4 Replies Latest reply: Jan 3, 2019 11:29 AM by beartractsmatt RSS

    Price sort manipulation. How long has this been happening?

    beartractsmatt Contributor

      Hey everyone,

       

      I am curious if this has been a known issue for a while?

       

      I am new to this forum and have been managing my own properties for about 2 years. Recently I started managing for some smaller cabins in the Smokys for other people who just dont have the time or patience to do their own. I am doing it the right way licensed, purchased software that integrates and the whole 9. I am finding the market seems so saturated with 1-3 bedroom cabins that getting exposure is extremely difficult during the shoulder/off seasons. The VRBO/HA sort focuses on homes with a history and get the most views and highest likelihood of resulting in booking. At least that is what they have told me. Who knows how that algorithm actually works. However, it is their business so I can't exactly complain about that. Where I do find an issue is with the price sorting which many guest will use to make a decision. There are many owners and PM's that are manipulating this search and adding in a "additional guest" fee or some type of other management junk fee. This is not being factored into the nightly rate sort that is clouding the rate the guest is actually getting. Where one was listed for 90/night, and then a 30/night additional guest fee was tacked on making it 120/night. So although my cabin is priced better, it shows up further down the search results. In other cases, the total nightly is $265 for 3 nights. However there is an "admin fee" that is 60% of the nightly rate. all of this is in addition to the cleaning fee. While I understand that every business operates differently, and the need for the added guest fee, admin fee, and anything else a PM needs to charge... I also I feel like HA owes it to the guest to give them a transparent booking experience when they are using the filter sorts. In addition, they owe it to the owners to give us an even playing field on the customer sorting options. 

       

      I have gone onto other channels and they seem to have a more transparent amount listed for the guest. I am thinking that if this has been going on for a while, that HA has no intention of fixing it and I may need to look at other channel options. Just wanted to get some thoughts from the group.

       

      Thanks and I hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas today!

        • Re: Price sort manipulation. How long has this been happening?
          margaret CommunityAmbassador

          The rate shown doesn't include additional fees and hasn't ever included fees that I can remember. There was a PM years ago in my area who priced the nightly rate at $1 then added fees to make up the actual cost. Most listings include some fees such as cleaning, tax, etc. some owners offer a rate for a certain number of guests but then charge for each additional guest over that number, others may charge an admin fee if they self insure or whatever reason they may have, the list goes on. Once the guest tries to book they will see the full rate and can then decide if they want to continue to checkout.

            • Re: Price sort manipulation. How long has this been happening?
              beartractsmatt Contributor

              I dont disagree with your answer. I am just saying it doesn't seem fair to the guest to do a price sort and have companies manipulating it. I was on page 3 because I wasnt playing this game. So yes while a guest can open the ad and then decide, how many are going to go through 5-10 (yes it is more than this) manipulated bookings before giving up or choosing something that is misrepresented?

               

              Meanwhile, I added these same 3 properties to airbnb on friday (1 week ago) with higher rates, and I have 15 bookings.

               

              Just doesn't seem right to me to allow this or if you want to allow it at least make it more transparent by taking the total costs and dividing by nights to get a true "nightly" rate.

            • Re: Price sort manipulation. How long has this been happening?
              ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

              No, it is not fair to the guest and it is not fair to the owners either.  However, there is always someone who is going to game the system, and the 'gaming' has been going on for years, and has become more egregious with each 'control' that HA has put into place and with each change that they have made to their algorithms.