Over the past couple of years, we've established an ecosystem for third-party apps and partners.
You've probably seen the many blog posts saying "OwnerRez now integrates with [x]" and talks about what the third-party offers with links to their website and a support article on our side talking about the integration. This happens after we are approached by a third party who has built an app for our API and wants us to review and bless it. We conduct some tests, tell them where it could be better, document how it works, and then give them our approval. 99% of the work is on their side - we basically just review it for them. Anyone is free to create an app for OwnerRez, using our OAuth/API system, but to get the "integrated partner!" blog post, they have to demonstrate value and let us test it.
Over time, as this ecosystem of apps has grown and thrived, we've noticed some behavior that we wanted to address.
Some of these third-party apps have begun sending targeted email blasts to OwnerRez users, announcing the partnership and pointing out that they are contacting the user because of the mutual OwnerRez connection.
Maybe you've received one of these emails yourself?
It is, of course, perfectly fine for third-party apps to announce that they are integrated with OwnerRez. App builders do a lot of work to expand the power and flexibility of our system, and it's flattering that they chose to invest resources in our ecosystem. In fact, we are planning to expand our Integrations page to show more detail - what each app does, add some searching and filtering and so on. We love third-party apps, and we have no problem with them telling the world (on their own website or social media) that they are now a member of our community. 🤝
The problem is the targeted email campaigns. These email messages make our users believe that OwnerRez shared private contact information with the third-party app. After all, how else could the third-party app have gotten your name and email address if OwnerRez didn't share it and say that you are an OwnerRez user, right?
We do not share your information - private or otherwise - with any third-party apps or integrated partners.
So then how did they know I was an OwnerRez user?
Short answer: we don't know. There are "leads" vendors who routinely email us about buying our competitors' user lists, and we assume they claim to sell ours too. We're not 100% sure how they get this information. Our working theory is that they use web crawlers to look for OwnerRez hosted websites that contain similar markers and then fill in names and contact info from those websites to know who to contact as an "OwnerRez user". There are also conferences where PMs will say what vendors they use and OwnerRez is sometimes mentioned. Those conference lists are not supposed to be sold, but they are shared with all the sponsors.
Can you tell them to stop?
We have. In some cases, multiple times.
When users have reached out to us, angrily asking why we shared their information, we have made it very clear that we didn't and we've reached out to the app and asked them to stop. They don't always listen. In several cases, we have told the third-party app that if they keep marketing in our name, we will remove their integration from our system entirely.
At the end of the day, we can't stop someone else's business from sending email messages across the internet to you. A business can make whatever claims they want and can email whomever they want.
We know that many of the users they email are not actually OwnerRez users, so it's not a very effective marketing strategy.
What about big partners like Vrbo or Airbnb?
No means no regardless of size and power. We have been pressured by large channel partners in the past to share lists and coordinate marketing efforts, but we have always made it clear we don't do that and never will. And besides, as an Elite partner, we've demonstrated that those kinds of techniques aren't necessary anyway.
Why so passionate a response?
We've designed OwnerRez to be a People-First business, which means we treat others the same way we would like to be treated. Privacy and trust are important, and we rely on that just as much as you do. If someone is leading our users to believe that their trust is being eroded, we want to be proactive in addressing it!
Happy Friday, everyone! Have a great weekend!