So I used to use OwnerRez all the time for my property which was linked to VRBO (Homeaway). The inquires worked well and I was able to book and management payments through OwnerRez – which worked well – really well.
About a year and a half ago, I made, in retrospect, the bad judgement call to start processing everything though VRBO as I figured it would be ‘easier’, especially with their ‘Hospitality Manager’. That turned out to be a pipe dream. The hospitality manager is hard for some guests to use and the booking engine is buggy – I already flat out lost one reservation request due to a bug that did not allow me to send an updated quote. Obviously with this new traveler fee, this was the last straw.
Hence I am considering going back to OwnerRez to handle and manage all my bookings. The booking engine is much easier and more flexible than VRBO and the automated emails are awesome. In the meantime I have started getting bookings in from AirBnB and from Flipkey. In my humble opinion VRBO/AirBnB/Flipkey are the only real players in this game. I have tried many of the other sites – some where I have had to pay an annual fee – and the results of them are 0 bookings in 3 years. I would say my bookings are broken down from VRBO/AirBnB/Flipkey as 75%/20%/5%
My overall question is such: With VRBO now joining the ranks of providers who tack an extra fee onto each booking, has anyone still had success in utilizing the inquiry engine here? The last time I really used the system, one could process VRBO inquiries relatively easy and manage the booking fully from OwnerRez. However I can imagine that like AirBnB and Flipkey, VRBO is now a closed system in order to prevent any bypass of their greedy customer service charges as imposed by their own system.
What are others doing? I am considering duplicating bookings in OwnerRez regardless just to use the excellent reporting and auto-email features of it. Mind you, in full honesty, I am trying to decide if the $5/booking cost is worth it for just that.
Thoughts by anyone? Open to advice / suggestions ;-)
Hi Glen, I'm a bit biased of course :-) but I think OwnerRez features like reporting and automation are definitely worth the cost!
I wouldn't recommend duplication though. Can you just do your quoting and payments in OwnerRez?
For a lot of users, VRBO will pass through all guest info as "regular old fashion inquiry" if you call and ask them to. If you do that, and then make sure VRBO is sending those emails to the OwnerRez @inquiryspot.com email address, it will parse through nicely. No need to do any quotes or payments on the VRBO side, and we can keep your VRBO/FK/Air calendars up to date via iCal.
Anyway, good luck with booking. We're here to help! The listing sites have tried to steal all the power away from owners and managers, but it's not working very well. Lot of users have up and left VRBO entirely.
Speaking of which, what's the situation with your website? Do you have one? If so, do you have OwnerRez booking widgets in place?
Do you think VRBO will allow the new "old fashion inquiry"? I would guess that they would immediately perceive it as a way around their new user fee of which they would lose revenue. Has anyone else had success with this? I guess I could try changing my email back to the OwnerRez email and see what the inquiries look like.....
Yes, leaving VRBO entirely is attractive on the surface, but since I get 75% of my bookings though them, I am not sure it would be a wise move.
I did have a website at one point, but I got little-to-no traffic to it and hence no bookings. Any suggestions on how to get a private website noticed by potential customers?
I think it depends on whether you pay them the annual subscription fee or whether your listings are free to list with a commission paid for each booking. The annual subscription listings should allow it; you just have to get them on the phone and bend their ear.
Get your website back up, add our widgets, and start directing new guests there any chance you get. You'll be surprised, over time if you keep at it, how much traffic you can bring in directly. A lot of listing sites, even VRBO, allow you to include a link to your website from your listing. You can also find local or regional listing sites or blogs (in your immediate vacation area) to post your website link. If you work at it, over time, you'll bring in a lot of traffic.
We have a project for "hosted sites" that has been simmering on the back burner for awhile. When released, you'll be able to turn on and manage a personal website directly from inside OwnerRez.
But there are options, so stay at it!
I am convinced to give the website another try. Weebly seems to be the best bet for this as they have beautiful templates and the sites are easy to create. I will certainly use your widgets. Are there any tricks to getting traffic to these websites? Like I said before I had a page for a year but I really did not get any inquiries off of it? Anyone else have experience with personal websites.
Noticing that VRBO has made yet more changes requiring more money. Although I get a lot of business from them I would really like to move away from them....
I do everything via OwnerRez. I reply to VRBO that I will send them a quote shortly and to look in their Spam/Junk Mail. I then go to OwnerRez and send them the link. I have both my email and ownerRez emails on VRBO, so everything is already entered into OwnerRez when I get there.
"We have a project for "hosted sites" that has been simmering on the back burner for awhile. When released, you'll be able to turn on and manage a personal website directly from inside OwnerRez."
Please keep us posted on this! That would be awesome
Ella, will do. There has been a greater push for that feature lately, and we may have an early beta version of this out in just a few weeks actually.