homeaway
5 months ago
 

HomeAway tweaks its rental commissions, adds traveler fee

This week HomeAway, the vacation rental platform, began rolling out a traveler fee to its US websites (HomeAway, VRBO, and VacationRentals.com), with a plan to introduce the fees globally later this year.

The fee on listings will vary, and will be between about 4% and 10% of the total value (not to exceed $499). For instance, for an owner renting in the range from $800 to $1,000, the fee will be about 9%.

Last year, when previewing the fee, the company said it expected the fee to average at about 6% of most transactions, which, if true, would be lower than what its major rivals, such as Airbnb, charge renters.

Chief executive Brian Sharples said in an email statement to Tnooz that the fee is intended to enable HomeAway to “invest in more marketing and product and services, and to cover some operational costs.”

When a traveler who books or pays through HomeAway reaches the checkout screen, he or she will click “view details” in the “request to book” section, to the right of listings, to see the price breakdown.

homeaway fee expedia

Only properties that can be booked or paid for directly through HomeAway sites are immediately affected, which means nearly half of the company’s inventory — though the company wants to make full inventory online bookable by end of the year.

That latter plan is a cause of alarm for some.

In community forums for property owners, concern is being expressed among some that property owners will be penalized by having their listings “flushed” down to the lower ranks in search results if they choose not to use HomeAway’s online system.

There are rumors of a plan by as soon as July to force owners who op-out of the online payment method to cancel their listings.

It will be interesting to see how significant this group of property owners is. If they depart and take their business from HomeAway, it might mean a bumpy path for the brand in the short-term.

homeaway

As of today, some of the messaging on HomeAway-branded sites seems to push people into the online payment system exclusively:

vbro

To make things more palatable, HomeAway is reducing the cost for owners using pay-per-booking from 10% to 8% (which includes a credit-card processing fee) for bookings originating on HomeAway, VRBO and VacationRentals. Subscription customers will see pricing changes in April, the company says.

UPDATE: 7:45pm A HomeAway spokesperson clarified:

“Online booking (what we call OLB) and HomeAway Payments are not tethered together. We’re trying to be as flexible as possible for owners.

“For example, if I’m an owner, as an owner I can adopt online booking and then tell HomeAway my preferred method of collecting payment, which might be an alternative to the HomeAway Payments system.

“So, there could be an instance in which a traveler books online, and pays via a wire service – but that’s ok because we have the bank account info in our system and it is verified as authentic.

“As long as the traveler isn’t going off of our platform, and we’re telling them that ‘yes, that method of payment is secure’ then they’ll be protected by our new guarantee.

“So, it is our goal to reach 100% online booking adoption, and everyone will either use HomeAway Payments or an alternative, verified method of payment.”

On the other side of the transaction, HomeAway is betting that the traveler fees will appeal to consumers as part of a broader marketing strategy of positioning its style of rental as safer and less uncertain than renting from a primarily peer-to-peer site like Airbnb. (Exhibit A: HomeAway’s spiky new ads.)

In line with that, the company is rolling out new guarantees.

Sharples told Tnooz:

“We are revising our traveler guarantees to provide even more coverage, reducing prices for owners and managers, and changing the way we monetize our business.

Now, travelers who book or pay directly through HomeAway’s sites will have the full amount of their booking protected against things like misrepresented or double-booked properties.

Additionally, HomeAway’s 24/7 customer service team will book new accommodations for travelers who are stranded or discover a serious issue with the property.”

homeaway

Earlier today: In 2015, TripAdvisor grew its vacation rental listings 18%, to 770,000

HomeAway takes aim at Airbnb in spiky new ad campaign

How Expedia will help HomeAway battle Airbnb

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill is Editor-in-Chief of Tnooz.
Before joining us, Sean was the future of travel columnist at BBC Travel, senior editor of BudgetTravel.com, and an associate editor at Kiplinger’s. He now lives in New Jersey, after a four-year stint in London. Follow him on Twitter.

 

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  1. Jennifer Bryan

    I cannot agree more with what people have posted, it’s all true. I too am a long time VRBO and Homeaway owner and feel completely betrayed by Expedia’s acquisition, new fees, and management changes. Since their new fee in February I have had ONE new rental all summer. What a joke. And don’t bother contacting them, you only get a round-robin of canned replies.
    I not only love hosting guests, I loved (PAST TENSE) traveling as a VRBO guest. But that will be no more as I refuse to give to their money grab and greed.

     
  2. P

    Last four years I was fully booked through the summer. This year I have four repeat guests no new bookings. HA has ruined my business. I should not have relied on one source of course but they bought out all the competition, dwellanle last year and shut them down. I will not be renewing as I feel that I cannot trust them. Homeescape is an alternative apparently thousand of property owners who listed on HA are signing up. You cannot get through to customer service and my emails are not answered. It seems a few percentage of properties on HA are doing well and many are not getting rentals. I don’t want to have online booking but I was forced to do that when I signed up in early March again. I did not know of the proposed transaction fee at that time. I have asked for a pro rated refund because they changed the agreement significantly from their previous statements. I feel bad that I am saying the same thing that most of the other comments have said. Yes, I was strong armed, yes, I have listed with HA for over 10 years (They bought out Cyberrental where you could actually talk to a person that was knowledgable and nice,) yes, I have been forced into online booking which I hate because I like to know our guests and make sure our property is a place they will enjoy, it is quiet and peaceful, some people don’t want that. Yes, I have had to take credit cards and eat the fee, so year on year I get less money, yes, I feel their forcing of the ridged process has ruined my personal touch in make people’s vacation welcoming and special. Angry does not begin to describe how I feel.

     
    • Julie

      We feel the exact same way!! For 10 years my rental was booked solid all summer. This year only booked half that, and that is because of repeat renters! Furious doesn’t describe our feelings well enough. HomeAway has given it’s loyal customers (the peppery owners) the finger.

       
  3. Laurren

    Currently, I don’t see any difference with airbnb. I hope the traveler can book directly with owners in order to force homeaway to reduce its commission.
    BTW, thanks Sean for the article!

     
  4. James Smith

    HA as quoted in your article is lying about listings being allowed to have alternate payments and not be charged a fee. If the listing has HA online booking activated then HA is going to collect a fee, again asked and verified by their customer service. Period. Also, owners have been peeved for a few years now over the fact that they DO have online booking – just not through HA (wisely), yet HA had a search option to select online bookable properties in which the listing was excluded if not through HA. Also the only listings getting inquiries are those that had the good sense to never give their payment info to HA et al so the shady fee is not included in a quote. The scare tactics in terms of a balloon to scare the guests into not using them is disgraceful. So is the showing other competing ads when the prospect clicks on one. In my opinion, the reason for the fee is purely a money grab and Sharples about face is sickening and obviously about the millions he made personally by selling out. Reports are coming in from guests that have been scammed by HA and company because the weren’t able to communicate with the owner, so scamming was made easier and they paid for fake rentals and HA did nothing to help them. Guests are much more protected by speaking with and paying the owner directly, and if by credit card or pay pal then there is no difference, they are protected. Owners also need to be protected from scamming guests that stole a credit card, and therefore should have the right to do their own due diligence . These companies are asking owners to take all the liability and even in the fine print the cost for addressing any issues (not that they do that I know of – just look at their FB pages and all the complaints and read the thousands of negative complaints on review sites) and to pay them for the privilege. Please have a follow up article to address the lies, misconceptions, and write an article about what actually happened to the arrogant condescending Tom Hale who has disappeared.

     
  5. Jeffrey Bacot

    I find it interesting that part of HomeAway (aka Expedia) is that the service fee is to help them spend more on advertising to stay on the top of search engines and pay for more search top level Ad placement. This would be funny if it was not so outrageous. They are a HUGE billion dollar company and want to charge renters so they can even further dominate the search engines to get even more money from people who already know who they are.

    Plus, I imagine many renters would opt out of the so called protection this fee “covers”. if given the choice. What about people who trust the owners/agents? What about repeat business?

    I strongly believe they will back off this strategy. I imagine few owners will be renewing their contracts with the HomeAway/Expedia group. There will be a new service that emerges at the top soon who is easier to work with. There are several out there that do not show up as often due to the spending by HA/Expedia to push them down the search result listings. That can only work so long and when HA has fewer and fewer properties it can list they will become less relevant.

     
  6. carole

    I think the only way to protest is with our payments. I won´t be renewing with Homeaway

     
  7. Artists Retreat

    I have not had a single booking since they added the new fee.

     
  8. markus

    Travelers will book direct with owners, if they can avoid to pay the service fee. I guess it is the best time for independet owners to create or update their own websites.

     
  9. Joan Boone

    The following is a complaint that I sent to Homeaway/VRBO: “I have listed my property with Homeaway/VRBO since 2004. We have endured the drastic increase in fees during the years when you have become a multi-billion dollar company. I am fully aware that you have changed your policy since hooking up with Expedia and are requiring a lot more profits due to that deal . I have managed my business and taken credit card payments myself for over 20 years. I do not need your help in this area and really think that it is not professional or necessary to put the following note on my listing:

    “The owner has been emailed

    You need to complete your reservation online and finalize payment on HomeAway. We can’t protect your payment if we don’t know you’ve booked through us.”

    The above statement is vindictive for acts that I have not done. That is not having you process my bookings and charging my guests 9% and me 4.5%. This must be a funny game for people in your company to see how big business can squeeze the little person. It certainly is not professional. Your company should start reading the blogs about it and its actions. It really needs a pr boost that is not going to come from such statements. Remember it needs the little people to get their big bucks income.”

     
    • POSHPADZ Luxury Properties

      We also started listing on Home Away 10 years ago, and thought it was indeed a great site for both property owners / managers & travelers alike. Thru the years we have been getting more and more frustrated with HA due to site changes , fee increases, privacy intrusions & increasingly poor customer service. We are a licensed Florida real estate & property management company and specialize in luxury vacation rentals and have our own contracts and merchant accounts for processing credit cards for payments. We do not need HA to “help us with collecting payments” from our clients, however they are now getting to be a very big bully in this arena forcing us all to do it their way, or end up with no inquiries at all. Since May 31st 2016 we have yet to receive 1 inquiry for any of our rentals, and have fallen to the last pages on all search results due to not signing up for the new pay online thru Home Away “service”. In the 10 years that our company has been in business we have never gone a day without hundreds of inquiries coming thru Home Away, VRBO etc (all owned now by same company). We have been loyal clients, paid our money every year even with the continued increases and now are being punished for refusing to give them even more money! Currently we are working with our web developers to offer a serious FREE alternative to all property owners / managers & travelers looking to either list their properties or book a great vacation property for their holiday’s. Our site currently has properties from all over the world and is 100% free to list on or book on! Our company is based in North Palm Beach Florida and although we are small in comparison to these 1000 pound gorilla sites, we are hoping to give them a good run for their money by offering everyone who is fed up with being treated like a dollar sign a great alternative site for FREE! Look us up (we know we cant put our actual website on here), so just type in our company name POSHPADZ then add a dot com to that and you will find us! Power to the people, lets take the bananas away from these gorillas and live free!!!!

       
    • Jonna

      I’m glad to hear that other owners feel the same way I do. It’s also infuriating that Home Away is nasty when I call them and try to talk about this issue. I renewed my subscription in December and was not made aware of this change. Now when I go to my listing I see their “service fee” buried in my quote. This adds nearly 10% to the rental fee and turns renters away. I now have more luck with free listings on Craig’s List. I hope the class action suit goes forward. Count me in!!!

       
  10. G F

    I too would like to join in the lawsuit. Homeaway has become very greedy. In the past we were almost completely booked by March for the summer months. Suddenly, since the new service fee was instituted, my bookings dropped to half and my income has been cut in half. I eventually HAD to comply with their ridiculous game of “strong arm” and take credit card payments and do online bookings just to jump up in the listings. They added this service fee in March and my listing renewed in July, again, mid contract, same as your’s. They are very very greedy. Today I “spot checked” my listing and couldn’t even find it. When I called the rep said that it was there. I got off the site, got back on again and suddenly it appeared. I flat out told him that my income has dropped by over half and if it continued into next year I would need to sell my property. I inquired as to how many listing they had that they needed to be so greedy and charge such a high service fee. He replied “millions of listings.” I would love to have that kind of income

     
  11. Michael D

    I find it amusing Homeaway has a place to alert people of potential scams when they are the biggest scammers out there. I pre-paid for a year of service expecting HA to deliver qualified leads of renters to me, then get out of the way while I closed the deal and arranged the financials. Now they have added a signifiant “Service Fee” that I didn’t want, need or ask for, and is going to force me to either lower the cost of my rental or potentially lose business to stay competitive. It’s obviously unethical to change the basic structure of a service agreement mid-stream, I’m wondering if it is even legal. A big five thumbs down to Homeaway for this transparent money grab.

     
  12. Steve Turner

    In Brian Sharpes comments yesterday in the owner-only video, it looked like he knew he board had flushed VRBO down the toilet. He continued with the line that marketing was going be all worth it.

    The problem is is that owners, those who built VRBO feel betrayed and it will not be forgotten.

     
  13. Martha's Vineyard Rentals

    Sean, thanks for the article. Everybody who posted here, thanks for sharing your opinion. Matt Landau predicted this to happen, and his advice is – always diversify. He’s got some really good articles for homeowners on his site vacationrentalmarketingblog.com.
    Well, it’s highly unlikely HA will change their mind on this new ‘service fee’. Next time you hear “Wish we could turn back time … gotta make money” on the radio, think of HA.

    Being a small vacation rentals listing website on Martha’s Vineyard [launched 1 year ago] we just started getting phone calls from homeowners sharing similar stories about the fee. In fact, 2 days ago a lady from Beaver Island, MI called us to ask how to build a website like ours. 🙂 the fact that it took 3.5 years kind of discouraged her, but my advice was – organize a small group, get 10 homeowners and have a freelancer to build you a WP website. You will start getting inquiries without anybody telling you how to do your business. If you can’t get a group of homeowners, build a simple webpage and promote on Chamber of Commerce site, Craigslist etc.

    Max

     
  14. David

    This issue of them not listing my property because I don’t check a box on their website saying my dates are up-to-date is ridiculous. I change it only when I get a new rental. Now I have lost months of listings if the search is by date because of their stupid system. What did I pay for? I travel a lot and don’t ned another thing I need to do every month. I am working hard to get rid of things I need to do, not increase them. Their payment system is also an issue … I travel a lot so they only give 24 hours to contact potential tenors to see if they are ok to rent my home. My renters have always gone through me for payments and contracts I have them sign.

     
  15. Donna

    Just found out though a FB group that HA has “partnered” within a website called Tansler which is a auction site for rentals on put our homes on it! Mine in discounted $200.00 per night!

     
  16. Richard Vaughton

    “It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.”—Sancho Panza

    Don Quixote (Part I, Book III, Chapter 9) by Miguel de Cervantes [1547-1616].

     
  17. Tara

    Business is picking up elsewhere! I just responded to 5 inquiries today. None from HA. One from Airbnb, VHR, Zillow, my personal website, and one from Craigslist. I was a one stop pony before HA fees. Let’s see if diversifying helps. I’m also on Rentivo, Homeescape, and United Vacation Rentals, but I have someone coming to look the first week in May for a long term option. I’ll keep all posted.

     
    • Tara

      Just got my first booking with Airbnb for May 2nd, and someone is coming on May 1st (also from Airbnb) to look at the property for a later date and another for long-term in October. My traffic from Airbnb has picked up, and is now outdoing HA. I have had one instant booking from HA since my original post.

       
  18. Donna

    Just received this email from Rentivo

    Attention: We’re Raising £500,000 To Power The Rental Revolution & We’d Like You To Be A Part Of It
    We’re (Rentivo & VR Weekly) building the ultimate vacation rental platform to support the asset manager/owner. Websites, payments, booking management & automated marketing. We want you to have a chance to be part of it, helping shape the direction of Rentivo.

     
  19. Cardiffian

    I would like to chime in and agree with all the outraged owners. I will gladly join the lawsuit. This hit me out of nowhere and my bookings are way down. I barely get any more inquiries. And now they want to make online booking mandatory? And get rid of e-checks? This will all together eat into most of my profit. How can we stay competitive with our prices?

     
    • Niki

      I also saw a stark decline in inquiries, so I tried to book my own condo to see what was up. My condo did not show up in the search, even though my calendar showed available. I have been a homeaway/VRBO customer for a number of years and always renewed (paid) my account. I called homeaway customer service and they told me they turned off my account because I did not update my calendar in 60 days (of course no inquiries!). They said they informed me of this this via email – stating subjects like “how to boost your property”. What the heck did I pay 400 bucks for? Didn’t know I had to read every marketing email. Seems slimly and I am very angered. I feel that they were trying to “motivate” me to upgrade my package with them by creating a booking problem. Anyone else have this happen?

       
      • Julie Dinneen

        I had the same problem! I could not find my listing on the VRBO website even though I am current with my subscription. They said I had no updated my calendar. I had not had any inquiries, has ski season had ended and summer not yet started…. but going into July I thought – why have I not gotten any hits? I have worked hard to offer guests a personal experience. I don’t want online booking and feel like VRBO is taking over what I do best. It appears that they want to force on line booking, which is forcing me to operate my property in a way that I do not want. I will be exploring my options this coming year. VRBO/HomeAway has been a headache lately. Always something. I have created something that does not need their services and fees — I have been doing it myself and want it to stay that way.

         
  20. Andy, owner of Look-Out Lodge

    Question: Does anyone have the case number to the federal filing of the law suit against HA/VRBO? Or even better, Does anyone know if they have a online claim form for HA/VRBO customers who want to join in on this pending law suit.

     
  21. Persian Emp

    I am 100% for and support concept of free market exchange and as such every business should have the right to operate as it see fit within boundaries of laws.

    HomeAway’s deliberate step by step enforcement utilizing their designed subscription based market monopoly, forcing over one million advance paid subscribers – read small businesses – to either join or stay vacant violet the spirit of laws and ethics.

     
  22. cablvr

    As soon as HA/VRBO makes BIN mandatory, I am cancelling my listings. This is bull$__t. Mandatory BIN means owners and landlords will be unable to perform any due diligence on our prospective tenants as we will only have the option to review the BIN offer without any disclosure of the prospect’s name or other relevant details (address, phone, email). HA/VRBO is adopting the AirBNB model. Owners and landlords will not collect any security deposit as a result. It will be held by HA/VRBO.

     
  23. Mary

    A petition has been started asking for HomeAway’s CEO to stop the Service Fee. We need your signature to help make this statement as big as possible. I didn’t start the petition, I’m just trying to make those of you who read this aware that it exists an give you the opportunity to make our voices heard in concert.

    https://www.change.org/p/brian-sharples-stop-the-homeaway-vrbo-service-fees

     
    • Hans

      Please share the results of the survey with the management of HA/VRBO.
      I have just changed my subscription from Platinum to classic because I don’t get enquiries anymore and with the platinum subscription plus service fee HA earns more from my property than I do trough my listing with them

       
  24. Andy Wells, owner of Look-Out Lodge on Lake Cumberland

    Here is the real problem that I see in this new “mandatory online booking” by HomeAway and VRBO. We screen our potential guests to be sure that our property is not only right for the renter but that the potential guests are right for us. Since this is also our personal vacation home, we want guests who will be respectful of our property and treat our home as they would treat their grandmothers home. That is, we screen out bachelor party events, some weddings, young adults under 25 and larger groups over our capacity limits. With the new online booking process, we are no longer in control of our selective process, which has worked out very well for us, so far. So, if we are forced to use online booking, I may need to revert to a more tactical process and sneak around their system, as I have done with FlipKey and others that want to double charging guests for booking our lodge. If I can find out how to join the federal lawsuit against HA/VRBO, then I am all in. This is by far the worst concept that management has implemented to date and I hope this bites them in the a**……..

     
    • Sally L

      Andy, even with BIN enabled you still have 24 hours to respond to the inquiry to ask whether the group meets your requirement, and you can decline the booking if they do not. Also, at least for now, you can email them directly, and travellers still have the option to send an inquiry without requesting to book (although this option is hidden beneath the big, orange REQUEST TO BOOK button. The buzz is that traveller contact information will be blocked by the year’s end.

       
      • Andy, owner of Look-Out Lodge

        Sally: I understand the existing process in place now and that we can communicate with potential renters for screening purposes. But that is for now, today. But when they fully implement the online booking process that HA/VRBO wants to have in place by year end where we only have 24 hours to accept or reject renters based on no information, then I will be rejecting every one of these booking inquiries. My only salvation is that my own website that I developed five years ago is starting to gain more traction then inquires I am getting from HA/VRBO. And repeat house guests help as well.

         
  25. cablvr

    Did anyone notice HA & VRBO are going to make online booking a requirement “in the future”?

     
  26. Kathy Dardeen

    This is bad business! I hope another company comes along and puts you out of business!

     
  27. Tara

    Another free listing option – link below. I have listed my property, but will use them to be able to book directly from my external website, which cost, but not much. I’m awaiting approval.

    https://www.rentivo.com/

     
  28. Christine V

    One more comment about the webinar yesterday. Tom was sure to let owners know that they are actively searching properties that say “No Service Fee” in the description. He said VRBO/HA is notifying owners to remove the language from the description or they will be dropped. We asked several questions and they were never addressed, such as “Why don’t properties have a service fee?” and “What about bookings we get from other sites?”

     
  29. Sue

    I have been a long time user of HomeAway and VRBO to rent vacation properties, and often rent twice a year. The new fees for renters are a terrible model, and a huge turnoff for me. I was searching on the Cape last night, and not only are there rental fees, but also service fees for “24-hour” protection, whatever that is. To any owners who are reading this: I will not pay for that. I click right AWAY from properties with ridiculous service fees. Also, I noticed a couple of owners who had very high security deposits–like $1,500 or more. Also, I would never pay a security deposit like that. Hope HomeAway sees the error of their ways, but it will take a hit to their bottom line before there is any effect.

     
    • Sondra Hickman

      Sue, you are aware that the OWNERS have nothing to do with the service fee or the 24 hour protection? We are all just as upset as you are. The 24 hour protection is an option, from what I understand, an option that makes us long time owners look like we are bad. Many of us are now in a position where we are not getting bookings and some owners are veing forced to sell their properties due to this. Regarding security deposits, ours is $300, refundable if no damage. But I know there are some properties that are elaborate, huge homes in high demand areas. Maybe those owners have had large groups that did damage and now find it necessary to protect themselves.

       
      • Sue

        Yes, I do understand that. My criticism is of HomeAway. I have written to them as well. They are doing a terrible thing, and they will pay for it. I am sorry for the owners that it affects the most.

         
  30. Christine V

    We listened to the “webinar” by VRBO/HA. Get ready, they are not going to change anything about the service fee. There was a comment that “for now you can see the guest information” leads me to believe that we as owners will not have access through VRBO/HA to see who is renting our property. More changes coming in April. They chose the questions carefully and it was basically a pep rally for BIN, online payments and the service fee.

     
    • kyron

      Did anyone else, who registered for the TownHall, not get on and get shout out? I had registered, got confirmation, and started to connect like 20 minutes before. It told the webinar is FULL. This whole TownHall BS is for themselves. If they really wanted to hear us they would not have limited the registration to just 1000 people. Does everyone know that they have over 1M listings? That means they limited it to less than 1/10th of 1%. What a joke! What I’m hearing from Christine is they don’t give a sh*t about us at all and will do whatever they want. Its a numbers game for them and they expect a certain amount of attrition from this change. Nothing will change other than they will continue to take more and more away from us. My prediction is the changes coming in April will be a change in the subscription tier structure and it will cost us MORE to subscribe. What is going on with this class action lawsuit filing? Do the attorneys have a website platform for Owners to join? I’m so irritated by all of this. They don’t care they are ruining peoples lives. It’s forces me to reach out and use other marketing tools. Which is actually a good thing. Some new opportunities have presented themselves to me. However, for some reason VACATIONHOMERENTALS denied my application to list? Has anyone else had this happen? Thanks for any feedback.

