42 Replies Latest reply: Aug 1, 2019 3:09 PM by green_mango RSS

    Booking Deposit and HA Rates

    ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

      YEARS ago, when I first started in the VR business, I sat down with my accountant and lawyer to structure my operation.  To ensure that I met certain financial and legal obligations, it was determined that I would take a "Booking Deposit" of a certain dollar amount from each guest reservation.  Then, so many days prior to arrival, the guest would either pay the balance of their rental, or they would be refunded a portion of the booking deposit.  This has now been SOP for more than 15 years, and was clearly spelled out in my RA and in the Rates and Availability section of the HomeAway website.

       

      HomeAway now has a new rates editor.  I have been and waiting and waiting to have this change applied to my rental properties.  I flattened my rates, removed any weekly or monthly discounts, rolled in fees, and generally have a vanilla "Pay this amount per night" setup. Still no new rates editor.  My calendar is devoid of dollar amounts, and there are no rates tables available to my guests.

       

      I have since learned that because I take a deposit of a specific amount from my guests at booking, that I will NEVER have access to the new rates editor.  HomeAway's rates editor requires that the homeowner take a "percentage" at booking. 

       

      Some of you will say "So what is the big deal? Make the change."   My accountant and lawyer feel that I should not, and have provided what is IMO good tax advice and legal reasons for maintaining my financial practices as they are. 

       

      What to do?  How many other homeowners are in my position without the tools that we are paying for because they take a specific dollar amount booking deposit?

        • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
          calicalling Active Contributor

          Can you share what the specific reasons (specifically, what tax and legal reasons?) that your lawyer & CPA advise against a percentage? I'm curious, but also it's hard to answer your question about what to do without those details....

          • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
            u0999 Premier Contributor

            may I ask why do you need new rates editor? I am  happy with the old one  as I have same set up as you ( fixed deposit amount).

            And, if you use pricing tool like beyondPricing, the rates editor becomes altogether irrelevant as all edits and limits are set in beyondpricing, not in HA dashboard .

            I personally simply do not use HA "tools" whenever possible. they are just too little too late to the party and more of a gimmickry than useful.

            Sometimes the devil you know....

            • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
              floridarob Active Contributor

              I too am interested in the logic behind what must be a significant deposit of a flat amount. You clearly are in favor of this approach as recommended by your accountant and lawyer, but my questions are; why did they recommend this, and what benefits do you feel it provides you in your business? It certainly is an unusual approach.

               

              My challenge (well... actually one of many) with HomeAway's approach is that they don't allow me to charge the 20% booking deposit that I would prefer. Given that our own booking deposits are non-refundable, I think there would be resistance to what you are doing as paying such a high, flat amount, could potentially negatively impact on sales.

               

              I am also interested in knowing how you found out that your process will discount you from ever having the new rates editor. Where did this information come from?

               

              Can you enlighten us further?

                • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                  u0999 Premier Contributor

                  This may be anecdotal, but 2 out of 3 properties are on flat deposit amount and I do not have "new" rates editor (not that I want one anyway).

                   

                  Just like OP I have flat deposit amount ( $300 for smaller cabins, $500 for larger one) that is set that way intentionally and equal to the Damage deposit amount.  I have it same way across multiple platforms and my own site and I do not want to change it for every different platform. besides, i use ownerrez for rental agreement e-signing and having flat amount mentioned in the rental agreement is much easier than %tage because when signing rental agreement for HA or TA bookings, ownerrez may not "know" yet what the total was (since it is charged on another platform), hence cannot calculate the percentage. having %tage vs flat amount will increase manual work for me.

                  • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                    ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                    The amount of my deposit is not significant; $200.00 for smaller cabin, $500.00 for larger chalet.  This is the amount that would be refunded should a guest cancel under the provisions of my RA.  These amounts are, by the laws of my rental state, required to be placed in a separate non-interest bearing account with a bank in my rental state.  The funds are not to be disbursed (or used) until the rental period has passed.  The same holds true for my damage deposit that HA is now holding, but I digress.

