38 Replies Latest reply: Jan 5, 2019 1:49 PM by beartractsmatt RSS

    Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!

    palz14 New Member

      Why when a guest searches and filters for "Price: Low to HIgh" does it sort the per night rate shows up which is deceiving because total price with taxes and fees is much higher than the per night price being shown?  This helps those that are property managers that charge ridiculous fees to get the clicks on there properties when in essence they are much more expensive than many other by owner rentals that show a per night price that is actually higher but doesnt charge ridiculous management fees.

        • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
          ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

          palz14, I understand what you are saying.  However, the only way that a Price: Low to High search would work the way that you would like it to is if the programming was able to calculate all of the fees, etc. for every available rental with the searchers dates, number of people, pets, etc., and that is simply not possible.  That is why the search uses the BASE nightly rate.  Yes, it is unfair when a property manager  or vacation homeowner puts up a nightly rate that is very low and then piles on fees to get what they really want for the rental.

           

          IMO, HomeAway is working towards equity in advertising, and I believe that they are proactive in contacting those property managers and homeowners who try to flagrantly "game" the system with low nightly rates (like the guy who started at $1 in order to be listed first).  I work within the system to the best of my ability to display a competitive nightly rate and not have a potential guest suffer sticker shock when they see the total for their vacation. 

           

          Hang in there, make your vacation rental advertising as attractive as possible and try to stay calm.  Happy renting!

          • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
            floridarob Active Contributor

            It may be, but it doesn't matter. The cream always rises to the top, and it costs more than milk.

             

            Don't worry about things you can't control. Do the best you can with your property, and understand that not everyone will ever play the game to your standard. Just be glad that you aren't them, and be okay with it.

             

            Upwards on onwards!

            • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
              beartractsmatt Contributor

              I came to this forum for this exact reason. I am managing 5 properties 2 of my own. My 2 which are larger properties I dont have this issue on because there is limited competition. But my 2 and 3 bedroom properties which are fairly new are being drown out and getting no exposure ....even if I drop my rates. The local PM's are putting rates up for 60/night and then charging an "ADMIN FEE" of almost 200 in some cases. The admin fee is very close to the nightly rate. So although my total price is lower... I am not showing up until page 3. The whole first page is covered in these "bait and switch" properties making it look like the norm. As an honest PM it ****** me off. As a guest.... it ****** me off as well and i would probably look for other options.

                • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                  twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                  Put that information in your heading so that it catches potential guests eye. Something like “Be sure to compare overall pricing before booking”. While this may seem unprofessional (and maybe it is) It could just be the key to getting guests to take that second look before pushing the “book” button???

                   

                  edited

                    • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                      planthealth Active Contributor

                      I do this somewhere in the body of my listing. Many of the PMs in my area have a concierge fee, pool key fee, lost key fee, like 5 different fees. For me to price compare to them I have to pretend like I am going to BIN, I subtract their taxes, then subtract my cleaning fee then determine the price per night. So I point out I only have a cleaning fee and if you want linens people can get them from my cleaner for an additional fee but make it clear, the cleaning and linens fee go to the cleaner. (Not that they care, but to make the point I am not trying to add on "fresh air fee" and "pretty view fee" type items).

                    • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                      ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                      If you can figure out what the PMs are doing, why not emulate them and undercut them by a dollar in each criteria?  I.e., adjust your rental to use the same pricing scheme.  This, of course, will only work putting you head to head with who you think is on the first page of the search results....and you may have some push back from the owners that you represent.

                      • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                        planthealth Active Contributor

                        That is how the local PMs who do NOT advertise on VRBO or ABB do it in my area, so I follow suit to compete. I list MY rental rate, I list the amount I have to write a check to my cleaner, and then VRBO puts their fee on. I do not feel I am gaming the system, I am just doing what all my competitors are doing.

                          • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                            ohst8er Premier Contributor

                            planthealth, no that's not gaming the system, that's using it exactly as it was set up.  

