17 Replies Latest reply: Jan 21, 2012 6:22 PM by marym RSS

    I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.

    msdebj Senior Contributor

      I've received numerous blast inquiries over the past few months & have dealt with them in various ways. Today I recieved a few that just put me over the top. They were from guests I would have loved to have had - except my VRBO calendar clearly states I am booked for those dates.

       

      Normaly, I would have responded and referred them to some other VR Owners in my area. It 's a common practice among a few of us. Instead I sent this email. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm SO tired of the "new VRBO" . I really don't think they understand.

       

      {

      Dear XXXX.

      Thank you for your inquiry about our Sand Dollar Cottage, VRBO # XXXXX.  I'm sorry that VRBO's "search" did not work when  you  searched for available dates while looking for a holiday vacation home rental in our area.

       

      I've found this often happens with VRBO’s new system when you make numerous inquiries, as opposed to asking about specific homes.  There must be a glitch with their new software, since you were interested in specific dates that our  online VRBO supported calendar clearly shows as being unavailable.

       

      I hope you'll be able to find a good place for your family. If you ever want to make another trip to the Island I hope you'll consider our home, as I think it would be a perfect match for your group!

       

      If I can be of further help, please let me know.

      Best regards, and Happy holidays!

      }

       

      Maybe the Scrooge in me is coming out. Comments?

      Debj

      .  

        • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
          susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

          Hello Debj   Saturday I got a similiar inquiry for a rental over New Year's Eve. I replied that although theexact dates the person requested were not available, if he could change to XXX, I would                                                                                                                                                  give him a reduced price. Guess what! He rented from me.  So my point is that you never know what could turn into a rental. I never write anything off, although at times I'm tempted.

          • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
            kristin.r Contributor

            msdebj, I feel your pain.  I actually had something similar with the guy that wanted me to only respond if I was interested in his "offer".  My email was not nice and I don't know what came over me.  I not only was not interested in HIS OFFER, but I was not available for his entire stay. I do hope things change for the positive.  Because the changes being made thus far are aggravating, and it certainly is not  just me. Kristin

            • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
              ttaylor0 Active Contributor

              Dear debj,

                I hope you don't mind, but I feel the same way that you do with all these spam inquires I have started receiving. So, I have copied your reply letter and adjusted it to fit my home and will be sending it out.......unfortunately, I think a lot.

                 Thanks again for sharing it with all us other frustrated owners.

              • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                otttoyboy Active Contributor

                Debj>> Comments?

                 

                Hi Debj,

                I am equally frustrated by HA / VRBO's new web infrastructure that allows guests to send multiple"fire-and-forget" inquiries and does not even check our up-to-date calendars to make sure the unit is available.

                 

                At minimum, the systems should check the calendar, inform the guest that the exact dates are not available and then let them either send the request (for example if their dates are flexible) or cancel the request (to save their time and ours).

                 

                However, in my opinion, the blame for this poorly functioning web site is entirely on the HomeAway web development team.  We owners who are being inconvenienced by this policy should, again IMO, make our voices heard by the HomeAway group.  There are so many simple solutions to this problem -- several of which have been explored in similar threads to this one on the HA Forums.

                 

                Given this, and granted that guests are not doing their due-dilligence before making an inquiry, I would suggest that we owners do not push back on the Guests as in the sample message above.  It's not really their fault.  They are opportunists and perhaps lazy, yes, but their behaviour is being enabled by the faulty HomeAway group's web sites.

                 

                This problem needs to be addressed at the source.  By HomeAway.  In response to their customers' feedback.


                [Although HomeAway may disagree -- and they have done so in a quote by their CEO -- we owners who pay for thier services ARE their customers and we should stand up for our rights.]

                 

                P.

                • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                  anja Senior Contributor

                  I understand your irritation.  I'm getting many "untargeted" inquries caused by the "bulk" inquiry feature, as well. I do answer them all, but I have not yet "broached" with the Travelers the issue of their using the "bulk" search feature --- which isn't the best way to inquire with Owners - in our opinion, at least.  I've wanted to answer bluntly....but then I stop myself.  I have even drafted replies but then I didn't  use them. I do agree that we should not misplace our anger...but then I also think that the Travelers' should be "guided" to slow down, target a few properties, read the ads instead of shooting blindly. Maybe, we should put our heads together and try to write something "generic", for Owners to use, as a template....we could try to make a response about the "generic" bulk mail......a text that we could all use if we chose.   Not to be rebellious ....but to drive a point that "bulk is not best".  The tone and intent should really be "constructive"...so Travelers can see the advantages of being more selective, "reading the ads"...instead of shooting blindly....they have to read all the details anyway, provided by all the individual Owners individually anyway.  Or...maybe I'm dreaming, again.

