27 Replies Latest reply: Dec 12, 2018 5:57 PM by margaret RSS

    Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever

    swlinphx Premier Contributor

      With all the increased listings, inventory and vacation rental site competition in the market it has come to my attention that being on each site's special program is more important to stand out and get bookings than it ever has been.  Some are designations based on an entire account's overall performance, while others are on a listing-by-listing basis.  They are known by different names such as:

       

      HomeAway Group: "Premier Partner"

       

      TripAdvisor Group: "Certificate of Excellence"

       

      AirBnB: "Superhost" (and now the new "AirBnB Plus")

       

      Booking.com: "Preferred Partner Programme"

       

      How many of you are on each of these sites and are you on each one's program yet?  If not, do you notice your inquiries dropping without being on the program?

        • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
          twomoreyears Senior Contributor

          Unfortunately, I have to agree with you.  There are so many choices when a traveler shops in a region that they end up depending on the "pre-screening" that the website does with their programs.

           

          We're PP on HA and SH on Air, but nothing on TA and Booking, and we get zip (zilch, nada, nothing, zero...) from TA and Booking.  I think that is more because of the service fee being ridiculous on TA and the Booking clientele not being a match for our property more than not being in their "selected" programs, though.

           

          On Air, I don't see more bookings because of SH than when we were not SH - but it's all about the time of year and the pricing.  We are an expensive property, and we really only get Air bookings for the low season (summer/fall) and a few "fill" bookings.  We've been SH for about five months, but we aren't getting many bookings since Dec-April is high season - and prices are too high for Air shoppers.

            • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
              swlinphx Premier Contributor
              I think that is more because of the service fee being ridiculous on TA

              The service fee to the guests?  It's only 3% including processing fee to the owner/manager.  Well keep in mind there are people who don't know better or have money to burn or who are too unskilled or lazy to really shop around.  There are die-hard users of every site and you can get more if you work at it for the most part, but each site emphasizes different aspects and draws a different demographic.  AirBnB & Booking.com are much different than TripAdvisor or HomeAway.

            • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
              u0999 Premier Contributor

              HomeAway Group:  "Premier Partner"  yes

               

              TripAdvisor Group: "Certificate of Excellence" impossible to get. You have to have X number of bookings to qualify, there are NO bookings via TA due to their crazy fees. catch 22. I have not had a booking in months, 3 properties.

               

              AirBnB: "Superhost" (and now the new "AirBnB Plus")  Plus not offered in my area. I am SH.

               

              Booking.com: "Preferred Partner Programme" Not sure what it is. More cancellations than bookings. Not sure if i even will stay with them. 2 properties

                • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                  swlinphx Premier Contributor

                  TripAdvisor Group: "Certificate of Excellence" impossible to get. You have to have X number of bookings to qualify, there are NO bookings via TA due to their crazy fees. catch 22. I have not had a booking in months, 3 properties.

                  I just qualified again on all my properties a few weeks ago, so not impossible.  I had that Certificate before they revamped a few years ago (double then tripled their subscription rate, outsourced tech support, etc.).  They're still a popular site but the way it works now once you get a few pay-per-booking bookings under your belt with them the more bookings you will then get.  On the pay-per-booking plan they reward you and highlight you for making them money and being Certificate of Excellence, both.

                  Booking.com: "Preferred Partner Programme" Not sure what it is. More cancellations than bookings. Not sure if i even will stay with them. 2 properties

                  That is their incentive program.  They collect 18% vs. 15% and then you get much higher visibility.  Really helps.  But that is on a property-by-property basis, not on an account basis.

                   

                  Yes, cancellations are an issue there because with Booking.com too many travelers book multiple units as a sort of "bookmark", then cancel at any time before it's non-refundable, causing a lot of extra work for me.  It was ridiculous, but for some reason their international customers are used to doing this.  Now I only get serious inquiries because, after the 4-hour grace period, they better be sure or else they lose 10% no matter how far in advance.  This compensates me for my work drawing up invoices, charging card, drawing up contracts, updating calendars, databases and spreadsheets, etc.  But you should at least give them anywhere from 4 - 24 hours right after booking to cancel with no penalty in this case (AirBnB now requires you to give 48 hours grace period, as long as the reservation is more than two weeks away).  I don't process any Booking.com reservations until at least 4 hours after they book them.  Try making part non-refundable a few hours after booking and watch the cancellations drop way off.

                    • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                      u0999 Premier Contributor

                      some of the options you describe (re cancellation) are not available to "new" accounts. for example they do not allow non refundable setting if your account/property is new. So what you have at your disposal to discourage cancellations is not the same as what;'s made available to new listers.

                       

                      Another maddening "feature" to me is that they default to security deposit "collected by cash on arrival". And I cannot change it. I called. thing is, I do not live anywhere near my property, I do not meet an greet and I do not handle cash. So i have to explain to every prospect that sec dep will be by credit card 3 days prior to arrival.

                       

                      My life is much easier as far as contracts and cancellation as I am using ownerrez and they have channel integration with BDC. Still, I have only couple of bookings (so far) that seem to be "sticking' but their stay is in the future.

                        • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                          swlinphx Premier Contributor

                          some of the options you describe (re cancellation) are not available to "new" accounts. for example they do not allow non refundable setting if your account/property is new. So what you have at your disposal to discourage cancellations is not the same as what;'s made available to new listers.

                          While yes it is true new partners do not get as many choices Booking.com is flexible and has the most customizable features.   Even each of my properties doesn't always have the same options.  If there is something you would like that is not available to you simply call them (or call a couple times) to get someone who will add a feature or option for you if they know it is a deal-breaker.