                             

                            That's exactly how I list our rental:

                             

                            Rate

                            cleaning fee

                            tax

                            vrbo fee

                            security deposit

                            total

                              • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                beartractsmatt Contributor

                                Ohst8er... what you are doing is right. Now take the below scenarios into consideration. Which one should show up first when you sort LOW to HIGH?

                                 

                                Property 1

                                Rate:              300

                                Cleaning fee   145

                                tax                   43

                                VRBO fee        65

                                Security dep .  300

                                Total                 853

                                 

                                Property 2

                                Rate:              250

                                Cleaning fee   145

                                Admin Fee      175

                                tax                   43

                                VRBO fee        65

                                Security dep .  300

                                Total                 978

                                  • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                    ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                    beartractsmatt, the lower rated one should, theoretically, show up first, of course.  However.... I submit to you that not everyone who searches by lowest to highest is REALLY looking for the lowest rate.   Many are just looking for the lowest rate they can find at a place that fits all their criteria.

                                     

                                    Think of this in terms of booking a flight.  I always search for the lowest rate.  But... if the lowest rate has me needing to be at the airport at 4am do I really WANT that rate?  I know people who would absolutely show up at 4am to save a few bucks, my friend's family of 6 for instance.  But not me, that's too painfully early (though I did do it once because it was the only direct non stop that got me to my location on the day I wanted to go).  If the lowest rate meant I had to change planes twice, if the lowest rate meant I had 40 minutes to change planes in JFK, or 4 hours in some dinky airport with nothing to do (and, for the time it takes me from start to finish couldn't I just DRIVE...?)... then would I really want that rate?  Hmmm...what's the NEXT CHEAPEST?

                                     

                                    Conversely, if the lowest rate did indeed fit my travel pattern, left when I wanted to leave, had a layover that gave me enough time to change planes, hit the bathroom, grab a snack or a beer but not enough time to actually DIE of boredom, got me home when I wanted to get home, allowed me to pre-select my seats, etc etc, but when I went book it it required me to pay extra for my bags, extra for my seat selection, extra to get a better departure time, plus tax and airport fee and on and on and on and the $250 round trip fare was actually $350 round trip would I still book it?  Quite possibly.  Because I'm invested now.  I have committed time, energy, thought process into this booking.  I might have called my friend and said "hey, I've got the perfect travel pattern (or in this case VR) it fits all my needs and the price is decent..".  I'm IN.   And maybe $350 was in my budget anyway, I was just HOPING to pay less.

                                     

                                    But if indeed the traveler really IS looking for the cheapest rate out there that hits all their buttons, and they think they have found it until they hit the book button and see 5 different "hidden" fees, they WILL keep looking.  Anyone who is motivated to save money above all else has the perseverance to do so.  Anyone who is looking to get away will continue looking.

                                     

                                    Bottom line for ME personally?  I don't CARE about how VR's show up at the lowest price range.  Why would I WANT to be at the lowest price range?  Let the other guys fight over the price conscious consumer.

                                      • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                        beartractsmatt Contributor

                                        Take this for instance then.... what if the lowest price DID meet all of your criteria and that was 3 pages back on page of 25 tickets each. Thus you never got to see the true lowest price that met your criteria.  Is that fair to you thinking that you sorted by lowest price? I am assuming you would say not.

                                         

                                        I dont want to be the lowest either. I just want a fair playing field. And sometimes especially just getting started, you have to loss lead the first 5-10 bookings to get some action that will allow you to get reviews and fit better into those other algorithms in the future.

                                          • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                            ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                            beartractsmatt, agreed, sometimes just getting started you do have to loss lead for awhile.  Gone are the days where owners could just buy their way to the top, and I'm sure there are plenty, like me, that are glad that VRBO took that away. 

