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.
Great news! I would love to be part of the Beta Group. Close2Mickey Thanks!
Woohoo! We'd love to be beta testers!
We would like to be part of the beta testing.. Jim Willis
Yes! We would love to participate! Please add us ☺️
Definitely interested in being part of the beta test!
I’d like to be in the beta.
Please add me!
Hello everyone… As much as I love receiving 500 emails a day if we could please follow the instructions that were in the initial post and create I hope ticket ask him to be added instead of replying to this forum, it would be great…
I already had upvoted this feature and would like to be part of the beta testing.
Also interested in the beta test! Thanks so much!
I would like to participate in the beta testing once begun.
Leaping Fawn Lodge.
Please sign me in the Beta
I would like to join the beta. Thanks.
Great news. Would love to have an opportunity to test.
Hi Ken, could you please include me in beta testing for GVR?
We are definitely interested in beta testing this feature on our 9 soon to be 10 properties.
THANK YOU EVERYONE!
We have received enough interest to fill our list at this time. As development finishes and we are ready to begin bringing users into the beta, we will reach out to those on the list!
Just want to be sure this account and properties are also added thanks!!
We'd also like to be included in your beta testing, if possible. Thanks!