25 Replies Latest reply: Jan 26, 2019 4:29 PM by 5boys RSS

    Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response

    fun2drum Contributor

      I'm a happy camper with HomeAway, and I use it exclusively to rent out my second home at the beach.  I play by the rules and I'm able to rent the house all I want to.  HomeAway is a large company with a smart marketing department.  That's why I have a hard time understanding why the default response to a general inquiry from someone checking on different homes is to pre approve them, block the dates, and start billing them for a reservation they didn't make.  I have made it a practice to always change the response to a simple reply and quote with no pre approval, but yesterday I used the phone app to respond because I was traveling for the day.  I changed the response from "pre approve" to "reply with quote" as usual, but it pre approved the inquiry anyway, sending a bill to the prospect.  Then it sent another one last night, and again this morning saying the payment was overdue.  He was only getting information on houses, never intended to reserve, and was understandably worried.  I had to apologize and cancel the "reservation".  Admittedly there may be something different on the phone app that I'm missing regarding changing from the default, but why would something so off-putting to our inquirers be the default setting in the first place?  If I were using a service looking for a vacation place and I started getting overdue bills from the places I simply inquired about, then I would never want to use that service again.  Is it possible for HomeAway to change the default for a general inquiry to "reply with quote" so that we're not automatically badgering them for money to pay for a reservation they didn't make?  Wouldn't that at least make some kind of sense?  Thanks

        • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
          twomoreyears Senior Contributor

          HA's metrics are bookings.  Period.  Not happy guests.  Not happy owners.  You can't measure happiness.  Wall Street rewards for financial performance, not on a happiness scale.

           

          Therefore, everything they do is engineered to drive bookings up - to change "lookers" into "bookers" before they leave the HA website.  They presumably tested this process in one of their A/B tests, and it resulted in more bookings.  Changing the default to just answering an asked question does not push hard enough to get someone to book, so I suspect it will stay this way.

           

          I'm with you - I try to run the rental of our home as a business, but our business model is designed to match the guests with our home and based on excellent service.  Therefore, I do not want hard - core sales techniques.

          • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
            bobbie32 Premier Contributor

            I won't respond until I am at a computer.  I simply no longer trust the system and have to carefully choose what I click on.  I now have to travel with a laptop or block all dates. 

            • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
              ohst8er Senior Contributor

              fun2drum, that's odd.  I went into an inquiry from the app on my smart phone, just now to test this out.  Mind you, it's an old inquiry, so perhaps I don't have all the options to choose from that I might from a brand new one.  I clicked reply and there's a quote, with an x by it that I can remove, then there's the option to add request payment, and an option to add attachments.  If I get rid of the quote I just have the blank message screen, then once I type my message I can just hit send.  There's not even an OPTION to do a pre-approval.

               

              When I reply on my laptop the default is to "pre approve with quote" and I NEVER do that.  Well, almost never, a few days ago I had sent an edited quote for the month of February, told the traveler they can just click the "request to book" button in the email.  They did just that, but the rate they were given when they did that was the original rate, before the discount for the full month.  (that's an issue for another thread though).  So at that point I sent a pre-approve, but only because I needed to push that revised quote to him (thought I had did that when I sent him the revised quote), and also because I KNEW he was trying to book.  Unless a traveler messages me and said "I tried to book but...."  I won't use that default! 

                • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                  mtnmama3740 Contributor

                  I've cracked the code.

                   

                  ohst8er wrote:

                   

                  fun2drum, that's odd.  I went into an inquiry from the app on my smart phone, just now to test this out.  Mind you, it's an old inquiry, so perhaps I don't have all the options to choose from that I might from a brand new one.  I clicked reply and there's a quote, with an x by it that I can remove, then there's the option to add request payment, and an option to add attachments.  If I get rid of the quote I just have the blank message screen, then once I type my message I can just hit send.  There's not even an OPTION to do a pre-approval.

                   

                  The reason you aren't seeing the issue is that you didn't select a template (e.g. "Default Available").  That's when the quote and payments are populated.

                   

                  Here's what I successfully did to reply with my "available" template with a quote, but without payment requests....

                   

                  Click Reply

                  Select "Default available" from templates

                  Click “Request payment xx payments”

                  Scroll to bottom of payment schedule

                  Click Remove Payment Request

                  (Now you see the quote)

                  Edit the quote or not and select "Attach to Message"

                  Now when you click "Send" only a quote and no payment requests go out.


                  I confirmed that there is no tentative reservation on my calendar, and no copies of payment requests in my inbox.  Lot o' hoops but better than waiting for a PC (in which case I might forget) or simply replying to the email (which doesn't contain the quote or my standard template).

                  Success!

                • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                  green_mango Active Contributor

                  Thanks for sharing - I never pre-approve anymore because I don't want guests to get inundated with reminders to pay & when a pre-approval times out it counts as a cancellation in the metrics....  so now I know not to reply from my phone - yikes! 

                    • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                      greggt Senior Contributor

                      Plus two other things, if you don't convert it to a booking it counts as a cancellation and it books all your other Availability Calendars for those dates.