                           

                          Another maddening "feature" to me is that they default to security deposit "collected by cash on arrival". And I cannot change it. I called. thing is, I do not live anywhere near my property, I do not meet an greet and I do not handle cash. So i have to explain to every prospect that sec dep will be by credit card 3 days prior to arrival.

                          Yes, I heard this too.  Mine has always been set to "damage deposit collected as security deposit up front when booking", but even I can't keep that.  Mine has been changed to "shortly before arrival".  Definitely call them and let them know that it is impossible to collect cash upon arrival for vacation rental homes, especially if they are self-check-in which ironically is something they encourage.

                            • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                              u0999 Premier Contributor

                              Thanks, I did call them re deposit and have been told that there is nothing they can do. Anyway, not the battle I am willing to fight as I only have 2 future stays via BDC (unless they cancel)m BDC is not high producer for my type of properties.

                                • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                  swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                  If you have no way to collect cash upon arrival they just basically said "tough luck"?  I mean, they'd rather not have you be a partner?  That doesn't seem right or something they'd say.

                                    • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                      u0999 Premier Contributor

                                      They told me basically "this is how it is". told me that I have to explain to the guest that I collect secdep by credit card rather than cash. So now I have to explain 2 things: 1) that pay in full due 60 days prior to arrival (whereas BDC ad says "don't pay anything now" - they changed settings not to allow new listers to collect until arrival) and 2) that secdep will be by CC prior to arrival. I use channel manager which they are fully aware of, and channel manager is set up to collect payment 60 days out ( I use my channel manager payments, not BC payments). But the have changed their set up shortly after I established my listing so basically now their ad contradicts to what will actually happen. And there is no way I will let anyone to check in without being paid in full upfront.

                                       

                                      Like I said I am not motivated to fight it out as i only got 2 bookings from BDC. and about dozen book/cancel scenarios.

                                       

                                      overall I would say that BDC is ill suited platform for standalone larger properties like mine where owner/manager is not on premises.

                          • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                            ohst8er Senior Contributor

                            The only listing site we are on is VRBO (and whatever VRBO filters us out to). 

                             

                            We are PP.  I don't think that PP has changed our inquiries or bookings at all. 

                             

                            We used to be on Air BnB, but only received one inquiry.  I got tired of them sending me emails telling me to drop my already low season, low rate, so I pulled my listing (I had my calendar so restricted that there wasn't much of a calendar for anyone to book).  Just as well, Air BnB is up to some shenanigans right now that would cause me to drop them like a hot potato anyway. 

                              • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                swlinphx Premier Contributor
                                We used to be on Air BnB, but only received one inquiry.  I got tired of them sending me emails telling me to drop my already low season, low rate, so I pulled my listing (I had my calendar so restricted that there wasn't much of a calendar for anyone to book).  Just as well, Air BnB is up to some shenanigans right now that would cause me to drop them like a hot potato anyway.

                                You can turn off any kind of notification like that.  You shouldn't be getting actual e-mails from them suggesting you drop your rates, although you may see those "tips" throughout their site (which I simply ignore).

                                 

                                I recently started investigating their current policies and operation and reacquainting myself with them all over again.  May I ask what specific "shenanigans" you are referring to?

                              • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                HA/VRBO-PP yes

                                ABB-SH yes

                                TA-CoE No I dropped TA

                                BDC-PPP No, I block most dates on BDC

                                • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                  ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                                  PP on HomeAway/VRBO.  Have dropped all others as there have been no rentals or inquiries in the last two years from other sites.

                                  • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                    planthealth Active Contributor

                                    I heard one "expert" wonder if Super Host status would cause their guests to have unreasonably high expectations of their property, especially if people do not read our listings.

                                    Anyone have a similar fear with PP or do you think guests view it as a quality badge not a promise of something we are not explicitly promising?

                                      • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                        sonenalpmammoth Active Contributor

                                        IMO, guests on HA/VRBO dont even notice the PP badge. There just isnt the community acceptance/recognition that there is of SH on Air-- probably bc its comapratively new.

                                         

                                        Quick aside: if you are a long time SH, Air actually sends gifts! And gives travel credits, too. So smart, and yet another way that they make hosts feel a sense of loyalty.

                                        • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                          u0999 Premier Contributor

                                          In  my observation PP has no meaningful impact on bookings whatsoever. As far as guests expectations - they are higher than ever before to the point of unrealistic. at the same time these guests tend to have very low quality in terms of following house rules and not leaving the house extremely dirty. I think it comes from OTAs cross-advertising to people who would otherwise be in hotels. i.e they implicitly expect room-service and daily maid service type of stay out of a VR which is not what happens. and of course they do  not read the house rules and then express displeasure about not having endless supply of soap or TP. also VRBo started to bring Airbnb-type of guests (messy, entitled, not reading directions and acting like rules do not apply to them).

                                           

                                          Fortunately, the share of my OTA bookings is slowly shrinking and direct bookings are growing.

                                          • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                            ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                                            I don't use ABB, but when I heard the term "Super Host", I assumed that this onsite, available 24/7 host is just that, a host...like a hotel manager or bed and breakfast owner.  So if I were to rent from a Super Host, I would expect 5 star service and friendliness during my stay!   I have since learned that a Super Host does not have to be the owner of the dwelling, does not have to live onsite sharing the dwelling, and may in fact a realty company.  Source:  A friend who has a condo in Puerto Rico that is listed on ABB by the local realtor who sold it to them and has Super Host status for the many properties she manages. 

                                          • Re: Vacation Rental Website Incentive Programs Now More Crucial Than Ever
                                            linkybo Contributor

                                            Yes! I'm PP and Super Host and just cancelled my airbnb plus inspection. I posted on another thread so won't go into it here, but if there's a program I feel like I have to be a part of it just in case it gives me a boost.