14 Replies Latest reply: Mar 19, 2018 7:08 PM by timthek RSS

    Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?

    Contributor

      It's official, according to the HomeAway rep! after 10 solid years of Seattle rentals I've been told my listing is no longer welcome to be advertised in the metro Seattle area!

       

      What happened? What did I do wrong? Did my house move without me knowing it? Well, according to the HomeAway rep my house is now too far from Seattle Center at just 16.3 miles and 28 minutes. Wait a minute? my house has always been 16.3 miles from downtown Seattle and there's been no recent seismic shift in the earths plate that would cause my house to move so did I do anything wrong then? ......"no",says HomeAway ..."your home is in Bremerton which is now too far from Seattle center"         ''but my home has always been in Bremerton, WA which is a bedroom community to Seattle and I've been listed in Seattle search for 10 years on HomeAway" ..I replied ......  "We know, but now it's not" ... replied the rep.              "So, what is my search area now?"... I asked    "Bremerton and Bainbridge Island" ... said the rep    "but Bremerton is just a small bedroom community that i only get a few bookings from a year and Bainbridge Island is 36 miles away or about  a 45 - 50 minute drive .... isn't that too far according to HomeAway's 'too far logic"? .... I asked     "No" .....said the HomeAway rep    . "So my home at 16.3 miles  and 28 minutes from Seattle center is too far but, Bainbridge Island at 36 miles or about 45 minutes away is not to far for my home to be advertised in... is that correct?" .... I asked    "That's correct!"... said the HomeAway rep

       

      The conversation that I was having with the HomeAway rep on the logic behind this was leaving me very confused??    I thought to myself... there must be another reason? .... maybe, it's because my house is not geographically part of Seattle?... after all, it is located in Bremerton and it lies on the Kitsap Peninsula. Additionally, the 16.3 miles and 28 minutes to Seattle center is via the commuter ferry.     'That's it!! ... this must be the reason  HomeAway has removed my listing from Seattle search!!,, they must have removed all the listings that are not geographically located in Seattle as well as the listings that require a ferry to reach downtown Seattle, including... Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island, Whitbey Island, ... all of which require a ferry (the ferries are part of are transit system and run typically once an hour from 4:30 am thru Midnight)  Plus, Bellevue, Issaquah, Sammamish, Lynnwood, Mukilteo, Kent, Fife, Des Moines, Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island, and Whitbey Island ... (I could go on!) ...that are all small towns like Bremerton and therefore are not technically Seattle although like Bremerton, considered part of greater Seattle


      "Is the reason I'm now removed from Seattle search results .....you've removed all of the listings in these areas and for these reasons??"  .....I asked    "...No" said the HomeAway rep. ... "Well, how many areas and who have you removed? "... I asked      "Just Bremerton and your home because it's now too far, besides, we're taking the guesswork out for potential guests" ... replied the rep   ... "You're taking the guesswork out for potential guests by hiding my listing from them?? ... but, there is no guessing, they can see my location on the map.... Did you read  the 54 reviews I have, with many guests writing in their review about the great location for visiting downtown Seattle? ...I asked.       Yes, said the HomeAway rep    ... "So, let me get this right? you're taking the guesswork out for potential guests by hiding my listing from Seattle search and therefore not giving potential guests the opportunity to find me like they have for the past 10 years so they don't guess wrong even though they don't guess, because they can see my location on google maps, plus my reviews indicate that those who chose my house for their stay while visiting the Seattle area were so happy, that 98 percent of them who wrote me a five star review....is that correct?".... I asked.    "ummm, ahhh ohhh" ....said the HomeAway rep  Further, I continued ..." Did you know that Bainbridge Island ferry takes 30 minutes for the crossing, which is the same time as Bremerton's crossing time, and that Vashon Island and Whitbey Island require not only a ferry but an addition 20 to 40 minutes drive to Seattle on top? Plus 100's of other listing that are not technically 'Seattle' and are still listed in Seattle search and many have a greater distance than the 16.3 miles my home is from Seattle center, and that HomeAway  always listed my home as 16.3 miles from Seattle so this is not a number I invented!. .I asked      "Ahhh, umm yes  we know, but we value you as a partner".... said the HomeAway rep, maybe if you added some new photo's that might make up for the fact you're basic search area has been reduced some 95 percent to your bedroom community of Bremerton and of course Bainbridge Island even though we realize that Bainbridge Island it a lot further than Seattle from your property" ... continued the rep     "But  this is how I make my living, this is how I pay my mortgage .... I probably be forced out of business now after 10 years of doing everything by the book for HomeAway" .... I replied     "Yes, we at HomeAway are proud of our partnerships with homeowners like you and we do care and hope that you can make it now, please try as I mentioned updating your photos ... good luck" ... said the HomeAway rep.