                     

                    While these amounts are held and not disbursed, they are still considered income.  Their receipt would be reported on a 1099.  I pay taxes on them.  Should I refund a deposit, there is no subtraction of that amount from the 1099.  I also have to adjust the state and municipal tax reporting in the following month. By having an established deposit, I limit the amount of money that is "unavailable" for long periods.  I limit the amounts that would potentially be over-reported on my monthly municipality (not State or Federal) taxes.  These are just examples of what my legal and tax advisors told me.  Whether they hold true for you in your state and under your business plan is not germane to my question.

                     

                    I do not find the taking of a flat rate deposit an unusual approach.  While I am fine with the old rates editor, and may not ever use the tools that HomeAway offers, I do feel that eventually I will be denied the full service that I am paying HA for.  I am already not getting the ad exposure that I used to get because I refuse to allow "Instant Confirmation".  The rates tables are no longer available to my potential guests...what do they think when one rental calendar has dollars on it while mine has none?  Will the other rental "Win the Booking" because their rates are viewable?  You tell me.

                     

                    As to who told me that my dollar amount booking deposit was the reason I did not have the new rates editor, that would be our community manager.  She researched my issue with the appropriate department at HA and responded to me via email with that reason in writing.

                      • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                        floridarob Active Contributor

                         

                        The amount of my deposit is not significant; $200.00 for smaller cabin, $500.00 for larger chalet.  This is the amount that would be refunded should a guest cancel under the provisions of my RA.  These amounts are, by the laws of my rental state, required to be placed in a separate non-interest bearing account with a bank in my rental state.  The funds are not to be disbursed (or used) until the rental period has passed.  The same holds true for my damage deposit that HA is now holding, but I digress.

                         

                        While these amounts are held and not disbursed, they are still considered income.  Their receipt would be reported on a 1099.  I pay taxes on them.  Should I refund a deposit, there is no subtraction of that amount from the 1099.  I also have to adjust the state and municipal tax reporting in the following month.

                         

                         

                        You suggested that the guest could receive a refund from the deposit amount, suggesting that the deposit must be larger than the rental charges. I would think that $200 in total rental charges for ANY vacation rental booking would be surprisingly low, which is why I suggested that the deposit amount must be substantial. $500 IS more, but I agree, still not a large amount.

                         

                        The rest of my comments are a bit off topic, although they do respond to yours, however I don't mean to hijack the thread at all. i just find the circumstances giving rise to your points very interesting and hope you don't mind the discussion.

                         

                        You are of course correct that the accounting practices in your particular state are your own issue, but I do find them surprising. I understand that the deposit amount must be held separately and treated as trust funds, but I would think that doing so would, by definition, make them NOT revenue and not subject to any form of taxation. Often some latitude is provided by authorities as to when a sale must be recorded for sales tax purposes, and most jurisdictions don't care specifically when a sale is recorded as long as the choice is reasonable, and done consistently. I record my sales on the day of arrival, because that is the first day when I am actually providing chargeable services to the guest. Prior to that I have done nothing that I could reasonably charge a guest a fee for, so the arrival day it is. Some use the day of departure. I have never heard of a jurisdiction expecting or claiming sales tax on what is essentially a deposit on account where no service or product has been provided, and thus the sale has not yet occurred. Very interesting.

                        ashevillelookout wrote:

                         

                        By having an established deposit, I limit the amount of money that is "unavailable" for long periods.  I limit the amounts that would potentially be over-reported on my monthly municipality (not State or Federal) taxes.  These are just examples of what my legal and tax advisors told me.  Whether they hold true for you in your state and under your business plan is not germane to my question.

                         

                         

                        Are your municipality taxes income taxes or sales taxes? If they are sales taxes, why not charge taxes on the deposits and have the guest pay them? Then it doesn't matter what amount you are charging or what the impact of the size of the deposit is. You would simply collect and remit taxes on your deposits and not be out of pocket anything for any period of time. It they are income taxes, that's just weird and I feel for you.

                         

                        I would never presume to comment on your business operations based on my own local requirements. Accounting tends to be accounting, no matter where it is, and it is only in relation to accounting that I asked my questions.