                  • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                    swlinphx Premier Contributor

                    I agree with everything everyone wrote and am equally irritated about requests for dates we do not have available. However, might there also be an upside?  If travelers can send bulk inquiries then they may also do so for dates you do have available.  If this option was not available perhaps they wouldn't have seen your listing in the first place and this way you have a chance to be the first to respond.  Is this how it works, or do they still have to select your listing specifically for bulk inquiries?

                      • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                        otttoyboy Active Contributor

                        >>do they still have to select your listing specifically for bulk inquiries?

                         

                        Yes.  But it can be effectively random because they can just pick every property in the area and send an inquiry.  There is no upside to this approach for either the guest (who receives back a bunch of offers for properties they're not really interested in) or the owner (who has to respond to guests with no liklihood of converting the inquiry to a booking).

                         

                        It's a lose-lose.  There is no upside.  (To be fair, there may be very rare cases where it pays off -- but that's how SPAM works.  If no one bought Viagra online, the SPAM for it would stop -- alas, even a 0.01% conversion rate for SPAM makes it worthwhile for the SPAMers.  This policy by HA / VRBO is equally terrible and puts the burden directly on owners to do extra work to support it.)

                         

                        To make it a win-win would only take some minor web development on HA/VRBO side to:  

                             1. check an owner's calendar to make sure the dates match

                             2. make a more effective search for guests

                             3. guide guests to read the property ad before making an inquiry to ensure it's what they're looking for

                         

                        It's simple web development and well within the skillset of even a modest web developer.  HA / VRBO are clearly not interested in customer satisfaction or making their site work efficiently.

                         

                        P.

                          • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                            swlinphx Premier Contributor

                            I agree about having them at least have to view the listing's dedicated page and that the calendar must show availability, except what about travelers with flexible dates?  I don't like getting inquiries for dates marked as booked, but then again if they do go through and respond in bulk and I get an inquirty I might not have gotten had they had to read each listing, then it is a plus, although many may be for booked dates.  I'm just thinking that if travelers have to take the time to read each listing individually then they will respond to less listings, which may eliminate an inquiry for you.

                              • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                otttoyboy Active Contributor

                                swlinphx wrote>> except what about travelers with flexible dates?

                                 

                                This is where good web design and development come into play.  Again, this is basic web development and user-interface testing.  HA/VRBO simply needs to provide for flexible date inquiries.  It can be as simpls as: "The dates you've chosen are already booked, would you like to proceed with your inquiry and inform the owner that your dates are flexible?"  Or it can be more sophisticated based on usability studies of the site.

                                 

                                swlinphx wrote>> if travelers have to take the time to read each listing

                                swlinphx wrote>> individually then they will respond to less listings

                                 

                                Two comments on this -- 1. I believe then that they will be making high-value inquiries; 2. Again, with proper website usability testing, VRBO / HA can find the right balance between guiding guest inquiries and blocking guest inquiries.  I'm waiting for the day that HA / VRBO invites some of us to assist in testing new versions of their web site before it goes live.  Without real-world analytics, we end up with what we have today -- a system that does not serve either party (guest or owner) well.

                                 

                                swlinphx wrote>> I might not have gotten had they had to read each listing

                                 

                                True.  But those will be low-value inquiries with a very low probability of conversion to a booking.  It may work for some owners with time on their hands to reply to each and every bulk inquiry.  Speaking for myself -- and I'm sure many other owners -- I do not have the time to do this and I need to rely on HA / VRBO to do their job and send me high-value inquiries.

                                 

                                By the way, in my experience, two things happen when I reply to an obvious "bulk" inquiry:

                                     1. no reply from the guest at all (90%)

                                     2. a reply stating something like, "Oh, I didn't realize your property was only a 1-bedroom; we have 8 people"

                                 

                                Never any bookings.

                                 

                                swlinphx>> if travelers have to take the time to read each listing individually then they

                                swlinphx>> will respond to less listings, which may eliminate an inquiry for you

                                 

                                That would be "mission accomplished" in my mind.  I'm not interested in inquiries -- I'm interested in bookings.  VRBO / HA would have us belive that the more inquiries, the better.  This has not been my experience.

                                 

                                P.

                          • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                            marym Active Contributor

                            I'm with you!  I just posted about an inquiry that I believe is either a scam or a blast - in either case, I've elected to not even bother with a reply.  The calendar has a purpose - it's meant to show potential guests if you have availability.  I wish it was set up so that if you made an inquiry and the dates were filled that the potential guest got a message:  "We're sorry, but the property you've inquired about does not have availability for all the dates you've selected.  Do you wish to change your dates?"  If it's an enhancement, it should benefit BOTH the guest and the owner.