                                                                                

      Question: Is this what HomeAway means by 'A valued partnership... just get thrown under the bus after 10 years plus the HomeAway logic for this that has more holes in it than the moon

        • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
          u0999 Premier Contributor

          Sorry to hear, it just hit your property now. I have been affected by similar situation over a year (since they removed "advertising market") from the listings - so maybe 1.5 years or more.  Mine is not even as far as yours from my little tourist town center (maybe 8 mi) and probably 3 mi from town "border" and no ferries are involved. They have been sticking one of my cabins into a local community of 500 (to which my house does not even belong even by official USPS address) and my bookings took the nosedive. I think they have done something to somewhat correct the search area, but I cannot say that listing has fully recovered, it is still getting below average views and inquiries.

          • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
            db.meyer Senior Contributor

            You are fortunate that this location-based search has just NOW affected your listing in Bremerton.  While this may not help you on HA/VRBO sites directly, be sure to mention Seattle throughout your listing description, perhaps in the heading, and your listing may be included in a Google search by Seattle. Do you have your own website, Google Map Pin, Facebook Page, are you listed on local/regional tourism sites, partnered with Seattle Tour companies, Breweries, Wineries, Museums (Ex:Tacoma Museum District.org) that include lodging on their websites, etc.?  You will need to put in more time and effort for your listing to be found. Welcome to the group!

              • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                Contributor

                Thank you, those are some good ideas! I'm definitely not going to lay down on this. I know there's starting to be a shift for a number of listings towards doing their own marketing. With HomeAway's policy of dumping on more and more vacation rental owners and their every increasing fees for travelers I also believe that it's only a matter of time before another VR site takes a hold. There are many ghosts of what used to be large industry leaders in various business fields who at what at one time though they were invincible.

              • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                scowol Active Contributor

                I can appreciate that the change is frustrating.  But I can also appreciate HA's desire to see this from a traveler's perspective to be clear about the location.

                 

                I'm a Seattle native and live in Seattle.  You stated your property (and Bremerton) is 16 miles away from the city center.  But that would be as a crow flies.   I was confused by the crossing time you stated that a ferry to Bremerton is 28 minutes.  It's actually 60 minutes (schedule below).  Also, if driving, you need to factor in the wait time--which can be up to 60 minutes--assuming the boat hasn't filed up and the guests would need to await the next one.  Loading and unloading take 10+ minutes.  Finally, it's a lottery winning moment to simply drive up to a boat, have room remaining and have it depart within minutes after driving on.  The more common experience is to drive to the dock, wait 30-60 minutes, and pray your car will fit into the queue for the next boat.

                 

                If the guest takes the Bainbridge (Winslow) ferry, indeed the crossing time is less.  But then there's another 50 minutes driving time from the Bainbridge Island dock to Bremerton.  So that alternate route is an hour and 20+ minutes (map below for Seattle via Bainbridge Ferry to Bremerton)

                 

                Again, I can appreciate the frustration because HA has made a change.  Yes, these are bedroom communities for residents who live/work in the area.  But the commute is very, very long.

                 

                Capture.PNG

                 

                bremerton.PNG

                 

                bremerton.PNG

                • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                  green_mango Active Contributor

                  I'm guessing that 10 years ago the inventory was smaller?  As more and more true Seattle VRs have been added, perhaps it was time to differentiate?  Travelers have been complaining for the last year or so that the geographic maps were made too large on VRBO so it sounds like they took the feedback and made a change - sorry it's had a negative impact on you, but in this case, I see where they're coming from.

                    • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                      Contributor

                      i understand that some owners have been upset that HomeAway in the last few years had expanded it's search areas to include towns and cities that had no correlation to the area of search, additionally, some of these areas have been up to 50 miles away. Bremerton at 30 minutes and 16 miles from DT Seattle is however not one of those.  I think it would be quite selfish for any property owner who signed up with HomeAway over the past 9 years for a Seattle listing, would then start complaining that 16 miles is too far for a competitors property to be listed in the same search results. I'm sure they would have done a little research and seen that Bremerton was part of the Seattle search before they signed up so, if bothered them to begin with so much then perhaps they shouldn't have signed up their property.