                         

                        "Limiting the amount of money that is unavailable to you" is a confusing concept to me. If you charge a $500 deposit, you don't have access to $500 dollars until the whenever you get your next payment. If instead you could be charging a 20% deposit and that worked out to $1500 as an initial payment, what would the difference be? Not really anything (especially if you charged tax on the deposit if that is what your local municipality requires)... You wouldn't have access to any of the money until later in any event. It is either sitting in a trust account where you can't touch it, or the guest hasn't paid it to yet, and you can't touch it in that event either. So I don't really get the logic.

                         

                        If I had to report deposits received and treat them as income and remit sales tax on them, I would charge sales tax on the deposit. Is that not something you can do?

                         

                        ashevillelookout wrote:

                         

                        I do not find the taking of a flat rate deposit an unusual approach.

                        To be fair, I do agree. After I wrote my post it did occur to me that a lot of people charge a flat amount equal to their security/damage deposit and then convert it to that at time of booking. I just would not ever want to do that, as it would limit the size of the deposit holding larger chunks of dates off the market. In other words, I wouldn't want a 75 day booking being held for $500 dollars... too much risk. I would want a deposit around $2500 that ensures the guest is serious, and justifies me blocking 2.5 months on my calendar.

                         

                        With regard to calculating the deposit (as somebody else mentioned) it is no challenge at all. It is 2018 and my management software calculates and spits out the deposit amount. If the total changes or a guest adds a few options to the booking, who cares? The deposit that I have will still suffice, and there is no need to increase the size of the deposit by a small amount just because of minor changes to a reservation. The guest will just pay the new balance, whatever it is, when the time comes.

                         

                        ashevillelookout wrote:

                         

                        While I am fine with the old rates editor, and may not ever use the tools that HomeAway offers, I do feel that eventually I will be denied the full service that I am paying HA for.  I am already not getting the ad exposure that I used to get because I refuse to allow "Instant Confirmation".  The rates tables are no longer available to my potential guests...what do they think when one rental calendar has dollars on it while mine has none?  Will the other rental "Win the Booking" because their rates are viewable?  You tell me.

                         

                        Okay... here's what I can tell you.  I don't have the new rates editor either. I have seen something somewhere along the way that suggested that there was something about my rates which meant that I couldn't have the new rates editor "yet". But I have no idea what it is. There is nothing in all of the commentary that I have seen about the new editor which suggests that it wouldn't work for me, but still, I don't have it.  And I do not charge a flat deposit.

                         

                        So am I getting short changed, as you suggest, because my rates don't show in a calendar on my listing? There is NO rates and availability section on my listings anymore at all!  The information about bookings and rates and deposits that used to show up on my listing that are entered into my listing information are no longer being showed to guests, leading to all kinds of messes. No alternative or solution is being offered to me.

                         

                        Am I also being disadvantaged? I don't think so, but perhaps I am.  Certainly my property is once again dropping in rank because it is not being shown to guests anymore. The market rank numbers show this to be the case. Why is that? Because I don't have rates and a calendar showing?  I don't know. And unfortunately, I have no way of finding out.

                         

                        My point is, I am experiencing the same thing that you are, but I don't have a flat deposit. So is a flat deposit really the reason you are seeing what you are seeing?

                         

                        If so, what is the 'excuse' for my experience?

                         

                        ashevillelookout wrote:

                         

                        As to who told me that my dollar amount booking deposit was the reason I did not have the new rates editor, that would be our community manager.  She researched my issue with the appropriate department at HA and responded to me via email with that reason in writing.

                         

                        It's great that you could get such personalized service which would not be available to another owner who is not part of the forum, but not so great that you needed to go this route to get an answer. That shouldn't need to be the case. I wish I had faith that;

                        1) the information given to the community manager to report can be relied upon ( I don't think that 'the system' would be above giving her the same wrong information we are often given directly)

                        2) there isn't some other issue going on with the new rates editor that we're not being told about (Why hasn't it been rolled out to all owners by now? A year to introduce a new feature is ridiculous.)

                        3) the information you've been given is correct (Why haven't I received the new editor? How many 'problems' are there with it, and why weren't these all dealt with prior to introducing it?)