       
      • La Casa

        Kyron – you hit the bullseye – it’s just a numbers game for these guys. And just like Vegas – the House wins every time. My efforts are focused on getting as far as possible from these gangsters but it’s not easy to transition overnight (obviously they know that very well and will exploit to extract every last drop from us..). It took almost 4 weeks but my VHR listing is finally up. I hope they gave you some reason for rejecting your listing. So far I have found VHR to be Keystone Cops operation. All signs are bad and I have yet to have a single enquiry off of that platform. Good luck to all.

         
  31. Sondra Hickman

    Usually we have all holidays booked, and 90% of the summer by the first of March. We only had 3 inquiries from Dec 15 to last week. Then we look off the auto renewal for June AND decided to add the book it now just to see what happened. Holy cow – got a request and booking in 3 hours! 4 more requests for July! And one of the requests is a repeat guest who said my July 4 holiday week was blacked out 2 weeks ago! But when they went back to look yesterday it showed available. We had no bookings or black out. Very obvious they were blocking our requests. Then to add to the insult, if you are not a platinum member a Hotels.com window pops up behind the vrbo window when you search! WTH? Who is getting that advertising money? Scam all the way around!

     
  32. Donna

    Just wait, this is only the beginning…..instant booking and surge pricing is right around the corner

     
    • Christine V

      Just got a phone call from VRBO/HA and they wanted to raise our subscription fee from silver to platinum level so we would get more inquiries. Told them our inquiries have all but stopped since they impacted service fee. They had no answers, only the same scripted excuses. Be aware, now VRBO/HA is going to try to raise your subscription fee and get guest to pay service fee. We informed her that we will be dropping our 4 listings and moving on to others sites.

       
      • Sondra Hickman

        You have to have platinum to avoid the hotels.com pop up when someone searches your area!

         
  33. Gordon Bilan

    Adding almost 9% on every booking, beside heavy charge on the owners that advertise on their site plus 2.7% charge for CC processing… Horror story, terrible. So greedy for easy money. More charge for using one simple website than renting a car or…. No any additional cost, no any risk at all. People are not as stupid as they thing. They say it is very good news for everybody, so fanny and so stupid. I am looking for alternative way to rent my unit. I already have much less inquires than I had a year ago. This robbery will greatly affect our small business

     
  34. Mike

    HA/VRBO will be this generations ‘New Coke’. Coca-Cola at least had the integrity to admit their mistake and correct. Will HA/VRBO?

     
  35. Michael evans

    All the rhetoric sounds very complicated. As an owner I prefer simplicity as once was available via Homaway /vrbo. While the expedia giants figure out what there doing, simplicity indicates I must go offline for payment until the excecs sort it out

     
  36. Audrey

    Not sure how many owners are here but not yet in any of the FB groups, where I already post this. But just in case you are not using FB, here is the survey I have created yesterday – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L8TRSY8

    I created it to get a bigger picture of how most of owners have behaved so far about the fee, including those who usually don’t voice out. It’s for OWNERs only. I only 82 responses so far which is quite disappointed. I rather not to believe that is the ALL the total number!!! So really need your HELP. You don’t need to reply back that you fill it out because it should stay anonymous unless you have questions or concerns.

    – Owner of absolutehigh cabin

     
    • Audrey

      Thank you everyone for filling out the survey. We have just hit 200 mark and that is a good number for sample data. Please use RESULT page to review the current result. I will update the result page once I do more detail analysis, so right now I leave it to you being the analyst first.

      Please feel free to forward the survey to other owners to continue building the headcount. Thank you.

       
  37. Donna

    please contact Brian Sharples directly via twitter to voice your concerns @briansharples

     
  38. Donna

    This is a posting from homeaway community if you have not taken a look at the page please do, BTW – I can not log in to comment to the page tried to reset my password many times just never get the link for a new password……….I know you will find this shocking, but I’ve heard this from other home owners. “Does anyone think it a bit strange?

    There is no indication on the forum of the upcoming Town Hall

    searching for “town hall hale” on this forum shows nothing

    googling “town hall homeaway 2016” yields nothing

    searching the forum for “webinar” shows nothing

    my VRBO monthly statement from a few days ago doesnt mention the webinar

    The link shows the max of 1000 attendees, yet the most that have attended town halls in the past was under 100.

    I mean if a million people want to listen to HA’s “webvertisement”, wouldnt one expect that HA would love to have them all listen?”

    This is so bizarre to me. What, HA cant afford to increase the max attendees on a webex call? With the untold cash rolling in from the new service fees, surely they have enough money to expand the head-count?

    It seems very odd. Any explanation why such hiding of the webinar and excluding so many that may want to listen?

     
    • Jennifer Harris

      I was told by account manager the webinar would be released 24 hours after it aired and it wasn’t. I inquired twice since then and he says “he will ask the marketing team”. More deception.

       
  39. Pjn

    Apropos Homeaway’s sneaky dealings; we had a policy of strictly no refund. When Homeaway confirmed a booking,several months later -a day before guest arrival- Homeaway asked for permission to cancel the booking. We held firm and said no. Homeaway nevertheless decided not to pay us, rental conditions and subscription not withstanding. We had about 7 listings with Homeaway Australia for Thailand. From your article I can see they have continued on their path of cheating customers, what a sad thing,mthey were always a good company !

     
  40. Nelson

    That was 2014 compensation for Sharples. With the Expedia buy out in 2015, I bet that compensation was closer to 100 million. I don’t care what people make, but he did this on the back of hundreds of thousands of small business owners and retirees, whose business he has ruined or disabled.

     
    • Kyron

      Nelson,
      They actually have over 1M listings worldwide.
      Just do the math if they avg $100 on all those listings….that’s $100M EVERYTIME someone books…
      These guys are scum and greedy bastards
      I hope the courts awards large punitive damages to all of us…I’m going to read the lawsuit filing…was it an individual or a class action?

       
  41. steve sherlock

    In the heading of this article, it seems using the word “tweak”, has turned out to be an understatement!

     
  42. SBR

    Total compenation for Brian Sharples last year was: $6,525,839

    Perhaps he can take some of that money and improve the site marketing.

    http://www1.salary.com/Brian-H-Sharples-Salary-Bonus-Stock-Options-for-HOMEAWAY-INC.html

     
  43. cablvr

    My feedback to HomeAway:

    Your traveler service fee is impacting the number of inquiries and ultimate bookings on both of my listings. Booking online may be important to the traveler, but certainly not the most important criteria a traveler has in choosing a property. In my 22 years of renting vacation properties I have not found the online aspect of booking and remittance to be critical to our business success. In my opinion, the most important criteria to a traveler is likely property availability and price. Your 2012 survey is certainly not timely or designed with the traveler in mind, but seems to be designed to support your veiled justification for service fees. You should have just considered raising advertising fees instead of sticking it to the traveler. Doing that just forces me to raise my rental rates, similar to a Socialist candidate touting a Federally mandated minimum wage. Ultimately the consumer loses as prices go up to offset the cost increases.

    Assessing service fees to the traveler is overkill, and ultimately a deal killer to the excellent relationship I have had with your various companies over the years. As such, I will not be renewing my subscription with HomeAway.

     
  44. Alicia Yowell

    Everyone should contact their respective state Attorney General. The Attorney General in Virginia has already received over 1000 complaints.

     
  45. Tara

    Voice your concerns with Consumer Affairs.

    https://www.consumeraffairs.com/online/vrbo.html

     
  46. courtney hill

    We have been working with VRBO now for 9 years and agree that this svc fee is unacceptable as it piggy backs on other companies fees and is not in the best interest of the guest or the owner listings. I have received information from VRBO justifying this charge but it’s not registering with me at all. There are other avenues to market on, so if you are not happy with this change, you can also search and market via other avenues. I believe VRBO should have been more forthcoming with these changes in informing all their clients ahead of time, and at the time this went into place, of which we did not receive communications.

     
  47. Persian Emp

    The major adverse-effect of HomeAway decision is an attempt to take control of over one million properties – read small businesses – from their rightful owners, while in a binding contract to advertise the subject properties in exchange for hefty subscription fees.

    As a reminder, HomeAway have to asset in this equation and as such subject to no risk. Their only tool is designed manopoly over subscribers.

    Eventually authorities will wake up and look outside of Chicago for bad guys.

     
    • Sondra Hickman

      Their take over of OUR properties began when they started contacting our guests and “reminding” us of how to handle our properties. And reminding our guests it is time to check out and making it sound like we sent the email. We are not toddlers, and our guests are not either.

       
    • Persian Emp

      During the lowest point of over one million vacation properties grab scheme, HomeAway pretended to be me/us – property owner/s – while communicating with guests.

      It will be laughable kiss of death if Washington Post decide to control the transection between their classified advertisers and potential purchaser, but for HomeAway it seems business as usual so far.

       
  48. Tara

    Here is another option if you can cater to the corporate housing crowd.

    https://www.corporatehousingbyowner.com/partners/

     
  49. Don

    Not happy about the fees. We’ve lost 50% of our inquires compared to what we’ve had around this time in the last 5 years. Understand VRBO doesn’t care about existing customer. So the only option I have it to list elsewhere.

     
  50. Christine V

    Yesterday on our “March 2016 Owner Statement form VRBO/HA” there was a very long justification for the Service fee. After reading this, it was more than clear that this Fee is here to stay and the powers at VRBO/HA could care less about what this is doing to the owners. Hopefully someone will come up with an alternative website soon or homeescape.com will get higher on the google search engines.

     
    • Sally

      I noticed that, and I wrote this to Homeaway in response: “NOW you put a big notice highlighted in green about the service fee?? LOL. A little late, don’t you think.”

       
  51. Jope Werti

    This is a complete scam! I am taking my business to my local realtor who only charges 5%. This is crap and Home away knows it! Everyone should look for other alternatives other than any of the companies Home Away owns

     
  52. Joanne McGovern

    Homeaway home owners should all call Bloomberg news to let them know you won’t be renewing your subscription. 1 415-912-2960 See if that helps the stock price.

    Joanne

     
  53. Victor Martins

    This is all about stifling competition. Expedia bought this company because they couldn’t compete. There should be an inquiry. This is anti competitive behavior. The justification is BS, it’s just a cash plain and simple. I want the rental owners to stand up and be counted. We could start another website in a second..,.

     
    • Susan Okelley

      I would be very interested in joining some other website in order to advertise my one rental unit in Florida. I am retired and very worried about being able to successfully market my golf villa at Edgewater Beach Resort inPanama City. without the income derived from rentals, I’ll probably have to sell it. Please let me know if anything can be done.

       
  54. Vonna

    What I find chilling about the HA update for the article above is the following
    “So, there could be an instance in which a traveler books online, and pays via a wire service – but that’s ok because we have the bank account info in our system and it is verified as authentic.”
    I am not giving them access to my bank account!

     
  55. Tara

    I just received my first inquiry from Vacation Home Rentals. The potential renter was the first to contact me on Homeaway post service fees. She indicated the fee is why she was contacting me through VHR. Hopefully, it will turn into a booking. I’ll keep all posted.

     
    • Kyron

      Hi Tara,
      What did you do to get activated on VHR? I’ve been waiting for over 2 weeks now and those idiots don’t even respond to the 5 emails I’ve sent them and they have no phone number. I’m surprise TripAdvisor is even sponsoring such incompetence. Anyway, did you do something special to get activated? I can’t even login because its stuck in a loop and won’t login…any help?

       
      • Tara

        Hi Kyron,

        It took a few days when I signed up for the free 60 day trial. I emailed them a couple of times over 3 days, as I was not activated. In the meantime, I also decided to pay for the subscription, but they haven’t charged me, yet. I think they will charge after 60 days. I received an email March 10th, but I was already active. Here is their message below:

        “Hi There,

        Thank you for your email, I apologize for the delay in getting your listing live on the website. It usually will take about five business days for your listing to be approved. However, we have seen a large increase in owners listing their homes in the past few months as we are at the end of the summer months. Our Activations is currently going through approvals, which means that your property will likely be approved or denied shortly. Your billing period will be adjusted to the date your property is activated to ensure you still receive a full 60 days of service on our site. Please let me know if you have any further questions! Thank you.”

         
      • La Casa

        I too have been totally unimpressed with VHR. Almost 3 weeks now waiting for approval and activation. The CS is non-existent. No follow up on emails requesting status. Seemingly impossible to speak to an actual human being. New potential business coming to them, presented on a silver platter as a result of the HA debacle, and they fumble the ball totally.

        A well funded, well managed. owner owned Co-Op listing site is sorely needed here. An organization with solely our interests in mind above all else. The get rich quick Vulture Capitalism crowd will always disappoint and let us down. Always every time.

         
        • Fed up

          More owners will be jumping ship from VRBO / Home away to VHR.

           
        • Sally

          I noticed that, and I wrote this to Homeaway in response: “NOW you put a big notice highlighted in green about the service fee?? LOL. A little late, don’t you think.”

           
    • Tara

      Update…two bookings this week. One from Homeaway, and one from Vacation Home Rentals…the woman I indicated in the previous post. She found me on HA first, then shopped around and found me on VHR.

       
  56. Robert Shaffer, MD

    This is a contract violation, as a paid subscriber to this service they cannot charge a service fee for owners that are already subscribed. I have lost so many rentals this year because of the new fees, if anyone is filing a class action lawsuit, I am in.

     
    • Tara

      I have already contacted the attorney who was posted here a couple of weeks ago. Let me know if you need the info.

       
      • Janet Reuss

        I would like the attorney info please.

         
        • Tara

          Morgan & Morgan
          ForThePeople.com

          24 hours / 7 days a week. Se habla español.
          877.667.4265

          They are based out of Florida, and took my info down if there is enough for a class action lawsuit, but can’t represent me individually out of state.

           
    • conrad

      I agree with u. I was not notified before I renewed for my 5th year, the end of November. I discovered the additional fees when I addressed a request by a traveler, to rent for the 3 winter months for 2017 last week. I reviewed my computer trash and the November 5th date of notification to me, given by Sharples in an e mail to me yesterday the 13th of MARCH. I think at this time a call to the Better Business Bureau will be a good start after I speak with Homeaway. This is a very unnecessary problem created by Homeaway company which I already paId for the service. We renewed the service like u and during the term of the same service we have been receiving they changed the fees to be charged. Half the fee has been added to my first payment to me. The other half appears a a seperate charge called a service fee. The $499. fee is charged for each traveler if a two week rental, a one month or even more/These people are very nieve about contracting.

       
  57. John

    Sally, Dont bother calling to complain. When I asked why I was not informed about the fee I was told that I received an email. Maybe I did but I explained to the representative, that I never saw it. When I asked how do I get feedback to HomeAway management he told me that my concerns have already been addressed due to this email. This was a thoughtless response lacking any empathy. Basically he should have just told me “We don’t care!!”

    When I asked for a manager to express my concerns he out right refused to get a manager on the phone. He told me to use the feedback button on the website and that will get to the developers. “DEVELOPERS!?!?!”

     
    • Sally

      I sent my comment in via the Feedback button. I’ve been told those comments are looked at by management… but who knows!

       
  58. JC

    The statement regarding Airbnb’s charges being as high now as VRBO is misleading. Airbnb does not charge 3% for credit cards whereas VRBO does. I imagine the majority of travelers are using credit cards.

     
  59. Tara

    For the first time ever, the market comparison line is higher than mine. This is post-service fee. I don’t believe it, and I think HA is manipulating data big time. Please email me at raleighretreat@gmail.com if you are interested in exchanging analytics. I’m collecting my own data.

     
  60. Sally

    Since when did HA/VRBO just start including a subtotal in email quotes rather than a breakdown of charges??!! I just noticed this in a quote I sent out today. The traveller has to click through and log in to HA/VRBO to view the breakdown. This is a further obfuscation of the new service fee. I am furious at this further lack of transparency. Will be calling to complain.

     
  61. John

    I was wondering why I am not getting as many bookings. Today I have a booking and Home Away is charging them $109 on top of the rental fee and taxes. Huge profit grab. At $100 fee per booking how many tens of millions is that? There is more competition in the sector than ever before. My listing is up in December and I will take the time to look into alternatives. I expect many others will too. I have been with VRBO (Home Away) since 2008.

     
    • Steve Sherlock

      @John if your guests book through the Australian HA site http://www.homeaway.com.au the quote does not include the service fee.

      From what I can see the Guest can still enter their correct address and country as the US on the payment page. But I don’t know if the booking will be confirmed – someone would need to try a real booking 😉

       
  62. Mark Weitekamper

    I just paid my $900 annual fee for Homeaway and they are still charging the per booking percentage to the guest. For weekly summer rentals , this gets too expensive for people. I have had bookigs opt out die to price this year. I have never had that happen in previous years. I think this is not the contract I signed up for with Homeaway when paying my annual fee. They can switch me to the commission system next year but not this year. I will need to figure out how to take action against them.

     
    • Shirley

      The commission system you mentioned is actually called “pay-per-booking” where HA, VRBO & VR charge a service fee to both the owner and the traveler. It’s a no win situation.

      I have emailed a letter to all my previous guests letting them know about this service fee. I told them they could book through vacationhomerentals.com (which doesn’t charge a service fee to the traveler) or they can book through me directly.

       
  63. John

    Not much will change HA now. They’re too far committed to back up now. Vote with your subscription…don’t renew.
    The individual owners should consider booking all inquiries outside HA then block those dates on your calendar until your listing runs out. They won’t have access to the Hospitality Manager but who cares. My site has enough and I always encourage customers to call me.
    For every listing they loose, that revenue has to come from the new “service fee”. That’s going to sting.
    Apparently HA has forgotten the rule, ” Is’s much easier, and more profitable, to keep existing customers than to get new ones”. They’ll learn.
    I’m out , will not renew.
    John H

     
  64. Heinz H.

    Dear Heinz,

    Last summer, I asked Missourians to share their experiences with hidden “resort fees” — mandatory charges tacked onto consumers’ bills for amenities and services they may not have even used — and what I heard was clear: this industry bait-and-switch on unsuspecting travelers needs to stop.

    Last week, I introduced legislation that will prohibit hotels from secretly charging these deceptive fees — but I still need your help to get it across the finish line.

    Share your stories about #HiddenHotelFees on Facebook and Twitter
    and let your friends and family know about my legislation.

    Claire listens to Missouri seniors

    Let’s make sure that families who have saved for a well-deserved vacation have the peace of mind of knowing exactly how much their hotel stay is costing them.

    Thank you for making your voices heard — together we will protect American consumers.

    All the best,
    sig
    Cape Girardeau
    ‌555 Independence St.,
    ‌Room 1600
    ‌Cape Girardeau, ‌MO 63703
    Phone: (573) 651-0964
    Fax: (573) 334-4278
    Springfield
    ‌324 Park Central West, ‌Ste. 101
    ‌Springfield, ‌MO 65806
    Phone: (417) 868-8745
    Fax: (417) 831-1349
    Columbia
    ‌28 N. 8th St., Ste. 500
    ‌Columbia, ‌MO 65201
    Phone: (573) 442-7130
    Fax: (573) 442-7140
    St. Louis
    ‌5850 Delmar Blvd., ‌Ste. A
    ‌St. Louis, ‌MO 63112
    Phone: (314) 367-1364
    Fax: (314) 361-8649
    Kansas City
    ‌4141 Pennsylvania Ave., ‌Ste. 101
    ‌Kansas City, ‌MO 64111
    Phone: (816) 421-1639
    Fax: (816) 421-2562
    Washington, D.C.
    ‌730 Hart Senate Office Building
    ‌Washington, ‌D.C. 20510
    Phone: (202) 224-6154
    Fax: (202) 228-6326

     
    • Sally

      I saw that post on her site, but what does this have to do with the HA/VRBO service fee? She is trying to force hotels who charge for access to things like spa facilities, newspapers, etc. to include these items in the rate quote for the hotel. The HA/VRBO service fee is presented at time of booking so I don’t see how that relates to this legislation.

       
  65. Heinz H.

    The comment reads as follows @VRBKNOW @BRAINSHARPLES: “Please check out social media sir -you have become quite a #PARIAH #vrboservicefee #hijack #pigsgetfat @mcuban”.

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @heinz h – please clarify the Mark Cuban tweet source… There is no comment about HA on his Twitter feed. Thanks.

       
  66. Heinz H.

    For all that are not familiar with Mr. Mark Cuban: he is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks; a host of the TV show “Shark Tank” and (according to Forbes magazine) has a net worth of 3+ Billion

     
  67. Heinz H.

    Please see Mark Cuban’s twitter comment yesterday to Mr. Brain Sharples. Please check-out Senator Clare McCaskill (D) MO. new Bill that she introduced in the Senate on her web-site. HomeAway is soon going to become “Gone Away”. In Honor of former first Lady Nancy Reagen’s death today; I have created a new bumper sticker: “JUST SAY NO TO VRBO”. The first 1,000 will arrive next week.

     
  68. Tara

    Can people take a screen shot of their analytics and post here?

     
  69. Kyron

    Everyone should look at their ANALYTICS tab and see how their metrics measure up this past month against a year ago…you will likely be shocked that business fell off the cliff thanks to the wizards over at HA. As a business man I look at these results. The only thing that changed is this ridiculous Service Fee. If HA executive were real leaders in business they would understand…geez they are the ones who set it up. Look at the results yourself Mr. CEO and Mr. COO. Do a random sampling. How do you expect us to stay in business? If you don’t drive traffic (page views to bookings) then we as Owners will fail. I oppose this business practice as do ALL the Owners. And the Service Fee rationale does not hold water. How do you justify a sliding percentage scale on this? For example: Properties that rent for $1500/night are charged a client/traveler service fee of $499 and you have a property that charges $200/night and you charge them $20. How does the property that is charged more have $479 more benefit than the property that is charged $20 for the service. Supposedly this Service Fee is helping everyone equally with 24/7 customer service and marketing. Will they be spending more marketing dollars in the areas that cost more per night and less marketing dollars in the areas that cost less per night? This is such BS and is a weak argument. Has anyone contacted the FTC about the deceptive and unfair business practices of HA? If not, they have a Consumer complaint department and they are required by law to follow up with an investigation. I think if enough people complain than maybe the FEDS will look into it. Shame on HA.

     
  70. Steve

    (From Steve H) Re-Post from seven days ago…Probably the toughest but most viable thing to do. (Please post on other Social Media accounts) “After reading all of these posts (see link below), personally I do not think a class action lawsuit is the way to go. They take a long time, and the lawyers seem to be the only ones that prosper from them. Possibly a better idea is to look into starting a Co-op of some sort. For instance, vacation home owners (YOU) could pool their money together (dues, or some other means to be determined) and develop their own web site that would have the basics you need to rent your properties. This Co-op would not be able to be sold, or taken over through a leveraged buyout (through its bylaws) and would be owned by the Co-op (YOU). The Co-op would be controlled through a Board of Directors.
    Just for my interests, I am putting together an e-mail (vhomesurvey@gmail.com). For those interested, I would like owners to send an e-mail to the above e-mail, with your first name only, and what you would think would be a fair yearly fee for “YOUR Co-op” service. Also, do not write anything (NO RANTS). I am only looking for interest in this venture. Currently a company called Yapstone is being used for Credit Card transactions. However there are other companies that provide this service, including PayPal.
    Please address any conversation (constructive “chatter”) through Tnooz and not the e-mail I provided. As mentioned, I only want to collect statistical data from the e-mails.
    My wife and I are retired, own a small condo that we use about 60 days a year and rent out the rest of the time using VRBO. We are discouraged by VRBO charging this exorbitant service fee to travelers, thus discouraging them from renting through VRBO.
    As a group we can come up with some solid ideas that will be beneficial to OUR investment. We are not Hotels, and we need to find a fair solution to meet our needs. It may be the Hotels want private rental owners out of their way?
    Feel free to (COPY AND PASTE) this document (AND E-MAIL, etc.) to people in your Associations, friends you have with vacation rental properties, or possibly people you have rented vacation properties from in the past.
    Also include the link below. Most owners probably do not know about these additional service fees that have been added by Home Away\Expedia..
    https://www.tnooz.com/article/homeaway-adjusts-its-rental-commission-model-adds-traveler-fee/
    After entering the above site, scroll down to read thru the comments please!
    What is the easiest: Asking one person for a million dollars; or, asking one million people for one dollar?