                              • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                msdebj Senior Contributor

                                It does seem to be a glitch caused by the "new, improved" inquiry system.

                                 

                                It would be simple to add/request additional fields for travelers such as:

                                Dates requested:

                                Are your dates flexible?:

                                 

                                Number of guests should be a required field. Almost all of my guests know how many are in their party when they are planning a getaway. It's always a red flag to me when they start hemmimng and hawing abt. how many will be in the party.

                                 

                                All airlines have this option, so it's not as if the program hasn't already been written.

                                • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                  smiley Contributor

                                  Hi Marym, I received an inquiry for a 1 night stay (we only rent 7 day during the summer) on a week marked on our calendar as booked.  Although I usually send a response even to bulk inquiries- I didn't this time and the inquirer sent an email to VRBO letting them know that I hadn't responded. 

                                  VRBO then emailed me a notification:

                                  "Dear --me---,

                                  We received an email from a traveler who inquired about your property but has yet to receive a response. We recommend that owners respond to inquiries within 24-48 hours.

                                  Please contact the traveler using the contact information below to let them know if your property is available for their requested dates."

                                  I felt as though I was being sent to the Principals office for a missing assignment! 

                                  I guess "not responding" to these bulk inquiries will come with a mark on our Permanent (vrbo) Record- watch out!

                                    • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                      anja Senior Contributor

                                      Hi "smiley".....excuse  me for interjecting. Did you reply to VRBO that your calendar shows "not available"...and asking them why their inquiry system is not working properly?  {You should not have received that inquiry in the first place, right?}

                                        • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                          smiley Contributor

                                          I just received the email from vrbo today.  I sent a reply to vrbo that I thought the "reminder" was unneccessary and the bulk inquiry system frustrated homeowners.  I asked them reconsider sending this message when the guest request didn't meet homeowner criteria for length of stay or availability.  On a side note, I reply to inquiries through my email, not vrbo's reply button, so there is no way for vrbo to know if I actually replied or not since vrbo can't follow my communications with a prospective guest.

                                        • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                          swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                          That is utterly ridiculous.  In seven years we have not received any notice like that from VRBO, but then most renters won't complain to the website if they don't get a response.  The fact that they just wanted one day and it was clearly marked booked just adds insult to injury.  I would like to know what VRBO said to you when you told them the inquiry was invalid and they did not check your minimum night policy or availability calendar.

                                           

                                          Sometimes when I respond reminding an inquirer to first check our Availability Calendar before inquiring they will say, "Oh well, sometimes a place shows as vacant and it ends up being booked after all, so we always double check".  To which I respond:

                                           

                                           

                                          What you are describing is the opposite situation.  It is true that when listing calendars are not updated regularly, dates shown as available are often actually booked; however the converse is not the same. Rarely, if ever, are dates that are shown booked actually available.  Most owners or property managers don't block off dates that are available, or leave them marked off if there is a cancellation as that would cost them business.  To put it another way:  While you may end up getting a response that the unit is booked even when shown as available, there is no need to respond to a unit that shows it is booked already in hopes that it's a mistake and it will be available after all.
                                          • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                            marym Active Contributor

                                            OMG - that is absolutely ridiculous - the vacation police.  It's bad enough that they've interjected themselves into nearly every part of our business....no wait, by monitoring whether owners actually respond to these worthless inquiries, they actually ARE foisting themselves into every part of our business.  My philopsophy is still the same - if a guest doesn't care enough to check for availability, I don't care enough to respond.   ESPECIALLY when the "enhancement" is set up to already tell the potential guest "Sorry - the dates you've selected are unavailable."   I am not trying to be cavalier to my potential renters - I do respond as soon as possible to legitimate inquiries.  To these blasts, however,....don't waste my time!!

                                        • Re: I've abt. HAD it with these blast inquiries.
                                          anja Senior Contributor

                                          Okay....I just got my first inquiry in 2012....landing in my inbox on January 1st...New Years Day, at 10:06 a.m....and I responded at exactly 10:26 a.m.  The request has the characteristics of a "bulk" inquiry.  The couple seeks accommodation ...I do have the opening {in April}.  My response was informative... hitting all my "high notes" for my property.  But, I'm not feeling hopeful that I will ever hear from this person again...because .so many of my competitors also have April openings.....and the Traveler is certainly going  to be looking at dozens {maybe hundreds} of my competitors--- presented by VRBO.  When I threw $600+ at VRBO for advertising, I didn't expect that I would be treated like an advertiser on Amazon.com!       HAPPY NEW YEAR.