Two weeks ago we sent out an email to our reader base asking for information on their use of the major OTA’s (Online Travel Agents, such as HomeAway, Airbnb & VRBO).

We were particularly interested in brand opinion, overall attitude, friction points and usage statistics.

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2 years ago

This is a very interesting survey and the companion article really made some good points, but I don't think we should overlook what owners' and managers' number one goal for their property is: making money.

The only reason I say that is that it should be of no surprise that they think OTA’s charge too much. Yes, they may, but how else are they going to reach the number of users and marketing success that they do? They most likely wouldn’t.

One of the reasons people started choosing to use sites like Airbnb and HomeAway was because they were viewed as being less expensive than hotels. Property owners are most likely never going to be happy with the fees they have to pay in order to use OTA’s but the reality is, they need them.

As a property owner, I am thankful these platforms exist. They have brought me a steady income. Would I love it if they charged less? Of course - but it’s not an end-all issue for me.

2 years ago

Personally… I think it comes down to price point. Some guests might try to “save” the $ by trying to bypass the fee but at the end of the day if they want to book the hosts property they will pay it. What’s really questionable to me is the new HomeAway “best match” system… it’s little “secret sauce” has a lot of flaws but that’s for another time… and yes, they don’t give a crud about all those who built them into who they are… loyalty from hosts who not only spent their money building them up but contributed a lot in “study groups” is zero, nil, worthless now! The good news is this… my eyes are officially wide open...

That said... Airbnb is by the way the worst of all of them from my personal "guest" experience… they are the newbie but “star child” on Wall Street. The issue with Airbnb is that they really are growing so fast and opening the “flood gates” to anyone who wants to make a $ and the guest is the one to suffering along the way. I personally rented 3 Airbnb places in Spain last month and all 3 turned out to be a very questionable to horrible experience and at the same time the 2 HomeAway places I booked where exactly what I expected and as advertised. If you want to rate Airbnb vs. HomeAway/VRBO from a “guest” standpoint I will tell you I’ll take a HomeAway/VRBO rental everyday, especially when you are on a once in a life time vacation… I think it comes down to longevity of time as a host… Airbnb has a lot of what I consider questionable hosts who fill out a form, become a vacation rental host but really they have no clue what they are doing yet... whereas HomeAway/VBO has been doing it long enough that most of their hosts have it down to perfection for their guests. The one thing Airbnb did was give me "credits" and refund unstayed nights.... that is a very bad fomula "think airlines overbooking a flight" for reputation... it might work for a while but their rating from guests as a company will fall in short order. Bottom line, no upfront quality control...

2 years ago

Thanks for putting the survey together... I had been scratching my head trying to figure out answers to the exact things you asked...

2 years ago

No worries. We were very interested in the results too. Next step is to survey guests about their thoughts towards OTA's and if they even care about the guest service fee - because at the moment most of our guests are oblivious to what's really happening!

2 years ago

Its worrying that so many people use them, think they will become more important but don't appear to like them at all. Necessary Evil seems to fit and like us, they are ruining our business on many levels and confusing guests all the time.

We spend more time explaining why they get hundreds of emails and the fact they don't book with them but us.

These days if the guest has an issue, we say, here's the OTA's helpline number call them, apparently you booked with them, paid for 24 hr support. We just hold the keys and clean the karzy.

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