                                             

                                            But, in "leveling the playing field"  VRBO took alot of other things away from us owners too.  The ability to set our own method to collect payments, the ability to set our own cancellation policy, the ability to collect and manage our own security deposit, and I'm sure there are other things that happened before I came on the scene.  So, file this under the heading, "be careful what you wish for."  

                                             

                                            Not every "control" that VRBO has seized or created has been a bad thing, of course.  I am sure there are owners that HATE being on the clock to answer an inquiry or booking request.  It's not my favorite thing either, but I also did not like, as a traveler, trying to book a VR and sending out 10 inquiries in the hopes that ONE OWNER would get around to replying that they had availability. 

                                             

                                            Whenever there's something on VRBO that I think needs fixing, I always submit feedback, as I am sure you have done.  In the meantime, you might just have to play by the rules your competitors have set, as others here have mentioned.   Either way, good luck to you! 

                                              • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                beartractsmatt Contributor

                                                I am happy that you can no longer buy your way to the top. To me, that isnt fair to the guest.

                                                 

                                                As with any business we are here to service our customers. Our customers and VRBO's customers are the guests. Thats where VRBO really makes their money. Yes they make some off of us as well but that is a small drop in the bucket by comparison. With that said, VRBO and owners are here to take care of the guest. So if something is being taken away for the betterment of the guest experience.... I am all for that. If someone has a problem with it.... its probably because they were not doing good business (providing a good experience, response times, refunds of deposits, etc) in the first place. Some of the items you mentioned being taken away was to protect the guest (fraudulent payment, disappearing owners, etc) and also because owners were skating the vrbo system and cutting them out. If I were in VRBO's shoes I would have done the same thing.

                                                 

                                                I have sent my feedback.... Honestly it seems as if I am in the minority here on this topic though. So.... onward to pricing manipulation to remain relevant until I can get enough reviews to make it into the other sort categories where I will get some exposure.

                                                  • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                    ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                    beartractsmatt, I agree with everything you are saying, in this post and in every other post you have made on this subject.  And, I don't think you are really in the minority on this thinking.

                                                     

                                                    The PROBLEM is, many of us are tired of VRBO wresting more and more control from the owners.  My husband and I do the right thing because that's just how we are.   We don't need Big Brother to make rules for us.  If you send us an inquiry, we respond promptly.  If you paid a security deposit but did no damage, we pay you your money back, promptly.  But apparently enough did not, so that those bad apples caused ALL of us to have to have respons(abilites) taken away from us.  It's frustrating.  I think the reactions you are getting AGAINST what you are suggesting and the  pushback is because it would be just one more thing that VRBO would not only take away from owners ( less autonomy), but there are ALWAYS owners whose situations just aren't as cookie cutter as VRBO would like them to be.

                                                      • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                        beartractsmatt Contributor

                                                        Well for the record I am not looking to have them take anything away from us. Just looking to have VRBO display the sort accurately. Thats it. If someone charges 50/night and an additional 100/night service fee..... that properties sort should fall at $150/night, not 50/night.  That isnt taking any control from anyone.... that is just asking for accuracy.

                                                         

                                                        Below are screenshots for the same property. Always shows up number 1 or 2 on price sort. On the left 3 nights 71/night, on the right 8 nights(weekend 89/night. Yet with those "property fees" (that just so happen to change with the number of nights you book) they are 117 and 138/night respectively.

                                                         

                                                        Like I said, I dont see any reason why an owner or manager should do this other than trying to play the system to their advantage which at the end of the day is at the expense of our guests.

                                                         

                                                        Screen Shot 2019-01-05 at 12.56.38 PM.pngScreen Shot 2019-01-05 at 12.56.52 PM.png

                                                          • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                            margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                            You have a valid point, I am not sure anyone disagrees but maybe most feel there are bigger fish to fry. This is a similar issue as the star rating sort order that has been discussed many times. I believe that one has recently been improved so maybe the low to high will be addressed at some point.

