22 Replies Latest reply: Dec 10, 2019 11:44 AM by martyp RSS

    My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo

    scowol Active Contributor

      While I prefer to give during the holidays, I decided to reflect on my list of wishes from Vrbo. So I thought I’d consolidate all my wishes.  Maybe one of these may appear in our stockings?

       

      1. Allow owners greater flexibility to set a refund policy that fits their marketplace needs better; e.g., 90 days, 120 days, etc.
      2. Increase the minimum number of days out to allow an Instant Booking beyond just 5 days (I cannot accept a booking that is fewer than 7 days out)
      3. Allow owners to set a tax exempt booking when the booking is for XX or more consecutive nights (I have to process a messy refund for the tax when I have a monthly booking that is made via Instant Booking, and it’s illegal to collect tax)
      4. Allow owners to set a variable fee amount to accommodate fees that are not the same price year-round; e.g., the true cost to heat the pool during December is $55/day in natural gas, but only $20/day in April. I won’t gouge my guests.
      5. Allow owners to set an Optional fee that the traveler can choose (like the pet fee) to accommodate owners with services that are optional for guests; e.g., pool heating, parking pass
      6. Expand the list of fees that reflect common actual fees; e.g., “Pool” is a fee name.  My pool is always free, but heating it is not.  But there is no fee titled “Pool Heating.”
      7. Allow owners to set a maximum number of nights (not just the minimum) that a traveler can book for certain dates on the rates calendar.
      8. Expand the list of additional payment reasons that make sense for common situations; e.g., “Additional Nights” “Pool Heating Fee”, etc.
      9. When my metrics are #1 in every category, yet my ranking is low, provide additional information as to why XXX properties are ranking above me.
      10. Allow owners to put a watermark on their photos that says “Vrbo” to help prevent Craigslist fraud
      11. Let owners program correct answers to the AI (artificial intelligence) chat bot answers
      12. Display the credit card fee on the *new* Vrbo payments dispersal emails (it’s a tax deductible expense on my 1040 Schedule E)
      13. Allow owners to claim damage after the 2-way review process is closed to prevent retaliatory reviews from travelers, or suppress bad traveler reviews in cases where an owner withheld damage.
      14. Don’t limit owners to only 3 public house rules, and increase the number of characters we can write for each rule
      15. Enhance the method to demonstrate that the traveler has read the house rules; e.g., display each one as a pop-up that the traveler has to click “I Understand this rule” for each rule.
      16. Bring back the actual review that the traveler wrote vs. just saying that the traveler has written X reviews (that’s utterly useless data)
      17. Apply a weighted average to normalize sort-ranking reviews to address a common situation where a property that has 100 reviews and a 4.99% average (due to 2 four-star review) ranks lower compared to a new property listing that has only 1 single review that is five-stars.
      18. Have a separate team do a logical gut-check of potential disastrous ramifications before an A/B test is conducted; e.g., the A/B test to rotate the thumbnail pic displayed many bathrooms (with the toilet) as the primary pic in the listing page.
      19. Allow owners to give a useful traveler rating that is direct and to the point; e.g., "Yes, I would allow this guest to book my property again." or "No, I would not allow this guest to book my property again."  Then provide a free-text area that allows the owner to explain. 
      20. Every owner will eventually come across one rotten apple guest.  Give owners one free "get out of Metrics jail" pass per year when they need to cancel/decline a truly bad traveler.  The current process to request a metrics exception is a hope and a prayer method.

       

      Thanks for listening!

        • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
          ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

          Happy Holidays to you -- what a wonderful, well thought out comprehensive list! 

          • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
            bonesxxx Active Contributor

            Five Stars from me.

             

            I think we could all contribute an item or two if we tried but you nailed the high 20

             

            I'll start with:

             

            21. Fix the app so that replies for simple inquiries default to replies in kind -- NOT pre-approvals to book.  I know you can stop this from happening (if you are skilled, technologically savvy, and know that it's going to happen if you don't short-circuit it [having been stung before], etc.) but a potential inquiry such as, "can I throw a party at your house and bring my 19 pit bulls?" should not receive "No" + a "You are pre-approved to book" message... EVER.

            • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
              feibus Senior Contributor

              #12: are you sure you can't get that from the financial "reports" or payments downloads?

               

              #14: when they were being created, I seem to recall someone mentioning they were restricted because they wanted it short for mobile, since they were getting a lot of traction on mobile.  I go through this a lot with my own development and sometimes you just have to compromise for the phone's tiny dimensions.

               

              I'm all in on the rest of the list, especially 16, 18, 19.

                • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                  scowol Active Contributor

                   

                  #12: are you sure you can't get that from the financial "reports" or payments downloads?

                   

                  Thanks, feibus  I am currently doing what you suggested, yet it is a clunky method to obtain the fee amount.  But Yapstone's emails provide the full payment amount, the fee, and the dispersed amount to the owner.  So this is a step backwards, and the "new" HomeAway Payments emails are essentially useless.  Thus I wanted to put this on my wish list.

