21 Replies Latest reply: Jan 15, 2019 4:39 PM by twobitrentals RSS

    The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."

    ohst8er Premier Contributor

      Ok, Houston, we have a problem.  In fact, a couple of them.  I just got an IB for September, called the person, and her first words were, "I thought you were on Tybee Island."   Now, if the person had read any of our copy, had clicked on the photos (remember, you cannot see the captions unless you click on the photos), they would have seen in atleast 3 places that we were on Hilton Head Island, not Tybee Island, but obviously they didn't.  So, there was a problem there, and you can lay part of the blame on the traveler.  BUT.......


      If you search Tybee Island, which is in Georgia, you get a whole list of Tybee Island rentals.   You also get a map on the right that shows ONLY Tybee Island, BUT... if you click on a few filters and make your search a bit more specific, the view widens.  See first screen shot...

      Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 8.22.51 PM.png

      That top island, with the yellow marker is HILTON HEAD.  It's in a "whole nuther" state from Tybee Island GA.  Yea, VRBO will give us the spiel about expanding the offerings, etc, whatever they want to say, but here's the REAL problem, spelled out in screen shots...


      Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 8.18.07 PM.png

      That's my listing.  See how it says we are "10.9 miles to Tybee Island Center."  That's not a bad drive, right?  Now, let's see what mapquest has to say about this...

      Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 8.18.31 PM.png

      Why the discrepancy?  Well, there's this pesky thing called water.  It seems it's IMPOSSIBLE to drive thru.  So, unless you are a crow, or flying a crow, or your own personal plane, you have THIS to contend with.   And in case anyone is wondering, there is no ferry. 


      Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 8.27.05 PM.png

      So needless to say, I had to have her initiate a cancellation.  That part seemed to go fine, but there was this little snippet...  "property manager?" We don't have no stinkin' property manager!  We have OWNERS...   homeaway_community_manager, Erinn, lots of issues here. 


      Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 8.11.16 PM.png

        • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
          twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

          I Would refund the guest since it is 9 months away and discuss your concerns with HA

          • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
            homeaway_community_manager HomeAway Employee

            Hi ohst8er,


            Thank you for the feedback, it has been shared with the appropriate teams. As always we appreciate your time and effort.



            HomeAway Community Manager

            • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
              susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

              I logged on to start a new post but your post ties in so well no need to start anew. In a perfect world, travelers would read at least most of listing and look at map for location of property. It's not a perfect world so we need to appeal to the masses.


              When someone searches for Rehoboth Beach,Delaware with various filters, they get listings from as far away as 20 miles, including into MD. No matter what filters the traveler uses or how much the owner/PM is being punished position wise, listings in the searched city/area should appear before those miles away.


              Old complaint but even more critical to change

              now that attention span is less and smartphone use is more.

                • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                  twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                  I Don’t necessarily agree with this. My little town is just 10 miles from the larger town of Springfield, MO and because it is a smaller town unless you are from the area I don’t believe that anyone would put in the specific name. Since I am between Springfield and Branson and most people fly into Springfield, even for Branson my location is desirable for both. I get inquiries that ask how far I am from (fill in the blank). I am happy to answer their questions, in fact just got one a couple of days ago about how far was I from the Airport. Sent them the information and never heard from the again.....so obviously they needed something closer.  I am guessing that they sent that inquiry question to many owners and then chose the one that worked best for them. Not only that some areas of Springfield are NOT safe neighborhoods. A friend called me this weekend that used to have a VR and she said that she is getting completely out of even the long-term rental business because there are so many issues with drugs, crime. So, my property might be a little further away from downtown Springfield (which is clearly marked on each listing) it might just be a much safer place to stay????

                    • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                      ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                      I think what most of us are unhappy about -- on behalf of the traveler -- is that if there is a body of water, or a mountain range, or some other significant geographic reason why a 10 mile circumference over a certain destination does not work, it should not be shown to the traveler until they CHOOSE to expand their search.


                      Coastal searches like the one the OP put forth is a very real problem, IMO, as are the searches that take place in my mountain community where the home that is 10 miles away as the crow flies could be a 1 hour drive from a desired amenity.

                        • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                          twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                          I See your point, truly I do, but if a guest is traveling to a location unfamiliar to the guest, isn’t it really on them to ask the important questions, like the inquiry I received a few days ago. It is unfortunate that the OP got an actual booking, but it sounds like the problem resolved itself quickly as it was for a September reservation. It was a hassle for sure for the owner, but it won’t be the only type of hassle we deal with. I still have so many that want over-capacity even though I clearly state no more than 6 guests at all times whether overnight or daily, not just in inquiries, but also in bookings.


                          Frustrating for sure, but not the end of the world and probably would happen (with some guests) even if the mapping was 100% accurate. 


                          Maybe there should be some kind of warning by HA for the locations you are talking about at the top of the area page??? Can’t hurt to bring it to HA attention for problematic areas.

