As we pass 700 listings in the Google VR beta, I wanted to take a second to provide a very important update. This may sting a bit, but please read this thoroughly to understand the issue.
At this time, we are only allowing users with a Hosted Site (ie. the website engine managed by OwnerRez) to enter the Google VR beta. Yesterday, we reached out to the users who were already in the beta and were not using a Hosted Site, informed them of this decision, and removed their listings from the integration.
This is nothing something we want to do, but it has to be done to keep the integration in place.
Google measures what they call "Price Accuracy" for all the listings in a particular integration. We have access to a dashboard showing us the Price Accuracy of all users and listings from OwnerRez. Price Accuracy is a measurement of how many OwnerRez listings are showing the correct price on Google. Basically, Google wants to ensure that when a guest clicks through to the landing page (i.e. the user's actual website) to complete the booking, the price they see at the end is the same as what was advertised on Google back at the beginning. They also check for availability and branding to ensure the property looks the same and is still available if it is shown as available on Google.
Price Accuracy is a pivotal part of the integration. The integrating partner (OwnerRez) must maintain a high score or risk being delisted, and that means the entire integration, not just one or two specific listings.
The Price Accuracy score for OwnerRez is very low right now, even though we've been working with many individual users and listings for months to analyze and fix problem after problem. We have dropped into a range where our integration (the entire integration for all users) is at risk of being turned off completely. We don't believe it will come to that, but we have to take drastic actions to make large changes and then work towards bringing back new features after the pricing issues are first corrected.
So why is our Price Accuracy score so low? What's the problem?
As we do with all of our features, we built the Google VR integration with a lot of flexibility in mind. We designed the integration to highlight our user's brand and website - we wanted to give each of you the flexibility to showcase your own website so that it's a direct booking experience when the guest comes to your website from Google.
Our competitors don't do this. Our competitors use a single landing page for all traffic (like bookings.mypmssoftware.com), and force all guests to go through that same experience to book. This is what Google prefers and how their system is used to validate Price Accuracy. It's more of a hotel model where they assume all listings are the same. If you search on Google VR for vacation rentals that are listed by some of our competitors, you will see what I mean. Most of them go to a central booking landing page, not the PM's website. This allows Price Accuracy to be uniform and consistent across all listings.
Because our OwnerRez team built our integration to use each user's personal website, widget, or custom landing page, it means that Google has to check Price Accuracy in different ways for each and every user. This has created several problems:
1) Google's verification system is not designed to do this correctly. We have talked to Google exhaustively about many parsing/verification issues that are not actually correct. What they have deemed incorrect on one user's website may not be the same on another. In many cases, it comes down to presentation - do they believe that "this widget to book on" is the same as the listing that was on Google VR at the beginning?
2) In many cases, our OwnerRez users are using widgets or custom website landing pages in ways that do not correctly show the same rates or availability as what Google is looking for. When Google verifies the landing page, they don't see the same prices, so they drop the Price Accuracy score for that listing.
3) Google does not verify everyone, only a random handful of users day by day. As I mentioned above, Google's verification system assumes that all listings within an integration are the same booking experience. If 10 or 15 verifications fail overnight, they drop the score based on those failures and don't verify the other 500 listings. The next night, they may verify 10 or 15 others.
Solutions and steps forward...
It is imperative that we fix the Price Accuracy problem as quickly as possible. We have noticed that most problems come from those using widgets on other websites or custom landing pages because we cannot guarantee that those widgets and custom landing page experiences will show the correct pricing and availability when Google verifies that page. The users using our Hosted Website tend to be the most accurate as our hosted website booking and property pages use the same structure and forms. While they may be styled differently, the underlying property and booking pages are the same user by user, so our Hosted Website landing pages tend to verify at a much higher rate.
Our current roadmap is this:
1) As of this moment, only Hosted Website users will be allowed to participate in the Google VR integration. We have already removed those without a hosted site and are taking steps to put out a quick update so that new beta users don't see widget/custom landing page options.
2) Work with Google to monitor Price Accuracy scoring and restore our integration scores to excellent.
3) Develop a default landing page that all users can use (no matter your website situation) that uses an OwnerRez-provided guest form, which will accept Google VR traffic and ask the guest if they want to book after showing a standard landing page with charges. This will become the new default landing page option when turning on Google VR. All of the current beta users that were kicked out will be immediately added back using this landing page option.
4) Work to establish our own international verifications and vetting process to allow widget and custom landing page experiences. As with all OwnerRez features, we are deeply committed to promoting your brand and website experience, so we will work to get back to this option as time allows. It will be difficult and take time because of how Google verifies things, but it will remain on the roadmap as a goal for Google VR. However, in the meantime, using the default landing page (bullet 3 above) will make it so that all users can get their listings into Google VR without waiting for this.