                        4) priority and resources are being responsibly allocated (There's been a recent change to the metrics page. Why bother when the new rates editor hasn't even been finished? Why bother when virtual tours were shot for properties but aren't being used for months, if ever?)

                         

                        I'm in the same boat as you, for now at least. But I have no information as to why. If I had any, I'm not sure how much I would trust it. Many things just aren't adding up. I do feel your pain.

                    • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                      hill5185 CommunityAmbassador

                      I'm not certain what the situation has to do with the rates editor function. Rates editor simply allows for setting and adjusting rates and creating revenue strategies.

                       

                      The most important thing is to keep payments within the market place and process bookings through the HA platform. When a quote or booking is generated the owner sets the amount of payments and has the option to edit the payment and set the "due" dates for future payments. The most critical function: the taxes and HA service fee and additional fees will be collected from the initial payment. The scenario you describe either completing payment or receiving a portioned refund would lead to a completed booking or a "refund" meaning "cancellation". You would still have the ability for the traveler to request the cancellation avoiding a metrics ding, but the traveler won't receive a refund of the service fee.

                       

                      Currently I do not have a "deposit" I collect in two payments unless a traveler requests other arrangements. Initial payment and balance due 60 days prior to arrival in accordance with my RA and refund policy. Seems you could set up the "escrow" account to take the initial payment and hold under your current system. Of course VRP won't split payments so all payments would be disbursed to the same deposit account and could be transferred as necessary.

                       

                      It all boils down to traveler and guest experience. HA is standardizing the marketplace and creating a seamless transaction benefiting conversion. HA is less concerned with the individual owners "way of doing" business. You are not wrong: if you want to play in the sand box and be successful it's mandatory to use the platform and comply. E commerce at its best. If you are going to advertise on HA you have to play by the rules.

                       

                      * I have a returning guest who wanted to book through HA for the "benefits" and purchasing trip insurance etc. Her payment requests fall outside the norm and it took some doing to meet her request. She requested to pay $600 now - I backed the amount out of the taxes and service fee to get as close to the $600 as possible. I will take a smaller disbursement (I'm ok knowing she is a wonderful guest with a two week booking) HA will receive their service fee (on the full amount) and I collected the necessary taxes (on the full amount). It will require more work to extend the payments editing and adding additional requests, but again I'm ok with it.

                       

                      Adapt and overcome - always working toward the goal.

                        • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                          ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                          I am NOT taking anything away from HomeAway, and I am playing by all of their rules that I can.  I advertise only on HomeAway/VRBO (since 2005) and book 100% through HomeAway and VRBO, with the exception of family and a few long term repeat guests.  Yes, I could diversify to other websites, but that is NOT the issue I am dealing with here.  I went into this business with detailed tax and legal advice.  Why would I ignore it when it has kept me in good financial shape for many years?  All for the sake of programming?  I want to work with HA.  I want the ability to use their tools to the fullest extent possible.  However, they changed the playing field and left me and countless others behind when they dumped the advertised rates tables and selected a rates editor that does not display on our listings due to PROGRAMMING.  AND NEVER told me why my flat rate deposit would PRECLUDE me from having the tools necessary for my business.

                           

                          It comes down to ADVERTISING. My rates are NOT being shown to my potential guests because the PROGRAMMING cannot handle a flat deposit.  I cannot use the tools on MarketMaker because I do not have the new rates editor.  What else am I going to lose in the future because of the new rates editor?

                           

                          New Rates Editor as displayed on a nearby competitor when you click on Rates and Availability on their ad.

                          newrateseditor.PNG

                           

                          The display for my property when you click on Availability on the webpage is like the one shown below. Can you guess what the nightly rate is?  Surprise!  Neither can the potential guest! 

                           

                          oldrateseditor.JPG

                            • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                              green_mango Active Contributor

                              Ack!  I see the same thing on my listing - no rates on my calendar....   while my competitors have rates on their calendar.  Looks like on my listing you have to enter specific dates to see the nightly rate.  Rates are listed by me in my listing description, despite HA requesting that I *not* do that because it wasn't in the right place.... that request was pre-new-rates-editor.