                      • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                        fun2drum Contributor

                        Well, I would like to think there's a way to do it on the cell phone without pre approving, but after this experience I'll stick to the PC (and I'll use extra care with even that).  It's not just an inconvenience for this to happen.  When I'm signed up for booking I don't even see what positive difference it makes if I pre approve anyway.  If they want to rent, they just go ahead and book the house, then I approve it - so easy.  A false reservation by pre approval just ends up as a cancellation  because the "reservation" was never supposed to happen.   Okay, I know it's probably never going to change, and I acknowledge that I need to be more careful, but I appreciate the chance to vent a little here with you all.   

                      • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                        rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                        I don't sync any of my calendars with any sites.

                         

                        Question... why do it? does the convenience out weigh the problems that arise?

                        • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                          georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                          THE ANSWER IS:

                          1. Don't sync to any other sites

                          2. Get a laptop and a phone that tethers together via bluetooth so your phone provides and internet connection to your laptop. Do all your work and answers only on the laptop.

                          • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                            mtnmama3740 Contributor

                            This frustrates me to no end, too.  I'm going to stop using the app to reply and wait until I'm on a computer.  It's especially bad when the guest inquiry is to ask if they can break the house rules (e.g. hold an event, bring more people than max, bring cats).  I reply "no" and then pre-approve them and send payment requests.  Mixed message!!

                              • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                HI mtnmama3740,  do you have your listing set up so that you receive emails to your smart phone whenever you get an inquiry? If so you can just reply just like you were replying to a regular email from a guest.   It works the same as it would if you had replied via the platform. That way you don’t have to worry about whether you have the preapproval button clicked.

                                  • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                    mtnmama3740 Contributor

                                    I wondered about that -- was afraid to try since it is completely blind of options.  Thanks for the confirmation!

                                      • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                        ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                        mtnmama3740, no problem!  I tried it once when I didn't have access to my laptop and the app was being finicky and wouldn't load.  I don't like that pre-approval option being set as default.  I've woken up at midnight to reply to an inquiry before, and the last thing I want to do is accidentally send a pre-approval because I can't get both eyes open to see what I'm doing!! 

                                         

                                        Yesterday a got an inquiry from a person asking me a) are we available for such and such week, and b) what is the rate.   You can find out all that on our site, but since she was asking ME, I of course will oblige and and answer as though I'm the only entity with the magic answer!  Instead of going thru the system and sending a quote, I just went on my listing, clicked in the dates, clicked on the "view (rate) details", screenshot the entire rate breakdown and sent it to her in an email as an attachment.   Worked just fine!

                                          • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                            mtnmama3740 Contributor

                                            That's exactly what happened to me last night. I had avoided replying in the app for the past few months, and then I made the mistake of looking at my phone when I woke up in the middle of the night.  Gotta keep those response metrics up!  Absentmindedly answered a question about distance from ski area (significant, so I knew that this wasn't going to book) and woke up to copies of payment requests.

                                              • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                Yes, they need to change that!!! It is really a problem when you are traveling and are trying to respond with your phone and the default is to pre-approve someone.

                                                 

                                                Very frustrating!!!!

                                                  • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                                    ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                                    twobitrentals, like so many things on VRBO, you can either wait till VRBO changes something to your liking (if they ever do), OR you have to change the way you operate within the system.   There are two workarounds to this problem.  #1 reply thru the email only, don't reply thru the app.  or #2, reply thru the app but be sure to X out the quote so that you only have a blank screen.   I agree that it should not automatically reply with a quote, but unfortunately it does. 

                                                      • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                                        scowol Active Contributor

                                                        When I’m traveling I logon to the desktop version through the mobile web browser.  If you have an iPhone logon to vrbo.com and then press and hold the refresh button in Safari. A pop up window will appear on your iPhone that says “Request Desktop Site.”  Tap that and the page will reload as the desktop version.  Voila.  No need to pack a laptop.   Android phones may have something similar. 


                                                        Yes, it's a bit smaller, but turning the phone to widescreen view reorients the layout.  All the "safe" options you use in the desktop are there and no "gotcha" worries that come with the mobile or app versions.


                                                        Capture4.PNG

                                                          • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                                            ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                                            scowol....  Or ....you can just reply in the email and be done with it.  

                                                            • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                                              mtnmama3740 Contributor

                                                              scowol wrote:

                                                               



                                                              Capture4.PNG

                                                              Hmmm, when I clicked "Request Desktop Site" it simply reloaded the mobile site.  I would prefer to send a quote vs. just the text, but I'll settle for just replying to the email for now.

                                                                • Re: Pre Approval of Reservation as Default Inquiry Response
                                                                  5boys New Member

                                                                  I found a solution that works for me - and allows me to continue using my mobile to reply.

                                                                   

                                                                  I use templates and my mobile to respond to almost every initial inquiry and found this post because I've also been haunted by the sudden pre-approval change mentioned above.  I realized that all of my templates are grouped appropriately on the web site (pre-approve, reply with quote etc.) BUT in the mobile app all templates are present under ALL categories (ie. copies of all in all groups).  So if I pay attention and scroll to the COPY of the template that's under 'reply with quote' instead of 'pre-approve', I'm good. 

                                                                   

                                                                  This doesn't fix the fact that it shouldn't work this way but for those wanting/needing to use mobile - create a template on the web version sometime..even if it's mostly blank...and then make sure to pick the right category for the version you want when you reply on the mobile app.

                                                                   

                                                                  I hope this makes sense - and I hope that VRBO fixes this soon....I put my templates in appropriate categories for a reason - I'd like it honored on the mobile app like it is for the web/browser version.