Home » Homeaway » VRBO Bombs To One Star Rating

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 12.44.59By Alan Egan

When the #### hits the fan it tends to get spread around. A lot!
I have just been having a look through consumeraffairs.com’s page for VRBO and things really don’t look good for the company right now. Vacation rental owners are spitting flames regarding the introduction of “traveller fees”, “best” match and more.

So much so that the company has received only a one star rating (from 496 votes).
I get the impression from reading the comments that this rating would be lower but one star is the lowest vote possible.

Have a read yourself – https://www.consumeraffairs.com/online/vrbo.html

Here are a few reviews that sum up the feeling…

A good company turned bad because of greed. Been with them 8 years. Just announced a fee for travelers. Been told by 2017 they will REQUIRE everyone to book through them, with a fee for that. Also won’t be able to communicate with renter until AFTER their fee has been paid. My listing is up next Feb. Time to move on to something else and dump these guys. It’s a shame.

 

Earlier this year, VRBO/Homeaway imposed a new service on people who rent my beach house. The fee, up to $499, has driven renters away from their websites. In the past, I’d be fully booked for summer by now. This year, I have not had one inquiry since January. I paid $699 to list my property. Their greed has made my listing worthless. What can be done?

 

Started listing my vacation home with HomeAway in 2007. Until February of 2016, I have been very satisfied with the service I got as a homeowner. In February they instituted a mandatory service fee to renters. Since then I have had NO BOOKINGS! I have called to complain and their response, “sorry but that is not going to change and we will also be forcing you very soon to use online booking where you will also be charged credit card fees.” Does anyone know if the original agreement allows them to initiate these fees without restriction?

 

I have listed one property on VRBO for the past 5 years and have been mostly satisfied. I pay almost $1000 per year to list a 3 bedroom home in Northern CA. Recently, VRBO suddenly started imposing their own fee at about 10% to renters. There was no warning and no explanation. Potential renters are complaining and inquiries have dropped off. I lost a booking today as a direct result of this fee. In an effort to provide guests with an alternative, I posted my property on FlipKey. When I offered this to my potential guest through their inquiry, VRBO removed the name, FlipKey, and the link so that the information would never reach my guest. VRBO has gone over the top with this fee and imposing such control over homeowner and guest communications.

I just logged in and set mine to not auto renew because I am not getting any rentals with the new charges they have added. If everyone does this, they will see how the bottom line will be affected over the next year right now. After I have alternatives in place, I will also seek a refund for the rest of this year.

I am completely flabbergasted over the new extortion rates levied by VRBO/Expedia. Now that they have us completely dependent on their platform that we’ve been using for 14 years and paying an annual subscription fee that has quadrupled since 2002 they will now be shaking our guests down via their site by imposing up to $499 in “service fees”. CEO Brian Sharples claims: “We’ve always been proud to be the lowest cost solution for renting your home. But we simply can’t provide the level of marketing and service that today’s travelers expect without asking travelers to also pay a fee for the service we provide.”

But the truth lies here: During an analyst call, Expedia CFO Mark Okerstrom suggests that his company’s stewardship could help to nearly triple HomeAway’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or EBITDA, within three years. And here: “HomeAway drives an estimated $15 billion a year in travel gross bookings, is growing revenue near 20% year-over-year on a currency-neutral basis and is generating roughly $120 million of annual adjusted EBITDA,” Okerstrom said. “With Expedia partnering to accelerated transformation, we believe HomeAway could grow into a business delivering adjusted EBITDA of roughly $350 million by 2018.”

My poor 84 year old aunt was doing just fine with her monthly rental. She has absolutely NO IDEA what is going on now. “What’s this, what’s that? Why are they making me do this?” “I haven’t been getting any inquiries”. This is her retirement income! She is old school and likes the personal communication with her guests. She even invites them to dinner. Is this in their algorithm sort? Will she be rewarded for going above and beyond her duties as a host? Last night she received a call from a return guest after the guest was shocked by the automated quote she received for a 3 month rental which included sales tax of 10% and a $499 “service fee”. There’s no sales tax on stays over 30 nights! If she hadn’t called my aunt to ask about it she would have lost $9000 in rental income!!! They need to be sued!

 

There are many, many more reviews like this.

Vacation rental marketing guy Alan Egan

Alan Egan is teaching owners and managers how to market their vacation rental homes in new and dynamic ways with the creation of destination based websites and the innovative use of social media.

 See what he’s up to and join other owners that are taking the responsibility for their own marketing athttp://bookingsplus4g.com

Have your bookings been affected by the introduction of the traveller fee or by best match?

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