21 Replies Latest reply: Jul 1, 2011 12:37 AM by tfv Branched to a new discussion. RSS

    OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent

    New Member

      I have very frustrated with the number of inquiries that i receive from both VRBO and HomeAway where people have not checked the online calendar first for available dates. I am writing at least 20 to 30% replies for dates that are already reserved.  I would ask the administrators of both websites to PLEASE put the calendars up front OR have a note which automatically requests that guests check the calendars FIRST before inquiring.  It is like the calendars don't exist! 

      Is anyone else having this problem? 

        • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
          Active Contributor

          Hi tnmtnldy,

           

          Thanks for your feedback on the HomeAway and VRBO calendars. I'll pass it along to the calendar team. Also, I thought you might find some helpful information in these related discussions: why guests don't check calendars or rates, and people who don't use the calendar.

           

          I hope this helps.

           

          All the best,

          Laura

            • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
              New Member

              Thanks so much for your quick response.  I did not know how to write to vrbo

              or homeaway. I have been a VERY satisfied customer of vrbo since 1994 for

              one property and 2004 for a second one we built.  It just seems that if

              there was a "note" that came up when guests open a site that said " please

              check calendar before you write" that might be great. Of course I guess some

              people DON"T have a calendar which is crazy!  I do remember when there was

              not a calendar and 50% of the time you were writing to say dates were

              reserved.  I can't imagine why that incidence has gotten so high again.

               

              Thanks.

               

               

               

              Best Regards,

               

               

               

              Cindy Britt Hosford

               

              www.summitcabins.com

               

              www.vrbo.com/21458 - Dreamcatcher

               

              www.vrbo.com/44918 - Tanasi Lodge

               

              www.homeaway.com/107488 - Dreamcatcher Cabin

               

              www.homeaway.com/320466 - Tanasi Lodge

               

              www.findrentals.com/12010, www.findrentals.com/12011

               

              Email: cbritt1@bellsouth.net

               

              Cell Phone: 865-207-4961, 865-207-1556

               

              Fax:  320-205-5972

              • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                New Member

                GOSH! I didn't realize that so many people have this problem! 

                 

                 

                 

                Best Regards,

                 

                 

                 

                Cindy Britt Hosford

                 

                www.summitcabins.com

                 

                www.vrbo.com/21458 - Dreamcatcher

                 

                www.vrbo.com/44918 - Tanasi Lodge

                 

                www.homeaway.com/107488 - Dreamcatcher Cabin

                 

                www.homeaway.com/320466 - Tanasi Lodge

                 

                www.findrentals.com/12010, www.findrentals.com/12011

                 

                Email: cbritt1@bellsouth.net

                 

                Cell Phone: 865-207-4961, 865-207-1556

                 

                Fax:  320-205-5972

              • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                Active Contributor

                Hi Cindy,

                 

                Thanks for the additional detail, and wow - it's great to hear you've been a happy VRBO customer since 1994!

                 

                I have passed your feedback along to our VRBO product team. As you can see from the other threads, you're not alone in your wish that more travelers would check a property's calendar before inquiring.

                 

                We are constantly looking at ways to improve both the owner and traveler experience on our websites. We greatly appreciate your time and feedback, as it helps us determine how we can improve the customer experience.

                 

                Thanks again, and I'll keep you posted on calendar developments!

                 

                All the best,

                Laura

                  • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                    sfvacationhut Community All-Star

                    I love the ideas here.

                     

                    Many times people have called me, saying they saw our listing on HomeAway or VRBO, and do we have availability for next week?  etc.  And I say, "No, we don't, did you see our calendar on HomeAway or VRBO?"  And they say "No, we didn't know there were calendars?"  And then I have to tell them to scroll down in the HomeAway listing, or to click on the "Availability" link to pull up the VRBO calendar. 

                     

                    Cindy, you made me think of something .... when the guest sends their inquiry, they normally enter the dates ... couldn't HomeAway or VRBO do a cross-check with the calendar in the database?  When the potential guest clicks "Submit" or "Send" for the inquiry, couldn't VRBO / HomeAway make a "warning message" pop up?  The warning message could say something like "Oops!  The calendar for this property shows that time as BOOKED / UNAVAILABLE.  Please revise your requested dates or select a different property."

                     

                    Wouldn't that be AWESOME?

                     

                    And it sounds like something do-able, with technology!  It would make our lives so much easier! 

