Vacation rental managers and owners who have listings on HomeAway’s sites are reporting that HomeAway is cracking down on content in vacation rental listings that provides information to guests about how to contact the owner or manager directly to avoid paying HomeAway’s service/traveler fee.
In an email to customers, HomeAway said, “We will deactivate listings that contain messaging indicating that travelers are encouraged to pay outside of our reservation system.”
New listings on HomeAway are being closely checked against HomeAway’s “Marketplace Standards.” One manager who has other listings on HomeAway recently added a new group of listings and included an office photo to all the listings — both old and new. The photo was removed from the new listings, but not the existing ones.
However, individual owners are beginning to report changes to existing listings. It appears that HomeAway has initiated an effort to comb through existing listings searching for language, photo captions, URLs and phone numbers than lead travelers to contact managers directly.
HomeAway’s Terms and Conditions state, “Members agree not to encourage or advise a traveler to avoid or circumvent the service fee charged by HomeAway.”
We reached out to HomeAway to find out if there has been a change in processes for enforcement but have not yet received a response.
I should point out that the amount of service fee can add up to ten per cent
There is much anger about the service fee imposed on customers by Owners Direct . Home Away. They compared the fee to Trip Advisor / Holiday rentals – processing fees. II advertise on those sites (subscription), I pay a reasonable fee-per-booking which is much lower that the Owners Direct “service fee” but my visitors are NOT then charged a huge additional fee which can add up to almost 10 with VAT added. I will not renew my three subscriptions for Owners Direct Home Away when they expire unless the Service fee is completely removed. If every advertiser threatened likewise they might change their minds. They should certainly change their name maybe – “Owners at Arms Length” Any better suggestions ?
It is worth looking at the many complaints about Owners Direct on Trust Pilot
There must be a real struggle in HA right now. They have a large inventory of traditional, less city centric, longer stay, seasonal accommodation. So many are easy to book on other platforms, directly or through local advertising sites and tourist boards.
Plus not everyone uses credit cards. In central Europe, repeat visits, larger value bookings often use wire transfers – 60 percent plus – so this fee is hard to grab if a card is not used. We have all heard the stats and guests want to book online etc, but there are so many moving parts and money parts this single solution doesnt work. The hybrid, subscription and Request to Book model doesnt work as its actually part of their full BIN system and just confuses and angers guest and owners alike with endless emails and confirm booking messages and payments.
On the 3 samples above on VRBO they all have a send an email, so these can all book off site. Sure no text is allowed insinuating the fee can be bypassed but with all these friction points, guests will start looking elsewhere.
Why not add text to your listings to say
– If you are interested in booking, please send an email, via the little link under the Request to Book button. We often have special offers that cannot be shown on this advertising site. You wont be disappointed –
No doubt an avalanche of emails – have u booked, did u book, why not book now, only book online, dont trust the host etc will follow, but by then they are in direct contact.
When OTAs starting pushing PPBs as a “good” option, we saw the proverbial writing on the wall. As a property management company, I decided something needed to be done to help offset the coming slaughter of the PM. Think about it, the more control we give up, the harder it will be to take it back and the giant OTAs are slowly taking the control away from us. To overcome this VRguest.com was created. A website that keeps the control in the hands of the property manager and owners where it belongs. As a PM, I understand the multiple problems that are arising from the PPB systems that are growing so fast. We are listening to the pains being created and building a site that helps the little guy. We are better together.
Unless I am missing something, these policies aren’t really new, just going through a strict enforcement…. and are the same as Airbnb and TripAdvisor….
Unless you are big enough, or in a small enough market to make it on your own, settle in for the ride
Expedia owns Trip Advisor and many more besides VRBO.
Okay, just got off the phone with VRBO-HomeAway host customer service… if we are paying the annual host subscription fee, we are allowed to include the URL of our own private sites within the listing description and in the area reserved for URL linkbacks. What we are NOT allowed to do is to use language in the listing itself – or on our own sites – that DIRECTLY ENCOURAGES the prospective guest to come and book on our private site in order to avoid paying the VRBO-HomeAway fees. In February, VRBO-HA instituted a new Guest Service Fee which ranges from 4 to 9 percent. So, yes, invite them to your site, and if they end up booking via your site and thereby circumventing the Guest Service Fee, so be it… acceptable gray area, and they will not chase that down. BUT, if you say come to my site, book directly, save the Guest Service Fee,then thats NOT a gray area, and a human rep will contact you and ask you to remedy the wording. If you do not remedy the wording within a prescribed time frame, THEN your listing will be deactivated.
I wonder if a paid annual subscription on VRBO, a subsidiary of HomeAway, allows one to include a link to ones website…
I pay for an annual VRBO subscription for each of my 2 VRS, and HomeAway imported my listing to the HomeAway site as part of my sub. VRBO does not have any issue with me promoting my own site, because they already have my money. So, it seems this rule ought to migrate along with my content… who knows, I will call them and see what they say…
I received a nasty gram from them simply because I advertised that If the guest books for a week that we will pay the HA fee. Unbelievable that we can’t even discount and advertise accordingly.
If you really really wanted to circumvent HA you could write out the phone numbers in words that are separated, however that seems kind mickey mouse. Better to just let HA collect their fee, then if the person wants to come back deal directly.
There are ways around this. They allow many properties to publish their company name in their photo tours. onefinestay puts an ad in their photo tours, see this one https://www.vrbo.com/1113842ha. Another company puts their name and logo on every photo https://www.vrbo.com/1770655ha. Another example https://www.vrbo.com/1030895ha
Is this really true. I havent received a thing from HomeAway but just went through and deleted a bunch of stuff including my site and some videos so well see.
BTW…this box wont take punctuation except periods so the above sentence may look weird. Hope you can read it.
Listings are being taken down just for stating the fee is a mandatory HA fee, kept by them. Its more than mentioning ways to avoid the fee. HA research, which BTW, is usually faulty, found travelers were more likely to rent if the thought the fee was an owner fee.
I HATE this company