                    • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                      feibus Senior Contributor

                      It's a programming issue with a good reason, so it'll be unlikely to get changed.


                      VRBO uses Google maps.  Google maps for business use (and Bing Maps for that matter) is charged based on certain activities: showing a map tile (an image of a square of the map), geocoding a location (changing an address to latitude/longitude), computing driving directions/distances.  These all have certain $$ associated with them.


                      VRBO geocodes all of our home addresses into latitude/longitude locations and they obviously show the traveler lots of map tiles.  The geocoding happens when you set your address in the listing; map tiles get retrieved and shown all the time.  Those two costs can't be gotten around.


                      Generating a list of all properties within a radius of a geocode?  That's a simple bit of trigonometry that happens in VRBO's computers (basically, calculating the distance between two points on a sphere).


                      Driving directions -- or computing travel distances between two points -- those would have to happen when it's time to select the locations to include in the query results and that computation takes time to complete (as well as generates a cost for each set of points).  So for the location selected by the traveler, it would have to figure out the driving time to every home within a certain radius.  That would get expensive in a hurry (both in actual $$ cost from Google, as well as the actual time spent waiting to get answers for up to 50 locations).


                      Because of that, the inexpensive answer is going to be called "good enough" and the issue won't go away.

                        • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                          ohst8er Premier Contributor

                          So perhaps the "workaround" to this problem is to get rid of the ridiculous "XX miles to city center."   Some locations (like mine) don't have an actual city center, and if we did, it certainly wouldn't be the Animal Control Center in the middle of nowhere. 


                          And certainly, it does NO ONE any good if they are told that a listing is XX miles to city center when it's just not true for whatever reason, in this instance, because the miles file under the heading "can't get there from here."


                          This traveler was befuddled. She was an older woman, and mentioned several times that she was definitely searching Tybee Island, and that my "listing kept coming up."    Now, considering I'm on an island physically positioned just 10 miles up the coast from where she wanted to be... considering she was driving from Alabama and really, what's a few more miles to get to my place...?   Considering that she thought my listing was beautiful, loved the reviews, etc, it's perfectly plausible that she could've had just as much fun, maybe more, at my place than Tybee Island (of course I've never been to Tybee, so I'm just assuming).. her reasoning for wanting Tybee Island was that her sister in law was 80 something and she wanted to be "closer" to Alabama..  I can huff and puff and eyeroll at her decision making process all I want but in the end it's HER DECISION.   I gently mentioned the proximity to her, she insisted she wanted Tybee, so I told her how to cancel, and she submitted her cxl.   That's all fine and good, and I move on with my life BUT....  this doesn't change the fact that a traveler was MISLEAD.  I am not saying that VRBO intentionally misled her, I'm saying that the process was incorrect and resulted in a traveler who had to start from square one in making their travel plans.  This benefits NO ONE. 

                            • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                              feibus Senior Contributor

                              Be happy, VRBO thinks a lot of your listing that it keeps bringing it up for other locations!


                              I think for 98% of locations in most countries, XX miles from "city center" (whatever that means when you search on a resort) is a decent bit of info.  Unfortunately, islands without direct roads and mountain towns are part of the other 2% and create headaches for travelers and owners.


                              For those not familiar with the southeastern coast, Tybee is not "close" to Alabama unless you're from somewhere that 200 miles is considered "close".  Sheesh.

                            • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                              u0999 Premier Contributor

                              Google is NOT the gospel of truth. Since HA went to this Google thing (vs having "advertising market"), about 2+ years ago, Google erroneously placed one of my cabins in "Pittman Center" . HA was telling me that they 'must" go by postal address. Well, my postal address is Sevierville , NOT Pittman Center.  I believe it STILL does that. What's the problem? problem is 1) my properties are not in Pittman Center 2) no tourist alive will ever search "Pittman center", they search "gatlinburg" when they search. Since my newest property is on the same street with one that had an issue, I am suspecting this is part of the problem why it is not being shown/found. heck, google maps are often wrong in the mountains showing roads that are not there etc.

                            • Re: The booking that wasn't, AKA "we thought you were on Tybee Island.."
                              calicalling Active Contributor

                              I went home to Hilton Head for Thanksgiving, and considered renting a place to avoid adding my 4 kids to the 6 grandkids who were already at my mom and dad's.


                              I looked for north end properties or even Bluffton. I could tell by looking at the list results that some of them were on Daufuskie (which I know is accessible only by boat or heli, because I used to live there), or in Savannah, but most were on South Forest or North Forest beach, a full 30 minute drive from my mom's.

                              So I went to map pin to locate the places that were closest. But because some owners don't use precise map pins, many of the map pins placed close to my mom's were 30 minutes away. Again, I only knew this because I'm from there and could recognize the complexes, even if the map pins weren't accurate and the description didn't give enough info to tell. (like a complex name or general area)

                              I'm fortunate to have lived where I was searching but how many guests don't have that luxury? Most, I think.

                              edited for clarity. ;-)