Built by owners, for owners.

VRBO and Subscription Options

Replies: 31 - Pages: 2 [ 1 2 ] - Last Reply: Apr 24, 2017 2:47 PM by: BlueMtnCabins
BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
VRBO and Subscription Options

At one point Kodak was all that too. where are they now? All I am saying it matters little what the rest of the world thinks - if the company screws up (and no one including AirBNB is guaranteed from it). We shall see.

Glenn Moore
Registered: 11/11/12
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

For what it is worth Airbnb now helps with tax collection.

One of my properties is in Arizona where local regulations require me to collect and remit occupancy tax. True to American government form - taking something simple and making it as complex as possible - there are FOUR separate occupancy taxes to collect and remit. Even trying to follow all the rules I just yet again found out that one of the taxes that I am collecting - privilege tax - (oddly named), has yet another set of slightly different collection rules than the other taxes based on the length of stay of my guests.

VRBO leaves you out in the cold on this... up to you to figure out how to define your taxes and apply the tax rules. And of course they only allow for one blended tax rate, not the 4 different types with different rules. Arg.

AirBnB now automatically calculates the occupancy tax on a booking, adds it to the renter booking charges, and submits it on your behalf. How nice is that!!

Glenn

Marinas Edge
Registered: 10/10/12
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

I just looked at my page views comparing AirBnB listings to VRBO listings. February is always one of my biggest months for people viewing for summer bookings. For the first time AirBnB had more page views than VRBO.

Just sayin.....

Floridaloha Nanc
Registered: 3/13/16
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

I have let my VRBO and Homeaway subscriptions expire. I've also let my Flipkey/Tripadvisor Vacation Home Rentals expire. It is a good time for me to do this as my peak season is ending, most of my "high season" business is repeat business, and I can sit back and make better decisions.

TripAdvisor/VHR is deceptive. They send you fake leads right before your expiration so that you'll sign up with them. I got one valid lead from them this past year and that was it.

AirBnB is a conundrum. I have had great guests through them and also have had a few ringers. The ringers have cost me a lot of time communicating with their tech support. They only support half of Florida's tax situation, the state part, but do not support the county tax. So it is confusing for renters to have to pay additional tax they don't quote. Also, they don't know about things like no tax if there is a stay of 6 months or more, they still try to collect it. Interestingly enough, I've had best results with AirBnB during our summer off season, where I have more pricing flexibility and would be OK with having the occasional minor damage issue.

So, in summary, what I've decided to do is primarily focus on Facebook. I have pages for each of my cottages plus for the "umbrella" brand. I link this information to my own website which is set up for OwnerRez inquiries and bookings. I keep a mailing list of previous guests whom I mail. I offer these people a $50 bonus for referrals. I will spend a fraction of what I spent on VRBO and Homeaway on ads targeted to Facebook users.

My priorities going forward will be this:
1. Get my website totally current, including improving SEO.
2. Get Facebook pages current, meaning current photos, etc., and links to the website.
3. Target FaceBook ads to my most likely demographics.
4. Get AirBnB rates and photos up to date.
5. Investigate other listing services. Consider pay per booking services on the majors.
6. Look at unconventional marketing opportunities in conjunction with local merchants and media.

I'm just not seeing the Homeaway/VRBO/TripAdvisor model working well for me anymore. It's not cost-effective for owners or for renters. It also doesn't appeal to the demographic I'm most interested in and am most successful with. I used to work in advertising and haven't forgotten what I've learned. The key for cost-effectiveness is to target your best audience and market to them directly. Scattershot "shotgun" approaches may seem good but they are not as cost-effective.

Good luck everyone! Let's keep the discussion going.

Glenn Moore
Registered: 11/11/12
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

Nancy E said:

I have let my VRBO and Homeaway subscriptions expire. I've also let my Flipkey/Tripadvisor Vacation Home Rentals expire. It is a good time for me to do this as my peak season is ending, most of my "high season" business is repeat business, and I can sit back and make better decisions.


I think I am with you on the VRBO/Homeaway expiration. As with most people I was pretty steamed that they now charge us a (relatively high) annual fee AND that they now charge the traveler a fee for booking as well - seems a bit like gouging. It really should be one or the other. At least AirBnB has only the traveler fee. Actually rather than moving off it completely, I think I am going to ask them if I can move to their pay-per-use model. I don't really want to lose the advantage I have there with a very high number of positive reviews. But I would be happy to focus more on AirBnB.