                    • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                      feibus Senior Contributor

                      I find they're only good as a notice about what's being put in my bank account, not necessarily the full transaction details.  For those, I pick apart the transaction at the time it happens and get the numbers into quickbooks (and into the rental agreement, where the numbers are slightly different because HA collects the state tax, but not the county tax).

                  • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                    mauimakani Contributor

                    Great list...

                     

                    Adding onto 19, why not allow one Owner to be able to message another Owner for a Guest rating of 3 or under.

                      • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                        martyp Contributor

                        Allow Owner to Owner contact PERIOD.

                         

                        We, the owners, are in a community with shared interests and concerns. We NEED to be able to communicate.

                         

                        My county enacted a severly restrictive Short Term Rental Ordinance.  One of our problems was not being able to communicate and notify and unify other owners.  The ordinance passed, many where forced out of short term rentals, and adding new rentals is almost impossible.  I am the only home in my subdivision that was grandfathered.  The subdivisions on each side of mine have ZERO vacation rentals.  When I sell, my grandfather can not be passed on to the buyer and there will be NO vacation rentals in my subdivision.

                         

                        VRBO does not care about OWNERS ... as a mater of fact, the "O" in Vrbo no longer means "Owner".

                          • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                            mauimakani Contributor

                            I completely agree, there should be some method to speak with other Owners.

                             

                            Vrbo is merely interested in collecting their listing and service fees. They allow illegal listings and shrug them off when brought to their attention. I don't think ordinances are a negative thing. Vrbo doesn't care whether a vacation rentals are legal or illegal, they gladly collect the listing fee and state that an Owner has to know their local laws.

                              • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                martyp Contributor

                                An ordinance can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing.  Often times it is created to be severely restrictive and a bad thing. If you do a search of "short term rental ordinance" you will see a multitude of them severely restricting the rentals.  Many of them limit the short term rental only if the owner also resides on the property.

                                 

                                In my case the ordinance was created to shut down the Vacation Rental business.  If they outlawed Short term rentals, they would have lost in the courts. They used zoning laws and created "overlay districts" to acheive their goals without actually outlawing short term rentals.  Each subdivision is considered a zoning overlay district. Short term rental is allowed in each "overlay district" IF 60% of the home owners approve short term rentals.  Read that closely ... not 60% of voters; 60% of OWNERS.  You can't even get 60% of owners to VOTE, let alone vote in favor.

                                 

                                Before the ordinance was passed, short term rental owners asked the county if a short term rental needed to pay county  "Hotel" tax; the county told them, "No".  Days before the ordinance was voted, the county added a clause that would grandfather those short term rentals who had paid the hotel tax (and were not delinquent for the prior 12 months).  The reason was because the county attorney told the county board that they would lose if they had accepted the hotel tax rather than sending the checks back to the short term rental owners.

                                 

                                I was on vacation at the time when I got notice of the proposed ordinance 2 days prior to the vote.  Since I was on vacation, I would have been delinquent.  Fortunately I had my checkbook with me.  I was staying at a hotel and the staff helped me prepare, print and FedEx the necessary forms.  The county got my forms and payment 5 hour before the vote.   I am the only one in my subdivision that was grandfathered.  There was an attemp to get approval from the homeowners, but there were far fewer than necessary 60% of the homeowners who even voted.

                              • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                Do you have a local homeowners association?  Highly recommended in order to have one voice.  Orinda (the location of the recent mass shooting) just passed a new ordinance to allow only hosted vacation rentals, thus will be the end of vacation rentals in the area as most true vacation rentals are non-hosted.

                                 

                                Frankly, unless owners can get back to controlling the renting process, the vacation rental business will die IMHO.  It is out of control and neighborhoods are mad.  When owners take control they can help correct the issues.

                                 

                                I feel for you if you cannot communicate with other homeowners.

                                  • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                    martyp Contributor

                                    Please read my response to mauimakani    Our subdivision has a homeowners association, but the ordinance was worded such that it is impossible for a positive approval for Short Term Rental.  We need more than just a subdivision association; we NEED an association of Short Term Rental Owners and we needed VRBO's assistance on that.

                                     

                                    Prior to the passage of the ordianance, I tried to get VRBO to give me the owner contact information, but all they would do was help me create a facebook group page. 

                                     

                                    There are many reasons why the rental homeowners need communication. VRBO is an obstical.

                                      • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                        bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                        Sorry, I meant a vacation homeowners association.  We formed one locally.  We are not part of regular homeowners association.  It is community of homes on 2.5 acres minimum - thus big property but in a tourist area - a national park. Our local tourism bureau helped start it.  It has not been that active, but if there was indeed a ban on short-term rentals, I am certain it would become VERY active.