     
  71. Alicia Yowell

    Our Lack of Leads Could be Homeaway Site Coding Problem, not just Pushback by the Traveler over the fees!

    I have been posting on the community board and Tom Hale has responded. It is very important for all you to search how your property is found by the traveler on the site. There is a major coding problem which could be the reason we are not receiving many leads. I also addressed with Tom how the service fee is displayed in our correspondence with our travelers. It is listed under “Unintended Consequences” See some of my correspondence below:

    Tom,

    I just checked again on how the Chesapeake Bay is shown under your so called new dynamic search. Nothing has changed. It still auto corrects to Chesapeake City where there are only 6 listings, and 5 towns are listed, comprising just 3% of the total listings on the Chesapeake Bay and one of those towns is inland, not even on the bay.
    Please review the correspondence between Sharon of Customer Service, Homeaway case 17840180 and me. For whatever reason, your staff has been trained to say that all changes to the search methodology is “dynamic” and allows for more folks finding your property that match their needs. Unfortunately, if a traveler can’t even find your listing on the site, it is far from a dynamic search system. It was because of my constant calling that I finally got the Maryland homes listed under the tab Chesapeake Bay-USA. Before, just Virginia homes were listed! And not all Maryland homes are listed, especially those on the Western Shore.
    If this coding does not get changed, I would like a refund on my premium listings. I have had only had three inquiries in the last 6 months and that was from folks who searched by town because of a wedding. I can no longer expect to get much business from Homeaway due to their poor geographic coding system and the new traveler fee structure. If owners on the Chesapeake are having this problem and as mentioned above, folks in Florida are having similar coding problems, I advice all owners to review how a traveler finds their home on the site.
    Also, Tom, please explain to me why the new traveler fee shows up just as “service fee”. I have two other properties listed on Homeaway and saw that this is how it is quoted to the traveler. Travelers assume that the owner is requesting this fee. It would be a far better and honest business practice to show that the service fee is a Homeaway fee so as not to confuse the traveler. According to folks on the community boards, their listings have been frozen when they explain that the new service fee is a Homeaway fee on their listings. Why would your company penalize their clients ( the owners) for merely stating the facts? There is an old adage that states, “Honesty is the policy”.
    Magical

    Tom,
    Major Coding Problems on the Site
    I just searched Homeaway as a traveler. I typed in my ID numbers. Two of my homes are at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. Their numbers are 212766 and 21265. My two listings do come up but at the top of the screen in the location box next to arrival times and departure, there is box that should show ” Smith Mountain Lake, instead it states “Point Lookout, Chesapeake Bay”. Point Lookout is on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It also states this for my home on the Chesapeake Bay (212770). My address is Port Republic, Maryland, not Point Lookout that is about 1.3 hours south of my location. Obviously, this is very confusing for a traveler but more importantly for you, as the CEO of Homeaway, it evidences that there is a major coding problem. This could be the reason that so many of the Homeaway owners are complaining that they are not receiving any leads. Perhaps it is not only a push back by travelers about the fees, but it could also be a problem with the coding on your site. Please get this changed for my listings. And again, my prior complaint has not been fixed either.

     
  72. Lnda

    I left it on as I just contact the FEW requests I guests through them. I don’t carei if VRBO put me towards the bottom as I will let my subscription expire in May. VacationHomeRentals.com has so much more activity and don’t forget to use hashtags on your social postings. If there is not a facebook group with the town your rental is in, start one up. We had a person start one for PCB, Florida a little over a year ago and we have over 31,000 members with the vast majority being guests. I think we may have around 250 owners. We make sure all owners are verified before we allow them to post in our group.

     
    • Sally

      How are owners & renters integrated on the FB page? Can both make posts? Do you include a list of properties in the area and contact information? If not, how do owners generate bookings from the page? Thanks!

       
      • Linda

        word of mouth. The owner has to own at leaast one property and is allowed to manage no more than 7 others. They have to verified with the tax accessor that they own the unit they say they do. We put a list in the files of verified owners and will mention from time to time that if they get a pm, check the verified list to make sure they belong. If we see people posting that have not been verified, we telll them to pm an admin with the info. If they don’t they are banned. It is a closed group, so you have to be let in. Also, guests are not allowed to send people of the page to other sites. If they do, they are banned. Both can make posts. Sometimes the guest will post (we tell them to put arrival, departure, amount of guests and if the renter is under 25 to note the age) and owners will comment with their web page, though most have made facebook pages. Owners post what they have and guests will comment of that also. If we get people asking about other places other than our specific area, the post is deleted. Once you start to get big, you have to be diligent on who you let in to avoid as much porn as possible which still sneaks in, but is deleted pretty quickly since we have around 6 admins

         
      • Fed up

        Go to “Vacation rentals from Owners” on Facebook

         
    • Mike McGuire

      Im in PCB too, what is the group?

       
      • Linda

        PANAMA CITY BEACH RENTALS

         
      • Linda

        THERE IS ACUTALLY A FEW. JUST DO A FACEBOOK SEARCH OF PCB OR PANAMA CITY BEACH RENTALS. There are also ones that are not just PCB, like vacation rentals and vacation rental deals

         
  73. Dale

    Unbelievable, after 57 minutes on hold to customer service as a vacation owner a recording came on to call back at a more convenient time!! I’ve changed my options to not allow online bookings. I went back and checked listing next day and it’s turned back on!! I’ve had zero inquiries since this new “fee” has rolled out and on my analytics of my page my traffic is drastically down as well. It’s clear that travelers are very well aware of the hazards of booking through VRBO. I never signed an exclusive agreement with VRBO stating I will make all my reservations through them and have all my payments processed by them as well. No one wins here except the brand name hotels in our area.

     
    • Virginia

      Dale, I also turned off Online Booking (everyone should!) a few days ago and it is still off. Did you click “Save” after doing so?

       
  74. Lisa M.

    Owners ~ Please educate your past and prospective Guests re: this ‘fee’ masquerading as VRBO/HA “premiere 24/7 service” that they can’t possibly deliver. Make known your opposition to this VRBO/HA money-grab on your websites and FB pages, e-mail former Guests. Be vocal, be vigilant, be viral! But do not make any reference(s) within your VRBO/HA listings > VRBO/HA has shut down listings until such [offending] references are removed.

    Owners ~ Participate in the Owners’ “Community,” found within the VRBO/HA site: on the home page > click on ‘Help’ then > ‘Community’ > then, scroll to the bottom of that page and go to ‘Forums.’

    Guests ~ Register your opposition to this ‘fee’ by using the “Feedback” tabs on the VRBO/HA sites. VRBO/HA needs to take measure of your back-lash. Be vocal. Be vigilant. Be viral.

     
    • boodle17

      (BUMP) > for OWNER + Guest ACTION.

       
    • Virginia

      FYI: the HomeAway Community forum is as authoritarian as the company itself. Be careful what you say. The COO, Tom Hale, is on there now spewing the script – “We are doing this to bring you more bookings! Blah, blah, blah”, is absolutely tone deaf, begins every single comment of his with “Hi there”, which is so obnoxious when people are clearly so distressed, he bans those who say things he doesn’t like (and no, I’m not talking about foul language or threats. I was banned for putting up a picture saying, ‘Keep Calm and Just Comply”, that sort of thing will get you banned. Ironic, since when you call CS, all they tell you is that you must comply.
      Hale goes on to tell us we must be polite and respectful! This from a company that has completely taken control of other people’s properties and businesses and could care less about how we feel about that; whose customer service hangs up on people, snidely asks, “Where else are you going to go”, etc. so, true to authoritarian form, it’s okay when HomeAway is brutal toward us, actually affecting our livelihoods, no less, but if we say something Tom Hale doesn’t like on OUR Community forum, we’re banned or the post is deleted, whatever.
      I’m so sick of this company and its very heavy hand, the lying, the deception, the abuse.

      Too bad we don’t have the ability to just delete or ban HomeAway’s nasty impositions on our businesses! HomeAway can destroy our livelihoods, but do not say anything harsh about HomeAway on their forum, folks! THAT is a big no-no and they will not tolerate it!

       
      • Lisa M.

        Folks – As good as it is to vent with each other here, it is hugely important that VRBO hears you. Tom Hale is actively present on the “Community Forum,” as are Owners and Travelers in increasing numbers. Virginia, while I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been “banned” (odd), surely you’ll agree that expressing our collective disgust is most effectively directed ‘within’ the source? My point in posting here is to make people aware of the “Community Forum.” Again: be vocal!

         
        • La Casa

          Lisa – I really disagree with you. Going back or posing on that forum is a waste of time. You are right that Tom (Hope this helps!) Hale is not just on the board, he is actively censoring and ‘executing’, North Korean style, those who dare to point out the logic flaws of what they (HA) try to spin as how this all going to be ‘great for the Owners’. This on its face not good for the Owners. It’s terrible. The reality is that if we want to have same volumes as before we need to lower our rates in proportion to the new service fee. And BIN is King. Expect that BIN will be mandatory by end of this year. One way or another, the money will come out of our pockets and into Expedia’s. Tom’s job is to spin, spin, spin on Sharples behalf. They are just trying to BS the Owners and to keep this from going viral into the Guest community. Spin, Spin, Spin, whatever you need to do or say to get that job done – sell that ice cream to those Eskimos any way you can.

          This my friends is a lost cause. It is very likely that is now happening was contractually part of the purchaser agreement between Expedia and HA. It will not be revisited nor are they watching anything other than the bottom line $$$. They do not care one whit how may of us drop out, move along, look for alternatives or anything else. If 40% or so of the owners hit the road, and they make at least one cent more revenue than they did with the old system, then THEY WIN!!! They are now raking in HUGE new revenue with the fees. This will absolutely dwarf the revenue generated by the subscription model. Stick and fork in it – it’s done.

          You can’t win a war when your opponent controls the battlefield and has all the weapons. We are on their turf not ours. From this point on we should put our time, energy and collective creative skills into building a viable, well run, well funded Co-Op alternative. That will not be a cheap or quick job.

          The VBRO that we knew and (sometimes…) loved is gone and it’s not coming back.

          Time to lick our wounds and move on…

           
        • Virginia

          Completely agree with LaCasa, Lisa. Tom “Hi there” Hale is on Community for two reasons: 1) to repeat the script over and over while ignoring pleas from owners saying the exact opposite is going gone for them. So many have come on and noted that their inquiries and bookings are down as much as 100% (myself included); some have very sadly come on to say they are planning to sell their VR home because of the disaster this has caused them. Hale completely ignores these comments, does not in any way respond to them, and instead basically tells us not to believe what we’re seeing and experiencing but to believe what he’s saying. It’s surreal.

          La Casa is also right about Hale (who often sounds like a whiny child – “I have generously spent a lot of time here/putting numbers together for you…blah, blah, blah…and none of you seem to appreciate it” – that kind of thing from the COO of a company? He’s saying he really resents having to speak directly to their customers and that his doing so is profoundly generous on his part! The arrogance of those in that company is really something to behold, as is the contempt for their customers. And his censorship is really bad, but right in line with the authoritarian/dictatorial culture of HomeAway.

          I would like an answer from Expedia, though, as to why they are implementing the very things THEY told Sharples, when he was beginning HomeAway, NOT to do to keep it from failing. That is a very odd and curious thing to me.

           
        • Lisa M.

          La Casa + Virginia ~ Believe me, I am ‘on-board’ with everything that you say. With one exception: the importance of the “Community Forum.” And for two simple reasons (and I should /could have been clearer: is anyone else tired?): 1) “Hi There” Hale, in at least one post, sought to diminish the “community” by suggesting that it’s populated by only “100” Owners and, in so doing, he might as well have dismissed entirely the (clear to me, and to you) sheer scale of discord that is surely now felt by the million or more Owners that pay to populate [his] (not even top-tier, in terms of functionality) site. Yet, he continues to ‘react’ (he and BS are not forward-thinking people, People) within said forum and, yes, to ‘m-o-d-e-r-a-t-e.’ 2) The broader media IS watching and — with a tip of my cap to Sean O’Neill for writing this article (although I wish he’d re-title it?/Sean?) and for his screen-grab of the “Community Forum” — it is important to channel and document complaint (if even as a matter of record) on VRBO/HA’s OWN forum, and to populate that forum with active discussion. As it was for Sean, the “Community Forum” will be the ‘Go To’ place for other media outlets, especially as our (Owners’ + Traveler’s) registered disgust increases in volume. Heck, how will “Hi There” Hale spin his banning and closing of posts from his Paying Customers then?
          VRBO has, in two quick weeks, burned too many bridges to remain viable in the long term. In the short term? I, like so many of you, am diversifying. But, admittedly, do take some degree of pleasure from exhausting “Hi There,” and to providing legitimate fodder to feed the media.

          Hope this helps! < (Couldn't resist : )

           
    • Vonna

      It’s interesting that since this fee issue heated up, I can no longer log into the community forum. I have tried to reset my password multiple time a day, but never receive a email with a link.

       
  75. Tara

    Sneaky, sneaky…I just received an inquiry via homeaway, and the service fee does look like I’m including it with my rates/fees! I just called the person on the phone to discuss further. 🙂

     
  76. Ray B

    After reading all the posts the last week, we the customer should just walk away like any good business person should do at the end of their subscriptions. My beef is the $1500 (much higher than last year) paid upfront when I renewed my subscription without a peep of the service fee change, then unilaterally modifying my arrangement/contract to extract more revenue for themselves. Once a company misaligns its priorities to one of maximizing their profits by destroying the business relationship with its customer base (the owners) will receive a rude awakening from its customer base. What VRBO has forgotten is who their main customer is? While the renter is very important, the owners are much more important because they take all the business risk and will simply pick up their unit and move to the next site that meets their needs. Renters rent for the right price and confidence that they will receive what they paid for.
    The local companies are fine if you don’t want to manage your property yourself. If we would have wanted that level of service, I would have just contracted my property out to the local rental company and be done with it. I tried that for one year and fired them because the local company had little regard as to who they put in my unit. I called it the “butts in bed” mentality of whoever wants to rent they rent too, and then make the owners pay to fix the damage or missing items. Their attitude was if I charge the renter for the damage, then the renter may not come back so there was little accountability on their part. When I started with VRBO they were exactly what I was looking for at the time. I had control as to who was in my property, while giving my customer a fair rental rate with minimal fees. My goals were simple: Superior property at a reasonable price resulting in a superior review yielding higher booking rates and repeat customers. VRBO seems to have forgotten that they are not the primary reason why a customer comes to their site. They are just the conduit for bringing the customer to request a quote and facilitate the transaction, while bringing a level of safety and ease for the transaction for both parties. Literally 95% of my transactions have resulted through negotiations with the perspective renter, who in most of my rentals, wanted to talk to me about the property. Why because I gave them the confidence that I was not going to give them a substandard product or try to cheat them. I have never received below 4 stars for any of my rentals. The reality is in most cases renters have a vacation budget with which they have to spend. The result of the Service Fee will be I will need to come down off my price further to bring in the right renters for my property. What I mean by “the right renter” are those who are families or responsible adults who leave my place as good as when they received it. VRBO is looking to move to the “butts in beds” approach without taking any of the risk which makes them no different than the large corporate vacation rental companies tied to real estate companies. Not what I am looking for in my business model.

    What VRBO has done is broken a partnership and a trust because they feel they are owed more for the transaction besides subscription fees, bank transaction fees, damage deposit fees, and trip insurance. “Look that company charges a fee, why not us?” They must feel we cannot do it without them or our acceptance of this change will dissipate over time. Sadly like many companies who destroy the business relationship with their customers (the owners), they will feel it in their bank accounts. Cancellations will not happen overnight but as subscriptions come up for renewal. The good properties will gravitate to other rental platforms, leaving average properties for their market. The internet and social media platforms are an unforgiving venue for destroying a business relationship with a very long road to fix a broken trust. Once a owner leaves, it is unlikely they will come back. So, YES it is about extracting money from the owners as well as the renters. Without owners there cannot be renters. Without profit there cannot be owners. Without both there is no VRBO/Homeaway. They have forgotten their place in the chain!

     
    • Tara

      My last booking on Homeaway is scheduled for October (subscription is up in June). I have blocked my calendar from that date forward, and have noticed others in my area have done the same. I’m going to see if this will possibly draw traffic elsewhere if places “aren’t available” on Homeaway. Fortunately, I’m only competing (properties who can sleep 10-12) with a few others, and I’m friends with 2 of them, so going to see if we can band together in our area. I’m also considering selling, as I may not be able to continue with the slow rate of action post-service fees.

       
    • Don

      You’re spot on with your remarks. I’m a renter and I’ve used VRBO for the past several years. A few weeks ago I rented a place in Cape Coral Florida for October and was assessed a $115.00 service fee. Bottom line we like the house, it was priced right so we’re biting the bullet. Unfortunately we’re both stuck more you than me. As I’ve been reading I see the impact is great for those who are experiencing a lack of renters and will have to sell their properties. You and I are small cogs in a big wheel of greed. If it’s correct that they have a million properties world-wide and each property rents out their property 10-20 times per year you’re looking at 20 million bookings. Even if they loose 30% of the owners/bookings they’ll still have 700,000 properties and 14 million bookings raking in a minimum of a $100 each that’s 1.4 BILLION. So, with that said the money they will be generating is immense and it looks to me that they are offering little and generating this as almost full bottom line profit.

      PS. I spoke to a customer service person because I wanted to know the story and of course I was speaking with someone in the Pacific Rim. Not a surprise……
      Good luck to all of you!

       
  77. Kat Holmes

    I have been in the vacation rental industry for over 15 years. I personally owned a vacation rental and was one of the first subscribers to VRBO. For the past ten years I have been the Director of Operations for a vacation rental property management company. Professional vacation rental management companies offer full service management, marketing and customer service to property owners. In South Carolina all property managers are licensed, competent, caring professionals who would tirelessly to protect owner invests, increase owner revenue, and offer the best possible experience to vacationers. With the rise of owner listing websites professional management companies have been discounted in the importance of our efforts. Marketing and booking a guest is a VERY SMALL piece of the picture. As Homeaway/Expedia searches for new ways to extract revenue from this search engine monster (VRBO) I hope owners will revisit the locally owned and operated professional management companies for partnership. We are still here! We still provide the most accurate, intimate knowledge of your property, real time availability and pricing and truly care about your investment. Our marketing efforts are directly specifically for YOUR market, not a world wide network of locations. Its time to reconnect on the local level people and cut out this HUGE corporation that is only seeking to increase their profits.

     
    • Christine V

      Locally owned management companies are a great option for people who do not live near nor want to have any “hands on” involvement in their property, but what about owners who clean, maintain, and want to know who is coming into a property that you have spent much of your adult life working to build and pay for. We have listed our properties on homeescape.com. Nice site, but no inquiries yet. I went through 10 pages on Google with “Overnight vacation rentals” and never saw Home escape site come up. On a separate note, our inquiries have all but stopped since the service fee is appearing on our “instant quotes”. I know of 2 other cabin owners who never tried BIN or Online payments and don’t have a service fee on their quotes. They are still getting inquiries. Also, we live in a very competitive area. There are over 35,000 rental cabins in the Smoky Mountains. Many management companies list their properties on VRBO/HA with direct links to their websites and no service fee from VRBO. I do not understand how they can force these service fees on our current subscriptions. Love the idea of a Co-op or other venue that would serve only to put potential renters in contact with property owners.

       
  78. Wanda Matranga

    I think VRBO/Homeaway should have raised capital to better there company rather than try to get the renter/property owner pay for the needed money to keep there market share since BNB has come into the market.

     
  79. Wanda Matranga

    From what I understand with BNB you don’t pay to list your property …. you only pay when it rents (so there is only one fee). If I pay $1200 to list my property and then in addition I am also paying per rental transaction it seems that we are paying twice for the same transaction.

     
    • Virginia

      Right, but travelers pay a whopping 6 – 12% over and above the rent on ABB. Renters don’t know or care what owners pay. To pay that kind of commission on a vacation rental home is ridiculous.

       
  80. Tara

    Homeaway owns tripping.com as well, which links you to homeaway and vacationrentals.

     
    • Tara

      Well, they must get a kick back…not sure if it is owned by homeaway, but tripping.com definitely directs traffic to homeaway sites although they claim to direct traffic to all the big name companies.

       
  81. Virginia

    GUEST SERVICE FEES – Vacation Rentals Costs Explained
    http://guestservicefees.com

     
  82. Virginia

    GUEST SERVICE FEES – Vacation Rentals Costs Explained

     
  83. Richard Vaughton

    In vacation rentals, or self catering as us Brits still call it, there are enough barriers to booking without more fees added, that a guest believes we or owners impose. Fortunately for us it is VRBO that appears to be the test site and the US community is rightly up in arms and endless discussions on if it should be called “Vrbo Guest Fee). Its not going away though and only a free or <3% commissionabe model will go someway to placate the instant "Book Now", but then leaves HomeAway at the same levels of income, so not happening.

    HomeAway main revenue was (and still will be for 2016), subscription advertising. We know this is heading to all bookable online, but all these owners and managers have spent a lot of money on advertising and their properties and support. The pop up boxes and emails inferring that only payments to HA are safe, has been annoying as they trust the owner to pay and represent their property correctly, but insinuate to guests they can't be trusted, even if the guest flys half way around the world to stay there. Much better to call the owners and managers and correspond directly. Pay an owner or manager by credit card and there is no problem anyway.

    We have seen this marketplace model before in other industries and parallel ones (e.g. hotels).

    Will we make a difference by complaining, unlikely in the short term. If the merger with Expedia and results don't show promised performance, then it may see some "owner love", but for now, we all need to move on quickly, the game has changed and is previous complaints and warning on this direction have not halted anything.

    (I tried to post this a few days ago, for some reason it does not appear here, more paranoia).

     
  84. Bob Preston

    Wow, HomeAway, charging renters when they already charge the homeowners WAY more than Airbnb. That is nuts. It feels to me like Airbnb is eating HomeAway for lunch and this is a desperate and greedy move.

     
    • Virginia

      AirBnb is actually more expensive for the traveler, so I don’t understand everyone saying they’re going to run away to AirBnb. Their commission on rentals is higher, and they have closed communication and all the other terrible stuff HomeAway has moved and is moving to.
      AirBnb is actually to blame for this fiasco, for taking down the VR rental industry.
      Someone pointed out that, AirBnb began as a place for Millenials to find a room in a house to rent for $50/night. 10% on $50, or $5, is not a big deal for a service fee. But they have moved in to the private home VR rental, like HomeAway, so 10% on a $3,000 weekly rental is not a small fee.

      I’d like to see both of these companies taken down.

       
  85. Kim

    I am Seeking an alternative to VRBO, too many fees to make any money. Thx VRBO for ruining it.

     
  86. Nelson Lare

    Good executives think about the unintended consequences of their decisions. These guys blew it. They thought they could switch their customers from the owners to the renters overnight. Working for renters is a local function…it can’t be done from a web site. It will take a few years but they have thrown away 4 billion dollars in their purchase of Homeaway. Their scheme might have worked in the old soviet union, but this is America. Many people will come forth. The one with the best functionality will quickly develop scale and replace VRBO/Homeaway. You would think for their compensation of several million per year, their investors could have expected better from their executives.

     
  87. Mike

    What an unethical thing to impose a mandatory profit fee on travelers. I’ve called several times this morning once I discovered the fee before sending a quote. Nobody at VRBO can provide an explanation of this 4-9% “sliding scale” or how the scale even works. Time to set up a paypal account and watch for a new player to step in and take customers.

     
  88. Richard Vaughton

    In vacation rentals, or self catering as us Brits still call it, there are enough barriers to booking without more fees added, that a guest believes we or owners impose. Fortunately for us it is VRBO that appears to be the test site and the US community is rightly up in arms and endless discussions on if it should be called “Vrbo Guest Fee). Its not going away though and only a free or <3% commissionabe model will go someway to placate the instant "Book Now", but then leaves HomeAway at the same levels of income, so not happening.

