OK, let me try again.
First, I wanted to thank Laura from Homeaway for her interest and participation in this forum. It's reassuring to hear that "someone who cares" is listening.
I also wanted to thank TSVR for the question as to the exact problem(s) I had with VRBO, as opposed to Homeaway. The original poster who started this discussion asked specifically about policy on reviews, so maybe the question of Homeaway vs. VRBO (or, which might be more suitable for your purposes) would better be the focus of another forum.
But I know of no such forum, and so here I go. When I got to thinking about your question, TSVR, I sort of revisited the matter, and realized that my negative feeling about VRBO had a lot to do with the different format of its inquiries, different property i.d. numbers, etc. You see, I already had both of my brain cells working overtime because we had started off with two properties on Homeaway about 3 years ago, and maaging two properties is exponentially more complicated than one. It also has its advantages,, but that is another story.
I was also upset by the lack of customer service. I also seem to recall that the "listing" format on VRBO was more limiting, allowing fewer photographs? (I could be wrong on that one, not sure.)
But if I may, I want to use a very tricky analogy: "Mac people" vs. "windows people."(I can already feel the cyber-bullets flying!) People "huff and puff" about one or the other, and each clearly excels in certain respects, but bottom line is that either will get the job done, in the end. I am a Windows guy, but have certainly put in my time of hair-pulling, outrage, and outright disbelief at the amount of very specific, otherwise useless knowledge we are expected (I assume) to have been born with, in order to accomplish even the most simple tasks. I once reached a point of such frustration, in fact, that I tried a switch to Mac, but found it just as counter-intuitive and frustrating as Windows, just in different ways.
Had I started with Mac, I'm sure I would have been much happier with it, in the long run. But I didn't.
My point: both VRBO and Homeaway are great products. I don’t know of any truly substantive differences. If a poll were taken of the users of each, I'm sure high ratings would be given to each. (My less positive, personal experience had a lot to do with managing two properties on each at the same time.) At the same time, predictably, a few who would respond with negative feedback about either.
The reason I take the time to write this, is out of respect and empathy for the people now considering "having a go" with the vacation rental experience, and trying to inform themselves about the differences between these two possibilities. It is an absolutely critical decision, and I’m not aware of much out there that offers guidance. Just a couple of points:
1) You have two good options here, and though they command a large share of the market, there are other possibilities out there. Consider the entire lay of the land.
2) As Laura mentioned, VRBO has been around a lot longer, and for that reason has a strong, loyal customer base unlikely to go elsewhere. If I were to guess, I imagine their customer base to be somewhat older than Homeaways, though I could be wrong. I mention that only because you might think about what kind of people/ groups, etc. would best fit your property.
3) On the other hand, Homeaway owns VRBO. As soon as I read that, I decided on Homeaway, because I felt fairly confident that Homeaway wouldn’t be going anywhere. Also, please note that Homeaway ads saturate the American media (including Super Bowl air time), not VRBO.
4) Our properties, an Old Spanish Mission-style home and a true blue garden Cottage, rate high on the unique factor. So we get inquiries from every kind of people you might imagine, and then some. And that's the way we like it.
Yet we have also found that part of our "role" is as ambassadors to the vacation rental idea, which is still completely foreign to a certain percentage of the population, but fast becoming much less so. (I recall with a smile one gentleman, a coach and family man from, let's say Utah, who asked in a phone conversation, "Now..what exactly does this kind of thing involve?" I explained to him how simple it really is (OK, imagine a hotel, take away the daily cleaning/room service, add a unique property and a calendar, and *boom* there you go"). Meanwhile, I was just cracking up inside, because the question and the way he asked it was so utterly sincere and yet so skeptical that it was easy to imagine he was asking about the practice of "wife swapping.")
My point, if I must have one: with VRBO, there's prob. going to be less need for "basic education." But if you enjoy people and have the ability to muster up patience, those skills can pay off big-time with Homeaway.
I will sign off, hoping my response will be of some help to somebody. But Laura, I know that (for obvious reasons) Homeaway hasn't spoken much of its ownership relation to VRBO. But my feeling is, that if some confidence is placed in the people, everyone might benefit from even minimal useful guidance as to this important choice.
OK Thank you folks. Have a wonderful *whatever*!
Message was edited by: Laura Kelso