The one constant when it comes to HomeAway’s property listings has been consistent change. Since “Best Match” launched in Fall 2015, HomeAway/VRBO changes have been difficult to track. The latest round of changes will affect guest reviews, guest service, and sort order which will reduce the number of guest reviews allowed up to 30%. Some HomeAway customers are already experiencing a negative impact on their rental bookings.
Recently, Expedia added HomeAway’s Vacation Rentals to their product portfolio, which is likely why HomeAway adopted Expedia’s “Verified Review” methodology earlier this year. Now only guests that made a booking on HomeAway can leave a review. Since TurnKey began, 30-40% of bookings received a review on HomeAway/VRBO. Now only 10% of stays receive a review on HomeAway/VRBO.
Only the guest that booked can leave a review: Prior to the change, other guests who had stayed at the vacation rental could leave a review. TurnKey would prompt guests that use the WiFi to review the property. Now that practice is not possible.
TurnKey believes HomeAway is interested in ensuring reviews are legitimate—a very worthwhile pursuit. Some property managers blatantly promote fake reviews. However, we believe those to be several bad actors in isolated instances.
In the fragmented vacation rentals marketplace, bookings to each property come in from many different sites.
|Booking Source||HomeAway||Other Listing Sites|
|Number of Bookings/year||20||20|
|Number of Reviews||2||4|
For instance, what if the average home has 40 bookings/year and the source for 50% of bookings is HomeAway. Imagine the 10% review rate we’re seeing applied to this example, there would only be 2 reviews on the average property per year.
The Expedia “Verified Reviews” methodology makes sense for hotels. One hotel with 100 rooms would have 100X times the opportunity to receive reviews from verified guests compared to vacation rentals.
TurnKey will shift focus to generate reviews directly on www.turnkeyvr.com and continue to offer robust check-out communications to encourage reviews on HomeAway by the primary booker. We will implement effective review tools to reach all guests that stay in our vacation rentals. We are confident that our standard of 30-40% review rate for all states will return.