                       

                      I don't know where your home is in relation to the center of your advertising area but, if it were hypothetically 10 miles from the city center and you woke up one day and found your listing had been removed because HomeAway had deemed it 'too far' while hundreds of other properties were still being listed that were up to 3 times further to the city center than your property, then somehow I doubt you would understand where they are coming from.

                       

                      One more thing.... HomeAway deleted Bremerton from Seattle search at 16 miles away, based upon the 'too far' theory, but then paired Bremerton with a city that is 34 miles or over twice the distance away ... of course, that must be HomeAway's hypocritical logic hard at work again.

                    • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                      timthek Active Contributor

                      I am totally confused by your entire post. I'm not from Seattle and have only been there a couple of times so it is all unknown to me. I just googled the area and nothing you are saying makes any sense. Maybe you are upset and not writing clearly, so maybe you can clarify.

                      ventur4 wrote:

                      my house is now too far from Seattle Center at just 16.3 miles and 28 minutes.


                          "but Bremerton is just a small bedroom community that i only get a few bookings from a year and Bainbridge Island is 36 miles away


                        . "So my home at 16.3 miles  and 28 minutes from Seattle center is too far but, Bainbridge Island at 36 miles or about 45 minutes away is not to far for my home to be advertised in... is that correct?" .... I asked    "That's correct!"... said the HomeAway rep

                       

                      it is located in Bremerton and it lies on the Kitsap Peninsula. Additionally, the 16.3 miles and 28 minutes to Seattle center is via the commuter ferry.   


                      " Did you know that Bainbridge Island ferry takes 30 minutes for the crossing, which is the same time as Bremerton's crossing time,


                       

                      You say that Bremerton is 16 miles from Seattle, which looks about right. But then you say Bainbridge Island is 36 miles away?  On the map it looks like it is between Bremerton and Seattle.

                       

                      Untitled-1.gif

                       

                      You also say the Bremerton Ferry is 28 minutes and is the same 30 minute Ferry ride as Bainbridge island. I looked them up and saw the same thing another member posted. The Bremerton Ferry is 60min and the Bainbridge Ferry is 30 minutes. Am I looking at the wrong Ferries? There don't appear to be any others.

                       

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                      Finally, I totally understand why you are upset. HA has been making changes that impact many owners here who have been successfully renting their homes on HA for years. I get that this is possibly going to destroy what has been working for you for a decade and that you are upset and disagree with it. But as an outsider looking in, I can sort of see what HomeAway is saying. Those other towns you named are all on islands closer to Seattle than yours. Yours appears to be "behind" the others and so perhaps HA was trying to narrow down their search areas around Seattle. They have to "draw the line" somewhere and it seems like, unfortunately, the new line they drew excludes you. That stinks for you and I can understand why you are upset, but I don't think it is as illogical or absurd as you are making it out to be.

                        • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                          Contributor

                          Sure, I 'll be happy to clarify for you:

                           

                          To answer your question: " You say that Bremerton is 16 miles from Seattle, which looks about right. But then you say Bainbridge Island is 36 miles away?  On the map it looks like it is between Bremerton and Seattle"  


                            What I said was that after HomeAway removed Bremerton from Seattle search results (BTW, Bremerton is about 11 miles from DT Seattle, and my home about 16 miles away) HomeAway then paired Bremerton with Bainbridge Island at 34 miles (from Bremerton) in search results. In other words search Bremerton and  and in addition to Bremerton results, Bainbridge Island listing will show, and vice versa.


                          Maybe part HomeAway's problem is it relies on Google search as you too were unable to find any information on the 28 minutes crossing time via the fast ferry? While Google is a good source of data, it cannot always be relied on to provide all information, additionally it doesn't always get everything correct. Here are some images of the 28 minute crossing from Bremerton to DT Seattle. The fast ferry has been running for a year now, so it's no longer a proposal.POF-Meeting-Boards-Mobile-Map-01.png

                           

                          fast ferry.jpg

                           

                           

                          To respond to your comment "Those other towns you named are all on islands closer to Seattle than yours"  The difference between what 'may appear' and reality is what counts I'm sure you would agree. Apart from Bainbridge Island which has the same commute time, there is no other 'Island' (Bremerton is not located on an Island there is also a direct hwy access to DT Seattle) that is closer to DT Seattle or has a shorter commute time. HomeWay's science seems to be lacking in logic because they measure distance 'as the crow flies.' Rather than writing it out again here is part of my correspondence with HomeAway on this matter ....