I too have considered trying to 'go-it-alone' with website/Facebook advertising. The only thing that really worries me is the loss of protection in case something goes terribly wrong. Lets say I get renters in that damage the place so much that the next renters cannot come or are delayed. From the rare stories that I have heard where this has happened, I believe AirBnB steps in and in some cases covers the damage and works with the inbound renters to get them alternate accommodations. I kinda like having that security blanket. If I rented fully independently, I would not have that and a significant damage situation could be a nightmare - not only for repairs but also downstream rentals. Does anyone have insight on this?

Glenn

Sam Westcott
Registered: 12/19/09
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

Glenn Moore said:

The only thing that really worries me is the loss of protection in case something goes terribly wrong.


Glenn, old buddy old pal... We've got you covered! Our Damage Protection add-on!

Check this out:
https://www.ownerreservations.com/support/articles/damage-protection-overview

Here's the turn-on page:
https://secure.ownerreservations.com/damageprotection/start

And unlike VRBO and Airbnb, our damage protection actually works and is backed by a good insurance carrier who delivers on their promises. VRBO and Airbnb have terrible coverages. Air's is free but they don't cover much unless there's rock solid proof (and typically guest agreement). Ours doesn't involve the guest at all.

Chris Hynes
Registered: 10/19/12
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

Nancy E said:


So, in summary, what I've decided to do is primarily focus on Facebook. I have pages for each of my cottages plus for the "umbrella" brand. I link this information to my own website which is set up for OwnerRez inquiries and bookings. I keep a mailing list of previous guests whom I mail. I offer these people a $50 bonus for referrals. I will spend a fraction of what I spent on VRBO and Homeaway on ads targeted to Facebook users.

My priorities going forward will be this:
1. Get my website totally current, including improving SEO.
2. Get Facebook pages current, meaning current photos, etc., and links to the website.
3. Target FaceBook ads to my most likely demographics.
4. Get AirBnB rates and photos up to date.
5. Investigate other listing services. Consider pay per booking services on the majors.
6. Look at unconventional marketing opportunities in conjunction with local merchants and media.


This is exactly it! In a way, the death of VRBO/HA as viable marketing channels is actually a good thing because it drives people to take charge of their brand and diversify marketing rather than just putting up a listing on one or two big sites.

Would you be interested in doing a guest post on our blog about your experiences as you get into the detailed marketing venues? We love featuring folks like yourself that are taking charge of their brand and stories about what sorts of things work and what isn't as effective.

Also wanted to mention we just released Facebook Tracking Pixel integration: https://www.ownerreservations.com/blog/facebook-tracking-pixel-added-google-analytics-ecommerce-tracki so that may help with your FB ads, enabling retargeting etc.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

I have all those things: website(2 of them), Facebook pages with integrated booking tabs, I am listed all over the place including homeescape and tripz (latter 2 for free). While my own site provided fair number of bookings, it is still not a full replacement of big sites. Also facebook is quite a big disappointment - I got maybe 3 bookings total between my 2 cabins. one was a prior guest finding the cabin's facebook page. I have pinterest and instagram. All in all, it appears that social media as marketing tool has not lived up to its hype.
I am open to constructive criticism and suggestions www.facebook.com/BlueMountainLodge and www.facebook.com/AppalachianEscape
I know almost nothing about SEO, and I had a feeling that all the good SEO terms are all gobbled up by big listing sites anyway. I do not want to pay for something I do not know.

What I am trying to say is while my calendars look good, there is still more dependence on big listing sites than i would like.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

www.smoky-mountain-cabins.com

Floridaloha Nanc
Registered: 3/13/16
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

Chris, I'd be happy to. I'm working now to set up the Google Analytics and the Facebook Tracking Pixel integration. I use Rapidweaver for my website and I think they have a way of letting me put this info into the site code, but if I run into trouble I might be sending you a request for help ;-)

Next step will be to upgrade the site and the FB pages, and then to start running some test ads.

I'll keep you posted. Thanks so much for your support. With you guys having my back, I feel so confident that this is going to work out great going forward.

BlueMtnCabins
Registered: 6/6/16
Re: VRBO and Subscription Options

Ha announced that external links (such as links to your website or Facebook etc) are now removed form your listings.

Pages: 1 2