I understand this will surprise some of you and create frustration. Please understand that this decision is about creating long-term stability in the Google VR integration and opening it up to as many as possible as soon as possible. This integration is unlike any other we've worked on over the years, but we are committed to making it a success.
Please become a Google Vacation Rentals Connectivity Partner.
I get direct bookings via Google search, and I believe I'd get significantly more if found via Google Vacation Rentals. Unfortunately the only way to do that is via a connectivity partner. Right now other channel managers are serving as such. Would you take another look at this and seriously consider it?
I don't know about others, but I have gotten more direct bookings via Google search than bookings via Booking.com, and total zilch via Houfy, Find Rentals, and Home2Go -- all of which OR has set up with API.
I agree 100% we have seen more traffic via Google Search and Vikings directly with our company via Google than any other sites and would love to see the direct connect API through OwnerRez!
Hoping this is in the near future for OwnerRez!
100% agree. Actually thinking of ditching owner Rez if this doesn’t happen very soon
We've had discussions with Google. but at present they are oriented towards large operations bringing hundreds of properties in each account, rather than a large number of smaller operators with a handful of properties as is more typical of OwnerRez. They plan to move in that direction, at which point we'll integrate with them. But right now our large number of clients would swamp their onboarding, and they're not scaled for that.
Have been researching this opportunity and would also like to see integration with Google. It would definitely provide further independence from big OTAs.
Trade dependence on OTA for dependence on Goog.
Not trading one for the other. This would be an additional venue for guests to find our OwnerRez STR’s. Another arrow in the quiver 😄
Trade dependence on OTA for dependence on Goog.
Agreed- this would be fantastic
I’m honestly not sure how I added myself to this thread, but I’m glad I did since we have found that many of our direct bookings have come from Google searches. I have a very dumb question, somebody above stated “Google Vacation Rentals”. What does that mean? Is there a Google search function just for rentals with API integration? He also mentioned “Right now other channel managers are serving as such”. Like Lodgify? I love OR but would love it more if we were able to speak directly with Google searches.
PS off topic, but does anybody know how to make your Google pin into the purple bed icon. My 3 rentals show up on Google with pins, but just generic grey icons. And yes I have added descriptive ‘services’ to my profile.
Door County Cabin Collective (Porte Haven)
Anytime I hear about a Google product not “ready to scale”, I gotta wonder. I mean, for real??
I absolutely love OwnerRez and can’t find another platform that comes close to offering the level of support and features that you offer BUT…
I’m wondering if maybe there’s a platform we can use for just this purpose while staying on OR.
Being directly integrated into Google Search is of paramount importance when trying to build direct bookings…
I too would love to find a way to make this connection sooner rather than later......
Is there any kind of work around?
Is there a work around?
I used to be on Fantastic stay. They were absolutely horrible. But they are on the list.
I don't like the restrictions on Lodgify with the messaging.
I love the OwnerRez Facebook group.
How are these other companies getting on the Google Vacation Partners?
Mary Beth Schaefer
"How are these other companies getting on the Google Vacation Partners?"
- This is a good question.
Can someone from OwnerRez provide an answer to this?
We're investigating that - have a few theories, but don't want to guess publicly.
At the moment, there are a number of nonobvious limitations in the GVR system. In particular, their onboarding process is largely manual, requiring a good bit of manual effort by Google, the client (you), and the CM (OwnerRez). You can think of it as somewhat similar to connecting up the Vrbo API which takes time and a Vrbo rep, compared to the Airbnb API which is basically automatic and "just works" in most cases once you turn it on.
Google is planning on adding a much more automated API system in the fall, and we're anticipating that, at that point, it would make sense to integrate without swamping the support systems.
We are very interested in the experiences of those who have used GVR - are you, in fact, getting many/any bookings?
I applied manually some weeks ago. Very intensive process and I have zero visibility into if I'll be approved or even if the form has been reviewed. Since I'm a small operator, I'm not holding my breath. For now they pull from some of the otas and that's been good enough for me... For now. Just wish the OTA they pull from was integrated with OR. Right now, they aren't integrating with anyone new.
Quite a few connected partners with Google if it is so manual how is it:
Google is removing ad listings if you are a vacation rental and not in there program..
Approved connectivity providers
If you have fewer than 5,000 properties, we strongly recommend working with one of the connectivity providers listed below to get your properties shown on Google.
If you're already working with a connectivity partner that's not listed above, encourage them to follow the steps outlined in this guide. If you'd like to become a connectivity partner with Google, or if you think direct integration is the right path for you, follow the same steps to get started.
It's really a bummer that OwnerRez is not wanting to do this. Something I don't understand.
Since as is pointed out, a whole slew of other channel managers are doing it.
Tons of other channel managers are hooking their hosts up to Google Vacation Rentals.
If it's supposed to be so difficult, how are they able to do it?