info in the forums concerning scams as well so research that info so you'll be prepared for the 2-4 week inquires.

                                                    • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                      Contributor

                                                      Got my first booking!!... Got it through Airbnb though, and so far so good. The payment came through fine.

                                                        • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                          scottr Active Contributor

                                                          Great news.  I went back and looked at the bookings from when we first signed up with HA a little over a year ago. It took about 2 months for our first booking.  Your next focus should be in getting some reviews.  We found that the inquiries went up quickly after we had the first 3 reviews.  Reviews are harder to get than you would think.  I would guess that we ony get a review about a third of the time, but all have been very good.  When I speak to guests on the phone, they always mentions reviews as one of the key inputs to their decision,  When we booked our own vacation (through HA) we pushed properties with no reviews to the bottom. After the first year, and many reviews, we raised our rates but haven't noticed any decline in bookings.

                                                          Good luck

                                                          Scott

                                                            • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                              Contributor

                                                              Thanks for the advice Scott!

                                                               

                                                              Can i get a renter to put in a review on VRBO if they booked through a

                                                              different website?

                                                                • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                                  Contributor

                                                                  Marina,

                                                                   

                                                                  Please try to not be discouraged by a slow start. It's going to take time to build a positive "reputation" for your property, in order to compete with other properties in your market.

                                                                   

                                                                  Let's take a look at a quick example to explain what I'm talking about:

                                                                   

                                                                  Joe Renter is looking for a nice vacation rental in Hawaii, he narrows his search down to 10 listings - including yours.

                                                                   

                                                                  After further due diligence, he notices that the other properties have multiple reviews, while yours has none.

                                                                   

                                                                  Renters see reviews as a "trust signal" that verifies past positive or negative experiences others have had with your property.

                                                                   

                                                                  9 out of 10 times, if Property A has 7 reviews & Property B has 0 reviews, which do you think a potential guest is going to choose?

                                                                   

                                                                  Unfortunately, the number of reviews a property has (in a renter's eyes) is a direct reflection of quality.

                                                                   

                                                                  I'm just starting out, what can I do to compete and build my property's reputation?

                                                                   

                                                                  • I've said it before, and I'll say it again.......get a website and implement a blog.
                                                                  • Respond quickly to inquires. Be it by phone or e-mail, make it happen, and make it happen quickly.
                                                                  • BE TRANSPARENT. Let people know your property is new to the VRBO/HA scene. You can do this by adding it in your property's description. This will validate the fact that you do not have any reviews.

                                                                   

                                                                  Hopefully, I was able provide at least a small amount of insight on how to build reputation for your property.

                                                                   

                                                                  If you need a little more one-on-one assistance in getting started, feel free to drop me a line. I'm always glad to help others if I'm able.


                                                                  Justin

                                                                  • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                                    mauioceanview Contributor

                                                                    of course you can. They are allowed to review as long as they have stayed in your condo. They may be hesitant to review on a site they didn't use to find you, but if you explain why you are asking them to review your place on this site, they may do it. Of course, many guests say they will, but few do. Good luck!

                                                              • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                                susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

                                                                Hi Marina,

                                                                 

                                                                It's important that you respond quickly. When I respond, it's always initially by email. I first thank the inquirer for "thinking of our condo for their vacation plans". I include a photo of my property and list some of the key features.

                                                                 

                                                                If it seems like an inquiry from someone who has read my listing and I don't hear anything back within 2 days, I follow up with another email asking if they have any questions regarding our property.

                                                                 

                                                                You may have reviews posted to any site where you have a listing, regardless of which listing the guest used to book your VR. When I email the guest after check out, I include the link to the review section of each of my listings. I note that it's easy to cut and paste the review from 1 site to another.Good luck!!

                                                                Susan

                                                                • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                                  joan.l Senior Contributor

                                                                  >>>>.

                                                                   

                                                                  Please try to not be discouraged by a slow start. It's going to take time to build a positive "reputation" for your property, in order to compete with other properties in your market.

                                                                   

                                                                  <<<<

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  Absolutely.   Keep in mind that the timing of when you go "Live" with your rental advertising will make a huge difference.   I went Live a month before the High season and the popular weekends booked immediately.   However, if I had gone Live during the beginning of the Low season, things would have been very slow until time came for people to book for the high season.

                                                                   

                                                                   

                                                                  I'm not sure how many folks even know or consider VRBO types of places to find lodging.   I know that I never even knew about such things.   I would have only relied on hotel searches.     I know that my renters tend to fall into two groups....groups of 4+ that would be too cramped in a hotel room or families that need lodging when all the decent hotels are booked for a popular event.  (For instance, all the decent hotels are fully booked for next May's college graduation weekend.  My property rented for that weekend this morning. )

                                                                  • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                                    serenade Community All-Star

                                                                    I just started using Airbnb and have been very pleased with results. I get way more bookings from them then from VRBO and Flipkey. I also like it that they take care of the booking process for me. The only downside is that I get the payment only 24 hours AFTER guests checked in. But that's ok with me.

                                                                    Since I already signed up with VRBO for the entire year, I have no other option but to keep it. I have Flipkey on month to month, so would just keep it that way until I'm sure.

                                                                    • Re: Lots of inquiries, few renters
                                                                      mommap Contributor

                                                                      Well Hunt, I think I feel a little better after reading your post.. I am in the same boat!  I was soooo excited two weeks when my first inquiry popped up.. I "THOUGHT"   yeah, my first booking-- already ..  They wanted to check dates and price.. (which I thought they could see, but I sent it back almost immeadiately) 

                                                                       

                                                                      After that, nada ...   I had about 10 of those in one week (only been here two weeks).. and then BAM, someone knew exactly what they wanted and it took about two minutes to complete the transaction..