I've also experienced the same. I get a lot of enquiries from VRBO (and some of them are guests who are just clicking through and enquiring with everyone because on VRBO your message to the owner is saved on the right hand side and you can just click 'send message. so, I end up getting renters who haven't looked at my availability calendar, etc.) I did an analysis this past week and my highest percentage of bookings have come from ownersdirect.com & tripadvisor (flipkey)
VRBO has fantastic stats for inquiries, as they pre-fill the request box, so people just click and click and click to dozens of places.
I recently used VRBO to find place in Rome, It was so easy to send 50 requests and see what came back.
So VRBO can advertise that all those 50 places got enquires, yes, but it only lead to one booking.
VRBO are manipulating both ends of the booking process, telling advertisers that the $629 a rate is worth it, as you get all these enquires, but I add up only actual bookings that I get,
And Tripadvisor is way ahead of VRBO
Very true. I was just saying this in another post. The key to having a good TripAdvisor/Flipkey experience is to collect reviews from guests. Doing that pushes your property to the top of the list (for a given region) and is much more likely to be seen first.
(Oh, and unlike HomeAway, they integrate with third party software like the one I use (OwnerRez) so no having to keep the HAC calendar up to date manually all the time.)
The site that beats the pants off of everyone though is VacationHomeRentals. Twice the inquiries and half or even a third the cost.
I have used Homeaway, Tripadvisor and VRBO. And the best one so far is VRBO, I get 2 times more inquires and booking then Homeaway. Tripadvisors/Flip Key, I didn't get that many inquries.
I do agree that it's pretty easy to send multiple inquiries through VRBO. They prefill in everything so it's easy to click submit.
Seems like it's a mix bag in this forum thread. Though I wish VRBO reduce their price structure.
Can anybody else provide thoughts on Homeaway/VRBO versus TripAdvisor? Seems like mixed feedback above, I know HA/VRBO is bigger but would love to hear more thoughts on whether y'all use only one or the other; which is more cost-effective; and for those who use both, whether the gap between the two is narrowing or widening
I haven't done anything with TripAdvisor for our property (although I have used tripadvisor in the past to plan my own vacations, so perhaps that says something).
For us, HomeAway is by FAR better than VRBO. I know both are owned by the same company, but their business models are SOOOO different. With HomeAway our place (first year) is booked nearly every weekend - and some mid-weeks as well. During the winter our inquiry to book ratio was almost 1 to 1, and even over the summer it is only about 4 to 1. We just added a VRBO listing a few weeks ago, and the only VRBO inquiries we have gotten have all been duds - in fact most are inquiries for dates that are marked on our calendar as unavailable, but because VRBO doesn't display the availability calendar until the visitor actually clicks on a link, they don't know what is already taken. Boooo!!!!
HomeAway's policy of letting us include all the pcitures necessary to show visitors what to expect seems not only more fair to me as an owner, but also more fair to the potential renters. And not having to pay an arm and a leg to appear on the first page of listings is also a big plus. Sites with more activity display first - that just makes sense. Yes, there are owners who "game" the system, but they are few, and for a propert that is actively updated with new renters nearly every week, the ranking system just seems more logical.
I understand VRBO is preferred by renters looking as some specific area of the US and overseas, but for our area (North East US) HomeAway's listings always do better on search engines. In fact, that's how we found out about them in the first place!
So my advice to anyone just starting out is to include Home Away in your advertising plan but unless VRBO is the listing leader for your geographic area, wait until they update their business model (hint, hint?) And if our rentals ever slow down, we might look at TripAdvisor too.
I am fairly new to this - I do have a listing on VRBO and I have gotten bookings from it. Given what you are saying about HomeAway I am wondering if I should take advantage of a special that is being offered to add my lising on HomeAway for only $99.
I also have a possibility of listing the house with a local property management company on a Non-exclusive basis. I would still be able to do bookings myself but any that they would do they would take a percentage from. Since I am a little bit out of their normal area I would still have to handle the cleaning and details.
What are people's thoughts about the pro's/cons of these two scenarios?
Here's one of the best ways to tell what will work for you:
Go to Google and type in "(town name) vacation rental". Try again for "(town name) rental house". Try again for "(local attraction) rent house". Try different combinations of the above. For YOUR town, listings from which site come up most and highest in the list? Whatever it is, that's where you want to be listed.
For us in the Poconos, Home Away is almost always at or near the top. Perhaps that's why they work so well for us (plus I really just prefer the way they manage listings once a visitor gets to their site).
It's probably different for different towns and local attractions.
As for using a real estate agent, (and I know I'm going to get flack for this) don't bother. Unless they specialize in the vacation home sales market and might send some people who are considering buying in the area, you aren't likely to get anything form them except unscreened prospects that you may have a hard time turning away if you don't feel comfortable about them - i.e. "But the agent said...."
Swiss-house: great idea on Googling. I do that several times a year, actually, and for Watch Hill, VRBO and Homeaway come up consistently in the top five 'organic'(non-paid) results.
We've been on VRBO for four years, and have just taken advantage of the $99 Homeaway deal. We're fully booked for the peak summer weeks, and have been since signing up with VRBO. Of course, some of that is value, as we offer our place for less than many of the others in the area. Some people have unrealistic expectations, and it shows in their boojking calendars...
Anyways, I never thought of Trip Advisor as another place to advertise...I can say from experience that Craigslist has produced exactly one rental in five years of listing, and that we learned not to use our own email address in the ad, as it's responsible for hundreds of spam messages. Still, I put the listing up there every now and again. It's free, and you get what you pay for, I suppose.
One other thing I did was to invest a whopping $40 for an ad on a fishing blog. Watch Hill has some of the best salt water fishing anywhere, both surfcasting and deep sea. We have a dock. 2+2=? This year, the first year I've tried the blog ad, we have three weeks in the fall booked thus far, and an average of one inquiry a week. Not bad, for $40....might work for some of you....
Yeah homeaway may come up top on search engine but
I own property in the Dom. Republic. I am considering also listing with FILPKEY or others as other alternative to Homeaway.
Our problem, potential client is surfing for coconuts and tropics : they need 1st click on Carribiean / Dom Rep / North Coast / then our area then and then we are 1 amongst 100 other listings in immediate area. That is a lot of clicking and surfing before a potential client ever gets to open our page and see our property.
At least and for time being with flipkey only 13 other listings in our area.
We only list with homeawy for time being but not VRBO nor any of their sister sites in Europe... If so it can add up to $800 a year.... ( ie In Dom Rep 50% of potential clientele is from Europe). In my opinion Homeway /VRBO are giving us a bum deal and should offer more attractive pricing package to list on Europeans sister sites.
For time being, I don't believe that bigger is better and they may get x million of hits but as explained above the hits don't always make to your property. Hoemaway/VRBO know this and that is why they are segmenting their sites into/with smaller ones. Of course one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that is more attrative to invoice $238 + $99 VRBO + special then Eurpean special at xxxx.