                     

                     


                      • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                        New Member

                        When I get an inquiry from HomeAway, there is a note at the bottom that DOES

                        say, this property is reserved when the dates have been put in. I don't know

                        if the prospective guest sees that or not when he submits his requests.

                        Maybe people just ignore that IF it does show up thinking that the calendar

                        is not accurate, or something!?!

                         

                         

                         

                        Best Regards,

                         

                         

                         

                        Cindy Britt Hosford

                         

                        www.summitcabins.com

                         

                        www.vrbo.com/21458 - Dreamcatcher

                         

                        www.vrbo.com/44918 - Tanasi Lodge

                         

                        www.homeaway.com/107488 - Dreamcatcher Cabin

                         

                        www.homeaway.com/320466 - Tanasi Lodge

                         

                        www.findrentals.com/12010, www.findrentals.com/12011

                         

                        Email: cbritt1@bellsouth.net

                         

                        Cell Phone: 865-207-4961, 865-207-1556

                         

                        Fax:  320-205-5972

                        • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                          New Member

                          Not to belabor this point, but perhaps HomeAway and VRBO could put a banner

                          on their home page that comes up when people begin their search saying, "for

                          a more timely and accurate search, please check online calendars prior to

                          requesting a property," or something like that.

                           

                           

                           

                          Best Regards,

                           

                           

                           

                          Cindy Britt Hosford

                           

                          www.summitcabins.com

                           

                          www.vrbo.com/21458 - Dreamcatcher

                           

                          www.vrbo.com/44918 - Tanasi Lodge

                           

                          www.homeaway.com/107488 - Dreamcatcher Cabin

                           

                          www.homeaway.com/320466 - Tanasi Lodge

                           

                          www.findrentals.com/12010, www.findrentals.com/12011

                           

                          Email: cbritt1@bellsouth.net

                           

                          Cell Phone: 865-207-4961, 865-207-1556

                           

                          Fax:  320-205-5972

                            • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                              sfvacationhut Community All-Star

                              Hi Meredith,

                               

                              Also please put in my idea about having a message come up, which alerts the guest to the fact that they are submitting an inquiry for dates that are already booked.

                               

                              Ideally, it would actually give them an error message when they hit "submit" for their requested times .... it would say, "We are sorry, but the availability calendar shows that your requested dates are already booked.  Please re-consult the calendar for this listing or find a different property for your requested dates."

                               

                              It would be great if the error message did not allow the person to even proceed with the inquiry.

                               

                              What do you think, Meredith?  I believe it should be possible?

                               

                               

                              A further note: I think it could be a feature that the vacation home owners could opt in or opt out of.

                               

                              For example, HomeAway could have a box which we could either check or not (as owners), which says:

                               

                              (checkbox) Allow inquiries for dates that are already booked.

                               

                              The default would be that you would NOT allow and therefore would not receive inquires for dates that are already booked. (Because that's what I think most owners would want.)

                               

                              But if an owner had a situation where he does want to receive the inquiries anyway, even for times that are booked ... he could check that box in his "Edit Listing" area.  If he checks the box in his Edit Listing area, then he will get ALL inquiries, even the ones submitted for the times when he's booked already (according to the calendar).

                               

                              I think this would be a great solution for everybody!  If the guests start getting these error messages, they will start to get a clue that in fact these calendars do exist!  This will save the guests a lot of time and heartbreak.  It frustrating to pick out your very favorite places (not being aware of the calendars), and then to find out (from the owners) hours or even days later that none of these places have availability during their requested time. 

                               

                              This improvement would be a big win-win for the owners and the guests.

                        • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                          New Member

                          I have noticed that in the past year, the number of inquiries I get for booked dates has probably tripled or quadrupled.  It's very frustrating!  It seems to be tied with the new feature that allows them to enter dates.  Maybe because all listings still appear (even the ones that are fully booked).  Maybe the results could be sorted with the listings that are available appear first, followed by listings that have partial availability, etc.  I understand the logic that people check anyway because so many owners don't update their calendars, but that's always been the case and mine clearly shows that it is updated frequently.  Lately, it's like NO ONE checks the calendar first.  Any help that vrbo could provide would be appreciated.

                           

                           

                          Thanks,

                           

                          Karen Whitworth

                          • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                            Active Contributor

                            FlipKey has this figured out and have the following in their “Edit Inquiry Preferences”. HomeAway and VRBO should do a similar thing.

