Impending changes for HomeAway communications
HomeAway will be making some changes in the coming months that affect the way you can communicate with your guests that inquire on your properties. You may have already received an update from HomeAway about the changes but for your convenience here is the recent update about the messaging changes that will take affect starting August 7th, 2017.
Update from HomeAway:
Messaging through the HomeAway platform: All pre-booking inquiries and responses will be facilitated through HomeAway’s secure messaging platform. We will implement this change in a phased approach starting August 7 through the end of August. You can message back and forth with travelers as you do today, but phone numbers, links, and emails are redacted from messages. Contact details will be available after a booking request is made or a booking is confirmed. Depending on your inquiry handling process and software, you may need to make some adjustments to continue to be responsive to requests. Here are a few things to consider implementing before August 7:
- Create text only responses
- Remove all contact information, embedded images, and attachments from responses
- Ensure your inquiry process is ready to support traveler email addresses replaced with a mediated address
Response score: You are now eligible for a response score for all inquiry and response emails that go through HomeAway’s messaging system. This score influences your rank in Best Match and lets travelers know how fast they can expect a response from you.
What this means for MyVR users:
MyVR will handle all of the technical details and you will be able to communicate with your guests who inquire from your MyVR inbox or by responding directly to inquiry notifications in your email inbox as you have before. However, there will be some restrictions around your content and some things you are used to are unfortunately going away:
- No email address will be provided, only a mediated HomeAway provided email address (something like: firstname.lastname@example.org).
- No phone numbers will be provided or allowed.
- No special formatting will be allowed in messages (e.g. html, embedded photos, etc.). You can continue to customize the text of your message templates.
- No links to your website or any other site will be allowed.
- No attachments will be allowed.
Once an inquiry converts to a booking the actual email address and phone number of the guest will be provided. Any messages sent after booking will not have the same content restrictions.
If you have an auto responder setup it will count as your first response to an inquiry and will affect your overall response score to help you rank higher in "Best Match". If you are not using the auto responder we highly recommend setting it up. After your auto response to an inquiry all responses to a guest will count towards your response score. It is important to always respond promptly to a guest to maintain a good response score.
For PMs using MyVR's full integration with HomeAway, you can contact PM-Support@homeaway.com with direct questions.
Thanks for the update regarding HA/VRBO changes...it is a bit alarming to see these changes, but not a surprise at all.
Will the payment transaction process still remain the same (going through our merchant) or will HA/VRBO now be handling the payment transactions after August 7th?
Marcus - sent question for PM accounts.
@John-Hughes - yes, payments will continued to be processed by your merchant account, managed from within your MyVR account.
@Jenny-Oest - thanks for the heads up.
Does the quote that we send through MyVR count as an attachment, or will those be allowed to pass through to the guest?
I'm assuming you mean to change templates used for HOMEAWAY inquiries only? For those coming directly thru MyVR with a legitimate email, I still want to use my complete templates with all appropriate details. Right?
@Laura-Krueger251 - it's my understanding that you cannot revise your quote. You'd have to tell them that you'll make any additions or adjustments after they book, and hope they agree. Then adjust afterwards.
@Jenny-Oest When ever I get an inquiry from HA/ VRBO I respond with an e-mail and attach the quote per MyVRs template. Will that attachment with the quote show with this change or not? I'm talking about the quote that has the rental rate, fees, taxes, payment schedule and the option to pay on it. Will that be allowed to be pushed through to the guest or blocked? That's obviously a critical piece and they say no attachments allow. Thanks, Laura
@Markus-Nordvik Will Instant Book be supported through MyVR for Homeaway/VRBO?
- You MUST enable instant booking in MyVR as well.
- Instant Book is set as on/off for all listings in your connected HA account.
We are working on a project that will make instant booking controllable per listing and will be set based on the MyVR booking policy for a given listing.
@Laura-Krueger251 - no -it's my understanding that it won't be included.
@Jenny-Oest Does that mean that our quote details and option to pay will not translate over to the guest? Are you guys (MyVR) in works with VRBO at all on that? That's a huge piece of your system and is basically unusable with their new system. Am I understanding that correctly? How will guests see the quote and make payment without that being attached?
@Laura-Krueger251 -that is exactly my understanding. They are only able to book using the book it now option and our published rates. Any agreed upon changes would have to be made after the booking request is received, including discounts or added services. You'd have to discuss that limitation in your emails, and they'd have to 'trust' you to make the correct discounts.
I'm still unsure how the 24 hour approval period will work though. I suspect we won't receive the contact data until after we approve it.
Remember that once they click book it now, and initiate there, it should come to us and be processed through our dashboard and merchant provider. That's still a huge plus. They just can't initiate a booking directly with us unless they find us through another venue.
I think that as soon as it goes live, there will be a great deal of scrambling and testing.
I'm still need to verify that I need two sets of templates. I want assurance that my current templates will all still be OK for reserved guests or inquiries through other systems.
@Markus-Nordvik I suppose we'll lose the ability to do any background check on these inquiries/bookings. Without their contact information we have no way to check their social media accounts, etc. Although, it looks like we'll still have access to their name, correct?
@Cindy-Nelson - we only get their name AFTER the booking occurs. Once we get their contact info (after booking) then we can vet them. So your rental contract will have to provide for an out for any screening criteria you use.
All this week, any inquiries that I have received from VRBO/HomeAway are on a standard HomeAway template (poorly formatted when it arrives) and include renters requested dates, email address and phone number. If they have asked any questions or included any comments, I'm not seeing them.
There's also a "Respond to this inquiry" link at the bottom. If I click on it, it takes me to a HomeAway login screen and as best as I can tell, out of the MyVR managed environment. I don't have a login directly with HomeAway since I've set the account up as a channel partner through MyVR. I thought changes weren't to be implemented until August? Is anyone else experiencing this?
@Jim-Knape I just replied to an email from my gmail account interface - which I've been doing previously without any problem. Today I got this message:
We're sorry, you can no longer reply to this message via email. Please log
into your MyVR account and use your inbox if you would like to send a
message to this guest.
@Carole - I checked out the email you received with the message you posted and that was actually an auto response indicating that the inquiry in question had expired. We're going to publish a change shortly so that response has a bit more context.
@Jim-Knape - We have seen the email from HomeAway you're referring to, however it's not reflective of the messaging change that is upcoming. You are correct that messages from HomeAway will include a "Respond to this Inquiry" button that does not work for users on our HomeAway for Owners offering. Instead the best way to respond is directly in MyVR, or by responding to the email in your inbox. This will continue to be case after the new system is released.
The most recent inquiries to you from HomeAway / VRBO have personal renter email addresses associated with them which means they are not using the new system. The best way to know if you receive an inquiry using HomeAway's new communication system is if the renter's email address is initially "Renter Name <email@example.com>".
Hope that helps.
@CJ-Avilla Thanks for letting me know that's what that was.
I'm working on Message Templates, and specifically the auto responder. I'd like to have a consistent message - one that includes the links for those that are NOT inquiring via HomeAway.
If our responder has a link, will the message still send, or will it just send with the links removed?