                              • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                hill5185 CommunityAmbassador

                                What does a "flat deposit" entail? The first payment regardless of what the owner wants to "receive" is going to include taxes and HA service fee. Do you process online payments via the HA system or do you only use alternative payments?

                                 

                                Not trying to be difficult. Perhaps your system established in 2005 should be reviewed and updated. It's not just HA who have changed their business practices. Unfortunately, the ever evolving VR landscape requires adapting and yes "changing".

                                 

                                HA is working to homogenize the booking process. Owners with complex rate structures and additional fees will continue to struggle to find a way to stay relevant within the market place. I don't have a comparison for success with or without the tools or current rates editor, but not having the ability to advertise rates is a high priority and definitely an objection for travelers who can not see clear and transparent rates.

                                 

                                It's not like HA hasn't been creating the funnel and the product teams have made the transition abundantly clear. As much as possible the goal is for every transaction to behave the same- "it's what travelers want" .

                                 

                                 

                                * the changes are not exclusive to HA - this change is occurring across the VR Industry.

                                  • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                    ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                                    The "flat deposit" is that I charge $200 to reserve the cabin.  HomeAway can add whatever fees, service fees, taxes etc. that they have to have to that amount.

                                     

                                    All bookings are on HomeAway.  I have been on HomeAway Payments with Yapstone since 2011. 

                                     

                                    I have adapted to MANY of the changes that HomeAway has forced on its customers over the years.  It is their business model, and I know that I can walk away.  Not every change that HomeAway has made has BENEFITED the people that they profess to PARTNER with, especially those that are due to Programming.  And before anyone says that programming drives the business, it does not.  Programmers can be just as lazy and damaging to your business as the indifferent housekeeper.

                                    • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                      green_mango Active Contributor

                                      I also do a flat deposit and it's *easier* for me - saying "owners with complex rate structures and additional fees will continue to struggle..." etc isn't helpful nor accurate.  There's nothing complex about it - $500 to reserve dates & balance due 30 days in advance.  I think it's more complex to charge a percentage and have to calculate a different deposit for every reservation. 

                                        • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                          hill5185 CommunityAmbassador

                                          This isn't only about HA it's about the industry standardizing. And I firmly believe from widely acknowledge information owners choosing not to comply will find it more and more difficult to conduct business "on the platforms".

                                           

                                          Isn't it as simple as manipulating the "first payment" ? The required taxes and service fee are collected at the same time - is that where the problem is?

                                           

                                          I'm honestly trying to understand - ashevillelookout "HomeAway can add whatever fees, service fees, taxes etc. that they have to have to that amount" The taxes (unless HA is collecting and remitting some or all taxes) disburse to the owner- so in theory a guest thinks they are going to process a "flat" $200 deposit to reserve and then have a different amount at check out?

                                           

                                          What does  "due to Programming" mean? And approximately how many owners take a "flat deposit" as the industry has grown new owners really don't have an option other than to succumb to the standard practices and certainly no alternative payments. I applaud your wise choice of consulting attorney and tax consultants, but 15 years is a long time and many aspects of vacation rental have changed.

                                           

                                          Clearly this is complicated - I just don't see HA reverting to "old methods" or making sweeping concessions so I attempt to stay educated  and use the system to the best advantage. If somethings not working it's up to me to figure it out.

                                           

                                           

                                          Edited

                                          *when key HA employees stand on stage at a Summit in front of hundreds of "partners" and delivers the information - I tend to take them for their word. Standardization is a key initiative.

                                            • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                              u0999 Premier Contributor

                                              In some areas taxes are due when money is earned (i.e when reservation becomes  non refundable). which means that is usually when the balance payment takes place and past the point of being refundable. NOT upfront when deposit is paid.

                                              So if my cancellation policy is 60 days, and renter books 6 months out (and that is when HA is trying to collect tax from them), it is technically NOT correct because renter can still cancel for full refund say 3 mos prior to stay. I have not earned the money at that point (and taxes should not be due).

                                              I don't care about "industry standardization" if it is not in compliance with tax laws.

