Last December, our subscription with VRBO/HomeAway was expiring for Garcia House who we'd been advertising with since 2009. Back then it was absolutely wonderful and provided a perfect venue for travelers and VR operators to "meet". They had platforms so that you could purchase a Gold, Silver or Bronze subscription with the only difference being how early and prominent in search results you would be. Being just a studio apartment for the budget-conscious, we went with Bronze and even though there were about 750 of us listing in Tucson, we were find-able.
They provided everything we needed to allow travelers to see what we had, rates and a calendar. We could link to our website but most importantly, connect directly with the traveler whether that be email, text or phone. Whatever worked! Every single VR is different from the next one, has different rules and owners, locale, amenities, and on and on and on and communication is key for a good match. I can spell out everything I think people might want to know and I'll guarantee, the one thing I missed is the one thing my potential Guests want to know and guess what? I'll add that to the advert and/or website and and my very next inquiry, will want to know about something else I never thought of.
I always knew I provided accommodations that were perfect for many travelers and just needed a studio but for some with that same criteria, we weren't the perfect match and as much as I'd like to have the apartment rented and money coming in, I also wanted my Guests to be comfortable and knowledgeable about what they were renting. I still follow that ideal and don't try to sugar-coat anything. If we're a good fit, I hope it works for both of us.
So last December when our subscription for Garcia House was expiring, it was truly wrenching for me to let it go. I just wanted what we used to have back and it was never going to happen and I knew that. I actually cried -- and more than once even!
I've debated whether to go with the pay-per-booking platform (I think that's all they're offering now) but there's so many hoops to jump thru and rules and laws and such. I just can't justify having my Guests pay approximately eighteen percent on top of my rates PLUS an additional three-percent (from them!) for being forced to used VRBO's credit card payment system -- My places aren't worth that much more! If they were, my own rates would reflect it!! I would like to raise my rates as neither Garcia House or Glenn House has had so much as a rate increase of a dime since both opened!
I understand VRBO/HA need to make money. Of course they do! And they did just great until Expedia purchased it and will squeeze every last nickel out of everyone who uses them.
No! No! No! Their "Book with Confidence" guarantee is a joke but that needs to be left for another blog entry.
I got my notification today that I have ten days left on our Glenn House subscription and if I renew, I MUST sign up for on-line booking and their payment system. I think not. I'm not crying this time. My subscription doesn't benefit them as they weren't getting any more money out of travelers or us, so we're buried DEEP in the listings and I've barely had any inquiries. Garcia House and Glenn House are still great vacation rentals for the budget-conscious, pet friendly and rates are holding. What has changed so I don't get inquiries anymore? Not us -- VRBO and HomeAway.
Good-bye and good riddance.
What a lovely surprise to come home last Wednesday evening and find our sister site, Garcia House, was named the very first "Member of the Month" at Houfy.com! For those of you reading this and not familiar with "Houfy", it's a start up site for vacation rentals to connect directly with travelers and vice versa thereby eliminating and avoiding the extra expenses and fees the big VR sites are imposing.
I'm including two screenshots with this blog post. One where I post to our Garcia House VR facebook page and the other on "our" personal facebook page (I don't have a true personal facebook account of my own -- I piggyback on my husbands :) ). That one from the personal page really does give a quick insight as to why it is better to book direct (#bookdirect) and stop throwing away money!!
Fran -- Operator and Co-Owner of Glenn House Vacation Rental in Tucson, AZ