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?