13 Replies Latest reply: Mar 23, 2016 7:23 AM by mr.cramac RSS

    My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee

    Active Contributor

      After much contemplation regarding HA/VRBO's "Book With Confidence Guarantee", I have come to a dissenting conclusion. THEY cannot provide any guarantees to my guests, and by the time they learn about any problems with the rental, it's late evening, the family has traveled 6 to 8 hours to get there, and it's late evening. The family is tired, the children are sleepy, and now the parents are irritated that everything is not as described or paid for. What can VRBO or HA do for them at that hour? Let me tell you about an incident that happened with my property a couple of years ago.


      A guest had reserved my chalet nearly a year in advance. It was a family get together for 3 different families who were coming in from different locales to meet at our chalet for a joint family vacation. Our game room for the kids was a major selling point. My guest contacted me about 60 days prior to their scheduled arrival in a panic. She had reserved one week on my calendar, but had mistakenly told the family another week. Now, all the rest of the family had planned their time off from work around the dates they were told. She was in tears, asking if there was ANY way they could move their dates. My calendar was full on both sides of her dates, and there way no way I could move her week to accommodate her mistake.


      Now.......let's take a moment here. If she had called VRBO / HA with her dilemma, do you think they would have been sympathetic? I don't feel they would have as she would still be getting exactly what she had requested, exactly what she reserved. The fact that she made a mistake in telling her family which week it was would likely not be on their list of things they would or could cover. They cannot and most likely would not guarantee against guest mistakes. But, let's see what the owner did.....


      I knew some property owners in our community with similar properties who don't advertise on VRBO / HA who had the week open on their calendar. After a few phone calls, and with her permission, I was able to arrange for them to rent my neighbor's chalet. I took all the money they had sent me, and paid for the alternate rental. I was even able to send them a check for $52.00 for the difference they would have saved had they rented that chalet to begin with. My potential guest was ecstatic that she was taken care of. Her mistake was hidden from the family, and she was no longer feeling like she would be the most horrible vacation planner ever. Thankfully, I was able to re-rent the vacated week and didn't lose a dime.


      On the day they arrived home from their trip that summer, I got a phone call from her requesting a rental of MY property for the NEXT year for the week, and she promised not to mess it up this time! I laughed with her, but assured her I would still take care of her even if she did. She knew I would, and became a repeat customer because of that confidence in my customer service. She so appreciated that I would go the extra mile for her, that she could not WAIT to once again try to rent the house with the game room her kids should have enjoyed that summer. It is about taking care of the guest in the same manner that I would appreciate being taken care of if it were me on the other end of that phone line. I have those contacts and alternate phone numbers of people with properties who don't even advertise with nor have any connection to HomeAway nor VRBO. In the peak of the summer season when everything is booked solid, HA and VRBO would be hard pressed to find alternate accommodations within 75 miles which could meet the needs of the guests.


      Share your similar stories so that HomeAway and VRBO can read here and find out ahead of time that (a) they may not have all the answers they think they do, and (b) when we are doing our jobs correctly, their guarantee is not even needed. Why should the guests of those of us who are doing our jobs well have to pay for those who aren't?

        • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
          u0999 Premier Contributor

          mr cramac, you are preaching to the choir here. You don't really think that HA rolled out "travel with confidence" guarantee because they REALLY intend to resolve MOST situations like the one you described. It is simply a PR move to "justify" the fee. They decided not to go as far as instituting the fee and not giving it a PR  "explanation". Unfortunately NO number of stories we post will change their decision. But thank you for sharing your wonderful story anyway.



          P.S. My property is in Smoky mountains, and one early winter a bat flew into the house (I guess maybe guests didn't close the door right away). and made its way into one of the bedrooms. Of course I got a call from the renters. What do I do?  I had to get my contractor go there with a fishing scooper and get the creature out. The renters were happy, and I got the bill from the contractor with the line item saying " saved the renters from Dracula".

          • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
            Active Contributor

            That is a great story and very illustrative of the very thing we've been trying to stress to HomeAway, that only the owner can provide the kind of personal service needed in private home VRs.