                                                • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                  hill5185 CommunityAmbassador

                                                  Taxes vary widely depending on state, municipality and country. I imagine it would depend on location and requirements by taxing authorities and general accepted accounting practices.

                                                   

                                                  Cash basis  accounting  or accrual ? It's why it's important to operate with professional accounting help. What tax laws are considered compliant? Some municipalities and jurisdictions collect  tax based on cash revenue. I'm sure many owners don't consider the money revenue until the time of the stay- is that proper accounting? I'm not an accountant. I think it would be a challenge to find consistent tax requirements for over a 1.5 million properties throughout the world.

                                                   

                                                  I digress it's not the standardization I'm referring too. I'm referring to the transaction process being consistently the same for the traveler - posted rates, fees, etc.. When someone instant books - and an owner goes back and adds or changes the price they "booked" it's an unsatisfactory traveler experience. HA is all about traveler experience.

                                                   

                                                  For those using a "deposit" method for securing reservations how will rates editor benefit or harm your way of doing business?

                                                   

                                                  *not directed at anyone person just a general statement.

                                                • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                  ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                                                  I am at a loss as to understanding your comments and your thought process.

                                                   

                                                  It is so simple.  Because I charge a $200 booking deposit,  HomeAway will NOT display my rates on my calendar or put me on the new rates editor.

                                                   

                                                  Congratulations on your obfuscation of my topic.

                                                    • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                      hill5185 CommunityAmbassador

                                                      It's your topic carry on, but I still don't understand why you can't manage the first payment to collect your deposit and handle the taxes and HA service fee. What is exactly you are wanting HA to do?

                                                       

                                                      Your rates don't display because you don't have rates editor?

                                                      You are or are not willing to change how you approach your rates and how you advertise fees?

                                                      How do you manage initial payment (your flat fee deposit)  now?

                                                       

                                                      These all seem like reasonable questions to understand the situation- you have not answered any questions - is the answer HA changing their policy to accommodate the request?

                                                        • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                          green_mango Active Contributor

                                                          My first payment is $500.  The service fee to VRBO is on top of that.  The taxes are part of the whole reservation amount, which the $500 is deducted from.  I think all we would like is for HA to show our nightly rates, just as they show anyone else's nightly rates - why would showing the nightly rates be effected by whether or not we take a percentage up front or a flat fee?  How does that make a difference?  I'm just scratching my head trying to figure it out.  I don't see anyone asking HA to change their policy to accommodate the request - as we've been able to have payments set up in this manner for years.  So I think the question is why can't we continue to do it? 

                                                          • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                            ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                                                            Q.   Your rates don't display because you don't have rates editor?

                                                             

                                                            CORRECT.  I do not have the new rates editor. The only time that a potential guest will see my rates is when they enter their dates and get a quote.  They do not see dollar amounts when reviewing the availability calendar.  There is no rates table to reference for day of week or seasonal differences because HomeAway has removed this feature.


                                                            oldrateseditor.JPG

                                                             

                                                            Q.  You are or are not willing to change how you approach your rates and how you advertise fees?

                                                             

                                                            I am not sure what you mean by approach my rates.  I have flattened my rate to $160.00 per night.  I charge a cleaning fee and 13% taxes.  No damage deposit, no more seasonal rate changes, no more different weeknight dollars, no discounts for longer stays, no more number of people changes, no more event pricing.  This was all done in an attempt to get HomeAway to apply the new rates editor to my account.


                                                            This is what my guest should see:


                                                            payout.jpg

                                                             

                                                            Q.  How do you manage initial payment (your flat fee deposit) now?

                                                             

                                                            As snipped from my dashboard: 

                                                             

                                                            howpaid.jpg

                                                             

                                                             



                                                              • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                feibus Senior Contributor

                                                                Ok, the odd thing here isn't that your rates aren't visible on the calendar -- that's a function of not yet getting the rates editor, which my understanding is that it's still not entirely rolled out to everyone -- but that they're offering you a way to accept a fixed first payment and then telling you that's going to keep you from getting the new rates editor at all.  That doesn't make a lot of sense.  The way the payments are split shouldn't have anything to do with whether you can use nightly rates or seasonal rates... it's a separate function.