                          Here are other HomeAway contradictions.... I'm led to believe this decision by HomeAway is based upon distance from Seattle city center 'AS THE CROW FLIES'  That doesn't seem very well thought out, and it's certainly not very scientific, the reason I say this is because guests are not crows, they don't fly in a straight line from A to B they drive and or take public transportation. The science should be based upon commute time, certainly with some reference to distance. Bremerton hands down beats out Vashon Island, Kingston, Poulsbo, Whitbey Island on both distance and commute time at just 11 miles form Seattle city center and a commute time of 30 minutes via fast ferry. Bainbridge Island while closer to Seattle city center has exactly the same commute time. Again, if this is about the travelers convenience in travel time, then HomeAway has got it all wrong. Additionally, if this is about distance and commute time then why has HomeAway paired Bremerton with Bainbridge Island now? Bainbridge Island is 34 miles away, there is no bridge or means to get Bainbridge Island other than the hwy and it's a 45 minute drive.In Bremerton search itshow Bainbrige Island at 4 miles from city center, well again, if guests were crows then that would be true, but they're not.

                          Lastly in Bremerton search there are some Seattle properties that show, how does that work? is Bremerton too far from Seattle but not the other way around?

                            • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                              db.meyer Senior Contributor

                              HA's geo search is not sophisticated enough to include Ferry travel-time information in determining location-based search results.  They are adding Seattle to Bremerton because Bremerton has fewer listings than "ideal" and HA's famous a/b testing has "shown" that travelers prefer more "choices" even though they may be located up to 50 miles away.  The inverse is not true for Seattle search results as there are already "enough" with Seattle-proper listings without the need to include Bremerton.  They may include certain Vashon Island, Kingston, Poulsbo, Whitbey Island, etc. listings in Seattle results if they are OLB, instant book, premier partner, large PM property listings, etc.

                                • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                                  Contributor

                                  It seems then that equality and fairness to  'partner' listings is not so important to HomeAway, nor are guests and fundamentals  as they'll add listings to show 'more choices' when in fact they're not realistic choices. It's all about sell the sizzle not the steak. It's also seems like it's all thrown together haphazardly with unsophisticated technology. For me this is not about Bremerton being added to Seattle search as Bremerton has  always been part of Seattle search, that was until recently. I get that their methodology for collecting for Geo data is somewhat limited, but it also seems they are uninterested in hearing reason, I guess that 'being right' in their minds is good enough even when facts prove otherwise.

                                    • Re: Why has my listing disappeared from Seattle search results?
                                      timthek Active Contributor

                                      That is correct. They are not interested in hearing why you think their search results are wrong. They will tell you that their decision is based on data they have collected from thousands of users over the years. They would probably say (if they wanted to tell you which they don't) that the data shows them that X% of people searching for Seattle end up booking in A, B and C towns so they are included but the number booking in D town is lower so it is no longer included. Since you don't have access to their data you cannot argue that it is wrong. There is no motivation for them to review the point of view of one owner let alone 100 owners. They make changes that thousands of owners disagree with but that they feel are better for their business or the renters. Mostly their business though. 

                                       

                                      So the bottom line is HomeAway is screwing you by changing a system that was working perfectly well for you. There is nothing you are going to do to get them to change that. I'm sorry that they've done this to you. I recommend you throw all of your energy into finding alternative ways to get renters. HomeAway is no longer buttering your bread. Or that of many others around the world. Build a website and set up a Facebook page for your rental. Join Facebook groups for your area and find "for rent" groups. Look into local and regional alternatives to VRBO. Maybe airbnb works in that area, maybe not. Craigslist is highly effective in some areas and useless in others (mine).

                                       

                                      Don't spend any more energy trying to convince a multi billion dollar company to change what they are doing when they have shown that they are on a path and will continue in that direction. Focus your energy on what you can affect. I wish you good luck and hope you are able to find another way....