    HomeAway main revenue was (and still will be for 2016), subscription advertising. We know this is heading to all bookable online, but all these owners and managers have spent a lot of money on advertising and their properties and support. The pop boxes and emails inferring that only payments to HA are safe, has been annoying as they trust the owner to pay and represent their property correctly, but insinuate to guests they can't be trusted, even if the guest flys half way around the world to stay there. Much better to call the owners and managers and correspond directly. Pay an owner or managr by credit card and there is no problem anyway.

    We have seen this marketplace model before n other industries and parallel ones (e.g. hotels). Will we make a difference by complaining, unlikely in the short term. If the merger with Expedia and results don't show promised performance, then it may see some "owner love", but for now, move on, the game has changed.

    This website offers some advice and explanations on the fees: http://www.guestservicefees.com

     
  89. Brian

    I am an owner and their rental fee just cost us a two month listing. The renter did not want to pay $499. That was a major loss of us and we cannot tolerate this. Nor can we blame our renter. We as owners get absolutely nothing in return for allowing the company to collect this unearned revenue on our backs. We have been subscribing for over ten years and for a CSR to say that this fee has always been there is a blatant lie. We pay a subscription fee and now this IS double dipping, no matter how the CEO tries to spin it.

     
    • Johnny

      I couldn’t agree more. I’m thinking about listing in the first line of my description and Quote Responses “Fight the Fees! 8%+ OFF if you choose to pay by check” — at least that way the Renter is given a choice and I don’t look like the greedy fee jockey by giving full disclosure about these outrageous VRBO related fees.

      I just told a renter if they would prefer to pay by check I would deduct the $250 Service Fee AND the 3% they charge me to process their credit card payment…. They accepted… otherwise they were going to back out because the fees were piling on. Now VRBO will get nothing and I get the same amount… and the renter saved $400. RENTAL SAVED!!! Works for me!!

       
      • Johnny

        30 minutes after writing my response above I just got a text from ANOTHER renter that reads “Hey it’s William _______, I must admit a little sticker shock after our conversation last night. I talked it over with my wife and there are nearly $1000 worth of fees and taxes. Is there any way I can put 1000 down and then space the rest out?” Not only did I let him space them out, I offered him the option to pay by check to save $425. He accepted and he was extremely grateful… Now I am are up to $825 in lost revenue for HomeAway/VRBO/Expedia. Is it weird that I actually feel proud?

        I think I am going to list my home on AirBNB this week too since the only thing stopping me before was the ridiculous fees they charged compared to VRBO. I might as well double my marketing exposure if it costs me the same to list on either… Still sure about this fee VRBO??

         
      • Virginia

        And that is what HA is counting on, for homeowners to eat the cost. Typical of HA’s cynical way of doing business and hostility toward homeowners. At every turn, it’s been the homeowner HA has come down on, and it’s bizarre because, up until now, we’ve been their paying customers!

         
      • Lisa M.

        If you reference (as you’ve suggested above) the new, so-called “service fee” within your listing > VRBO/HA will CLOSE your listing until the [offending] reference(s) are removed. This has been documented first-hand on the Owners’ VRBO/HA forum (linked to from ‘community’ under the ‘help’ tab on the home pages of both sites).

         
        • Brian

          Seriously so?,this is all wrong…..

           
        • Kim

          Just need to be creative about the wording on your page vs outright mentioning avoiding the fee. Use code words that hopefully get the guest to reach out and ask. Long time users of VRBO are going to ask what the deal is, because they’ll do the math and want to know why the subtotal they see is higher.

           
      • Kim

        I just did the same thing and the guest sent the check. It was through this renter I found out about the new fee. I also set up a free Square credit card account for those who don’t want to pay by check. Of course I’ve had no more inquiries and my analytics are terrible for March.

         
    • Tara

      Hopefully, they are taking notice to the lack of bookings, which affects their bottom line. I will see if I can hang on until June (when my subscription expires), but it is beyond slow. I have even signed up for Airbnb after this, something I didn’t think would ever happen, but at least the consumer is aware of Airbnb’s fees and we don’t have to pay for a subscription….the saga continues.

       
  90. Sharee

    Former renter here. When I tried to book my vacation, I noticed the fee. I called customer service. After finally reaching a human being, I was told repeatedly – over and over again – that the fee had always been in there. It’s just transparent now. I couldn’t believe customer service actually thought I would believe that. I hope owners decide they don’t want to do business with a company with these practices. I sure won’t.

     
    • Johnny

      Hello Sharee, I just wanted to clarify and let you know that this is an ENTIRELY NEW FEE… It makes me irate to hear Homeaway/VRBO Customer Service is telling Renters this was a “hidden” fee we evil/greedy owners were charging before and now HOMEAWAY/VRBO tries to act like they are the good guys by making it “Transparent.”

      In the past, owners have “only” paid VRBO/HomeAway for 3% Credit Card Transaction fee + $399 annual Listing fee. Now they have added an unexplainable sliding fee of 4%-12% that is charged to the Renter upon booking that goes directly into HomeAway/VRBO’s pockets.

      If you called the Owner’s support line (which I have done) … you will get an entirely different explanation (because owners know what they told you is a not true) — we get some mumbo jumbo about how the fee is going to more Customer Service reps and Increased marketing to drive more listings to homeowners — HomeAway/VRBO (now owned by Expedia as of January 2016) are more than DOUBLING their revenue by adding this charge. Am I supposed to believe all that money is going to hire a few customer service reps and a few million dollars in marketing investment?? Hah yea right….. ALL OF THIS extra fee is going to Expedia shareholders…. ALL OF IT.

       
  91. Suzie

    I just realized this morning, when I was about to send a quote to a potential guest, that there is a $43 service charge on a $480 rental cost. Unbelievable! I’ve been using VRBO and HA specifically because they DIDN’T charge the customer. I was happy to pay my $1,500 per year in advertising so my guests wouldn’t be nickled and dimed. I also use Air Bnb and I like it because I don’t have to pay up front for the advertising. I can’t really imagine how a company can decide to charge me up front for advertising AND charge my guests for a “service fee.” This is infuriating to say the least. My subscription runs out at the end of March and I’m not going to renew it.

     
  92. Nelson Lare

    Chief executive Brian Sharples said in an email statement to Tnooz that the fee is intended to enable HomeAway to “invest in more marketing and product and services, and to cover some operational costs.”

    Another way to say this is, “This is a money grab by Expedia who over paid for Homeaway and is trying to get their money back quickly.”

     
    • Jeff

      HA had approximately $500M in revenue with approximately $400M in Selling/General/Admin expenses. I did some basic calculations on the revenues generated from the NEW fees (1 million properties booking an average of $10K per year * an average 7% fee = $700 million in extra revenue. Are they going to spend $700 million more on advertising this year? Perhaps my math is wrong but would love for HA to explain their math!

       
      • Johnny

        NAILED IT!!!! A few more customer service reps and a bump in marketing expenditure does not cost $700MM. This fee is going directly into Sharples and Expedia’s shareholder pockets.

         
  93. Gary

    I just had a renter request a 3 day weekend and noticed a $69 service fee. While “on hold” with Homeaway for 20 mins and still listening to on hold music, the prospective renter call my cell and asked what’s up with this $69 service fee.

    I can’t imagine any renter willing to pay up to $499 for some BS service fee. What is Brian Sharples thinking?!!! I’ve been using Homeaway & VRBO with my rental homes since 2008. Every year it gets worse. Homeaway is stealing my customer contact (hiding email addresses and forcing me to go through their portal). I’m getting gouged on payment fees. I get pushed to the bottom of the search (if I don’t subscribe to the premium service. I’ve had it!!!

    What are the viable alternatives to Homeaway/VRBO? I recommend an all out BOYCOTT.

    I read the Homeaway CEO letter attempting to justify these service fees and was ready to puke. This is wrong and it will be the death of Homeaway if they don’t correct this asap.

     
    • Mary McNamara

      Agreed!

       
    • Tara

      Already there…just waiting for my subscription to run out. February was my lowest booking month (1 booking, 7 inquiries) that I’ve had in over 12 months. The one booking was prior to the new service fees. Seven inquiries a month usually results in 2-5 bookings for me. Maybe March will see better results, but I’m not hopeful. On the renter side, I usually always choose Homeaway, but no more…not even in the countries not yet implementing the fees. I guess Homeaway’s philosophy is “All good things come to an end,” as I can’t see them maintaining with the current practices.

       
      • Virginia

        Also, if your area has what is called a “boutique” VR Web site, get on it. They’re great. Mine is weneedavacation.com (Cape Cod and Islands), A wonderful site which had the good sense to not sell out to Sharples and promised me, when I first joined, that they never would. They are the best sites, frankly.

         
    • Virginia

      Run…don’t walk…run to home escape.com (new site, but like the old VRBO. You have full control of YOUR property. Just building, so they need inventory. but, it’s free to list (for now) AND free for travelers. Read their note about listing now for free, while they’re trying to get off the ground, so you are grandfathered in if they grow enough to start charging for listing).

      Also, vacationhomerentals.com. They are offering a 60-day free trial, and many have gotten phone calls from them offering 10% off on the subscription fee, so $269 rather than $299. It takes a while for your listing to go active, though, because they are being swamped with HomeAway/VRBO escapees. Mine took just over a week. Someone else told me theirs took three weeks.

       
      • Carla

        For me it took a week to get active on vacationhomerentals.com, but already received two inquiries the same day it got active. To bad they were for dates i had already renters. Unfortunately due to the free trial I cannot update the calender, but if the inquiries keep coming I might change to subscription

         
        • Bobby

          My property was just activated by vacationhomerentals.com on Tuesday. Since then, I have had five inquiries and 50 views in two days. I don’t have a booking yet, but I haven’t five inquiries with VRBO in the last month!

           
        • Suzie

          Too bad vacationhomerentals.com is another branch of Homeaway.com. I can’t support it. It appears to offer a subscription service so your guests won’t be charged. Isn’t that what I signed up for with VRBO and HA? Just feels like a railroad job and I will switch to long term rentals before I give VRBO or HA or any of their affiliates another ounce of business.

           
        • Tara

          Suzie, Vacationhomerentals.com is TripAdvisor, Vacationrentals is Homeaway. I have also signed up for Vacationhomerentals. I have gotten page views but no inquires or bookings, yet.

           
        • Suzie

          Thank you Tara for clearing up my misunderstanding. I think I will try vacationhomerentals.com after revisiting the site. It is trip advisor not homeaway.

           
        • Virginia

          Suzie, vacationhomerentals is offering a 60-day free trial. It takes a while to get your listing live because they’re being swamped right now because of the HomeAway fiasco. Mine too just over a week to go live Also, if you go with the free trial, your listing shows up at the back of the line and there is no calendar until you pay. I’ve heard others say they’ve gotten calls from VHR reps offering 10% off the subscription fee, and they’ve paid $269 for a year v. the usual $299 (which is still $100 less than HA) for the basic tier.
          I’m on the free trial. And by town, my listing is right in the middle of the page, so not bad. I’ve gotten page views but no inquiries so far.

           
    • Vonna

      Mr Sharples is expecting that homeowners like myself – who’s property hits the max commission rate. Will reduce their rental rate to absorb the additional cost to the renter and profit to Expedia.

       
  94. Jeff

    Wow – Am I hearing this correctly. HA was charging me and my customers $359.00 per year. I book about $12,000 per year. The initial 359.00 fee was approximately 3% of my revenue. I will now have to pay 9% of $12,000 and also the $359.00 fee for a new total of $1,449.00 about 12% of my revenue. Seriously a 300% increase. However you look at this it comes out of our operating cost! I will never use HA to book my own vacation and I will discontinue my rental through their site ! Did anybody get an email from HA explaining this?

     
  95. Steve Sherlock

    @Virginia thanks for sharing Brian’s video, I watched the whole thing. As an entrepreneur I respect him a lot as an entrepreneur (and a generous and rare one at that) though I think you make a good point about Brian seeming to forget the lessons he learnt from Expedia’s previous failed attempt in the vacation rental market.

    So I guess the question is – “would HA have implemented this fee & in this way, if it wasn’t now owned by Expedia? The story of “killing the goose that laid the golden egg” and I think ultimately the responsibility sits with Expedia now.

    ===
    BTW – One other major difference between HA & Airbnb is user reviews. At the VRMA conference in New Orleans last year – David Burden from Airbnb emphasised the importance of the two way reviews, to instill confidence in owners to move towards instant bookings.

    Seems HA are trying to copy Airbnb model, though without critical ingredients and respecting the differences between a vacation rental and share accommodation.

     
    • Virginia

      Well, I’m afraid I have no respect for Brian Sharples. That presentation was, apparently, two years ago. which means he was explaining what not to do very shortly before he began forcing those very things onto we homeowners.

      I’m kind of surprised that this Service Fee is the thing that has finally gotten homeowners so outraged. I have been perplexed as to why there has been so much apathy, to downright acceptance, of HomeAway’s step-by-step takeover of our properties. While I understand the anger about the fee, I think the bigger problem is that HomeAway has virtually usurped our homes and businesses, completely, and I don’t understand why owners aren’t furious about that, the bigger picture.

      I’m also confused about the anger over this fee considering AirBnb travelers have been paying a commission fee, which is even slightly higher than this one. So why is it different with HA/VRBO? Ultimately, I see the problem as being an industry that is doing business in a most dirty way, namely controlling how we run OUR properties and businesses. The severe penalties for not “complying” are evidence of what I consider to be a huge property grab…without all the burdens.

      I would love to hear Brian Sharples’s explanation for his implementing the very things Expedia told him caused the failure of their VR venture. I would like to hear Expedia’s explanation as to why they bought a company with the stipulation that it impose on owners the very things Expedia told Sharples was the cause of that failure.

      I am reminded here of the banks that made billions off the failure of so many homeowners, deliberately.

      Something very cynical, strange, and perhaps even sinister is going on here. The COO is over on HomeAway’s Community forum banning people (myself included), deleting threads, locking threads, etc.

      Sharples has earned respect?? I don’t see how.

       
    • Rick

      To say that the fees are not a meaningful deterrent is a stretch. Te whole plan is about making money and since the fees were initiated (and announced , in lieu of just doing it) I have had no inquiries or reservations. I am a disabled vet who relies on this additional income. I wonder how many others there are who are in a similar situation. I have reinvested the income from VRBO into the property and now cannot rent it and may have to return to monthly rental. The majority of people who had fees charged on their properties probably didn’t notice it since bottom line is theoretically the same. That may be true if the bookings continued, but they have not. I believe that the imposition of fees is part of the purchase contract and it may not be complete until that phase is successful. To hang your hat (a multi-million dollar hat) on providing assistance 24/7 to travelers and avoid Double-Booking????? is ludicrous, considering how much is being charged for each booking. I have never had a double booking. I am in favor of the on-line booking and would propose that those who do not keep their calendar up to date to suffer the consequences, but don’t punish all subscribers. Look how quickly after acquisition the new rates will take effect. Brian is but a puppet in the scheme of things and his motivation is in the billions.
      What is the purpose of a sliding scale, when it takes no more effort on a weekend stay than a weeklong stay.
      The travelers are apparently staying away and silently voicing their protest, while investigating other options.
      What appeared to be a promising summer is quickly disappearing. Part of the problem is that Expedia doesn’t think in terms of million, more like billions. To reach that number, you truly have to get blood out of a grape. Kind’ve reminds me of the movie “Wall Street”.

       
  96. Leigh

    Crazy new service fees!! First, we get lured in by the 2.5% flat credit card fees. In December that went to 2.9% with support stating they were adding American express as a credit card choice at the end of January. Nope, I have not seen that yet. Then, I noticed I was not getting as many bookings so I tried the “book it now” feature because almost all of other cabins were doing it. I needed to add it to compete. So, I did and BAM! Now this service fee crap! Charging the customer 9% of the rental, cleaning and pet fees. Freaking sticking it to us and our customers.

     
  97. LB

    I didn’t realize that VRBO was charging a service fee until last night. Almost 10% fee to the guest!! VRBO/HA did not even have the decency to list the service fee as HOMEAWAY SERVICE CHARGE and note that the owner is not receiving any money.

    I called VRBO this morning (was on hold for 28 minutes) and the customer service agent was a bit snarky and said that if I stopped booking online they would be eventually kicking me out of VRBO. I have used VRBO as both a guest and owner for 13 years and am just disgusted with their new business practices. This is an opportunity for someone to start another VRBO, that is truly, VRBO (not mega property management/commercial outfits or even property managers with 25 properties.)

     
  98. Virginia

    Oops, forgot to add the link to the video. Do not miss it. They’ve taken it down over at HA Community, for obvious reasons, with no explanation from Sharples or Hale as to Sharples’s doing the very things he says are mistakes and lead to failure.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6gbCDL02R0

     
  99. Virginia

    Do NOT miss this video. Start watching at 9 minutes. Listen to Sharples as he explains that, when starting HomeAway, he wanted to learn why other companies had failed when trying to start up private home VR sites. The company they chose to speak to? Ready to blow your mind? EXPEDIA! Sharpies talks about how Expedia had tried to start a private home VR rental site but it failed, so Sharples and Shepherd flew out to talk to Expedia execs to find out why it failed (presumably so they would not make the same mistakes).
    Guess what they were told?
    Expedia explained that it failed because, in short, homeowners do not consider their homes to be like hotels; because homeowners consider their homes to be their own property and want to control them themselves; because homeowners want to talk to travelers, to get a feel for who will be staying in their homes; because travelers also want to speak to homeowners to feel sure they have a good idea of what they’re renting.

    EVERYTHING Sharples has turned HomeAway into! (and yes, next up is “no-communication”, where travelers and homeowners cannot speak to each other before booking, but homeowners are penalized if they cancel a booking if, after speaking with the traveler, one or the other or both decide it’s not a good match).

    And Expedia? Why is Expdedia going along with the very thing IT says FAILED when they tried it before?

    Something is going on here, and it has nothing to do with helping homeowners increase bookings. It smacks, to me, of the banking scandal, banks selling junk bonds and bundling bad loans, given out deliberately, knowing they’d fail, in order to make a killing.

    Something very sinister is going on here.

     
  100. Virginia

    Well, I was just banned from commenting in the HomeAway Community forum by Tom “Hi there!” Hale. No swearing, no threats…just harsh criticism over the authoritarianism at HomeAway (and presumably, the irony of banning people from expressing opinions that HA has become authoritarian and oppressive is lost on Mr. Hale!).
    HomeAway seems only able to employ an iron fist against homeowners, but they can’t understand why we aren’t thanking them.

    So, HA WILL take control of your property and business; HA WILL tell you how you will run your business; HA WILL silence you if you object.

    I’m done with HomeAway. 1) I’m getting literally no bookings from them any longer (despite their condescending insistence that these Draconian changes are bring us more bookings!); 2) I refuse to do business with such an immoral, unethical, greedy company.

    WalkAway from HomeAway.

     
  101. Steve Sherlock

    Hey this might work really well for HomeAway – HOWEVER – there are 2 huge & very distinct differences between HomeAway & Airbnb’s models.

    1. The cost of HA properties is much higher than Airbnb given it’s “The Whole Vacation” as opposed to predominantly ‘a room’, hence the booking fee will also be much high.

    2. On top of that around 50% of HA inventory comes from professional vacation rental managers (~Bill Furlong), compared to than less than 30% of Airbnb’s inventory (~David Burden).

    Conclusion: Which means consumers can shop on HA then book direct on the VR managers websites to avoid the fee. In contrast the 70+ % of Airbnb private owners are very unlikely to have their own ecommerce enabled websites for their “spare room”.

    I don’t think twice to pay the Airbnb fee, though I am pretty sure I would never pay a $499 booking fee to HA, when I can spend 5 minutes searching to find the property managers direct. Now if HA can get that inventory on an exclusive basis, then that’s another story.

     
    • Sally

      And let’s not forget that Homeaway also charges an annual subscription fee OR a pay per booking fee to the owner/property manager. The new service fee is outrageous…

       
  102. Melissa A.

    Steve H. The Co-Op is a great idea! Reposting it –> “After reading all of these posts (see link below), personally I do not think a class action lawsuit is the way to go. They take a long time, and the lawyers seem to be the only ones that prosper from them. Possibly a better idea is to look into starting a Co-op of some sort. For instance, vacation home owners (YOU) could pool their money together (dues, or some other means to be determined) and develop their own web site that would have the basics you need to rent your properties. This Co-op would not be able to be sold, or taken over through a leveraged buyout (through its bylaws) and would be owned by the Co-op (YOU). The Co-op would be controlled through a Board of Directors.
    Just for my interests, I am putting together an e-mail (vhomesurvey@gmail.com). For those interested, I would like owners to send an e-mail to the above e-mail, with your first name only, and what you would think would be a fair yearly fee for “YOUR Co-op” service. Also, do not write anything (NO RANTS). I am only looking for interest in this venture. Currently a company called Yapstone is being used for Credit Card transactions. However there are other companies that provide this service, including PayPal.
    Please address any conversation (constructive “chatter”) through Tnooz and not the e-mail I provided. As mentioned, I only want to collect statistical data from the e-mails.
    My wife and I are retired, own a small condo that we use about 60 days a year and rent out the rest of the time using VRBO. We are discouraged by VRBO charging this exorbitant service fee to travelers, thus discouraging them from renting through VRBO.
    As a group we can come up with some solid ideas that will be beneficial to OUR investment. We are not Hotels, and we need to find a fair solution to meet our needs. It may be the Hotels want private rental owners out of their way?
    Feel free to (COPY AND PASTE) this document (AND E-MAIL, etc.) to people in your Associations, friends you have with vacation rental properties, or possibly people you have rented vacation properties from in the past.
    Also include the link below. Most owners probably do not know about these additional service fees that have been added by Home Away\Expedia..
    https://www.tnooz.com/article/homeaway-adjusts-its-rental-commission-model-adds-traveler-fee/
    After entering the above site, scroll down to read thru the comments please!
    What is the easiest: Asking one person for a million dollars; or, asking one million people for one dollar?

     
  103. Hans de Koning

    I can understand what HA/VRBO try to achieve and why they want to do that. However that doesn’t mean that I agree with it. The main point where they go wrong is in the fact that they work as an agent and not as an owner. As an owner they could implement this system, as an agent they cannot.
    I own several properties and have them listed, besides my own site on various sites. I want my own site and booking system to be leading and others to be following and that is exactly what HA/VRBO but also Airbnb, flip key and all the others try to avoid. They want to push you, as an owner, into their system, with their payment methods etc. In the end we, owners, end up with several systems working next to each other, payments coming trough various canals and having less control over our business. For example HA doesn’t recognize any bank in the country where I live so travellers can’t pay trough the HA system or I have to have a bank account with a bank abroad with all transfer costs involved.
    I want to run my business in my way and I don’t want providers/agents intervering in the way I do my things

     
  104. Daubsy

    Great. Another attempt by a greedy corporation to marginalize the income of the average American worker. The same thing is happening with Uber and seemingly every other billion-dollar startup that funnels money to the CEO’s with little regard or respect to those that they employ.

     
    • La Casa

      And all while the establishments in power on the left (big government) and right (billionaire class,corporate special interests, etc.) scratch their heads and wonder why populist movements (Sanders/Trump) take off like wildfire.

      The average normal guy and gal is sick, tired, and totally fed up with constantly and repeatedly getting screwed over by his employer, big business, big government, big banks, wall street, etc.

      Sharples and his ilk are too blinded by their greed to see that they are burning down their own (very comfortable and luxurious..) home.

      They’ll never notice the folks with the pitchforks coming for them until it’s too late.

       
  105. Mike McGuire

    go to forthepeople.com and fill out a case evaluation form. Morgan & Morgan told me that if enough people complain they will look into filing a class action lawsuit

     
  106. Alicia Yowell

    Can someone explain to me please how to post on the community board. I have called Homeaway support team 3 times and no one can explain to me how to do it. The video they sent was not correct as it states that there is a “Action” tab on the right side on the Discussions page. There is no such tab. I am a member of the community board and can sign in, but just can¹t post.

    The service fee issue is a major issue for our business but there are other problems which are preventing our business success as well. It appears Maryland homes on the Chesapeake have a major problem. I sent the
    e-mail below to a lot of the Maryland Chesapeake owners but want to also post this issue on the community board. My advice to everyone is to review how your listing is searched on Homeaway based on this flaw in
    Homeaway¹s coding.