                                                              • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                                The problem with showing in the order of overall pricing from lowest to highest is that perhaps it would just be assumed by guests that the algorithms are not working properly.

                                                                 

                                                                Maybe they could put some verbiage in the booking process that points to “overall” pricing, OR; when the search parameter is chosen from lowest to highest a heading that speaks in bold print to check overall pricing??

                                                                 

                                                                I am just not sure how HA would be able to address this. Maybe that really is the daily price and maybe regardless of price those admin fees will be charged???? How can they specifically state it is deceptive?

                                                                  • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                    beartractsmatt Contributor

                                                                    Its not hard to address. They do total nightly / number of nights...... Change the programming to read total costs / number of nights.

                                                                     

                                                                    Literally moving the code from one section of the quote to another section of the quote.

                                                                      • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                        twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                                        Yes, I understand what you are saying......but, what I am saying is this....think about it from the Guests point of view. They push the low to high selection and the daily rates showing aren’t in that order (that’s what shows on the initial sort). They are not owners who understand your concept. So, they think the algorithm is not working properly. That is what I am saying....there is a concept issue that would have to be resolved???

                                                                         

                                                                        I Like your idea, but it may be confusing to the average traveling guest??? Maybe not?

                                                                      • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                        margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                                        I think what beartractsmatt wants to see is the sort reflecting the lowest to highest total costs.For example,  if 2 properties have the same daily rate but one charges an addition fee the property without an additional fee would be shown before the one with additional fee in the low to high sort order.

                                                                          • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                            twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                                            No, I understand completely....I am saying that as long as HA puts the daily rent on the platform when searching this could be very confusing to the traveling guests!!!

                                                                             

                                                                            Edited to add: I didn’t think he was staying the same daily rate, but rather overall rate only. If they are the same daily rate then they would all be together?????

                                                                             

                                                                            Maybe I am confused, but if they all have the same daily rate then they would alll be on the same page???

                                                                              • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                                margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                                                Yes but when the traveler tried to book the one with additional fees would be more costly. What beartractsmatt is saying is if the fees were included in the sort order the property that truly had the lowest total cost should show first in the sort order. It is a valid point. As a traveler, I would be annoyed if I were to realize the sort is not inclusive of total cost.

                                                                                • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                                  ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                                                  The question is super simple... why don't the listings truly sort lowest to highest, meaning, if my final price is $1000.00 a week, and your final price is $1200.00, a lowest to highest price sort should mean MY listing is ALWAYS above your listing.   Sounds perfect, and perfectly simple.  It's the getting there that's complicated. 

                                                                                    • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                                      twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                                                      I Am not misunderstanding the concept at all.....and AGREE with everyone. I am just saying here....from a guest point of view, unless they can see the daily rate with all fees while searching THEY may be confused and think the algorithm is not working.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      In otherwords the daily rate would have to include all fees on the search page....can that be done? Who knows, but as it stands it may be confusing to a guest to see one property at $300.00 a night above a property that shows $250.00 a night. The existing page is the problem for that particular search tab.

                                                                                        • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                                          twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                                                          I will say this one final thing......HA does average our daily rental and show that.......so I am guessing they ”could” do what we are all talking about here. BUT, until they do it could be confusing just looking at the initial page for lower/higher.

                                                                                           

                                                                                           

                                                                                          • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                                            beartractsmatt Contributor

                                                                                            I get what you are saying.... the nightly says 70/night and then you click on the link and it says 117/night. that would indeed be confusing.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            With that said, the 70/night shouldnt even exist. the Total/Nights should reflect as the NIGHTLY RATE in all cases. If you need it for clarification have a clause that says "Nightly rate includes all fees and taxes" just below the quote on the list page.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            If there are no dates..... then yes, average the nightly....

                                                                                            Once dates are added.... clarify the total.

                                                                                            • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                                              ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                                                              twobitrentals, sorry, I was using the collective, "you", not YOU you....

