16 Replies Latest reply: Nov 18, 2019 4:34 PM by scottr RSS

    Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!

    u0999 Premier Contributor

      We all read in horror about recent Orinda “Airbnb” tragedy. Although I use Airbnb for a small portion of my bookings, it is my least favorite platform precisely because of its “culture”. Some may have found it cool and refreshing (sharing you home or renting your couch out to strangers), I found it strange, at the very least.  Since the platform started as house sharing venture, it created certain type of clientele, often with vastly different behaviors and expectations than those that traditional vacation rental home owners are used to and expect.


      As it became a marketing powerhouse and encroached into traditional whole home rentals territory, at the same time as Vrbo presence started to dwindle, many owners listed there.


      The platform that MAYBE (and it is a huge big MAYBE) worked for shared homes with host present( initially)  no longer works.

      There are so many loopholes in airbnb’s “policy” that unscrupulous, bad and downright criminal guests learned to exploit them. There is “advice” on forums on how to circumvent cancellation policies and get money back. What used to go on in no-tell motels (drug dealers, “escorts” running their business, etc) shifted to “Airbnbs” because of Airbnb’s policy of guest anonymity (on which Airbnb doubled down last year, removing even guest photos prior to booking) and pressuring hosts into blindly accepting Instant Bookings. In its misguided quest for political correctness (or, rather, more money masquerading as PC) Airbnb exposed hosts, property and communities at large to wild parties, drug offenses, prostitution and now - big tragedies like that in Orinda.


      Vrbo has been on the path of blindly copying Airbnb’s model of anonymity and pressuring owners into Instant Bookings (whether explicitly suggesting it or implicitly, by making non-IB properties non findable), guest non-verification for some time.  It is only a sheer LUCK and frankly, a miracle, that Orinda event happened in an “Airbnb” and not in a “verboh”.  Luck because many bad, partying, rule breaking and criminal guests have not, en masse, realized yet that Vrbo is now a copy of Airbnb in terms of policies and have not (yet) shifted their partying and criminal activities to “verboh”s.


      The only thin layer of protection remaining from impending disasters is that Vrbo still takes damage deposits (but already testing waters about removing those and urging owners to do so).


      If I were you, Vrbo, I’d be going to Chesky’s twitter feed and looking at the feedback. It is almost universal outrage about his barking up the wrong tree and doubling down on blaming hosts (owners) for the tragedy brought on by Airbnb’s policies helping guests deceive the host.


      If I were you Vrbo, I would be quietly reversing the course before it is too late, and before YOU became front page tragic news labeled with your newly minted “verbooooh” moniker.  


      “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” -
      Otto von Bismarck

      Question is, Vrbo, whether you will choose to wise up now.

        • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
          floridagirl19 Contributor

          Well said u0999

          I noticed that as well - that Airbnb was promising to "crack down on party houses" as if the hosts are inviting this kind of thing!  No host in their right mind is going to invite 100 rowdy people to trash their house in a party.  The party THROWER makes a lot of money on these by charging an entrance fee. I might add that the scumbag who throws the "mansion party" likely makes more money than the actual owner of the house!  


          The only way this is going to be stopped is by making it cost MORE money for these scumbags to abuse Airbnb (or VRBO) rented homes by throwing them in jail (won't happen in California tho) or taking them to court, than they can make on the party.  Screening guests better is not necessarily going to fix it either.  The abusers will just find someone with no Airbnb "history" to rent the house on their behalf.  If you can go after these people who rent the house - likely NOT the scumbag party thrower - it might have a chilling effect on future "mansion party" scumbags.


          At the root of it - is a a breach of contract between the guest and the host and there needs to be more consequences than simply banning the guest (which I think Airbnb is reluctant to do for any reason) or slapping the abusive guest on the wrist.


          Personally, I would be hesitant about any guest who has JUST created their Airbnb profile in the last month - that may indicate nefarious intentions - not always - but it might be a red flag to alert to investigate further. 


          Most of these "mansion parties" seem to happen in places like California, Atlanta, New York - having a place in a remote location probably makes you less of a target than in a densely populated area.   Does this sort of thing happen in other countries too?

          • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
            wildiris Senior Contributor

            Well said, u0999.  But, will Vrbo management listen?  No, they will not.

            • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
              bobbie32 Premier Contributor

              Very well said, but I doubt if they (VRBO) will listen or care.


              At least ABB left the discussion on their community forum for all to see and comment.  It now has over 500 comments and growing.  That would probably not be allowed on this forum.  Sad...


              I lived in Orinda for 20+ years and I sincerely care about what happened there.  I even wrote a letter to the Mayor expressing my opinion of the booking system on these OTAs.  I will be following this very closely even though we are getting out of the STR business, hopefully sooner than later. 



              • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
                casitacynthiasantafe Contributor

                Well, said, u0999. Thanks for stating this all so clearly. Alas, I fear that no one in the company cares about its long-term prospects, only about short-term profits.

                • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
                  bonesxxx Active Contributor

                  Very well put.


                  I think it’s too late. Expedia is a corporation and we are clinging to some idea that it will behave like a person... it will not. This is no different than legitimate sellers griping to eBay about people selling counterfeit merch. EBay will give lip service and nothing more. They don’t care. They get paid on the transactions - legitimate and counterfeit alike. In the end they only pretend to care.

                    • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
                      u0999 Premier Contributor

                      they will somewhat care if they are front page news in unfavorable light

                      • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
                        floridagirl19 Contributor

                        I used to buy things on Ebay but once the counterfeit sellers flooded it I stopped trusting the products I might buy there.  The same thing is happening now with Amazon - there are a lot more counterfeit products being sold on Amazon so I no longer buy health or beauty products on Amazon. Read the reviews before you buy things like that on Amazon and make sure there are not people saying the product is a knock-off. I have also purchased products that appeared to be full size and the price was full size but they were sample size!  It's very hard to keep purchasing from the same seller on Amazon. Amazon blends all the Prime sellers together when it is Amazon fulfillment. Amazon fulfillment does not guarantee that the product is authentic.


                        The authenticity is not as important for many things but for anything I put on my body or eat - I will not take the chance.  If Amazon does not figure out how to instill trust in their products - they will go the way of Ebay and eventually die...   Same for ANY business - if the customer loses TRUST you have lost the customer completely

                      • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
                        bobcat999 New Member

                        BEWARE - of These guests that move in and will not leave unless forcibly removed and will damage your property. These particular guests have done this to at least 3 owners so far - and were just recently removed again by a sheriff. It took 4 days for VRBO to get back to me about this and was not helpful about warning and protecting other owners.

                        • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
                          bobcat999 New Member

                          This is so true and here we presented VRBO with guests involved in illegal activity in the grass valley area. They will move in and then not leave and have to be forcibly removed - even by a sheriff.

                          So far at least three owners and quite a few local grass valley business people have been taken advantage of by these people! VRBO "resolution team" sounded like they could care less and even took 4 days to call back. These "guests" are still on the platform and trying to book properties and it is over a week after I have tried to warn VRBO and get them to do something.

                          • Re: Tick-tock. Tick-tock. You can be next!
                            margaret CommunityAmbassador

                            Well said, ABB thinks they reinvented the wheel when in fact they broke the wheel. Vrbo is blindly following ABB down this very dangerous path.