    “I rent my home in Southern Maryland through Homeaway, ID 212770. There is a coding problem, if you type in the name Chesapeake, several Md. towns come up, but not yours. There is no tab for Md. Chesapeake Bay homes although there is a tab for Va Chesapeake Bay Homes. There is also Chesapeake Bay USA tab but all those are in Va. There is no way to find any of our homes on the Bay if the traveler only types in Chesapeake Bay.

    Please call and complain. I have tried to get this changed for one year.

    This is a major problem and I know we are loosing I would estimate at least 50% of possible referrals. I am hoping that the more people complain, Homeaway “Geography Department” will finally listen. The
    support staff of Homeaway acknowledge this is a HUGE problem but they can¹t make the change, nor can they even discuss it with the folks who can make the change, they can only report it and assign a case number.

     
  107. Virginia

    Latest: HomeAway is deactivating paid listings if they think the owner has tried to redirect an inquiry to another site where they don’t have to pay the Service Fee.

    They send an email telling the person that, because they “elected” to be on BIN….elected? HomeAway engaged in a year-long campaign of coercion, hiding listings, actively directing travelers to homes with the BIN icon, etc., to coerce us onto BIN, and now they say that, because we ELECTED to be on BIN, redirecting travelers is a no-no and such listings will be deactivated.
    This company is out of control.

    I want to know who raised Brian Sharples. You did a lousy job!

     
  108. Michelle

    Here is the post by Brian:

    Letter to Owners and Property Managers from Brian Sharples

    Since the launch of the new service fee on HomeAway, I have heard from many of our long-term customers via email. And I’ve been following posts on the subject on social media. Many of you share the same concerns, so it makes sense to respond with an open letter to all concerned customers so you have the opportunity to read my answers to your questions.

    I want to let you know that I am listening to your concerns, and every HomeAway employee is committed to making you as successful as possible.

    First, I understand that many of you would like more and clearer communication on changes coming to our sites. Despite our attempts at communicating this change in advance, we fell short of your expectations. I take full accountability to make sure we are better on this in the future. Below, I want to explain our rationale for launching a service fee, and tell you a bit about how we plan to incorporate your feedback going forward.

    Second, I want to acknowledge that we are in the middle of a huge shift for the industry. The good news is that vacation rentals are now considered a mainstream travel option, but as a result travelers are demanding more from listing sites like HomeAway and VRBO. Our research and experience shows that it is no longer enough for us to just operate an online classified listing site. (I miss the good old days too – believe me.) We know this because properties that are online bookable get chosen at almost double the rate of ones that are not. And our most dissatisfied travelers are complaining louder than ever about listings with inaccurate calendars and offline payment methods that can’t be backed up with online receipts and solid financial protection from our company.

    As a result we announced in late 2014 that we would ask all of our owners to make their properties bookable online by the end of 2016. This doesn’t mean you can’t still communicate or negotiate with travelers prior to accepting a booking request, but it does mean that your properties need to be accurately quotable online, calendars need to be maintained, and we need to be able to process the booking through our systems in order to provide the financial guarantees travelers are demanding.

    To incentivize our owners to adopt online booking, we have increasingly been favoring online bookable properties in our sort algorithms. It is no secret to any of our owners that a higher position in sort leads to more bookings. We are also rewarding listings in sort when they have higher conversion rates – because a listing that rejects most of its booking or inquiry requests is not a good experience for travelers. Most of the travelers who choose to stop using our sites say it’s because they are frustrated by not being able to find a property that is actually available. This is offset by being able to book the property online so it increases the number of travelers who gravitate to HomeAway listings that are bookable online. Worst case for our customers and HomeAway: travelers leave our sites and go to sites where all properties are already required to be online bookable.

    Our #1 goal at HomeAway is to drive more bookings to our owners and property managers. Your success is our success, as it has always been in this business. Every piece of evidence says that the right way to do this, given the demands of the “new” vacation rental consumer, is to do the following:
    •Provide transparent price and availability data so travelers can get accurate quotes online
    •Back up every transaction with a strong guarantee, instilling trust in new travelers who are unfamiliar with our industry and how it works
    •Invest heavily in brand and online marketing to compete with other travel alternatives such as hotels. Now that vacation rentals are mainstream and the category is large, we need to work harder than ever to bring in more travelers
    •Protect the rights of owners to rent their homes on a short-term basis. We are currently fighting battles in dozens of cities and investing millions of dollars to maintain your ability to rent out your home to guests.

    So why did we launch a service fee?

    The biggest motivation was to better accomplish the things I’ve mentioned above. Today, our subscription customers pay us roughly 3% of the revenue we generate for them while our major competitors charge 6-15% (mostly in service fees). We’ve always been proud to be the lowest cost solution for renting your home. But we simply can’t provide the level of marketing and service that today’s travelers expect without asking travelers to also pay a fee for the service we provide.

    Many owners have asked me if our fee was motivated by greed. The reality is that we’re re-investing the majority of this money into marketing to bring in more travelers (we nearly doubled marketing spend with the introduction of this fee) and to provide true financial guarantees that can protect and help travelers who have bad experiences from using our sites. And we’re also more than doubling our investment in government relations efforts to continue fighting for the rights of property owners all over the world.

    With that said, let me address some of the other things I’ve heard in the letters and posts from our owners and managers:

    “The new fee represents double-dipping because we’re charging both the owner and the traveler” – In our marketplace there are two people that benefit: travelers and owners. Going forward, we are asking both sides to bear some of the cost for the service we provide, and research shows us that travelers do not see the fee as a barrier to booking.

    “The combination of the new fee and what you already charge is too much” – We hear you on this. With the launch of the service fee, we did take down the rates charged to our suppliers for our pay-per-booking listing product (and our subscribers are always welcome to choose that option). In April we will announce a new long-term plan for subscribers that we believe is more balanced than what we have today. This will be based on our research leading into the launch, the data we are observing from this launch, and also will include the feedback we’ve been receiving.

    “Travelers won’t pay these fees and they will choke off bookings” – I can completely understand this fear, in fact, I had that worry, too. So we did a lot of research and testing before launching this fee, which is already charged at even higher rates by our two largest competitors in the United States. We’ve processed tens of thousands of bookings in just the last few days with a service fee. Early data tells us that the fee has not been a meaningful deterrent for travelers making a booking on our sites. We will be carefully studying how these fees impact bookings at different pricing levels, and adjustments may be made in the coming weeks. The booking data we’re seeing supports our belief that this fee will not have a meaningful negative impact for the vast majority of our customers.

    “By simply calling it a ‘service fee’ on the site the travelers don’t know who is actually charging them.” – The community is right about this and we hear you. We’ll be adding language to the sites to let travelers know the service fee is being paid to us, and will clearly spell out the extra guarantees that come along with booking online.

    “I’m better off dropping online booking, even though it is what you asked me to do.” – Many of you are justifiably concerned that non-online bookable properties now look cheaper on the site. And you may think switching back to the “old way” will make you more competitive. I completely understand the point here, but it would not be the right move for your rental business, because the benefits of sort would completely outweigh any short-term benefit of opting out of online booking. The fact is that all online bookable listings are advantaged in sort order. And our sort algorithms going forward will be incorporating booking history and booking conversion as a factor in determining search position. Simply put – the more and higher frequency of online bookings you do, the better you’ll perform on our sites over the long term.

    I hope this explanation was helpful, and I appreciate that many of you are nervous and still quite concerned. I also want to acknowledge again that I could have done a better job of communicating our rationale up front. Please know I am listening to your concerns, and we will take them into account as we design our new pricing plan to be announced in April. And rest assured that if we see a meaningful decline in bookings from the fee, we will make adjustments to get it right. But at the moment bookings are flowing at a very good pace (consistent with booking volumes before launch of the fee), and I should also note that most of the calls made to customer service have been from owners, not the travelers paying the actual fee.

    Please continue to write and provide input. Again I’m sorry I can’t answer everyone’s email personally. But I will read them and come back in a few days with a post to answer other questions that are consistent from our community. In the meantime I ask you to please bear with us through these changes and evaluate our service as you always have – based on the business we deliver to you over the next several months and years.

    Thank you,

    Brian Sharples

    Co-Founder and CEO

     
  109. Audrey

    It is happening fast….owners….. Please watch out.
    Someone on another forum posted this =====>
    Dear xxxx
    We recently became aware that your listing contains messaging that indicates you are directing travelers to pay offline to avoid our online secure checkout system. Keep in mind, you elected to implement online booking (OLB) on your listing for increased search placement, a reduced subscription fee and/or the ease of traveler payments. Taking payments outside our reservation system means that travelers will no longer receive the benefit of the Book with Confidence Guarantee.
    Since your listing is promoting unacceptable payment instructions per the terms and conditions below, we have deactivated your listing until the messaging in your listing has been removed.
    30. Unauthorized Payment Methods; Subscription Payments; Automatic Renewal of Subscription Payments.
    Any violation of this term or any other unacceptable payment methods that may be posted on the Site may result in the immediate removal of the non-conforming listing from the Site without a refund: http://www.vrbo.com/global/termsandconditions.htm
    Our goal is to show people why the HomeAway family of sites is the best place to book—with more than a million whole vacation rentals, including yours, to choose from. The service fee helps cover the cost of running the HomeAway websites, including features such as 24/7 customer support and marketing efforts to ensure a quality experience on our sites for both travelers and owners. Here’s a link which features one of our recent marketing campaigns detailing this intended experience: https://www.homeaway.com/info/upgrades
    Please reply to this email once your listing is in compliance so we can activate your listing. We are available to offer you guidance in editing your listing to comply with our policy.

    Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.

     
  110. kyron

    Good morning everyone!
    I want to share that the HA CEO Brian Sharples has written a letter to Owners on HA. I believe all of our posts need to be posted on HA. If you click on HA Support, click on the CEO Brian Sharples letter to owners about Traveler Fee, then within the body of the letter there is a hyperlink to post feedback/input. He says he’s listening (which I don’t believe). Anyway, I think all of our great comments, concerns, points, positions needed to be posted. Maybe if he keeps hearing from us it will make a difference. If we don’t, then surely nothing will happen. We need to stay united and push through this so we can maintain our businesses. Hope this helps!

     
    • Steve

      Kyron…cant seem to find the letter in HA or vrbo (as you pointed out) and did not get it e-mailed to me.. We are not members of HA. When you are in the letter, can you copy the (http://www. ????) link at the top left and paste it into tnooz.com Thanks…In the meantime I will keep looking.

       
      • Virginia

        Join HomeAway’s Community forum. This is all they’re talking about over there, and there is a thread going that links his letter and on which you can comment.
        Click on “Help” and then “Community”. You have to join, and it takes a couple of days for them to approve you.

         
  111. Elizabeth Campbell

    I was just told by Home Away customer service that even if you don’t have the online booking feature there will still be a fee assessed to the traveler if you send a quote through the system.

     
  112. Elizabeth Campbell

    I am totally opposed to Home Away imposing a fee to the traveler. This is not what I signed up for when I paid my subscription fee and the fact that they changed their policies midstream should be reason for them to let us out of our contracts and refund our money. I would not have advertised on this site if I had been told this is how they were going to operate. We can’t cancel our subscription, they should not be able to change their policies after a subscription is in place. Those of us that paid prior to them instituting the fee to travelers should be grandfathered in and if we decidewhen our subscription is up to renew that is our choice

     
    • Virginia

      I honestly believe HA would be clobbered if challenged in court. I think they have engaged in a lot of questionable legal activity, never mind ethical and moral.

       
    • Tara

      I’m on hold now inquiring about the service fee, especially since I was already using the online booking feature. I have had 3 inquires since the service fee was introduced, but no bookings, which is rare. It is definitely a deterrent.

       
  113. Steve H

    After reading all of these posts (see link below), personally I do not think a class action lawsuit is the way to go. They take a long time, and the lawyers seem to be the only ones that prosper from them.
    Possibly a better idea is to look into starting a Co-op of some sort. For instance, vacation home owners (YOU) could pool their money together (dues, or some other means to be determined) and develop their own web site that would have the basics you need to rent your properties. This Co-op would not be able to be sold, or taken over through a leveraged buyout (through its bylaws) and would be owned by the Co-op (YOU). The Co-op would be controlled through a Board of Directors.
    Just for my interests, I am putting together an e-mail (vhomesurvey@gmail.com). For those interested, I would like owners to send an e-mail to the above e-mail, with your first name only, and what you would think would be a fair yearly fee for “YOUR Co-op” service. Also, do not write anything (NO RANTS). I am only looking for interest in this venture. Currently a company called Yapstone is being used for Credit Card transactions. However there are other companies that provide this service, including PayPal.
    Please address any conversation (constructive “chatter”) through Tnooz and not the e-mail I provided. As mentioned, I only want to collect statistical data from the e-mails.
    My wife and I are retired, own a small condo that we use about 60 days a year and rent out the rest of the time using VRBO. We are discouraged by VRBO charging this exorbitant service fee to travelers, thus discouraging them from renting through VRBO.
    As a group we can come up with some solid ideas that will be beneficial to OUR investment. We are not Hotels, and we need to find a fair solution to meet our needs. It may be the Hotels want private rental owners out of their way?
    Feel free to (COPY AND PASTE) this document (AND E-MAIL, etc.) to people in your Associations, friends you have with vacation rental properties, or possibly people you have rented vacation properties from in the past.
    Also include the link below. Most owners probably do not know about these additional service fees that have been added by Home Away\Expedia..
    https://www.tnooz.com/article/homeaway-adjusts-its-rental-commission-model-adds-traveler-fee/
    After entering the above site, scroll down to read thru the comments please!
    What is the easiest: Asking one person for a million dollars; or, asking one million people for one dollar?

     
  114. andy

    fees are excessive for no additional service. Returning customers see the fee and question it. Either they do not book or i discount. Only alternative is look for another way to advertise. Do not remember signing up for new fees. disappointed!

     
  115. Carolina Letamendi

    Please join Say No to Vrbo Service Fee on Facebook, thank you!

     
  116. kyron

    I think all Owners should bombard these 2 co-founding idiots (Brian Sharples and Car Sheherd) with email blasts voicing the disgust and horrible business practice they are sponsoring. They missed key fundamentals when they attended business school.
    In the meantime, here are some other sites that might be a great alternative to Owners:
    ALLTHEROOMS.COM
    CAMPINMYGARDEN.COM
    COUCHSURFING.COM
    FLIPKEY.COM
    KIDANDCOE.COM
    ONEFINESTAY
    PREFERREDRESIDENCES.COM
    ROOMORAMA.COM
    VACATIONROOST.COM
    VISIWA.COM

    This is not an exhaustive list but may fit the needs of some.
    I think in the meantime we should organize, seek legal counsel, and fight this. I agree, they did not fully disclose the changes to us as customers/consumers. I believe that they are breaching the terms of our subscriptions. But in the meantime, I suggest we bombard the company with emails, posts, blogs, all over the internet.

     
    • Gavin Ferns

      Hi Kyron,

      I would like to introduce my alternative VR site http://nicheescapes.com and add it to your list.

      NICHEESCAPES.COM

      Your list looks great, however we are different to all the above sites on your list. We market to Guests travel interests, not just the destination!

      I am an owner myself who has built this site from the ground up over the last two years and welcome fellow owners to list. We are great alternative to the corporate giants and pride ourselves on being open and honest!

      Choose from two models, which ever suits your business best, Subscription or Commission based.

      Any questions feel free to email me gavin@nicheescapes.com

      Hope to see you hear from you soon!

      Gavin

       
    • Virginia

      Don’t know the others, but Flipkey is lousy too, very expensive.

       
    • Drew Meyers

      I’m one of the co-founders of horizonapp.co (airbnb/couchsurfing with friends, friends of friends, and communities). We recently released an update to support sublets, which also includes the ability to link to an external URL from horizon profiles. – http://www.horizonapp.co/blog/sublet-support/

      Does it seem like there is a valuable service for vacation rental owners to post their listing in a place their own network can discover it & bypass fees on the traditional vacation rental sites?

       
  117. Tara

    Other Expedia business/brands to avoid and their competitors below (wikipedia). They are definitely creating a monopoly.

    Brands

    CarRentals.com
    CheapTickets
    Classic Vacations
    Ebookers
    Egencia – Previously known as Expedia Corporate Travel.
    Expedia
    Expedia Affiliate Network
    Expedia Local Expert
    HomeAway
    Hotels.com
    Hotwire Group
    Orbitz
    Travelocity
    trivago
    Venere.com
    wotif.com

    Competitors

    BookIt.com
    HotelQuickly
    The Priceline Group (Booking.com, Agoda.com etc.)
    Travix International B.V.
    Airbnb

     
  118. Tara

    Ok, I just got an inquiry, and responded offline with a lesser rate (no service fee) if the inquirer uses PayPal. I will use this method until my subscription expires in June. I’ll see if it works.

     
    • Virginia

      HA is going to start burying your listing, and will soon ban it, for doing that kind of thing.

       
      • Tara

        My subscription doesn’t include an agreement to a service fee, so I will take the necessary actions if that happens. I’m actually going to inquire about a refund given the recent addition of the service fee.

         
        • Virginia

          Good luck with that too. Last year, I capitulated (out of panic) and signed on to BIN, within 30 days of my renewal, and HA would not, will not, absolutely no – refund the $50 surcharge they charged owners who would not get onto BIN.
          that is how bleeping cheap and unconscionable and greedy and disingenuous this company is.

           
    • Christine V

      We have been trying a “backdoor” approach also by sending emails directly to our guest inquiries and not going through the dashboard, but beginning Feb 26th our responses through the email we have on file with VRBO have not been going through. When we contact them through a personal email we don’t have a problem. VRBO/HA have Hi-jacked our properties and I would dare to say this is illegal. Anyone else noticing this?

       
      • Virginia

        Yes.
        ABB has been doing it all along. It enrages me. They have taken control of a million properties they do not own!

         
      • Carolyn

        Yes.
        I have been voicing my opposition to their tactics for the last 2 yrs as well. I am extremely agitated that they are sticking their noses into my business between my renters and I. They are trying to totally take over every aspect of the private owners freedom to manage our properties how WE chose to. How are you going to tell us how often we need to rent , to get a higher exposure through their algorithm. In the beginning they would not publish the inquiries email address so you couldn’t get hold of them except through the website dashboard. they penalize you for not answering your inquiries in the time frame they set or you get bumped don the list. Now we have to make payments through them or they are going to suspend our rental advertisement for not making our renters pay another fee and get our payments through them. They have systematically been taking control, as you said, ever since they started the rental rating a year and a half ago. How are we going to let them tell us how to manage our own property and charge us for the pleasure?

         
    • Sally

      Also try SquareCash. You can get your own URL though which renters can pay by debit card without fees…

       
  119. Virginia

    Do not kid yourselves: what has gone on here is nothing short of a massive property grab by HomeAway, leaving us to pay the property taxes and cover maintenance. But HA now controls your business/VR property, telling you how to bill, when you can communicate with your inquirers, how you will administer your business…and punish you if you don’t “comply”, and yes, that is the word that was used in my last call to HA: “If you don’t comply, yes, we will bury your listing.”

    HA is using the very thing we hire them for – to show our listings and bring us renters – as leverage to get us to hand our properties/business over to them.

    See the big picture! Forget this charge. Its just the latest part of HA’s gigantic property grab.

     
  120. Bill

    If the service fee is justified as Home Away claims, one thing we all can agree on is that the fee percentage is excessive. I just ran the numbers for our 2015 rental proceeds and calculated what the service fee would have yielded, assuming a mid-range service fee of 5%. Basically, the calculations came to about three times the amount we pay HA/VRBO for the annual subscription.
    HA/VRBO claims that they have done their research regarding the impact of these service fees. I’m sure they have. And that research, which guided their decision, took into account the risks vs. benefits of these service fees. As a result, some prospective guests will be turned off because of the added expenses and some hosts will also make the decision to switch to alternative hosting sites such as Airbnb, TripAdvisor, etc. Even if they lost 10-20% of their hosting/guest base, HA/VRBO is still ahead because these additional service fees more than offset the losses. What they are attempting to do is work with only high quality guests and high quality hosts who are not cost sensitive. Meaning, if the added expense of the service fees makes a difference to you, then move on to alternative hosting sites because you don’t fit our profit profile/strategy. Once again, HA/VRBO has already evaluated the acceptable risks in implementing this fee, and have moved forward with the plan as a result. Also, the message they give prospective guests is a different message then they provide to hosts regarding their justification for service fee. The one element they aren’t exposing is that the service fee is also a huge profit opportunity for HA/VRBO. Clearly that has to be the case because of the excessive percentage they are taking. The benefits to hosts and guests that they state is clearly a smoke screen to the underlying purpose/motivation for this fee. Also, don’t you find it interesting (and insulting for prospective guests) when they read that from a hosting perspective, this fee covers enhanced efforts for marketing/advertising expenses. How many of us watching TV want to pay advertisers to show us more commercials on TV? That is what HA/VRBO is suggesting as a value add to our client base. Wrong message HA/VRBO.

     
  121. Nancy

    I went into a homeaway listing and inquired as a guest would. I clicked on the “terms and conditions” that guests have to agree to. Very interesting! Read it and notice all the disclaimers. It appears to me that Expedia’s terms and conditions still allow them to be held responsible for absolutely nothing. So what value has the 10% provided really, despite what Expedia is leading people to believe. Here is some of it, and there’s plenty more:
    “All property listings on the Site are the sole responsibility of the member (who may be the owner or a property manager or duly authorized property manager) and we specifically disclaim any and all liability arising from the alleged accuracy of the listings reviews, or any alleged breaches of contract on the user’s part. Members are solely responsible for keeping their property information up to date in the site, including …. blah blah blah. Read it!! Let’s educate ourselves in anticipation of legal action.

    And to Sean O’Neil, Thank you for providing this forum. I would not feel comfortable sharing these things on the community page.

     
    • Virginia

      Exactly. My experience with HomeAway is that it never, ever takes responsibility for anything, let alone voluntarily do the right thing. This company defies common sense, and it does not care. I’ve been amazed at the utter disregard for reason, decency, common sense that i’ve encountered in calls to HA. All I’ve gotten is basically, “Too bad”. So anyone who thinks this company would step in to work with anyone or help a guest or a homeowner out in a conflict is kidding themselves.

       
  122. erica

    This is utterly ridiculous! They are biting off their own nose to spite their face. Result, lose renters, lose listers. I for one am going to seek alternatives to Homeaway/VRBO/Vacationrental. Sad, as I absolutely loved their brand and recommend it to everyone! This new renter fee seems greedy and it will absolutely hurt my chances of rentals and my ability to increase rates this season. Why would you want to hinder and alienate both sides of your customer base, makes no common sense to me. I for one never received emails in regards to this “new” policy or I wouldn’t have renewed! Very disappointed!

     
    • Tara

      So did I, Erica. I was like the Homeaway spokesperson. 🙂 I have several friends who have listed properties, and several who rent from Homeaway because of the information I used to share. It is truly disappointing.

       
  123. Barbara

    I feel really sorry for these poor owners of luxury villas in these touch economic times. Stay strong guys.

     
    • Laura

      The issue I raised has to do with the additional charge to the traveler to book that provides nothing – how do you feel about that?

       
    • Lisa

      I am appalled that my renters are now, suddenly being charged a “service fee” and VRBO/HomeAway never let their owners know about this. Not only do I pay a super high annual fee to this company, plus the % they take for every transaction, now they charge the guests more? This just raised the cost of my rental without my permission or knowledge. Now I have to lower my rates to be comparable to other listings in the marketplace- this is nuts! If I thought could have raised my fees 10% I would have. This is almost criminal. Have you noticed that their customer service lines now have a 20 minute wait time – this “service fee” is offering service to whom actually, certainly not their stakeholders. I’ll be looking elsewhere when my contract runs out. Sign me up for the class action suit and good luck to Expedia – greed is an evil thing…

       
      • Thomas Freeman

        Well said. VRBO repersented my property for 3 years and I was pleased. That’s all changed. My good will that existed with them is ALL GONE ! What was that worth VRBO ?