                                                                                               

                                                                                              I've thought about this a bit more and I still come back to, in theory I get what the ultimate goal is, If I charge 20$ a night and have $120 in "admin fees" I'm actually gaming the system unfairly.  That's a problem.  But, and again, this is not directed at YOU, or anyone, this is just me thinking out loud... getting to the bottom line number is just messy.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Let's say you have a whole list of VR's to choose from.  The traveler sorts low to high, and no dates are put in, because they are just searching at this point. They're looking at St Petersburg, or maybe Miami, or who knows, maybe even Myrtle Beach.

                                                                                               

                                                                                              They get the daily rate for each, lowest to highest.  Great!  Except, Bob in VR #12 charges a pool heating fee.  That's a fee you would incur in January, but NOT in July.  You didn't put dates in, and Bob would be livid if VRBO programmed that fee to automatically load for EVERY search.  Jim in VRBO #13 doesn't have a pool heating fee, he doesn't even have a pool, but he does charge an extra person fee for more than 4 guests.  The traveler only clicked one person, not to circumvent the system of course, he/she's just doing a random search.  Grandma and Grandpa may or may not come.    And if grandma comes she'll want to bring her Yorkie, so there's that (pet fees, anyone?)

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Owners don't want their pet fees,or extra person fees or their pool heating fees to automatically be shown in the rate, because Bill and Susie Smith may not even be bringing grandma and grandpa and the yorkie, they may be staying in July and won't need the pool heated, etc.  What kind of code would VRBO have to write to possibly grasp whether those no dates specified actually want summer, or winter, 2 people or 10 people, and to decide FOR me the owner or Bob and Susie Smith the traveler whether or not the pool heating fee should be included in that final amount....etc etc.

                                                              • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                beartractsmatt Contributor

                                                                Maybe its just my 20 years of mortgage experience and delivering what I advertise that I am hung up on. Our compliance regulators would have a field day with this.

                                                                 

                                                                Twobit... that wont make a difference if I am showing up on page 3.

                                                                ashevillelookout.... just seems dishonest. Bait and switch.

                                                                Planthealth... I guess I am going to have to do this. It just sucks they can't make the price sort something the customer doesn't have to play games with.

                                                                  • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                    planthealth Active Contributor

                                                                    But our competition is not just on VRBO. So VRBO could try to equalize the playing field and among ITS LISTINGS, but we are competing against other owners and managers who have their own sites or list on VRBOs competitors. So if my cleaning fee gets lumped in with my nightly on VRBO, I will NEVER get any VRBO bookings because now my rates look higher than the direct books in the same condo complex!!!! Yet if you do the math, I set my total rate to be UNDER my competitors.

                                                                    So I do NOT want VRBO to change anything, my competition in my building is a mega PM, not other owners on VRBO.

                                                                      • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                        beartractsmatt Contributor

                                                                        But you dont see these other sites listings side by side with yours on the same platform. IE... if someone goes to VRBO to find a place they aren't seeing these other companies pricing. If they are doing the work to use multiple systems then at least I think they would be willing to look at the total.

                                                                         

                                                                        The reason this is different on VRBO is because it is misleading to the consumer. Could they open every quote until they find the right one? Yes, However, when you have 10 quotes that are all misleading... who is going to keep going believing there is an accurate quote that is better 2 pages back.

                                                                         

                                                                        They are thinking they are getting the best price by sorting by price.... and that isn't happening at all.

                                                                      • Re: Sorting "Price: Low to HIgh" very deceiving!
                                                                        twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                                        I Was a mortgage lender (had my own company for a period of time) for 30 years. I definitely hear what you are saying, but I think you are fighting an uphill battle with those that would deceive others?  Remember that guests are more and more informed these days and if they get burned once they are usually quick to do better research going forward. I always look at the bottom line before booking For those hidden fees.

                                                                         

                                                                        Most people that see $1.00 know that there is some catch. At least I would hope they would.