                                                                 

                                                                homeaway_community_manager can you clarify this?

                                                                • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                  u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                                  I wish they reconsidered the %tage 1st payment vs flat amount 1st payment. I do not understand what harm it is in having flat amount 1st payment. I want mine flat. I really don't care about old/new editors as I basically use them very little. But all of my communications and rental agreement specify flat deposit amount. Since HA does not give us built in e-sign capability for rental agreement, I use 3rd party tool, and right now it is automated. having percentage vs  flat amount does not allow me to automate rental agreements as I would have to edit every single one to specify deposit amount.

                                                                  tripadvisor does that, so I just simply turned off split payments ( everything due upfront)  - but that is moot point as I get maybe one booking a year form Triapdvisor.

                                                                   

                                                                  I have no idea what HA is gaining by insisting in 1st payment being a percentage vs flat amount. but they are creating a headache for this owner.

                                                                    • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                      hill5185 CommunityAmbassador

                                                                      If you create a specific rental agreement for each stay - what's the difference in editing the "rental amount" or "payment schedule?

                                                                       

                                                                      It takes minutes to edit the document to include the contact information, names and ages of guests, rental dates, and payment amount plus taxes and fees. I also record verification of pet documents and valid photo id - . The attorney we purchased from made it very clear to create a specific document for each stay.

                                                                       

                                                                      Definitely would like for HA to get off the docu sign fence, but thankfully for now the attachment feature is still functioning.

                                                                       

                                                                      After reading through the thread again- it's clear some owners want to keep the tried and tested systems in place. When the rubber meets the pavement this stance is becoming more difficult to defend and the machines of the VR industry will enact and force change. When does the cost of defense interrupt bookings and the bottomline- where is the tipping point?

                                                                        • Re: Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                          u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                                          I do not. There is a variable set per property, i.e smaller properties specify flat {PXDEPOSIT} = $300 deposit in agreement, larger property specifies {PXDEPOSIT} = $500 flat deposit amount. That is set up in a tool. when HA forces %tage 1st payment, I would have to edit every single rental agreement as every time deposit would be different. Machines of industry.. whatever. I do not see any true need to do a percentage 1st payment. This is not an industry requirement but rather some sort of trend that they seem to follow without any apparent reason. Just like Tripadvior shot itself in the foot by doing this (and now sending me surveys asking why do I require full payment upfront - well because I do not want to deal with their percentage shenanigans), I will end up doing the same with VRBO.

                                                                          here is an example of my response to inquiry email  also generated by tool and goes out to Tripadvisor and  VRBO  inquirers.  this will not be possible if the 1st payment is percentage (i.e unknown at time of sending).

                                                                           

                                                                          Hi {IGFIRST},

                                                                          Thank you for considering {PNAME} for your vacation.

                                                                          The dates you are inquiring about {IARR} - {IDEP} are available. Please see information about renting our cabin:

                                                                          ~ {PNAME} is a private vacation home, rented out by owners (not a management company or an agent).

                                                                          ~ NO smoking ~ NO pets (no exceptions!) ~ NO house parties ~ NO bachelor / bachelorette parties ~ NO student / school / chaperoned groups.

                                                                          ~ Must be at least 25 years of age to rent, and be present during the entire stay; No third party rentals. Minors under 18 can only stay with parent, legal guardian or responsible adult, and must never be left at the property unsupervised.

                                                                          ~ No occupancy above {PXOLIMIT} persons (which includes all children ages 0 and up), with maximum {PXMAXADULTS} adults (over 14 years of age). We price per property per stay, quoted rate is the same whether one guest is staying or {PXOLIMIT}, but we do not permit over limit occupancy. If you have more than {PXOLIMIT} people in your party, ask us if we can suggest another cabin to better accommodate your party size.

                                                                          ~ Property is not reserved in your name until deposit (or full balance) is paid and booking is accepted. Availability is real-time and may change after this email is sent.

                                                                          ~ Rental Agreement signed by primary Guest and valid photo ID are required if you decide to book. If the required is not returned to Owner within 72 hours from booking acceptance, we reserve the right to cancel your booking and issue a refund of any amounts paid.