         
      • Jan

        You are so right. I was shocked when I got an inquiry and reviewed the amount due to a huge service charge. I wrote to the person explaining that I would lower the rate in order to off-set the rate. I never heard back and I am really po’d. I would have gladly paid substantially more for my subscription and placement fees. VRBO would have had their money up front and the customer would be far happier as well. I guess using a REALTOR is looking better for sure.

         
    • Lisa

      get your facts straight – not all of us have luxury villas around the globe… we’re trying to make a living dear.

       
      • Virginia

        It was Barbara who said that, not Lisa.

        Barbara, this is not the time for owners to be pitting themselves against each other. You only play right into HA’s hands when you do that, and you end up hurting yourself…assuming you own a VR.

         
        • Virginia

          Oh, my big boo-boo on my part. Sorry Lisa! Ignore prior comment! **blushing**

           
      • Roger

        EXACTLY! We personally upkeep our rental unit, and clean between renters and snow-plow personally WHILE they are here (we get a lot of snow where we are at). This is not only for ‘Expensive Villa’ owners or ‘rich people’ – sometimes (most of the time), it’s hard-working people as well. Barbara – get a clue and out of your one-dimensional way of thinking.

         
    • Rich

      Then there are us small guys that own a cabin in a rural mountain town, near a lesser known ski mountain that can barely afford to heat the place and pay the tax, cable, internet, wifi and other expenses todays travelers require. Thanks HomeAway!

       
    • Linda

      Most owners who rent their condos are not well off. If we were, we wouldn’t be sharing our places with others. Do you see celebrities or the rich renting their places out? Most of us have mortgages to pay along with all the taxes, but without the benefits of being a resident. I am lucky if I break even. I bought our condo as the money in the bank wasn’t doing much and I would get to enjoy it a couple times a year. On top of that, we have to deal with all the damage that is done to our condo and replace furniture A LOT more often than you do at your own home. People forget these are homes. Luckily in my 12 years, I have had minimum intentional damage, but have replaced furniture and will be replacing again this year.

       
  124. Robert Brooks

    I am a property owner who pays a High Listing fee and now am having to give them a percentage fee. AirBNB does not charge any listing fee just a percentage!! Whats next???

     
    • Virginia

      I don’t get why owners haven’t been furious over the outright hijacking of their properties, which has been going on for over a year and has been the case with ABB all along. But suddenly this fee has them having a meltdown (understandably!).
      What did they think was going to happen as they capitulated to handing management and control of their properties over to HA and ABB? What did they think was going to happen as they walked hand-in-hand with HA down that path of allowing HA dictate to them how they will run their businesses?

      In a lot of ways, HA homeowners have no one to blame but themselves. But I also blame ABB, which really started this cynical model of controlling other people’s businesses, no communication, treating private homes like hotel bookings, etc., and the US Congress, which has dangerously weakened laws ensuring competition.

       
      • Linda

        Owners can deal with what they have to do, but don’t like it when it infringes on our guests. If I am paying 1000 as an example for my listing and then you multiply that by how many listing which I believe is in the millions world wide as there is more than just one site people list on, why do they now have to charge guests also? They make enough on our listings. VRBO alone, is almost 800,000 listings so that means they are taking in 800,000,000 per years. Homeaway has over 1,000,000. How much overhead can there be when this is web based?

         
  125. Tara

    I am a property owner in the US who uses Homeaway for personal use as well. I just shopped for places to stay in London via Homeaway, and there is no service fee there. Does anyone know why?

     
    • kyron

      Tara, this fee is being rolled out in the USA now and worldwide by end of the year…or sooner.
      CEO said the fee wouldn’t happen until Q2 of 2016 and it came early…these guys are total creeps.
      Can’t wait to sign the class action lawsuit

       
    • Rich

      Its starting in the US, then will be rolled out worldwide….assuming it works

       
    • Linda

      They are charging in the US also and suppose to go world wide by the end of the year.

       
  126. Scott Anderson

    I just discovered the “service fee” being charged to customers of our VRBO listings. Not only do they get paid annually to host my property on their website, get a percentage of every financial transaction made for using their payment system, sell an insurance policy to every one of my guests so we don’t need to require deposits, now they want up to 10% of the actual rental charge in addition everything else. I guess we all know how Expedia will pay off it’s purchase of the HomeAway franchise in the short term. If Expedia and HomeAway/VRBO management think this is not going to alienate our customers from the brand and cause owners and property managers alike to jump ship (and never allow ourselves to ever get blindsided by the invention of the service fee or the next stream of income they force on us), let’s just see!

    Also, when calling in to question Home away / VRBO customer service to express your outrage on this fee they tried to slip in under our radar, please ask for a customer service supervisor to vent your anger and declare your intention of continuing with them or not. These poor CSR’s on the front line are already beat to Heck over this. I’m the mean time, I have to make all my clientele aware of this new policy to skim up to 10% off of future rentals and explain to them how we are going to transition out of VRBO and into another system.

    On a final note, I received a call from Google this morning about my property rental and asked if I would be interested in their new service that would connect me direct with new clientele. I kind of brushed her off politely, saying I was satisfied how I am currently represented. That was before I discovered VRBO snuck an additional $170.50 on a rental quote I sent out last week. It’s not easy to turn a happy, long term customers into expats but once you do, do they really think we will ever come back?

     
  127. Steve

    I have been a big advocate for VRBO having referred many friends to the site for listings and rentals. No more. The new service fee is pure profit grab but Homeaway and their mgmt. team. This after raising our listing rate substantially again this year with no notice at the time of this fee. Their comment to me that it is the guest who pays is not true. If I had room to bring my rates up 10% I would. The new fees will cause me to have to lower my rate to stay competitive with the other vacation options travelers have. I figure this new fee will quadruple the fees I pay VRBO for renting our vacation property through their site. We will be looking for new ways to advertise our property or get out of renting all together. The way Homeaway has handled this and the amount of the fee is a true slap in the face to all of their loyal homeowners and guests.

     
    • Mary McNamara

      I first listed with Cyberrentals in 2002, a company bought out by HomeAway. There was originally only a subscription plan offered (although with flexible plans ranging from 3 months to 1 year.) All that was provided was a listing service, which was all I wanted then and all I want now.

      HomeAway and Expedia seem to have lost understanding that there are multiple kinds of properties and multiple kinds of guests with a diversity of objectives. It seems that HA is attempting to be all things for all owners/ property managers/ travelers/guests. By moving all owners and all guests to the same formula, they will meet the needs of some, but not all constituents. With a more flexible approach to owners and guests, they could meet the needs of a significantly larger group at both ends of the business.

      Like many owners, I have a very unique property located in a unique, private area. I will never consider renting it without first communicating with a prospective guest to be sure I meet the guest’s needs and that the guest meets mine. Neither the Airbnb nor the anticipated HA requirement of online booking will meet my needs as an owner. As a renter, I will not book a property without the opportunity to communicate with the owner to be sure the property fits my goals for my vacation. As both a renter and an owner, I will not use online booking, PDP, or a traveler fee to pay for fraud protection. Before booking, PTP communication gives me comfort regarding the booking while a travel insurance policy for the guest is always available if there is still a lack of confidence.

      I understand that many owners and property managers with multiple properties don’t have the time or resources to “waste” communicating with every inquirer. Many of their inquirers may not wish for any communication with the owner, especially when there’s nothing unique or unclear about the property in question. I understand that some travelers just want to book a property that’s available when they need it and priced within their budget. HomeAway and Airbnb will meet their needs, but not mine.

      HomeAway’s argument that the traveler’s service fee will be appreciated by the traveler because HA promises to relocate the traveler if all isn’t well upon arrival at the property. I have no problem with HA offering the fee as a traveler choice for those with concerns. However, not all properties can be re-booked to similar properties. My area has only a handful of properties ever available for rent and 100% are fully booked 6 months in advance. Our beach is privately owned so a stay at the nearest Inn or hotel, in the unlikely event there would be any vacancy, still wouldn’t provide access to our beach.

      In short, as either owner or guest, I have no problem with HA’s decision to add to their former role as a listing service as long as anything above and beyond that role is optional for both owner and guest. If the current “upgrades” become mandatory, I will cancel my subscription and market my property through other channels. I will book properties through local property managers who allow PTP communication.

       
  128. Laura

    I have used Homeaway for years and recommended it to my friends. I am not happy with the fact that I am now to be charged a service fee for simply perusing the site and contacting the owner myself. I don’t see that Homeaway is providing me any additional service for this charge and I really don’t need to be told that I am paying for better marketing for the site. I will find an alternative way to book vacation rentals!

     
  129. Kyron

    How does this help us Owners. Ive called several times and they say this is to pay for their 24-7 customer service. What a joke. This is about increasing shareholder value for Expedia. How will this generate more inquiries and bookings. They have not told us how this money will be spent on the Owner. They have changed the terms of the contract. I signed up for a yearly subscription. How can they charge my client a fee. I paid an enormous amount of money to advertise MY property on their site. And now they want a fee from my client. Where do I sign on for the class action law suit. And guess what, if you read their monthly updates come April they are changing the pricing structure to subscription based owners. This is a BAD business model and only hurts us.
    We need to organize and file suit against this greedy bastards.

     
  130. julius

    I have 3 listing all in Florida . Today will call tripadvisor and check there rates. I can no longer be part of Greed and bad management. This increase will no doubt cost me guest, So they can kiss my as!,

     
  131. Persian Emp

    HomeAway is attempting to get transaction control of over one million properties, grabbing a good percentage of passing through fund in return for worthless spin-talk:

    1. Guarantying against double booking which almost never ever happen. Guarantees cannot be based on very rare exception.

    2. Protecting travelers against fraudulent listing. Why a company that charge an average of $1000 subscription fee per year per property should advertise fraudulent listing? It should be part of the job!

    3. HomeAway stating that travelers wants to book clicking a button. Based on which research?
    No owner willingly will be able to take the risk of giving their property keys for a couple of night stay to a stranger that use a credit card for reservation via HpmeAways affiliate third party vendor..

     
  132. Gavin Ferns

    Question to all commenters here:

    What is a fair deal to guest and owners for a listing site to charge for a commission model?

    Assuming 3% credit card transaction fee and the listing site needs to make 10% for marketing, operating costs and profit.

    A: Owner pays 3% and guest pays 10%
    B: Owner pays 13% and guest pays 0%
    C: Owner pays 0% and guest pays 13%
    D: Owner pays 6.5% and guest pays 6.5%
    OR
    None of the Above (state why)

     
    • Virginia

      None of the above. A fair deal is to let owners control their own properties and manage and administer them as they wish. While the “Service Fee” is bogus, ridiculous, business-killing, etc., the bigger problem is that AirBnb and HomeAway have cynically actually hijacked people’s properties – while letting us pay the property taxes and do all the maintenance on them. Pretty good deal…if you have a criminal mind and no ethics whatsoever.

      Commissions are earned, not demanded. A salesperson for HomeAway, for example, goes out and procures 5,000 new properties for HA’s inventory in a month, he/she gets a 15% commission on the subscription fee paid by the owners. That is how commissions work. HomeAway is not entitled to a commission from MY sales, i.e.: people who wish to purchase what I am selling, namely renting my house. HomeAway is entitled to charge a fee for listing my house on their site, and that is all HA is entitled to and to do. HA is not a property management company. If it wishes to split off and create a subsidiary property management company for owners who want someone else to do their billing, communicating, booking, etc., for them, fine. Nothing wrong with that.

      What is wrong is HomeAway telling su that we will hand our businesses over to them or else…
      I cannot fathom treating my customers this way. I can’t imagine, for example, telling my guests that, they will hire the packers I want them to hire to pack their suitcases and load their cars, will take the route I tell them to take to get to my house – which is 140 miles out of their way, btw, will buy the gas I tell them to buy – which is the most expensive, btw, will eat only the food I leave for them once they get to the house they’ve rented, will engage in only the activities I say they can while on vacation…

      or else they will have no vacation whatsoever!
      (and of course, the above is after I’ve bought up all of the other rental properties so that no others are available to anyone). But the little competition that still exists won’t be available to them because I will put up roadblocks to those properties.
      HomeAway is authoritarian, hostile, cynical, uncompetitive deliberately, and IMO, has performed more than just a money grab. I think it’s performed a major property grab.

       
      • Gavin Ferns

        I fully understand that how it is wrong for Homeaway to add a service fee on top of a fee based subscription model. However I do not see that Airbnb is at fault with this crisis of Homeaway. Airbnb have always been fairly clear with there pricing model and have not demanded a subsciption fee, which would put them into a similar boat as Homeaway. The choice has been always with the owner until now. Subscription, commission or do it alone. I have tried all three and I believe it suits different properties for different reasons.

        Basically you have three options as an owner as far as I can see with different risk levels:
        1. Pay a subscription model and display your contact details (Risk $300+)
        2. Pay a commission on bookings and forfeit your DIRECT contact details – internal messaging is fine (Risk loosing few hours listing your property)
        3. Go on your own and pay for your advertising yourself (Risk $$$?)

        The question is this in the end how risk adverse are you and how much time do you have.

        My Question is what is the perfect model for most owners? This is especially pertinent to a small startup company such as mine who has this very issue right now. I am an owner as well of a property and personally I do not see the issue with the service fee.I also think that it is better for owners to try the service out for a while before moving to a subscription model. Niche Escapes actually has both models. I just have put the subscription model to one side for now to avoid confusion. Thank you for your valued inputs.

         
        • Virginia

          Gaving, I think perhaps I wasn’t clear in my comment. AirBnb was the first with this model of controlling communication, billing, holding rent, etc. HomeAway has actually moved to the AirBnb model. As you say, the only difference is that HA also charges the subscription fee. If you buy the Classic, as I do, you realize that you’re talking about only $350, not a lot to squabble about when there is a much, much bigger picture going on here. (and btw, at least the subscription amount IS something that owners still have a choice about! I suspect the only thing. Owners should band to gather and agree to only buy the Classic subscription. We have got to stop competing with each other for the time being and band together in order to put some downward pressure on these companies).

          While owners are rightly furious about the new, absurd “Service Fee”, the bigger picture and problem is that AirBnb and HomeAway have literally hijacked and wrested our businesses from us. The Service Fee is simply one more aspect of that. A year ago, many of us were warning other owners on HA’s Community Forum that this was happening, and we were bashed, pilloried, attacked (by other owners), told that, if we don’t evolve, we die…and HomeAway banned us constantly from the forum for being critical of HomeAway, which is completely in line with HA’s authoritarian nature).
          But now, even the most die-hard HA loyalists over there are having a meltdown over this Service Fee, but they still don’t seem to get the whole picture, that HA has successfully wrested control of their properties from them, and they allowed it to do so with their attacks on those of us warning them.

          Here is one of the big problems: HA and AirBnb have ONE model for millions of properties, but the properties vary as much as people do. Some properties are seasonal, so they have only a few weeks in which to earn their income; some properties are much more modest than others, i.e.: one small cottage at the beach ,doesn’t generate a lot of rent, so these fees and high subscriptions are a real hardship; others are very high end and generate very high rates; some people own multiple properties. One person here stated his rental income last year was $175K. Mine was @ $30K. But he and I are subjected to the same commissions, fees, rules, etc.??? He can afford a Platinum listing while I and many others cannot. So the wealthy owner gets top billing, while the modest property gets buried.

          The system simply doesn’t work. Not only can you not treat private homes like hotel rooms, you can’t even treat each home the same. These companies are behemoths, so gigantic, yet they can only come up with one model and everyone must comply???? That wold be like going in to Bloomingdales and discovering they sell only one style of slacks, in one size and you have no choice but to buy them; doesn’t matter that one is a size 2 while another is a size 14 or that one has long legs and another short…nope: one pair of slacks. Take it or leave it.

           
      • Amy Lothrop

        Well said!!! Totally agree!

         
  133. Beach bunny

    I have been an owner subscriber to homeaway/vrbo for 16 years
    At the beginning vrbo looked after actual.owners and the startup owners. If u were platinum ur ranking was based on ur listing number
    There was some type of loyalty to customer
    Not sure how ranking
    I have about 5 listings. The cheaper does better than platinum same size condo with less reviews and pictures. It no longer is directed to owners!!!
    Vrbo is now doing these service fees and wanting pay on line where no one talks to anyone??
    What kind of guests are u getting?? Underaged? Pets?
    I want to talk to individuals
    We need to consider who we have in.our properties.
    Not paying more and no fees for guests. They will be better 0ff going thru resort

     
  134. VRBO homeowner

    November 2014 – “Homeaway spokesman says to protect yourself, always talk to the owner by phone.” Source: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/scammer-targets-clark-howard-while-vacation/njC6J/

    February 2016 – Homeaway now says “Don’t talk to the owner. We don’t want you to communicate with the owner directly, as it might be a scam. Starting this summer, we won’t even let you know who the owner is until we’ve been paid a 10% service fee.” What a difference 18 months make.

     
    • Virginia

      and trust me, if after paying that fee, then being allowed to speak to each other, if either party decides the property is in fact not a good fit, so the “instant booking” is cancelled, HomeAway will not only keep that 10%, they’ll punish the owner for canceling. They’re going to get into this “conversion” thing, where those with the most conversions get a higher ranking, and turning down Ted Bundy or 75 college students, each having paid the downpayment on the keg as a guest will result in your listing being pushed far down in the pack.
      AirBnb already does this. I got notice after canceling ONE booking that, if I cancelled another within six months, they had the right to suspend my listing!
      Who are these people? How do you sit around a table and talk about how you’re going to use people’s livelihoods as leverage to get them to comply to absurd policies you would never, ever want for yourself, and also talk about how you are going to take control of other people’s businesses and properties??
      The whole thing is just bizarre to me.

       
    • Laura

      Utterly ridiculous – I have nothing but positive experiences – Homeaway is losing my business!

       
    • 12 year VRBO Advertiser

      Thank you VRBO Homeowner for pointing this out. This whole power grab started as a “we must protect the vacationers from scams”. Now it’s “we must suck as much money out of everyone as possible.”

      HomeAway is triple-dipping – they charge owners to advertise on their website. They charge for processing credit cards. And now a 10% Service Fee to the renter for apparently nothing.

      The greed goes on, the greed goes on… (paraphrasing Cher)

       
  135. Chuck Breckenridge

    There has to be a good lawyer out there who has listings w VRBO. They have changed their business model without warning. No one signed up for fee based service. A class action law suit could make the right lawyer a good income

     
  136. Chuck Breckenridge

    just took off one property bc profit margin not high enough. Good luck VRBO. Have a nice trip to the bottom

     
  137. Thomas Kahl

    Aloha All,

    Yes, I agree.
    I can’t believe it,
    talk about being blind-sided.

    As soon as I heard that Expedia bought it.
    Oh No, Corporate is only concerned about the profit line,
    and it has to be more and more each quarter.

    I had 6 listings on VRBO I took off 3 when I heard about Expedia.
    I would like to add them all to the new “start-up” in the business,
    or the next best in line, any ideas.

    VRBO and AIRBNB are ruined.
    Please someone tell me who are the alternatives.

    SIncerely,
    Tom Kahl

     
    • Heinz H.

      I – as well as a number of VR owners are trying out a company called homeescapes.com They launched last summer and it seems that they have the morals that VRBO used to have.

       
    • Hot Springs Vacation Homes

      Tom Kahl, I’m not sure there are any good alternatives out there right now. All the current ones seem to be based on greed.

       
    • theresa brooks

      others are looking at home escape.com, vacation home rentals.com (owned by trip advisor)

       
  138. jeff

    EVERYONE GO TO the HomeAway facebook page and BLAST it with posts about how bad this is for the RENTERS // HomeAway is completely ripping off the consumer. Make it go viral….does anyone have connections with 20/20 or any national watchdog news team…..this would make a REALLY interesting national news story as to how this huge company is ripping off the consumer!!!

     
    • Virginia

      I have spoken, twice, to a reporter for my local newspaper and he is going to bring the business reporter in on this story. I’ve also emailed the NY Times, twice, and NPR, to suggest they look into this. I actually did this before this “Service Fee” nonsense because I wanted someone to bring to light the sleazy and dirty way AirBnb and HomeAway do business, which really is nothing more than they have somehow managed to usurp our businesses, leaving us with the costs (maintenance, taxes) and all the profit for themselves. And to boot, they’ve killed our businesses with these horrible policies and business-by-strangulation “model”.

      I suggest others do the same.

       
  139. Riverfront Retreat

    Are you kidding me?? A 9% fee paid to VRBO/HomeAway by the customer after I already pay a $1300 annual subscription, this is double dipping. You either offer the listing at no cost or charge a service fee not both. Airbnb charges 3%, why does VRBO/HomeAway think they charge up to 10%? I have also noticed a decline in bookings and this is going to make it worse. A 6 year customer and think I will be moving to other sites. I also will be booking my own vacation rentals on other sites that do not have a fee. Wise up VRBO/HomeAway, this is not the way to do business. You took a great product, got greedy and upset your most valuable asset, your customers.

     
  140. Sue

    We’ve been in the vacation rental business for over 10 years. There is an important personal element in this business model. This mandated new fee is disgusting and doesn’t fit with VRBO’s previous subscription model. I took the financial risk of buying our rental properties, paid for VRBO subscriptions, pay their credit card processing fees, paid for professional photos, have the transparency of owner reviews, take 24 hour calls from guests and on and on. Pure greed that they feel entitled to up to 10% of my rental income for no risk or investment on their part. 5 star reviews indicate to potential guests that we are not a fraudulent operation. AND Yapstone, the payment processing company, had a data breach that put our own personal information at risk for fraud! I’m simply disgusted.

     
  141. Becky

    After HomeAway added the service fee my bookings have dropped dramatically. On those inquiries that I have had every quote, no matter what the length of stay, has had a 9% service fee added. I asked HomeAway about that and they claimed the scale was sliding from 4-10% but they would not give me any breakdown on this sliding scale. HomeAway’s excuse for the fee is that “everyone else is doing it”. This is crazy since they already charge the owners a subscription fee and a 2.9% fee when guests use their credit card. Lowering the pay-for-booking fee rate from 10 to 8% doesn’t help subscription users. …and that 8% fee is still so much higher than AirBnb fee of 3%. HomeAway is just being greedy.

     
    • Lisa

      I agree 100% Becky! I have been with HomeAway since 2008. Platinum level. Last week I was receiving 3-4 inquiries a day. Made 5 bookings from those inquiries. Friday I got an inquiry, noticed the service fee when I sent along that quote. Have received just 1 inquiry since. Service fees for my inquiries were 9%. I even went on my HA website, did an inquiry and was gonna be charged a 9% service fee! FOR WHAT???? I have sent 2 emails to HA complaining and informing them that I pay ALOT of money as a Platinum advertiser and I DO NOT like the fact that they are nickle and diming my guests. It’s adding a minimum of $100 onto my quotes. I am now looking to advertise elsewhere. Sorry HomeAway, you are losing a very loyal customer.

       
      • Danielle

        Lisa, I agree with your comments! But if HomeAway is losing a loyal customer, where are you going? Have you found other options out there that only charge the subscription /advertising fee? If so, please let me know as I’d like to leave too!

         
    • Susan

      I agree – their greed will put them out of business. I have a renter that comes back every year and their service fee is almost $200 – nearly the cost of one night’s rent.

       
  142. NC_BeachHomes

    This sudden change to their model is suspect to me. There will be lawsuits. I’d like to see them posted here!

     
  143. Virginia

    Please…PLEASE do not run from HomeAway to AirBnb! Homeowners have to get smarter and quick!

    It is because of AirBnb that all of this is going on. AirBnb threw a wrench into the VR industry. HomeAway has merely evolved to be like AirBnb, so by leaving HA for AirBnb, you are simply re-arranging chairs on the Titanic’s deck.

    Both of these companies do not serve the interests of VR owners. AirBnb treats private VR homes like a room in someone’s house, flop houses, a la the way it began, which as for Millenials needing a room for a night or two; HomeAway treats them like they’re factory-line hotel rooms. Both control our properties, use software to disallow you from communication with inquirers, i.e.: preventing any real competition, etc.