            Unfortunately, as always, HomeAway completely ignores us regarding anything we want to keep, do, need, don't want, etc.  HomeAway is of a one-track mind, and that is solely about what IT wants for its own business agenda.  We are just pawns for them at this point.  Sharples has completely turned the tide on what was VRBO.  It's going out now, needless to say.


            You handled it perfectly, IMO.  Not sure how many owners would go to such lengths (I absolutely would, just because it's the right thing to do, to help someone out in a jam if you can).  Sounds like it was also a smart business decision for you.


            Now, I think what is going to happen in cases like that with HomeAway taking over is, HA will find other accommodations, as you did...but HA will make YOU pay for them.  (No, that is not a joke.  It's being down now, although I can't think of the company that is doing it).


            HomeAway's agenda is so surreal.  It really seems to be 100% hostile toward homeowners.  It is just bizarre.


            ETA:  Actually, what I think would actually happen if HA received a call about that is, first nothing.  I think HA would probably first and foremost say they cannot do anything about a traveler's mistake.  They'd use some loophole to basically say, "Tough luck, lady.  Be smarter next time", similar to the attitude with which they've been treating owners for the past two years.  If they were to do something, it'd be the first scenario, find other accommodations, giving the traveler a , "It's this dump or nothing, lady. Take it or leave it" and charge the original VR owner.  And for sure, that traveler would never use HA/VRBO again.

            • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee

              A couple of years ago one of my guests arrived at my condo to find the entire master bedroom and bathroom covered in mold.  We had no idea that the unit above us had a leak in the shower which caused the mold in my unit.  I was flabbergasted as the pictures she sent it looked like the walls were covered in flocked wall paper.


              I put her up for the week in the hotel across the street and of course refunded all of her payment and paid for the hotel.  She got a free vacation for her inconvenience.


              This is a business and you have to do whatever it takes to keep your patrons happy.

              • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                Active Contributor

                Very nice article. You done what most good property owners would try and do for their guest. However your one mistake is that you assume Expedia cares anything about you, your property or your guest. They don't.  They only thing they care about is getting that fee.

                As far as their phony guarantee I agree with u0999 it is a PR move because they had to offer the guest something for paying an outrageous  fee.

                We the owners will be forced to pay for the guarantee.

                • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                  thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                  I think owners would do very well to create a "commitment to guest" statement or  a "guest expectations" statement of their own to demonstrate their care of, and attention to, their guests. -. a personal guarantee of excellent services.  It could be very helpful in drawing guests to book through our websites, facebook pages, etc. 


                  We need to work to strengthen our own marketing.  Rather than an individual story, what does the story say about your overall service, and how can you make guests aware of your commitment to them?


                  i tend to agree with u0999, there isn't much to be gained by presenting our successes to Homeaway.  The human dimension is only of interest to Homeaway in determining the psychology of making increasing fees palatable, and manipulating owners into using systems which work against them, but to the advantage and enrichment of Homeaway.


                  Great story . . . 

                  • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                    rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                    The majority of owners will go out of their way to keep "their" guests happy.


                    This is even with this service fee.


                    How many owners will tell their guests to call HomeAway and not bother them? The sad thing is HomeAway knows this and are profiting from our professionalism and kindness.


                    Your story is a great one and you should be proud.

                    • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                      sage Senior Contributor

                      You are right. The original vision for VRs was based on a personal connection between owner and guest. The revised HA business model is killing that. Travelers may as well stay at a Holiday Inn.

                      • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                        Senior Contributor

                        I had a repeat guest that did not arrive at the normal check in time. I began to get worried because she usually took the week after the week she had booked this particular year.

                        By evening, I called her ( after I checked my records of course) and sure enough she had the wrong week in her head.  She thanked me and arrived early the next morning, telling me if I hadn't called her she would have missed her entire vacation.

                        I do not meet my guests, but have a lock system, even though for part of the season, I am local.

                        Many guests will arrive early in the morning ( way before check in time) and head to the beach. I often text them when the cleaning service is done that they may check in early if they'd like.

