One of the first goals we had, from the very beginning, was creating a simple way vacation rental owners could keep their HomeAway/VRBO calendars up to date and collect inquiry data across multiple listing sites in one central place.
This is part of our fundamental goal to be the best neutral vacation rental software on the market. We want to work with all listing sites, but we don't want to be part of - or influenced by - any one of them in particular. And we want you to be able to manage your guest data in a neutral central way.
Over the past several years, integration with HomeAway has gotten increasingly difficult to maintain as HomeAway continues to increase the security of their websites and hide the guest information you pay to see.
We have maintained an open dialogue with the HomeAway development team and continued to ask for APIs and other industry-standard ways of sharing guest data - again, data you pay for - but those needs have not been met.
The latest increase in HomeAway security is a 2-step authentication requirement which requires the user to get a phone or text message before logging into the HomeAway website. While we have developed programmable ways of integrating with this, it is fraught with uncertainty and our testing has shown less than desirable results.
Even more heinous, the HomeAway login screen is now using a fingerprinting technique to 'remember' the user's computer, but the technique is extremely buggy. During our integration testing, we found that we could access multiple user accounts even after restarting the browser and clearing login data!
This testing has shown us that their latest round of security updates is not well developed and is prone to errors and attacks.
Given this current state, and the belief that HomeAway will continue to hide guest data and make access difficult, we have made the official corporate decision that we will no longer integrate with the HomeAway/VRBO family of websites with respect to using the user's credentials to update their account.
In other words, we will no longer "crawl" your HomeAway listing to do updates. This applies to calendar, inquiry data and any other data associated with HomeAway listings. If it requires our system to use your HomeAway login, we don't do it.
We will, however, continue to integrate with HomeAway in public ways that do not require your login. For instance:
- We will parse inquiry emails that are sent to your @inquiryspot email address the same as always.
- We will provide "Respond in HomeAway" links for inquiries that require you to login to HomeAway.
- We will provide public and customizable iCal feeds that HomeAway can choose to import.
- We will be working on supporting 2-way syncing so that we can export HomeAway reservations via iCal.
- We will be working on supporting the property manager (PM) API that HomeAway offers for users with 5 or more properties. This API allows us to update calendar data.
There will be a lot of disappointment over this, I'm sure, but we sincerely feel that there is little choice here for us to make.
I'd like to note that virtually every other vacation rental software provider - all of our competitors - have had to do the same thing. Over the past few weeks or months, they've been slowly turning off HomeAway integration except for the larger accounts that have at least 5 listings and support the PM API.
This decision to turn off HomeAway integration is not the fault (or desire) of neutral software providers like OwnerRez. It is the fault of HomeAway for making purposeful decisions to block you from your customer data and force you to use their reservation tools.
And would you do us a favor? Tell HomeAway how you feel about this. Contact them directly and explain that, as a customer of HomeAway, you'd like them to provide direct integration with software providers like OwnerRez so that you can manage your bookings more quickly and efficiently. If they mention using their own reservation software, remind them that you have listings on FlipKey, Airbnb, your own website and elsewhere, so you'd prefer that they integrate with neutral software providers like OwnerRez.
The good news is that we will have vastly more time to spend on features that you've been asking for.
One of the big drawbacks to supporting listing site integration, where it required crawling, is that is sucked a lot of energy from our development efforts. Every time HomeAway made a slight change, our crawlers had to be adjusted, tested and re-released. We have had to delay numerous new features - auto responders, rules, booking widgets, better notes, etc. - over the past two years because of setbacks with crawling. No more! We look forward to putting these efforts back on the front burner and getting them out there!