    Give up the devil HA, but not for the devil AirBnb.

     
  144. Christopher G

    I have been in the VR biz since 2004. I’m a HA platinum subscriber and use their payment system. Two of my properties have been in HA’s top 3 listings for my vacation rental area and I have done extremely well. Since this “service fee” BS began last week, I have had 1 inquiry and 1 booking. Period. I’m scurrying to list with airbnb and significantly beefing up my own vacation rental website, as well as taking fees directly and just blocking out my HA calendars as I circumvent their system. This is greed, pure and simple. What’s been most frustrating is talking to the CS Reps who give their canned responses and don’t say anything of substance. This is a horrible, horrible way to be treated for many of us who have been loyal to them. The 24/7 customer service is meaningless. HA is really going to take care of my guest with a broken water pipe in my property at 4 AM? Really?!
    When my subscription is up, I’m done with HomeAway. They disgust me. Until then, I’ll just keep circumventing their system.

     
    • Gavin Ferns

      Hi all you beautiful and rightly annoyed people! I too am a Platinum HA subscriber and it has been a disastrous year even before this fee. We have a Chateau in France and bookings have fallen through the floor.

      I recommend you all try my great little site called Niche Escapes. I have spent two years bring this to reality and I think it meets guests needs by offering them properties in travel categories they are in interested in. Niche marketing applied to vacation rentals. I am a listing site but with the right intentions!

      Our rates are simple. You the owner is charged 3% commission and we charge the guest a fee of 10% added to your rate. That is it. Plain and simple. I recommend you to give us a go. Best!

       
  145. Audrey

    Homeaway/VRBO has added something new to owner listing pages today. If a guest clicks on “show Phone Number” on a listing, a box with this message shows up:
    “Payment protection –
    To book this property, you need to complete your booking through checkout on the VRBO website. We can’t protect your payment if we don’t know you’ve booked through us.”

    This is officially a proof of Homeaway/VRBO acting like they own the listings of the individually-managed/ maintained vacation rental properties. The owners paid for the listings through annual subscription and should have the freedom of how to communicate with the guests and how to process the payment. Since when the listing party can twist and change the rules whenever they want. First add EXTRA FEE to our price, now THREATEN our potential customers to not trust any process methods from us. What listing/ advertising/ marketing company does that? Will the next step being they disconnect all communication between owner and guests and use computer software to do auto-bookings for us?

    Who gives this company the right to change things however, whenever and to whoever and call that we didn’t follow the RULES, and threaten there will be consequences? No wonder ppl hate those big corporations and make us wonder the law is always at their side.

     
  146. Steve

    A lot of interesting conversation below. This may be nothing more than this company starting with these high percentage rates; then lowering them to 1 or 2 % after everyone freaks out. People will then think “well, that’s not so bad.” This is how new businesses are born. A young entrepreneur puts together a small web site to meet the needs of an industry. Slowly builds it and adds more features as needed. If greed doesn’t overcome; they can have a nice profitable business. Let’s say there are one million rental properties (just a number) in the Unit States alone. Collect five Dollars from each of them, five million dollars, and build one awesome web site. For their five dollar contribution, they get the first year free. So, I will be the first to sign up, and send five bucks. Just generating some thought! We will also be figuring another way to manage our property…See Ya HA/VRBO!

     
  147. Barb haney

    Ha has been extremely disappointing in this past year. I’ve had my propert listed with be I for 10 years, always been very happy with my platinum subscription but I will not be renewing at the end of my subscription. Inquiries have dried up on this site while becoming way more robust on other sites and now they are charging exorbitant fees to the traveler who wants to reserve my home thru them.

     
    • Tara

      Barb,

      I agree. This fee is pure greed on behalf of Homeaway, and our subscription should be free as a result. Hopefully, enough people will leave to make them take notice that this is a poor business decision.

       
      • Virginia

        It’s not even greed, although that is part of it. It’s authoritarianism. It’s two huge companies, HomeAway and AirBnb, making hostile takeovers of our VR properties/businesses.

         
  148. Lavonne Clifford

    Thank you for sharing this article. We heard about the new charge from a guest this week. Called Homeaway since we pay for a platinum subscription we were sure it was a mistake. Nope, it is a new fee we were told nothing about. This is ridiculous. On top of all this we pay for a platinum ranking. We have always been ranked in top 10 and paid $1600 for our subscription. Today we were listed at 70 and 90. We know all the top properties in our area and those listed are pay per listing properties and all platinum properties have been pushed down to 70-90. We are looking for new ways to market our properties away from Homeaway. Top item on our agenda tomorrow is to move away from VRBO & Homeaway. Word of wisdom don’t buy platinum…not worth anything today. What a disappointment. They are moving down the Flipkey road…we are booked solid and have only received 2 booking from Flipkey in the last two years. This is the straw that broke the camels back for us…we will search for another way to book our homes!

     
  149. Fed Up

    HomeAway is full of malarkey. Each time we think we understand the new “rules” for advertising on their site they change the rules. I am totally sick of dealing with them and the constant tweaks that cost me time and money. The service fee is the latest insult to their advertisers. I pay $1600 to advertise on their site and now they are so greedy to collect a service fee from my guests. Yes, they are MY guests staying in MY vacation home. Their 24×7 customer service is a joke. If the guest gets lost on their way to your rental and they need directions, if they lock themselves out, if they can’t figure out how to use the remote control, if the washing machine breaks, if their child is sick and they need a doctor urgently do you think the 24×7 HomeAway customer service agents can help them? NO, HA phone agents know absolutely zero about your property or your area. The Service Fee is total B.S.

    As others have mentioned, let’s hope travelers realize they are being ripped off by HomeAway and will do a Google search to find rental properties directly without dealing with HomeAway and their nonsense.

     
  150. Lynne Clement

    Many vacation rental owners will be happy to book guests directly thus saving the traveler the 10% booking fee. Don’t fall for the scare tactic selling of a listing site trying to justify the added fee when owners are already paying a hefty subscription price. How do your find a vacation rental owner to book directly? For now, the contact info is still on VRBO. Write down the contact info of the owner because eventually it may be hidden like it is on TripAdvisor’s Flipkey. Many vacation rentals have their own Facebook page where you can find them or you can google the owners name or the name of the rental and location. Local Chambers of Commerce are also another way to get a recommendation. My Facebook page for vacation rentals in Erie, PA is http://www.facebook.com/clementslakeeriecottages.

     
  151. Skippy

    Most of my guests have been Canadians. They have told me that they are already cutting back on travel because the Canadian dollar has lost about 10% compared to the US dollar over the past year. There is no way they could afford the extra expense of the HA service fee. While I have made some profit from my vacation rental, it has never amounted to much. If I cut my prices to offset the HA service fee I will lose money on every booking. Homeaway seems determined to kill the vacation rental business. I really miss the old VRBO. Going forward I hope to see avroa.org succeed as a successor to that VRBO vision.

     
  152. Michelle

    If we wanted our customers to incur an extra fee, we would be on Airbnb. At least on Airbnb, we, the homeowners, don’t have to pay a yearly fee. First the order change which pushed my Platinum listing way down the list to a bunch of new cheap-o condos, and now this. Airbnb, here I come.

     
    • Virginia

      AirBnb is just as bad, but for the “free” listing. We owners have to force both AirBnb and HomeAway out of business by denying them inventory. These two companies’ model is to completely take control of our businesses.
      We “hire” them, or otherwise list on them, simply to make our properties available to travelers to look at and consider as rentals. We do not hire them to manage our properties. If I wanted someone else to do my bookings, communications, billings,etc., for me, I’d hire a PM.

      That AirBnb have to use software that blocks out phone numbers, Web sites, including creative attempts at spelling them out, should tell them their models are lousy to begin with. What they are doing is blocking competition, NOT actually competing.
      This would be like opening a brick and mortar store, and then putting up road blocks to all of your competition so customers can’t choose, can’t get to the others… and then implementing ridiculous prices and policies at your own store.

       
  153. Kaye

    Question: HA/VRBO is it legal for you to add this service fee to an existing booking it they have not paid their last payment ???

     
  154. Paul Hawkins

    I’m a subscription holder on VRBO/HA. I don’t like the service fee, or book it now, where you only have 24 hours to contact the prospective renter. I also don’t want payments going through Homeaway, where I’ll have to pay 2.9%, which I would have to pass on to my renters. Bottom line is, Expedia wants to recoup it’s 3.9 billion investment as soon as possible. My subscription expires in May, and I’m looking into http://www.vacationhomerentals.com, which is similar to VRBO/HA, before Expedia took over.

     
    • Christine V

      We have been VRBO/HA subscription owners for 8 years. We were very satisfied in the past until they started with all the changes. We live near our 3 properties and do everything and have been able to earn a modest living. We listed one of our properties with http:/www.vacationhomerentals.com, in Dec but have only had 4 inquires. Three of the inquiries were from College kids on Spring break and the 4th was for 2 nights (we have a 3 night minimum). We are hoping this company or some other alternative is out there. Please post if you have had more success with this site.

       
  155. Linda

    VRBO is double dipping with this fee. Not only are they squeezing guests for a sizeable percentage, but owners also have to pay a huge amount simply to list their properties in the first place. Airbnb doesn’t charge owners this kind of fee. I pay almost $1300 per year to list my property. I’m getting inquiries from confused guests now who don’t understand that they’re going to be charged a fee. That makes me look bad as an owner. VRBO has totally screwed this up.

     
  156. Kaye

    “Now, travelers who book or pay directly through HomeAway’s sites will have the full amount of their booking protected against things like misrepresented or double-booked properties.” Really?? So let’s charge a service fee to protect the guests from the owners. I can hardly believe double booking and misrepresentation would merit such a fee.

    HA/VRBO needs to clarify to the guests what the service fee is for and that it is NOT a fee to the owner. Please

    I have been a member of HA/VRBO since December and was very pleased, now I understand why there was so much concern with this company. Makes you want to rethink using a management company again.

    Kaye

     
    • Lisa

      I have only received 2 inquiries since this “service fee” has been added to quotes. I have informed my guests that this is from HomeAway and not me. It is very frustrating. I renewed my posting with them in November. THIS fee WAS NOT part of my renewal. I am more than angry about this new fee. It is ridiculous.

       
  157. Alicia Yowell

    I have some major concerns concerning your projected on line booking requirement. I have been with you since 2003. I have some travelers who have booked with me for over 15 years and one for over 32 years. I am sure many owners have lots of repeat guests and that is a good thing. Those guests simply pay by check as they have for years. I cannot subject them to a fee since they are not your clients but when I block out time on my calendar for these renters, I certainly should not be penalized by having my listings go the bottom of the search engine. Further, my husband and I live in whatever house we are not renting. We live 6 months a year at one house and 5 months at another. Again, will my listings be penalized?

    I have noticed that my bookings are down by 70%. What is causing this? I believe that your new business para-dine is going to backfire. It will be less expensive for those who have vacation homes in a resort community to list with a local Real Estate Firm. It will also drive the the traveler to this local market as well since they will not have to pay for a service fee. Further, if you take away the ability of the owner to talk to the traveler before they book, it will take away the very essence of what Homeway was supposed to be all about, the personal touch that you simply do not get when you call a hotel or a real estate firm. So many of my travelers have expressed how much they have loved having this ability before they make their final determination to book. Further, most owners take great pride in our rentals and we want the ability to talk to the potential traveler before they decide to rent our homes, some of which are expensively decorated with beautiful art work. In our cause, both of our homes are our primary homes for a good percent of the year. There is no way I want to rent to someone without having a conversation with them before hand. I was a real estate agent for 23 years. Further, I live in a residential community where four other four other owners rent their home. We all are very careful to make sure that we are not renting to folks who do not understand our community rules. Consequently, we have had very little problems amongst the other owners because our tenants know the rules before they book and follow them. The notion of renting a house to someone without prior contact would be inexcusable and highly unprofessional. Be very careful, you may find that your 3.8 billion dollar purchase disappearing before your own eyes

    P.S. An e-mail should have been sent to each of us before you made this as a final decision. The lack of notice is an appalling business practice.

     
  158. Pete Stone

    Their rollout of the new “service charge” fee has been incompetent. Listings that have Book it Now payments available show the new fee, whereas Homeaway/VRBO listings that don’t, show no new fee. This puts property owners at a competitive disadvantage simply by offering better service! What’s a potential guest to think when some properties have the fee and others don’t? They need to implement this new fee across the board or many listing owners will just dump the “Book it Now” option and/or Homeaway payments to try and level the playing field.

     
    • Lisa M.

      Pete ~ Feeling your pain, but (as a fellow VRBO lister) have to say that I — among how many? — AM A Property Owner who learned her lesson re: NOT signing-up for anything that VRBO has on-offer vis-a-vis their so-called “Hospitality” feature where, recall, even an Innocent Click for ‘more info?’ committed one (irrevocably!) to buy-in for that ‘feature’ du jour. Add to this, VRBO/HA’s seeming inability (unwillingness??) to beta-test … anything in advance of universal launch.

      Methinks that a ‘solution’ to the current debacle would be one that NOT favors (in your words) [VRBO/HA’s] “need to implement this new fee across the board,” but rather SCRAPS this whole double-dipping (Owners paying? Guests* paying? *And (the latter > for what? Exactly??) SCHEME altogether and, chiefly, for the cowardly way in which VRBO/HA is couching The Fee to our prospective guests = (?) < on the so-called 'details' of quotes.

       
    • Virginia

      Homeowners should drop instant booking. These are not hotel rooms. But don’t worry; homes not on instant booking and HA Payments are severely punished, namely by being buried. They also will not be counted in this hideous “Best Match” new way of listing placement, which is, put simply, if you don’t give HomeAway complete control of your property, they will bury your listing.

       
  159. wes witt

    They are now double dipping and all of the property owners are being held hostage. This is a terrible, greedy ploy. Google the porperty you want to stay at and book direct and you will now save up to 10%. Here is my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Came2Belize

     
  160. HotSpringsVacationHomes

    Thanks so much Sean O’Neill for including the property owners views in your article. HomeAway’s strategy seems to be to instill fear in the travelers so that they are willing to pay more for the illusion of protection. Why as a property owner would I ever want to double book someone? In the 12 years I have been running my business I have NEVER double booked or cancelled a reservation on someone. I receive 5 star reviews from my guests. I run a heart centered business and enjoy communicating with my guests. I am not a fan of the automated system that takes the heart and soul out of the transaction. I want to know who will be staying in my units as much as the traveler wants to know who owns the property they will be staying at. It is insulting to be referred to as “HomeAways inventory”. I have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into my business. I will not allow “corporate America” to screw it up or take it away so if I need to leave VRBO/HomeAway after 12 years, I will. This article along with the comments below need to be distributed on a much grander scale. Sincerely, HotSpringsVacationHomes

     
  161. Virginia

    I’ve had a whopping TWO inquiries since the end of August 2015.

    Thank you, HomeAway, for – as you say – bringing us more travelers! And at a much greater cost for both travelers and myself!

    Maybe the milk industry will take a cue from Sharples and HomeAway and jack up the price of a gallon of milk…and not fill the jugs with milk too!

     
  162. RH

    As a vacation homeowner, I have listed two properties with VRBO and HomeAway since 2008. As a traveler, I have rented vacation homes through them since 2004. The sites used to work beautifully for travelers and owners and HomeAway was making plenty of money as an advertising portal. Then corporate greed reared it’s ugly head and now homeowners and travelers are being robbed quite handily. As others have stated, HomeAway is double dipping by charging owners for a yearly subscription (as much as $1,898 per year for a platinum subscription with a global bundle) and travelers the 4 to 10 percent service fee based on the owners rental fees. It’s going to take a “David versus Goliath” effort, but I encourage owners and travelers to take their business elsewhere. They may want to consider the following sites: AVROA.org, vacationhomerentals.com, homeescape.com, and ivacationonline.com. I imagine other sites are in the works.

     
  163. GThub

    Homeaway service fee is basically a regressive tax. Shafting the lower income traveler with a higher percentage fee than those travelers renting more expensive places. This is revenue maximization by Homeaway/Expedia before all else.

     
  164. Virginia

    I’m going to try TripAdvisor’s Vacationhomerentals.com’s 60-day free trial and see what happens. They still leave control to the homeowner and the relationship between homeowner and traveler intact. That is where I’ll be going when my VRBO subscription is up. VHR may be the big winner in this. I’d love to see AirBnb and HomeAway pushed out. They are so destructive to the private home VR industry. Like those big banks who made billions off of the failure of their customers.

    In the meantime, a vr blogger had a great suggestion, which was for all HomeAway VR owners to buy the Classic subscription. Great idea. The homeowners must stop competing with each other and throwing money at this company to do so. We have got to banned together. There is no downward pressure on HomeAway and AirBnb and honestly, we homeowners have ourselves to blame since many didn’t see this takeover, even defended it as being great for our businesses. I was on HomeAway’s Community forum a year ago and could not believe what I was reading, the HA sycophants fiercely defending HA, bashing those of us who were critics of these new policies, warning them that HA was taking control of their businesses, etc. Well, one year later, between the “Service Fee” and the odious “Best Match”, even those dim bulbs have finally figured it out and are furious and having meltdowns over on Community.

    It’s so sad. VRBO was such a wonderful site. HomeAway has completely bastardized it.

    And not so much as a thank-you note from Sharples for being allowing him to abuse, exploit, and crush my business so that he can become obscenely wealthy.

     
    • Connie

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been with VRBO since they began and I saw how they pinned owner against owner with the competition of who would be in first place on the list by paying for more photo’s. My thought back then was if everyone just stayed with the lowest basic membership we’d all stay in our same “place” which at that time was based on seniority. But there were those who continued to “feed” VRBO with more money so they could be “on top”. Great idea that we should all revert back to the classic membership, if we stay with them at all.

       
    • Linda

      I get more bookings from VHR than I do VRBO/Homeaway

       
  165. Susan RB

    I’ve booked vacations through VRBO for years. I won’t use VRBO or sister sites anymore unless they rescind or greatly reduce the service fee. I would probably be willing to “donate” $25. per 1K of rent-no more.

     
  166. CuLa8r

    More changes will still come from HA/vrbo that we will not like. I fully expect them to require online bookings, book-it-now, and hide guest contact information until the Fee is paid; all probably by the end of the year and will serve as prerequisites to using their calendar too. This leaves us owners the option of continuing to let them dictate the terms, or change our relationship with them in one of a few ways. Choices will include pulling our listing, or minimizing our own costs of doing business with them. As an example, in 1 years time Airbnb has taken 45% of my bookings from Vrbo/HA. As they lose more bookings from non competive fees (airbnb is lower and TA similar), we owners can convert to PPB (pay per booking) instead of subscriptions once the PPB total comissions is smaller than subscription amounts. By this point they will have earned the reputation on the guest side of the industry as gougers and will have lost the “first-goto-site” brand reputation in guests’ minds. So, not only will they lose their subscription revenue stream, but their total revenue will fall since they will have lost total bookings market share. Nice bed they have made themselves! Not! Unfortunately, we will sit in the middle of them and the guest bearing some of the brunt of hard feelings from guests feeling gouged by the Fee. Again, remember to tell the guest that they have choices, and HomeAway on their own initiated this fee.

    As owners, we need to continue to do our job to point out to all guests that this new fee is just that, and empty fee charged by HA. That they have an option to book with us directly in the future and should always look for owner run website to avoid the Fee.

    gschlact

     
    • Virginia

      AirBnb is really the catalyst for all of this and is no better than HomeAway. I tell people to always look for a “boutique” Web site first, a site which caters solely to that area and go to ABB and HA as a last resort. Only difference between ABB and HA now is HA also charges the owner the subscription fee. But they both control our businesses, communications, etc. I really resent that. I don’t tell my plumber how to run his business, whom he may speak to and when, how to do his billing…or else.

      I could not believe it when I cancelled an AirBnb booking (because I re-routed the traveler to a boutique site so he could avoid the commission fee) and I got a notice from AirBnb that, if I cancelled one more reservation in the next six months, they have the right to suspend my listing!
      What is wrong with these companies???? They are forcing us to take any inquiry that wants to rent our homes. So, if Charles Manson wants to rent my home, I guess I’d better go ahead and rent it to him or HA and AirBnb will bury or suspend my listing as punishment for having the gall to make my own decisions about my own property and who I want in there and who I don’t!
      Definition of “chutzpah”.

       
      • Sally

        The problem with “boutique” websites is that they aren’t at the top of internet search results, and so don’t generate the same volume of traffic/bookings. That was the reason I went with Homeaway in the first place 5 years ago, and now have 6 properties on Homeaway/VRBO. However, the fees — along with the imposition of state and local hotel taxes — are making it almost impossible to cover costs for a vacation rental home. Everyone wants a piece of the pie…

         
  167. D B

    As a traveler/renter using HA/VRBO’s websites, I have just been made aware of this new “Service Fee”. After reading this article and the Owners’ comments below, I wanted to support the owners’ frustrations and outrage from a traveler’s perspective. I was told by the Owner of the home to whom I paid the initial deposit/payment in December, that my balance due payment next month will be subject to the service fee on the entire amount of my rental now that the fee has been implemented! Isn’t this considered to be a “breach of contract”? Who should I sue – Home Away or the owner? I also understand that Home Away is currently being sued by other parties for other illegal actions. Shouldn’t this new Service Fee (enacted after my initial reservation confirmed prior to the service fee) also be grounds for a Class Action Suit??

     
    • Virginia

      DB., let me explain another aspect of this for the traveler’s perspective.

      HomeAway has been aggressively coercing homeowners into signing up for these horrible policies, like instant booking, HA Payments, etc., all described as “options” but they really aren’t.
      Here’s how it affects travelers like you: If we don’t “comply”, their algorithms send our properties to the back of the line, knowing traveler’s are less likely to see them. In once case, it’s set up to make sure houses that are not on Instant Book actually do not come up in a search created by a traveler, even if the house otherwise meets all of that traveler’s criteria!

      This represents approx. 60% of the properties on HomeAway, which means you as a travelers, are not seeing upwards of 60% of the homes that meet your criteria when you are doing a search.
      HomeAway has used our properties and livelihoods as leverage, which in my opinion is a very evil, immoral thing to do. But they also hurt travelers.
      I’ve explained this to HA on numerous occasions. They don’t care. Many of us homeowners say the same thing, that they probably laugh at us when they hang up the phone. This company does not care at all about its customers. We are utility to them is all.

       
    • Shirley

      I would think that HA would have to honor the accepted quote and that it would be illegal to add a service fee when the traveler pays the balance.

       
  168. Bud

    As vacation rental owners since 2004, and listers on VRBO since 2004, we have been loyal customers of VRBO for many years but this new power/money grab really takes the cake. Talk about double-dipping. They get their fair share from our subscription and now they want another piece of the pie in the form of a “service fee”? And they actually have the nerve to say that fee helps fund 24/7 “enhanced” customer service that a guest can rely on if they have problems?!??! Customer service that you currently wait on hold for at least 15-20 minutes for?? Is VRBO actually going to field a call when a toilet overflows or the AC stops working at 10 pm on a hot Florida evening? OF COURSE NOT! I am still going to get that call and I am still going to handle it like I have been handling it for over 10 years! They must be on crack if they think travelers are going to buy that nonsense! They are only going to force their long-term customers to become more creative, to use their own personal websites more and bypass booking via VRBO altogether. It is a shame, actually, because I found many of their tools convenient and helpful but I will not be railroaded into overcharging MY guests (yes VRBO, they are MY GUESTS, NOT YOURS) just for the sake of convenience. It is my home, my business, and the rules are mine. I wouldn’t even mind a service fee if it was indeed a small fee. I could live with a flat $50, for example. But I had an inquiry today for a snowbird who wanted to come for a month next winter and they were quoted a “service fee” of $499!! That is totally and absolutely bloody outrageous!! What ON EARTH will they get for that $499. Absolutely NOTHING! Certainly not peace of mind or 24/7 customer service to the tune of $499. I honestly don’t see how on earth they can even justify that. That borders on criminal and I just wish I knew who to complain to. The poor C-S reps you talk to are so brainwashed by their scripts that they don’t even understand how ludicrous they sound! Promising 24/7 customer service and promising to relocate guests if there are problems…how on earth are they going to determine what is a valid “problem”? And are they going to foot the bill for that? OF COURSE THEY ARE NOT….that is all a bunch of baloney that they are spouting to justify these fees….Does anyone really believe that VRBO is going to step in and find accommodations for “stranded” travelers? That seems like a pretty strong promise to make…and yet a pretty vague one at the same time. The C-S rep I talked to today could not give me any information other than to say she was not on the team that made those decisions! For example, if someone comes to my island, and does not like their rental property because, say, the AC is not working to their satisfaction….and the water taxi has shut down for the evening….they are in effect “stranded” on the island with no way off. Will VRBO step in and find them alternate accommodations? This is exactly the promise they are making. They may have thought that travelers would just suck it up and pay these fees….and maybe they will….but homeowners are their customers too, and they have forgotten that WE are the ones who have made them what they are. They have raped us repeatedly with their mandatory changes and their “do-it-our-way or we will punish you tactics” and this is just one more instance…I think that homeowners will leave VRBO and Homeaway in droves. Already people who were negative about airbnb in the past are giving it a try because of HA’s heavy-handed tactics….they are just driving their long-term, loyal customers directly to their competition….that’s really smart Homeaway….really smart.