                                         

                                        We have met on such subjects such as code issues, occupancy limits and inspections. But if you don't have an active tourism bureau, it might be difficult to start a group. Before VRBO cut the ability to communicate, I recorded as many email addresses as I could. I have kept that info even though it changes daily. You can find email addresses or phone numbers if you spend a lot of effort.  But it might be worth it in the long run.  Good luck!

                                          • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                            martyp Contributor

                                            Thanks for the clarification.  How did you get the owner's contact information? 

                                             

                                            In my market, it was impossible to find out who the VR homeowners were without VRBO's assistance.  Using my home as an example, I kept such a low key that only the two adjacent houses in my subdivision knew that I was running a short term rental.

                                              • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                                bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                I started long ago.  We were one of the first vacation rentals in the area over 25 years ago. VRBO used to post email addresses so I kept them.  Then s t a y _ _ _ _ helped, but that does not work for any new listings.  But we only have maybe 800 rental owner contacts (according to my latest calculations), which include PMs for many rentals. You could make an announcement in the local newspaper and see if you get any takers.  You never know...

                                    • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                      bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                      I would have only one wish that sadly could never be met.  Allow direct communication between traveler and owner prior to booking.  But by doing this raise the annual subscription to list and charge more to rank higher.  Life used to be so much simpler when we could speak directly with the traveler.  It took the fear out of renting your home.  I no longer trust any site to do the vetting for me.  I used to live in Orinda and was horrified with the shooting on Halloween at a vacation rental.  Thus, no more for me. 

                                        • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                          hermes902 New Member

                                          I emphatically second this request. Guests would prefer to have this capability as well, in my experience.

                                            • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                              martyp Contributor

                                              Sadly, this can never happen.  The reason it can never happen is because VRBO knows that their traveler "service" fee is a bad deal.  If the "service" was a good deal and worth what VRBO charges, then there would be no need to worry about the transaction going off platform.

                                               

                                              I have never taken (or even tried) to move a transaction off of the VRBO platform. All I ask is that VRBO pay me the same respect and stop trying to lure my prospective customers off of MY listing pages (the pages I paid for) with their: You might like these similar properties

                                          • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                            casitacynthiasantafe Contributor

                                            An excellent list. I have, for several years, fruitlessly used every channel available to advocate for #3, "Allow owners to set a tax exempt booking when the booking is for XX or more consecutive nights (I have to process a messy refund for the tax when I have a monthly booking that is made via Instant Booking, and it’s illegal to collect tax)."

                                             

                                            I'd also like to see restored the ability add "special offers" to our listings. This went away when the service fee was introduced. But in the good old VRBO days, for $40 you could add a "special offer" to your listing that ran in a small line of red type at the top of your listing for two weeks (renewable). When business was slow, I would run a "Senior Special: 10% off for rental rate for travellers 55 and over," and it always brought me bookings with excellent renters.

                                            • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                              scowol Active Contributor

                                              P.S.  Most (not all) of the items on my list, individually, are indeed major annoyances and cause frustration for me trying to book/manage reservations via Vrbo.  This forum is filled with threads begging Vrbo (Expedia) to address each of the 20 items individually, but then the thread just ultimately dies off after falling on deaf ears, and we quietly shrug it off and deal with the issue with every guest.  So I am hopeful that consolidating the items might illustrate the quantity of owner-requested features that Vrbo is lacking and ignoring.


                                              Just like VR owners who must listen to the needs of their guests and provide the amenities they demand to be successful, I would like to see Vrbo do the same.  Companies  that proactively seek out feedback for improvements, listen to their paying customers (owners), and act on the feedback become indispensable leaders and the company (and customer-owner) profits and revenue follow. I wish Vrbo would make it a mission to transform owners from being detractors to promoters of the brand.  This business principle is not rocket science, yet the concept seems to be rejected by many companies that are not leading the pack.

                                              • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                                dramsey Contributor

                                                Great, Well thought out list. Agree with all of these.

                                                • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                                  seattlestays New Member

                                                  #1 - Traveler ID verification with Government issued ID.  The way Airbnb does.  Would greatly increase my comfort in renting if I knew the traveler had produced Government issued ID that was verified by VRBO.  Airbnb has done this for oh, 8 or 9 years.  HA 'verifies' e-mail addresses and phone numbers - which is laughable.

                                                   

                                                  #2 - allow me to decline reservation requests that I am not comfortable with without penalty.  Last month, I received a booking request for 7 nights from somebody that had 'just arrived' at the airport and needed a place immediately (6am).  Their e-mails raised every single red flag.

                                                   

                                                  #3 - figure out a way to get bookings back up for host.  My business used to be 75% HA / 25% airbnb.  In 3 years, that has inverted with no sign of recovery.

                                                   

                                                  #20 +1

                                                  • Re: My Holiday Wish List from Vrbo
                                                    hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                                    well asked and all of the points would really round out the listings.

                                                    They are well thought out and practical.