VRBO / Homeaway Raise their Fees Again

15 Replies

Just wanted to share with you all, VRBO raised their 'new listing' fee from $399 to $499 effective Jan 12th.  I have multiple properties listed and no notice was sent out.  I only discovered it as I was listing a new property on their website.

What's even worse is, I posted my listing before the change and as all new listings do it goes 'pending' for a few days while they review it.  When it finally went live the price jumped and they refused to honor the price at the time of the posting.  To top it off, I had TWO 'sales' people from VRBO hang up on me when I asked for them to honor the price at the time I posted the listing.  They had the nerve to tell me that they literally have no way of adjusting the prices. Ha!  The hang up came when I mentioned the blue 'coupon' link right on the main page.   Their customer service gets worse and worse as their fees go up and up.  I really wish there was a viable alternative but unfortunately 90% of my reservations come from them so i'm stuck.

You can't insert the fees in your rates?

@Andrew Wong , This is an actual list of the service fee's the guests of ONE of my rentals paid in calendar year 2017.  When VRBO introduced the much hated "service fee" that they started charging guests many listings had to reduce their rates to help offset the fee. I frequently get inquiries asking if i'll reduce the quote by the amount of the fee.   VRBO double dips on the consumer AND the listing fee.  I understand one side or the other but both just makes my blood boil.  On ONE property they got paid roughly $6500 by the GUESTS and anther $399 by me for listing on their site.

I guess my point is, when is enough enough?

Service Fee

I’ve switched all of my properties to pay per booking. I have 5 so we’re taking $2500 just to get off the ground with the annual fee. Screw that. I only get 25% VRBO 75% AirBnB.

With enough time and rentals you can have enough "word of mouth" advertising floating around that you don't need VRBS or AirBnB.  A fluid catalyst cracking unit (or cat unit) went down Thursday at a local refinery.  I met the general manager of the construction company doing the work.  I gave him a dozen calendars of scantily clad women doing construction work to give to all his foreman, supers and leads.  The work on the cat unit started Monday morning.  I had 28 people from his company rent 8 houses from me on Sunday.

They really do tend to bully their hosts but I have found higher returns/rates on VRBO/HA as of late though I believe OTA's are market specific (to your point).  You might take a look at a recent blog post by Evolve that compares pay per booking vs. annual fee (and also compares other OTA's). I would post the link here, but I think BP will block it (they don't like external links).  The blog makes a few assumptions, but it's a pretty solid comparison.  That said, I couldn't agree more that they are getting greedy with their fees and it's unfortunate.  I currently have all properties on pay per booking but I am considering converting a couple of them to subscription, then again it's just a consideration at this point as who knows what these continual increases will do to the potential guests.  I do try to instruct return guests to book direct to avoid this fees and it can enhance my rates if I only partially offset the guest booking fee.  @Michael Kugler - Can you expand on this?  Where's the help?  @Paul Sandhu was VRB"S" a typo - I'm guessing not and thanks for the chuckle this morning.


@Mike V. , curious, where do you get the other 10% of your reservations? If it's not Airbnb, you should give them a try. 

@Michael Greenberg Yeah, sorry - that was a little too coy wasn't it?

On one hand I/we have had enough and "we" are doing something about it. I work way too hard for my cash to throw it all away on OTAs. 

There are lots of options out there - but you have to go with the search terms people are using. It is as simple as that. 

It would be nice if people typed "Place to rent on the beach in Myrtle Beach South Carolina" but they don't. 

They do it the same as they do anything else - they type and search by the common phrases. "Grocery store" "Bowling Alley" "Barber Shop"


and they do it literally 100s of millions of times each month.

I am going to put the power of the process back in the hands of the homeowners and I am not going to destroy their bank account in doing so. 

About 3 more weeks to go....

And to the admins - I did my absolute best not to advertise - speak of - direct - anything in my post. I am simply stating that there will be another serious contender coming very soon that will put people back in charge. So before you delete my post please review and see that no TOS was violated.

I have actually been put in time out by vrbo 3 times the last 2 months for having guest still book direct like I have for the last 7 years. but they keep getting smarter (or dumber) as they now don't let you see their email or phone number. So now you can't talk to your guest before they book? complete horse sh$%.

It is simply matter of time when Airbnb is going to eat VRBO's entire lunch. VRBO is not helping their cause by charging these ludicrous charges such as annual fees of $499, 8% of booking fees, 3% of credit card fees for US credit cards, and an additional 2% of credit card fees for non US credit cards etc. Airbnb is going to do the same to VRBO what Uber/Lyft has done to Taxi businesses.

@Sayed Jaffar Can't say that I agree with you there. We have just as many jumping the ABB ship as the VRBO ship. It is a matter of control that the homeowners do not appreciate being taken from them. (The fees don't help - that you are correct on) But having the nanny state interfere in your own personal investment is more than a lot of homeowners are willing to concede.

@Mike V. you need to invest in your own website. You never want to be 110% reliant on marketing channels as their fees can't change a moment notice.

As a guests books, you need to give an incentive to book with you directly so there's no service fees for them plus no commission taken out of your bookings. This will pay off immensely long term if you plan to stick with STR.

Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu :

 I met the general manager of the construction company doing the work.  I gave him a dozen calendars of scantily clad women doing construction work to give to all his foreman, supers and leads.  The work on the cat unit started Monday morning.  I had 28 people from his company rent 8 houses from me on Sunday.

Paul, you are the master of marketing!  You certainly know your tenant base.

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