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Homeaway, I know You Read This , I need Your Help

Now Homeaway Want To Use YOUR Personal Facebook Posts

Dear Mr Sharples, or anyone else at Homeaway that is prepared to listen. Please help.

An owner has asked if I could help her sort out a very serious problem regarding Best Match and she isn’t the only one experiencing this knock on effect caused by your software changes.

As you will see, she has tried to sort this problem out via customer service but her cry for help fell on deaf ears.

Here’s what she wrote:

I just had one of my PPB listings flagged by VRBO. They are accusing me of taking bookings outside of the system (I’m not). Both my PPB listings are in jeopardy, and I’m unsure about my subscription listings. Has anyone else had this happen? I called CS, and they were just….just….I don’t even have the words. Let’s say they didn’t help.

This lady is very worried about the impact this may have on her business.

I wrote back and asked “On what basis did they make this claim?”

She replied,

I’ve had 30 inquiries and no bookings on a property I have listed as PPB since May. They said the behaviour is suspicious because my conversion rate is low.

I’m not doing anything wrong. All my inquires are asking for a discount or for me to rent for a shorter period (I’m prohibited from doing that because of local laws).

Now, I’m the first one to understand that you can’t have people circumnavigating your platform and booking directly and I can see how you, as a company, would take exception to that.

But on the other hand you must understand the business that you are in and the fact that “one size doesn’t fit all”.

The problem doesn’t stop here either.

Problem 1

I’ve heard from many other owners that are complaining about Best Match. Not for the sake of it – but because of the genuinely inoperable problems that it throws up.

Let’s say I have a 5 bedroom villa in Utopia. I advertise with Homeaway. I get an enquiry. Fantastic.
But a closer look shows that is a group of 14 people wanting to stay. My property only sleeps 10.
My listing clearly states “Sleeps 10”.

I can’t possibly accept this potential booking – But Best Match will penalise me for this.

Problem 2

Let’s say I have a 5 bedroom villa in Utopia. I advertise with Homeaway. I get an enquiry. Fantastic.

But a closer look shows that it’s an A) Group of spring brakers B) A stag party C) A wedding party

My listing clearly states no events or parties. My rental is in a residential area and my neighbours will complain to the authorities and my rental business will be shut down. This will add fuel to the fire for the anti STR brigade and the hotel lobby.

I can’t possibly accept this potential booking – But Best Match will penalise me for this.

Problem 3

Let’s say I have a 5 bedroom villa in Utopia. I advertise with Homeaway. I get an enquiry. Fantastic.

The problem is that I’m on vacation myself and am walking the Appalachian Trail with Bill Bryson and I don’t have a phone signal. Ok, maybe I’m not walking with Bill but let’s say I’m in Europe for a week and I don’t have roaming.

I can’t even see this potential booking, let alone accept it – But Best Match will penalise me for this.

Problem 4

Let’s say I have a 5 bedroom villa in Utopia. I advertise with Homeaway. I get an enquiry. Fantastic.

But a closer look shows that the potential renter is trying to negotiate a 30% discount on my advertised rate. I’m already operating on low margins as I’m operating in an over saturated market and my overheads are non negotiable (my cleaners and pool man aren’t prepared to take a hit, that’s for sure)

I can’t possibly accept this potential booking – But Best Match will penalise me for this.

This is possibly the most common of these problems as it seems that every travel journalist on the planet has written an article that’s entitled “How to get a discount on your next vacation” and more and more owners are getting the “Your property is out of our price range but…” enquiries.

The knock on effect of these problems is that owners are feeling pressured into giving discounts, accepting unsuitable groups or taking more guests than they can accommodate solely due to best match and the draconian measures that it throws up if owners appear to step outside it’s unmoving boundaries.

And this doesn’t even include outright scam enquiries.

Enough problems – How about a solution?

How difficult would it be to add an “Unsuitable enquiry” button?
Or maybe you could give the vacation rental equivalent of a mulligan (as in golf).
After all you can see the enquiries and the property listings.

Either way your customer service need to be educated as to these real life issues and be given the authority to reset strikes against owners that can’y accept enquires for genuine reasons.

So my question to you Brian, is can you please help the lady above and can you please address the problems outlined thereafter?

Because your “partners” are pulling their hair out and that isn’t good for anyone.

Thanks in advance, Alan Egan

Here’s an update,

First off I would like to thank Erinn of community homeaway for assisting the owner in question.

Erinn asked the resolution centre to contact the owner directly, which they did. Thanks Erinn,

I appreciate that and I know that the owner did too.

Here’s what the owner sent me after speaking to the RC…

I wanted to let you know how my conversations with the resolution center have gone. First of all, they were much nicer to work with than the initial customer service rep… However, there is one key component of PPB that is very troubling to me. It’s also something that is not stated in the terms, at least as far as I can tell.
They will go as far as “restricting” (meaning essentially removing) all of an owners PPB listings if one listing isn’t performing per their computer algorithm.
Two facets to this –
1. They will remove a PPB listing for not having a high enough conversion rate. I did not know this. I thought they would just drop a listing like that further down in the search.
2. All of an owners PPB listings are in jeopardy if only one is under performing.
I think owners need to understand that even if they follow the rules their PPB listing can still be removed for not meeting their required conversion rate.
Still no word on any of the other points raised though