                                                                          ~ If you are booking more than 30 days in advance of your check in date, you will need to pay {PXDEPOSIT} Rental deposit plus site fee (if applicable). The balance will be due 30 days prior to check in.

                                                                          ~ If you are booking 30 days or less prior to your check in date, the full balance (rental amount plus {PXDEPOSIT} Rental deposit) is due immediately (payment by credit card may be required).

                                                                          ~ 60 day cancellation policy (full refund if reservation cancelled by renter 60 or more days before the scheduled check-in).

                                                                          ~ We recommend obtaining Trip Cancellation insurance for your trip if your stay is during winter months, or if you are concerned about possible Cancellation.

                                                                          ~ The exact address, driving directions and check in instructions will be provided after balance is paid and few days prior to check in.

                                                                          ~ Deposit will released/refunded within 2 weeks after check out provided there are not damages, Agreement violations, and no  excessive cleaning required. It may released be sooner depending on satisfactory post-departure inspection.

                                                                          ~ Check in is {PCHECKIN} ET and check out is {PCHECKOUT} ET unless pre-arranged otherwise with the Owner IN ADVANCE. Late check outs may be subject to docking of the deposit.

                                                                          ~ Owners reserve the right to install and operate security/image capture devices on the property outside of the cabin for the express purpose of securing the property, driveway, entryway, parking, dwelling and its contents and ensuring adherence to occupancy limits.

                                                                          ~ WIFI is available via satellite service (connection speed and availability is not guaranteed).

                                                                          ~ Our cabin has front and yard with firepit.

                                                                          ~ All roads leading to the cabin are paved.

                                                                           

                                                                           

                                                                          Regards,

                                                                          Victoria and Todd

                                                                          • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                            green_mango Active Contributor

                                                                            I create a specific rental agreement for each stay and the difference would be changing the Reservation Payment amount in two places - not a huge deal, considering all the other customizing I do, but I really just prefer the simplicity of $500 down + balance due.  When I look back to review payments, it's really helpful for me to see $500 as then I know it's the 1st payment and can easily differentiate it from the 2nd payment.  It's just simpler - the same 1st payment for all reservations - makes my accounting easier. 

                                                                             

                                                                            Why does the VR industry care so much about 50% down versus a flat payment?

                                                                             

                                                                            At the very least, it would have been nice to have a head's up from VRBO about the rates not being displayed on our calendars if we have a flat 1st payment instead of a percentage - there's no rhyme or reason why it would have any impact.  Especially frustrating after being asked by VRBO to remove my rates summary from description.  Nonsensical. 

                                                                    • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                      hawaiiparadise Contributor

                                                                          

                                                                  • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                    pedrito New Member

                                                                    Late to the party here but I agree with you.  Since 2002 (on VRBO), I've used a flat first payment.  For MY business model, it makes the math easier and helps me monitor things.  Now my accounting is full of all the random numbers generated by percentages and I have to work 3x as hard to make sure I have everything right.

                                                                     

                                                                    I play by VRBO/HA rules even when it messes up MY business model.  I don't know what would be so difficult fir the "programmers" to add a flat first payment amount as one of the options.

                                                                     

                                                                    I was on the old rates editor and got moved (forced).  I knew it was coming but I still don't like it.  Not that VRBO cares.....

                                                                      • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                        green_mango Active Contributor

                                                                        In the 9 months since I posted here, I've adjusted and now do 50% down and 50% balance due 30/60 days ahead.  It ended up working out better for my longer bigger money bookings to have to pay more up front so they'd have more skin in the game in case of cancelling.

                                                              • Re: Booking Deposit and HA Rates
                                                                green_mango Active Contributor

                                                                Thanks for sharing - I also require a flat deposit ($500) that is non-refundable (ahem, "Reservation Payment" since deposits are by definition refundable).  I hadn't realized that this was a reason I don't have the new rates editor (I thought it was because I'm on alternative payments).  Honestly, I like the old rates editor though so I am happy to stay.  Just want to add that I totally understand why you prefer a fixed amount for the 1st payment versus a percentage. 

                                                                 

                                                                Personally, it just makes the math easier for me