                        I also know which guest prefers the drip coffee maker rather than the Keurig, so the one they prefer is on the counter.

                          • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                            Senior Contributor

                            I’m pretty sure most seasoned VR Owners have at least one story about  the extra mile we go to keep our guests happy. Thanks for sharing yours! It’s what has always set Vacation Rental OWNERS apart from most property management companies – and surely the majority of Expedia type booking sites.

                            Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. I once had a couple  arrive to visit their daughter who was attending the local medical school. They called to say they were thrilled with the house, & I thought all was well. But, early the next morning I got the dreaded phone call – A neighbor had  house guests who’d brought a dog that barked ALL night long. ARGGG! The husband was insistent that they leave immediately and promised to post a horrible review.  They’d already found a nearby hotel & were there checking in. I apologized profusely, told them I would refund ALL money paid, & even offered to pay the difference between the cost of the hotel and the rental costs.

                            The wife refused my offer of paying the difference, and even offered to pay the cleaning fee ( I declined!) Long story short, no, they weren’t return guests, but she posted a very positive review about our home, mentioning my kindness and great customer service- with no mention of the barking dog. .

                            HA/VRBO’s “guarantee” won’t come close to dealing with things the way most reputable OWNERS do, no matter how well they wordsmith their promises. It won’t take long for experienced  Travelers who’ve been our clients to figure that out. Let’s hope they don’t destroy the industry that so many of us have spent decades working hard to create.

                          • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                            joan.l Senior Contributor


                            If she had called VRBO / HA with her dilemma, do you think they would have been sympathetic? I don't feel they would have as she would still be getting exactly what she had requested, exactly what she reserved. The fact that she made a mistake in telling her family which week it was would likely not be on their list of things they would or could cover. They cannot and most likely would not guarantee against guest mistakes. But, let's see what the owner did....


                            You are so right.  

                            HA/VRBO/Expedia is just a big corporate entity.   They wouldn't have done a thing for this person except maybe try to find them another place where they would have to DOUBLE PAY, because they couldn't force you to refund based on the traveler's mistake.    And, the key word is "try" because they aren't the "boots on ground" in your market like you are.  They wouldn't know the lay of land like you do.  They wouldn't know the others who rent, but aren't on HA/VRBO. 

                            But...the truth is....HA/VRBO/Expedia wouldn't have really cared. 

                            about 18 months ago, I had two different families contact me after being scammed.  They thought that they had rented my place thru Craigs List, however, that was a scam ad by someone overseas.   They had stolen my pics from the VRBO website and even included a link to my VRBO ad, but promised a better rate if contacted thru CL.    These poor families had paid this "jean baptiste" fraudster, had traveled cross-county, only to have the guy "go silent" the afternoon of their arrival.   They used the VRBO link to my real listing and contacted me thinking I was the same person. 

                            Now, technically I owed these people NOTHING.  They had never paid me anything.  They had never contacted me before.  However, the thought of these desperate families, in a city that is "all booked up" for a popular event, with no place to go did not set well with this mom.  I started making phone calls to find places with last-minute cancelations, and thankfully found a place for each family.  Later I helped them recover their money thru PayPal, which (thankfully) they had both paid. 

                            Both families have promised that they will book with me some time in the future.  If they do, fine.  If they don't ever come back to this town, or they book elsewhere, that's ok, too. 

                            Would HA/VRBO have done this?  I doubt it.

                            • Re: My Book-With-Confidence-Guarantee
                              Active Contributor

                              As I stated before the only thing the expedia guarantee will do is open the doors for the traveler that wants a free vacation. There are plenty out there and there will be a lot more as the word gets out that expedia will get them a refund. A simple complaint by a guest, dogs barking, loud neighbors, light bulb burnt out, coffee pot does not brew to the correct temp anything to complain about and expedia will force us to refund money.

                              The guarantee will do nothing but cost us money.

                              It was not intended to help you one little bit. It was designed to show the traveler that they get something for this fee.

                              After a 6 or 7 night stay at your home the complaint will come in and expedia will force you to refund part or all of the money the guest paid. ALL but the service fee. That will not be refunded.