With rebellion in the air in the run-up to the just-completed Vacation Rental Managers Association conference in New Orleans, TripAdvisor apologized again for a botched platform migration and subpar customer service that left some professional vacation rental managers removing their listings and wandering around the conclave in a not-so-silent protest wearing pins attached to their lanyards with the TripAdvisor logo crossed out and the invitation, “Ask Me About FlipKey.”

FlipKey is a prominent TripAdvisor vacation rental site.

In an “Update From the TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals Team” emailed just before the Vacation Rental Managers event, TripAdvisor stated: “As a valued client of TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, we thank you for your ongoing business and support. Earlier this year, we made a big change to the business: We undertook a complex platform migration. The benefits of this migration included: the ability to access a larger global audience across TripAdvisor and our affiliates, as well as an improvement in the quality of the software in the long term.

“This transition wasn¹t seamless, and we fully acknowledge it was a challenging time. We¹re very sorry for the trouble it caused.”

In late August, more than 100 property managers representing 14,000 vacation rental properties wrote an open letter to TripAdvisor protesting the botched platform migration, including a plethora of problems with the listings, and what they viewed as woeful support from TripAdvisor/FlipKey account managers.

The FlipKey general manager at the time acknowledged many of the problems and said the company was sorry.

In the latest mea culpa [see the full text below], The TripAdvisor vacation rental team revealed that a “redesigned and rebuilt” listings’ management dashboard with enhanced functionality will be released November 6, and “we’ve significantly increased the resources in the account management team, and aim to deliver a response to you within a maximum of 48 hours from someone on the team.”

Some 50 property managers met in New Orleans October 25 to air their gripes about TripAdvisor, which was invited but didn’t send a representative.

Asked today about the latest Tripadvisor letter to property managers and the remedial steps that TripAdvisor is taking, Steve Milo, a spokesperson for these property managers and founder and managing director of Vacation Rental Pros, said:

“During a session I gave on Third Party Transactions on Monday October 26 at the VRMA [conference], over 50% of the room raised their hand when asked if they were still having technical issues with TripAdvisor. There were over 1,300 attendees at the VRMA show, and many property managers were actively discussing their issues with TripAdvisor and the fact they had already or would walk away from future advertising.”

“The TripAdvisor response was to have an owl mascot walk around the booth while the TripAdvisor Vacation Rental GM hid most of the time from angry clients,” claimed Milo, who’s company handles more than 1,000 properties in Florida. “It appears there are still significant technical issues on the Pay for TripAdvisor platform and it will take transparency, improved senior level communication, and a technical ticketing system to convince professional managers that they are worth partnering with again.”

Madelyn Byrne-Willems, founder of ParisPerfect.com and LondonPerfect.com, did not renew her 70 listings on TripAdvisor/Flipkey this year.

“We want to thank TripAdvisor for making our decision to cancel our 70 Paris and London listings so easy,” Byrne-Willems said. “We will wait and see if TripAdvisor can get their act together before deciding if it makes sense to advertise with them in the future. TripAdvisor’s poor response to their very real problems has eroded our confidence in their capabilities.”

TripAdvisor official say there wasn’t any “rebellion” at the Vacation Rental Managers Association conference, arguing that there were only a couple of people wearing the “Ask Me About FlipKey pins.” And Tracey Zhen, vice president, vacation rental supply at TripAdvisor, said October 29 that the issues with the platform migration have been resolved.

Zhen said: “VRMA in New Orleans was an overwhelmingly positive experience for us and our clients, both existing and prospective. Our team spent many hours in a multitude of productive, positive meetings dealing with account matters and showcasing our new owner experience, so the content of this article doesn’t align with our experience of the event.

“We’ve worked hard over the past year to build a bigger and better business. We’re aware of and have resolved these legacy issues and we worked through them in the most meaningful, professional way we could — directly with our clients, notably including those who signed the letter.

“We’re investing heavily in our vacation rentals business. We’ve doubled our account management team, we’ve just launched a very well-received new property manager experience and, most importantly, we’re delivering more bookings to our clients. We have more interest in our business than ever before.

“There was certainly no rebellion. We and the vast majority of our more than 4,000 property manager customers have moved forward and the feedback we heard at VRMA was positive. We’re focussed on keeping these clients happy and continually improving the owner experience on TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals.”

Here’s the full text of the TripAdvisor update to vacation rental managers:

An update from the TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals Team

As a valued client of TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, we thank you for your ongoing business and support. Earlier this year, we made a big change to the business ­ we undertook a complex platform migration. The benefits of this migration included: the ability to access a larger global audience across TripAdvisor and our affiliates, as well as an improvement in the quality of the software in the long term.

This transition wasn’t seamless, and we fully acknowledge it was a challenging time. We’re very sorry for the trouble it caused. We’re excited to tell you about what we’re doing next.

We’re launching an entirely redesigned and rebuilt dashboard by November 6th. This will dramatically improve your experience as a property manager with TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals. We’ve spent thousands of hours working on it ­ and had over 40,000 beta users giving feedback. You’ll see more efficient listing management, easier account administration, greatly enhanced functionality for creating and sending quotes, and better payment functionality. Our next demonstration webinar for the new dashboard will be October 30th at 10am ET. Please click here to join.

We’ve significantly increased the resources in the account management team, and aim to deliver a response to you within a maximum of 48 hours from someone on the team. Email propertymanagers@tripadvisor.com and your email will go directly to your personal account manager. All of our account managers will also be in New Orleans for the VRMA conference next week if you would like to stop by our booth to chat or ask a question.

Over 2015 we have grown substantially by investing heavily in the marketing of your listings and are connecting more travelers with owners than ever before. To find out how much more we can offer in your area, contact your account manager for a review. We’ve worked hard to solve any problems you may have encountered and are back to focusing on what matters ­ delivering you, our valued client, the great experience you deserve.

If you have questions or concerns, or just want to give us feedback, here’s how to contact us: Email: propertymanagers@tripadvisor.com
Phone: 1-877-FLIPKEY, option 3

We would like to hear whatever’s on your mind.

Best wishes,
The TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals Team

Photo Credit: Some attendees at the Vacation Rental Managers Association conference in New Orleans October 25 to 28 wore these pins to protest their state of relations with TripAdvisor's FlipKey. Lisa Byrne