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VRBO walled garden is up

Jun 20, 2017 1:11 PM
Joined Jun, 2016 1102 posts

Starting this month, pre-booking conversations will be facilitated through our secure messaging system. You and the traveler will be able to see each other's contact details after a booking is confirmed.

Marina's Edge
Jun 20, 2017 9:55 PM
Joined Oct, 2012 206 posts

Hmm....does an OwnerRez quote go through their walled garden email address?

Jun 21, 2017 7:03 AM
Joined Jun, 2016 1102 posts

Marinas Edge said:

Hmm....does an OwnerRez quote go through their walled garden email address?

I presume it wont. They already stripped the emails and links, they look like ------@----.-- now

Jun 21, 2017 9:41 AM
Joined Oct, 2016 29 posts

Marinas Edge said:

Hmm....does an OwnerRez quote go through their walled garden email address?

It will not - it stripped out ALL my links to the quote and my website.

They are basically turning into AirBnB but with a $300+ annual fee.

Sam Westcott
Jun 21, 2017 10:34 AM
OR Team Member Joined Dec, 2009 240 posts

Yes, VRBO is going full-Airbnb. There are still some users getting email addresses in their inquiries. Other users can copy/paste the guest's email address out of the VRBO control panel into the OwnerRez inquiry. But in general, it should be assumed that sooner or later, VRBO will be like Airbnb end to end. You will have to respond in their message thread (either by email or in the control panel) and no guest email address will be provided until after the booking is made.

Now, what does that mean for OR...?

We have seen this coming for a long time. There is now more of a need than ever to use a 3rd party independent management system for your bookings because the listing sites will never provide you the tools to properly market and care for your records, especially across multiple listing sites. As the walled gardens go up, and the walls on the existing ones gets higher, it is extremely important to export that data out and make sure you are centralizing your records AWAY from the walled gardens. Expedia, as a corporation, has zero incentive to provide rich management/marketing tools for you (the owner). They have EVERY incentive to NOT build those things and lock you away from your customers as much as possible.

That being said, how are bookings managed if the listing site locks down the up front lead/inquiry? Couple of things...

You should assume that you will need to respond through VRBO message thread (if not now, then soon). We are working on an inquiry/email overhaul that will work WITH this message thread. You'll respond through OR and your messages to the guest will go back through VRBO, using the proxy email they provide, to update the VRBO message thread and get to the user. It will be plain text only (since that's all VRBO and Airbnb support) and links and emails won't work since they would just get stripped out anyway. But you'll be able to capture the message thread in OwnerRez so that your records stay centralized.

If you still have access to the guests' email address when they make an inquiry (even if you have to login to VRBO to copy/paste it out) you should still use that. Talk to guests directly as possible as much as you can. To get around the response rate counter, just send a "Hi, I've sent you an email directly. Please give that a look" which tells VRBO that you responded.

After a booking/payment occurs (on VRBO or Airbnb) that information will get exported back to OwnerRez automatically, via calendar import and through email parsing. We'll capture that VRBO/Airbnb email and "clean up" the booking record with more information as it comes in.

To help with post-booking/payment "clean up", we'll be adding forms that the guest will be directed to get things like:

* Their real/full email address
* All phone numbers
* Their POC name and guest list
* Sign the renter agreement in OR
* Credit card for security hold
* Other rules/things to agree to

This clean up process will be dynamic so that the guest is automatically asked for it after booking (you don't have to send an email) and will be based on the things you want to collect if you want to.

We have been hard at work for awhile on a number of these things, or the things under the covers that are needed to support what is coming.

Also keep building your own personal marketing channels! Your own website, your FB page - it is important to use those tools as much as possible. In the near future, we may have some diabolical tools to liberate guests who are visiting listing sites. ;-) Have a place where they can land! Have a website ready where guests can book when they figure out that they don't have to pay service fees!

Jacques L
Jun 28, 2017 11:12 AM
Joined Jun, 2014 50 posts

Great to hear that more tools for working around the walled gardens are in development!

I just started using airbnb for 1 of my 4 rentals, and it is getting some decent bookings with lower fees than HA, it seems. I even had 1 person say they found me on airbnb, and then they booked through my website. Maybe some people are figuring out how to maneuver around the walls :).

Anyhow, airbnb seems to integrate my calendar nicely, but I didn't figure out if it was possible for it to export their bookings to my OR calendar. So, whenever I get an airbnb booking, I block off the time on my OR calendar, and if they actually pay, then I have access to one of their temporary emails and I put that into OR, and push out the welcome message, and receipt through that.

Is that the best way right now to do things with airbnb, or am I missing some automation?

Chris Hynes
Jun 28, 2017 12:56 PM
OR Team Member Joined Oct, 2012 1396 posts

Actually there's an even easier way to do it!

First, set up our calendar import to pull in the bookings from the Airbnb iCal. We've got an article on that over here: https://www.ownerreservations.com/support/articles/calendar-import

Then set up a trigger to send an email out when an Airbnb booking is created. Airbnb is one of the few listing sites that include the temporary email in their iCal, so we're able to scoop that out for you. Here's a blog post about that: https://www.ownerreservations.com/blog/send-trigger-emails-based-on-the-listing-site-or-sending-airb

Jacques L
Jun 29, 2017 2:13 PM
Joined Jun, 2014 50 posts

I got the periodic calendar import working, and used that template for the triggered email just now. Seems like its going to work well :). Thanks.

Jacques L
Jul 1, 2017 10:03 AM
Joined Jun, 2014 50 posts

I did get the trigger and calendar import for airbnb set up. Last night I got an inquiry after I went to bed, and in the morning the trigger had sent an email which bounced.


I have entered your Airbnb booking into our main booking system. Thanks again for booking Piermont Place Cabin 1!

I was wondering - could I have a real email address for you? The current email address I have for you looks like this:



The email for this person was something like steph-randomletters@guest.airbnb.com, not the one ownerrez had.

Would the import have gotten the change in email automatically on its next pull?

Chris Hynes
Jul 1, 2017 1:17 PM
OR Team Member Joined Oct, 2012 1396 posts

No, that's a conflict we recently noticed where Air is including the item in the iCal before its a confirmed booking with a real email address.

We've got a fix for this scheduled to go out this weekend -- it basically just will detect Airbnb feeds and ignore everything in there except for the confirmed bookings.

I'll let you know when that's released.

Chris Hynes
Jul 1, 2017 11:06 PM
OR Team Member Joined Oct, 2012 1396 posts

The update has been released for the Airbnb feed filtering.

Jul 2, 2017 1:06 PM
Joined Jun, 2016 1102 posts

Chris Hynes said:

The update has been released for the Airbnb feed filtering.

great ,as before they were imported as "PENDING: John" and I had to manually correct or delete them