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The “little guys,” in this case owners of a vacation rental property or two, feel powerless and at the mercy of the giant vacation rental sites. The sites have to balance the needs of the professional property managers and the individual owners and guess who is coming out on top.
Vacation rental owners have a lot of gripes with the largest vacation rental sites and they blasted many of them, including HomeAway, Airbnb, Flipkey and CraigsList in a global survey.
Some 684 vacation rental owners (80%) and property managers (20%) responded to an online survey in April and May conducted by NeedMoreRentals, which is based in the UK and provides services to vacation rental owners and property managers.
“While respondents were very forthcoming with answers relating to productive listings sites and those with good levels of customer service, they were most vocal in their opposition to the way that many of the biggest sites now operate,” NeedMoreRentals states.
“Words and phrases attributed to them included ‘arrogant,’ ‘bullies,’ ‘controlling,’ ‘deceitful,’ ‘greedy,’ ‘aggressive,’ ‘unwilling to listen’ and ‘too expensive,”’ the company states “Very few respondents reported complete satisifaction with their use of listings sites.”
The survey produced responses that at times were seemingly contradictory.
Respondents indicated that they would not recommend sites, including AlwaysOnVacation, HomeAway, Airbnb, SunnyRentals, Flipkey, Craigslist, OwnersDirect, HolidayLettings, VacationHomeRentals, and VRBO.
The least popular were AlwaysOnVacation, HomeAway and Airbnb, and the reasons cited included aggressive sales approaches, lack of bookings and guest fees, among others.
At the same time, survey respondents pointed to sites including HomeAway, VRBO, Flipkey and Airbnb as providing the most leads and best customer service.
Interestingly, the survey provided feedback on HomeAway’s pay-per-booking model, which it offers as an alternative to annual subscription fees.
Some 12% of the survey respondents indicated they participate in HomeAway’s pay-per-booking model, and many complained about high commissions of 10% compared with 3% on sites such as Airbnb, Flipkey and Holiday Lettings.
“Many of those who still use [HomeAway’s] annual subscription method complained bitterly that the extra listings created an over-crowded market place,” says Damian Sheridan of NeedMoreRentals.
The online survey, conducted in April and May, was promoted on NeedMoreRentals and in vacation rental forums, Sheridan says.
Vacation rental owners who participated in the survey owned one to three properties on average, and property managers were responsible for up to 3,000 properties. Although people from 47 countries participated in the survey, the leading locations were the U.S., Spain, the UK, France, Italy, Portugal, Canada, Greece, unspecified Caribbean countries, and Thailand.