                             

                            Block some inquiries: Off or On (you have a choice to flag it on or off. If you choose on, the following warning appears, and a list of selection to choose from)

                             

                            Warning: Selecting any of these options will reduce the number of inquiries you receive by email (not recommended). Many travelers do not have fixed travel plans and may be willing to adjust dates of travel and/or properties.

                             

                            Block inquiries missing traveling dates

                            Block inquiries if traveling dates are under minimum stay

                            Block inquiries if any traveling dates are already booked
                            Block inquiries if traveler’s phone number not included
                            Block inquiries if number of guests is not specified

                            • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                              Contributor

                              I just want to write "Me Too",inquiries don't check calendars when it is so easy to just send their request to 20 or 30 sites without having to check.   I have started iqnoring their inquiry.   I just don't have time to answer all of those.   I do like it that Laura w/Home Away is on board and reading our posts.   Thank you Laura!!!!!!!

                                • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                                  Active Contributor

                                  Thank YOU, Gordon. We really appreciate the extremely helpful feedback from all of our customers. And I just want to reiterate that Meredith and I pass every comment along to the respective product line teams (in this case, the HomeAway/VRBO teams that handle calendars). Those teams then prioritize the work, and figure out the best solutions. This thread is a terrific example of generous feedback/ideas/proposed solutions from you and other HomeAway/VRBO owners, that I can assure you the product managers are taking into account.

                                  Though currently I can't provide a specific timeframe on calendar improvements, I can assure you they are being looked at and you are being heard.

                                  Many thanks again,

                                  Laura

                                   

                                  HomeAway Community Manager

                                • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                                  sfvacationhut Community All-Star

                                  Regarding the logic of checking "anyway" because many owners don't update their calendars ....

                                   

                                  This is really a message for potential guests who might be reading this.

                                   

                                  To me, as a potential guest (and I do book with vacation rental properties when I travel!), it only makes sense to "check anyway" when the dates are OPEN.

                                   

                                  For example, owners are likely to show dates that are OPEN, which have actually been booked, either because (1) they haven't gotten around to marking it as booked (i.e., calendar is out of date), or (2) there is a tentative booking (waiting for the check to come in the mail), etc. 

                                   

                                  So there might be some dates on an owner's calendar which appear to be OPEN but they are really not.

                                   

                                  However, if the owner has gone into the system and made the effort to mark those dates as UNAVAILABLE ... chances are, my dear fellow vacation traveler friends, those dates really are BOOKED. 

                                   

                                  Fellow owners, you may correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it is VERY UNLIKELY that dates would be marked as RESERVED / UNAVAILABLE on the owner's calendar, when they are actually available. 

                                   

                                  Therefore ... fellow travelers, if the dates are marked as RESERVED on the calendar, please do not bother the owners!

                                   

                                  HomeAway, if you can help us by offering an option to block any inquiries for dates that are already reserved, that would be fabulous.

                                    • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                                      sfvacationhut Community All-Star

                                      Also, as a vacation rental traveler myself ... if I accidentally submitted a request for a property that wasn't available during the dates I requested ... I would be VERY APPRECIATIVE if I got an error message saying, "Sorry, your requested dates are unavailable at this property.  Please re-visit the calendar and revise your dates, or select a different property."

                                       

                                      That would be a "time and frustration" saver for me, as a traveler, too!

                                        • Re: OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                                          New Member

                                          I had 3 inquiries on Friday who acted like they didn't even know there was a

                                          calendar. I really don't understand - unless they are doing bulk inquiries

                                          but I don't know how they would do that. I am always on the receiving end!

                                           

                                           

                                           

                                          Best Regards,

                                           

                                           

                                           

                                          Cindy Britt Hosford

                                           

                                          www.summitcabins.com

                                           

                                          www.vrbo.com/21458 - Dreamcatcher

                                           

                                          www.vrbo.com/44918 - Tanasi Lodge

                                           

                                          www.homeaway.com/107488 - Dreamcatcher Cabin

                                           

                                          www.homeaway.com/320466 - Tanasi Lodge

                                           

                                          www.pigeonforge.com, click on private rentals

                                           

                                          Email: cbritt1@bellsouth.net

                                           

                                          Cell Phone: 865-207-4961, 865-207-1556

                                           

                                          Fax:  320-205-5972

                                      • OnLine calendars on VRBO and HomeAway Need to Be More Prominent
                                        Active Contributor

                                        Last week, I added the following line that says "Calendar is updated" where my rates are shown, and I haven't gotten an inquiry so far for dates that are already taken.