     
    • Connie

      I’m right there with you. I’ve been with VRBO since they started as well. I almost sold my business in 2012 after they implemented major changes back then which did not sit well with me. We need to take our businesses back from this corporate greed.

       
  169. Mark

    Did they hire Martin Shkrelli as CEO or what? The fee is way too aggressive and is killing our rental business through VRBO/HA. I think if they had added a 2% to 3% fee it would have gone through with minor issues. Our inquiries and bookings are tanking.

     
  170. Margaret

    Expedia paid 3.9b to purchase Homeaway/ VRBO. The service fee is a money grab from travelers to recoup the money Expedia spent. Owners were lied to and threatened to convince them to accept Himeaway payments. We now realize this was only for Homeaway to be able to price gouge guests with this extortionate fee. This company is dispicable, owners are paying for advertising and they are now trying to squeeze travelers for even more money. The management tells owners there will be punitive measures if they do not comply with managements demands. Homeaway will soon come to realize without the property owners they have nothing to offer, we own our properties not thus company. Families save to enjoy a nice vacation and this multi-billion dollar company want to tack on an added expense to there vacation budget and offer little to nothing in return. If guests want a insurance they can buy it for a lot less than this outrageously fee. Homeaway has been trying to control the properties of he owners who advertise on the site for quite some time now they are trying to control the travelers vacation budget. Absolutely dispicable!! There are other listing sites such as vacationhomerentals.com, Avroa or Homerscapes.com along with many others who are not reaching into the pockets of the travelers.

     
  171. VRBO Owner AND Traveler

    This is all about Expedia’s greed.

    Tom Hale, the Homeaway (HA) COO, and explained that HA was only reaping about a 3% profit on the revenue owners were taking in (i.e., from subscriptions, which run from $350– $1600/yr). And 3% wasn’t high enough, because other “marketplaces” like Air BnB, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and others are at a 7-10% profit. So the “service fee” — which can get as high as 10% of the rental rate (including things like cleaning and pet fees) was intended to align HA’s profit with these other marketplaces, and he argued that it would allow HA to spend more on marketing.

    OK, two REALLY BIG PROBLEMS with that rationale….

    First, HA is DOUBLE DIPPING, by charging BOTH the owners and travelers fees. It would be like eBay or Amazon charging BUYERs to purchase on the site. AirBnB, which HA seems to want to emulate, doesn’t charge anything to list on the site.

    Second, HA says it will spend more on marketing, but who knows if that is actually the case. If it does, it is creating such BAD WILL with its owners (who provide HA’s inventory) and travelers who use the site, that any additional marketing will be futile.

    I have listed our vacation rentals on VRBO since 2002 and HA since 2005 and have used VRBO as a traveler since 2002. I will eventually stop listing on VRBO; the “service fee” is only the last in a long line of horribly executed changes they’ve implemented. I might continue use VRBO/HA to search for properties, but there is NO WAY IN HELL I will pay a “service fee.” We all know it buys you NOTHING. Owners will continue to provide the same customer service they always have, and only in extremely rare circumstances might HA be able to help a traveler when the owner or management company cannot. To avoid the fee, savvy travelers will find simply find the owner’s own website and will book outside of VRBO in most cases.

    Expedia’s greed will come back to haunt it.

     
  172. Persian Emp

    HomeAway’s strategy is slightly short of extortion:

    1. HomeAway deliberately had purchased all competition to have monopoly of subscription based advertisers/owners.
    2. Upon completion, over 1 millions vacation property owners subscriber have no other choice and as such depend on Homaway for travel enquiries.
    3. HomeAway grab the moment, suddenly inserting itself controlling the transaction between owner and owners guests.
    4. By doing so HomeAway transform itself from classified advertisement site to transaction management site overnight.
    5 Monopolizing the market hand them the opportunity to milk the owners and travelers to the last drop with no real value added in return.

    As a result HomeAway choking over hundreds of thousands of self employed owners in the US and abroad, demanding to either hand HomeAway control of their properties or stay vacant and join the line of unemployment.
    How can such operation be allowed that adverse effect hundred of thousands of American self employed small businesses?

     
  173. Wanda Russell

    I have tried to comply with everything VRBO has been doing. I signed up for Book It Now. I do all of my bookings and payments with VRBO/ Homeaway. I have not had to cancel any request to book. I answer inquiries quickly. I am getting very few inquiries this year. I have not gotten a booking since the service fee has been added. The service fee is extreme. I could see a flat $50 – $100 fee. It is also not clear to the guest ,what this service fee is, and it is not clear that it is VRBO and not the owner that is charging and receiving this fee.

     
  174. kim

    This fee stinks to the high heavens. I have no idea what the owner or guest are actually paying for and neither does Homeaway or VRBO. This is my business and not the business of Homeaway or VRBO. They are simply an ad portal who is now trying to be my agent. I don’t think so…. I am taking my business elsewhere. Plus my guests do not want to pay an added fee. They have been dealing with me for 9 years and the relationship we have works just fine and they know how to find me outside of the ad portals.

    If Homeaway/VRBo are now trying to be my agent, are they prepared for the consequences of said actions??

     
  175. George

    Am incredibly frustrated by the new service fee! Had an inquiry this weekend and couldn’t close the deal because all of the sudden there’s this service fee charge and could not get rid of it. This cost me a thousand dollar booking! Our annual renewal comes up this month and what would have been a ‘no-brainer’ to renew will now become a concerted effort to find an alternative to VRBO/HomeAway. They guys have just moved up next to my cable company as corporations I absolutely hate.

     
  176. Nancy

    HomeAway/Expedia never told vacation rental homeowners about this horrendous (NOT SMALL) fee which will hurt our business significantly.. Pure corporate greed. What a well-executed & evil plan – force homeowners to move to HomeAway payments in order to not be penalized, and then slam us with fees that will reduce our bookings or force us to reduce our rates to offset the new fees. I’m sure this plan was factored into the negotiations with Expedia and helped drive up the sales price: a ready-to-go revenue stream that could be turned on anytime. ( No doubt in the fine print they have huge penalties if we try to cancel our use of HomeAway payments.) We need an honest company to enter this market and give us an alternative. Oh and the 24/7 customer support is a huge joke. Guests call the homeowners when there’s a problem not an 800 number!

     
  177. Virginia

    First of all, let me point out that HomeAway lies like the rest of us breathe. Calling customer service is an exercise in futility. They seem to have a very condescending script they’re given to read to homeowners. This script includes the arrogant, “Where else are you going to go?”; outright telling us to go ahead and leave; denying the obvious (namely that HomeAway has taken control of our businesses), ignoring inconvenient facts, such as when they tell you you do have the option of this, that, or the other thing, it is pointed out to them that if we don’t comply with HomeAway and in fact do opt out of these things, our listings will be buried, among other serious CS problems. I was told in my last call that, yes, if I don’t “comply”, my listing will be buried.

    I’m glad but surprised to see owners finally rising up and angry. I’m sorry it took so long and that it took the “Service Fee” to do so. HomeAway has been incrementally taking control of our businesses away from us for one and a half years now, the whole time feeding us what we know is nonsense to justify it, about how it will increase traffic and safety. Neither have proven to be true, and in fact the first has been proven to be disastrously false. Many owners, myself included, have noticed an 80 -90% drop off in inquiries and bookings since all of this began. HomeAway has, in effect, actually killed my business and livelihood, and has most definitely not enhanced it. Listing on HomeAway now is nothing short of making a deal with the devil. The choice are, You either give us control of your business and comply, do everything we want you to do, or you will have no business. We will see to it. And btw, you get all the negative fallout, not us. Oh, and you get to pay more to us for the pleasure of having us take control of your rental property/your business while also completely losing your income. Thank you, Homeowner, for paying the property taxes and keeping up the maintenance on our newly acquired income propety: YOUR house!
    That is HomeAway.
    HomeAway is not a property management company. If VR owners want someone else to manage the business aspect of their rental, they can hire a PM to do so. I want to manage and run my own business, including bookings, billing, payments, screening, etc. It is not for HomeAway to do. HomeAway is supposed to be a place where we can show our homes and travelers can find an inventory of rental properties. Period. Should HA offer options like instant booking and HA payments? Of course. But they should be options. And in fact, if a homeowner doesn’t want to do all of that themselves, they usually have to hire a PM to do so. But in HA’s case, the homeowner who wants to maintain control of her home/business is punished, severely, for wanting to do so, never mind paying HA MORE to take over those roles a la a PM company.
    Everything is backward with this company. It’s a very hostile, authoritarian company. Why homeowners have gone along with this incremental takeover of their businesses I will never understand. But it seems that, with the service fee, HA finally went too far.
    Take your businesses and properties back, homeowners! It/they do not belong to HomeAway! HomeAway has no right to tell you how you will run your business.
    As for Sharples’s insistence that this will bring us all a ton of new business: Since I’ve been on VRBO (2013), I have not had one month without at least one inquiry, including off-season….until Sept. Then I had four months in a row w/o even one inquiry! Jan. saw 2, and Feb. so far has none, and we are in the renting season. So, so much for Sharples’s hogwash.
    Let me make this clear, Mr. Sharples: You, HomeAway, have destroyed a business I worked very, very hard and invested a lot of money in to get up and going. It seems to me that that is the opposite of what HomeAway is meant to do.

     
  178. VRBO homeowner

    My wife and I have been renting our home on VRBO since 2004.. She began renting property for a neighbor and now rents nearly 20 different properties on VRBO and Homeaway. Her small property management company has completed more than 1000 rental transaction for happy travelers in the last five years.

    How many times has Homeaway had to “stand behind” any one of those 1000+ transactions? Exactly ZERO. Not even a single complaint, much less any payout for a “negative experience that needs to be protected.” Yet that’s what the service fee purports to be providing.

    And to accomplish this, they will be charging her travelers more than $50,000 annually, in addition to the $25,000 that they collect from us as owners. Fran Maier is right. Anything owners can do to bypass these service fees and book through alternate channels is priority 1.

     
  179. Lorna

    I am a HomeAway subscriber, and I pay $1600 per year to post my home on their website. Based on my projected rentals for the 2016 year, Homeaway will take in an additional 10,000.00 from my guests. FOR WHAT? What do my guests get for their money? Nothing. What do I get for helping HomeAway earn this money? Nothing. It speaks volumes about the vultures at the top.

     
    • VRBO homeowner

      Lorna – I asked the Homeaway rep this question today, and was told that the service covers the “New and Improved Book with Confidence Program.” Which is scarcely better than the old program. After all, when a garbage disposal is clogged, Homeaway can’t help.

      The service fee is about three times the cost of trip insurance, which would provide the same or better protection for a traveler, and provide the added benefit of cancellation insurance in the event of family illness. This is an ugly money grab by Homeaway, and opens up the market to another competitor who can drive inquiries and bookings. The consolidation and evolution of VRBO to Homeaway to Expedia is ugly and hurts consumers and small business owners like us.

      Congratulations to Homeaway on selling out to Expedia. They’re redefining what that term really means.

       
  180. Jane Campbell

    My subscription is up in May and I will not be renewing. You are double dipping by charging me and my guest, which I suspect could be a legal issue later on. I’ve not received but one inquiry since Best Match was activated. Your customer service 24/7 guarantee does nothing for my guest when they can’t find the remote, are having trouble logging into wifi or need to know where extra towels are! The traveler fee is a disguise for greed. I’m disappointed but am willing to look elsewhere to market, Vacation Home Rentals, AirBnB, Craigslist to name a few. I worked for a company that is doing just as you are doing. Sadly, they lost market share consistently and are now barely above water.

     
  181. Joe Kerr

    With this fee, Homeaway stands to make more profit than the vast majority of the owners of the vacation rentals listing on its sites, even though it is the owners who incur the risks of renting their properties to strangers, and who, in most cases, put in long hours managing their rental business, maintaining their property, and cleaning between guests.

     
  182. Sharon Roberts

    What Expedia is doing is absolutely ludicrous. They have paid 3.5B for a business that they will run into the ground in no time. Do they really think that guests and owners alike are just going to sit by and allow these fees to happen? Do they really think people are going to pay these ridiculous “service fees”? Don’t they realize that people are sick and tired of being nickled and dimed to death and will give up on vacation rentals all together? This just makes me sick. I think I will be using VRBO to maintain my calendar but payments are going to be made through some other option. Damn you Expedia.

     
    • CH

      Expedia isn’t the stupid one, they gain regardless of where the vacationer goes, vacation rentals or hotels. If HA/VRBO tanks the vacation rental business Expedia still wins because the guests go back to the hotels. Wake up Homeaway executives, you are getting brainwashed by Expedia and they are only trying to eliminate the competition. I’ve been renting my properties since 2008. VRBO has me so frustrated that I have sold my first property I purchased back in 2005 and the second property has an offer to purchase right now. My work load has increased 10 fold since this stupid BIN system has come in and I have a perfectly good online booking site since 2008 that can save the guests money. Travellers reading this post, don’t buy the garbage that VRBO/HA is preaching go back and deal directly with the owners, you will be safer in the long run and it will be cheaper on your pocket book.

       
      • La Casa

        You nailed it ! Sharples represents American Vulture Capitalism in its lowest form….

        Greed, Greed, Greed! More money for me! More, More, More!!!! I want it ALL!!

        Expedia = The Comcast of the VR industry.

         
        • Virginia

          Interesting, La Casa, because I’ve been equating HomeAway and AirBnb with Comcast and Verizon. Two companies completely take over an industry, emulate each other, and then there is no competition. It’s a modern-day version of collusion, which is supposed to be illegal in the US, as are monopolies. AirBnb began the model where the Web site takes control of the VR property (aside from paying property taxes and doing the maintenance, of course. I suspect that AirBnb and HomeAway view us VR owners as employees – with no benefits!). I don’t blame Expedia; I blame HomeAway and Sharples. He should have the sense to know that private homes are nothing like hotel rooms, but instead, for his own greed, so one guy can make more money than he could ever need in a few lifetimes, he’s managed to turn our homes into hotel rooms; factory-line renting. It’s sickening. Their dirty tricks have been embedded in their software for a year and a half now, all part of their hostile takeover of our businesses and properties.
          HomeAway and AirBnb do remind me of Comcast and Verizon, but they also remind me of Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling and Enron!

           
  183. V Art

    Expedia/HA, I know you have some “small print” in legalese saying that you can do whatever you want whenever you want, but does that make sense? Stick with hotels and motels, apparently your higher ups know nothing about vacation home rentals by owner. Owners simply will not entrust their multi hundred thousand dollar investments to some website that tries to grab full control. WILL NOT HAPPEN. We will not allow unvetted frat patties in our homes just because HA wants to push “book-it-now-don’t ask-any-questions” model. And the double dipping part with the fee is just precious. Other commission based sites do not change the owners (save for customary credit card fee), but HA, after we have paid hundreds and thousands of dollars to list on a LISTING site. We paid to ADVERTISE, not to be graded, like school children, on how we interact with our travelers. 24/7 customer service for the fee? what , HA will come and remove the bat from my vacation rental when the guests find one made its way in, or fix the broken plumbing?
    Protection from double booking? There are optional insurance products already sold for that. Expedia just trying to kill off the competition to its hotel business, that’s all.

     
  184. Susan Hart

    I don’t need VRBO/HA to insert themselves into my relationship with my customer! I may get pushed to the bottom of the heap for views, but so be it. I will work to make sure VRBO/HA doesn’t get one penny of the service fee.
    As soon as my subscription is over, I’m out. There will be others companies who will build a better system. For years it hasn’t been about individual vacation owners, more geared to property managers.

    VRBO, you need to re-examine your priorities!

     
  185. Susan K

    I own a vacation rental and am disgusted with HA charging a service fee. They never mention it’s a service fee generated and kept by HA. I wanted to discontinue accepting HomeAway payments but cannot unless I refund all pending reservations booked through HA. Not being able to cancel is another new unannounced change.
    I won’t be renewing my subscription with HA, where I’ve listed since 2009.

     
  186. Mary

    I agree, this is truly corporate greed! As a property owner I have always taken care of my renters if anything has gone wrong. VRBO says they are going to charge a “small service fee”? Bunch of crap. Who is going to want to pay an additional $250 on top of the rental fee and taxes? If the consumer goes to a realty company they are only charged a flat $100 service fee. This greed makes me sick. It is only going to hurt all of us.

     
  187. Fran Maier

    Homeaway wants to have their cake and eat it too. Subscription (listing) fees and Traveler service fees. Pick one!

    I’m going to be telling my guests to send me a check and bypass Homeaway’s service fees. I don’t buy it that they will be doing more when they already have my money for the listing.

    I’m going to be cancelling my subscription on Homeway now that they are charging travelers.

     
    • Virginia

      I also will not be renewing with VRBO in 2017. If this company were a human being, it’d be diagnosed as being psychopathic. As for those of you taking checks and doing the bookings yourselves to save your travelers the fee, read up on Best Match, where your conversion rate determines where your listing shows up on the site, and your conversion depends on bookings and payments going through HomeAway. Therefore, again, if you don’t hand your business over to HomeAway, they punish you by burying your listing, i.e.: using your livelihood as leverage for themselves.
      It is nothing short of extortion, in my opinion.

      Homeowners have got to fight back.

       
  188. Sam S.

    This is just another example of corporate greed that will hurt the 1 property owner. 4/7 customer service is for what? The answer is nothing

     
  189. Jo Mercer

    Ask HA Management EXACTLY what constitutes this amazing new 24/7 customer service platform. Ask who will actually get the ‘second’ call when a guest contacts his HA/VRBO CSR and reports a backed up septic system. Ask him who, will be actually be responsible for addressing the problem when the AC sputters or there is a mouse in the closet. Answer: the Vacation Home Owner will tend to any problem EXACTLY like they are doing NOW when the Vacation Renter call the Home Owner to report a problem at the property–this is an important part of being a VRO ! Also, ask exactly how many Travelers did HA/VRBO have to ‘relocate’ due to booking problems this past year. Were the properties involved run by the actual property owner or by a private Property Manager? Bets on the table are that you will not receive anything but ‘spin talk’ in response to any of the above questions. HA saw a chance to twist out more cash flow by tightening the noose on the VRO with the bogus “Service Fee” that hides behind an even bigger sham of increased Customer Service. Dig deeper and find the actual truth….please!

     
  190. Mary Branum

    Bull Shit!
    I have been in business 13 years with an average occupancy rate of 87%.
    This is nothing but robbery for Expedia to pay for the purchase of HomeAway and catering to the Hotel industry to shut down vacation rentals.
    Each one of us are small business owners who have invested time, money, blood, sweat and tears to – support a fabulous home for retirement, supplement retirement, have investment property, save an historic home etc. Not one of us can stay in business if we don’t offer the best possible environment and rates.
    Vacation Rentals are not the long term (forever) commitment of hotels.

    There is no website booking than can ever guarantee anything. Expedia has bastardized the entire community that serves those who offer a unique and special product by making it a “generic – we know what is best- one size fits all”. They are screwing the guest and owners who both desire the best but are now hindered by a giant corporation who ‘Knows it all” and charges for it.

    I am putting my neck out, but as president of the Short Term Rental Organization of Galveston (STROAG.org)
    who fought City Hall and WON proving STR owners are a valuable asset to the City, I am appalled, angry and, basically pissed that this so-called travel wizard knows everything about everyone.

    I firmly believe their goal is to recoup the $3.5B+ paid for HomeAway and to hell with the long term clients who was their path to growth.

    I have been listed with them for 9 years. Was there any information sent out prior to this rape? No. I don’t give a rats ass what they say; I never received any notification of any changes.
    I did receive an e-mail for a survey in January that had to be completed in 2 days; we were on vacation and my iPhone was not compatible with the survey!

    That is not the way to conduct business. I don’t care how big one thinks they are.

    Will the small business owner survive? I hope so. And I truly hope Expedia in their new “we know what’s best” takes a long walk off a short pier!

    Do I want another fight – No. But by God, I damn sure will stand up for my rights as a small business owner who will maintain control over my investment and I hope I can hear from others who feel the same way.

    I apologize to anyone that is offended by my post, but I am a retired business women who had a successful career and a has very successful vacation rental business that may have to be given it up due to the high and mighty attitude with the threat of basically shutting down the vacation rental business unless we all play by their rules. I am also a Texan who believes in free enterprise and doesn’t mince words.

    Local, national and international media must be informed and this brought to the forefront world wide – NOW!

    I am a small fish in a big pond, but I am not ready or willing to let Expedia take over the pond!

     
    • Sam S.

      You are so 100% correct

       
    • Heinz H.

      I have been a condo owner in Gulf Shores, Al since 2014. This morning I lost my first renter due to this “in order to serve you better” bull. Thankfully, this client has e-mailed me the reason. We – as Owners as well as our valued clients need to become “Proactive” and after we compile a number of such documents; take a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook. “CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT”

       
      • Bobby

        As a Myrtle Beach area homeowner I am extremely disappointed in HA! Since the fee inception, we have had one booking from a traveler that did not notice the fee, initially. HomeAway charged them $108 for booking. Property management firms in our area only charge $50-$55 per booking and they manage the properties. HomeAway netted $108 for a website service, shameful. They have never had a call from any of our quests, they contact us directly with any questions. Its our property not HomeAways!
        With the exception of the one booking, not a single inquiry. Historically, we send out several quotes per week during this time of the year. For the first time since owning our property, I fear that we will operate in the red this year while HA grows fat and happy… I will definitely be looking elsewhere for a booking service!!!

         
    • Pam Daniels

      Mary Branum I could not have said it better!

       
    • Connie

      So happy to read comments like this from others who believe as I do. I have been running my vacation rental business in the Hot Springs Arkansas area since 2004 and with VRBO since then. I’m tired of being micromanaged. I have provided excellent customer service without their help. Looking at all other options to get my business name out there so others can find me without the help of VRBO. I already own great domain names like “hotspringsvacationhomes” dot com and “lakeouachitavacationhomes” dot com I used to be on the top of google searches because of my names, but now the corporate sites have taken over even my placement there. Looking to keep my costs low so I can keep my rental rates affordable for families who deserve a great vacation.

       
      • North Ga Mountain Homeowner

        I have been listing on VRBO and Homeaway for 6 years and have
        been a happy customer until Expedia took over. I do not want Expedia
        renting my very upscale home to just anyone. We have an outdoor fireplace and do not want teenages or irresponsible people renting my home.Please restore VRBO and Homeaway to the control of the owner.

         
    • Christine V

      Mary you are exactly Right! My husband and I both worked full time jobs for years while building and acquiring our rental properties in the Smoky Mountains. After years, we are finally able to quit our “day jobs ” and are able to make a modest living by maintaining and managing our rentals. We love and feel blessed to provide wonderful properties at affordable prices. We hope that owners can come together and find or create a subscription based site that allows us to truly manage our properties.

       
 
 

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