Impending changes for HomeAway communications
@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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>".
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?
I think that we have to change our email template so that there is no telephone number, email, etc. or else the response we hope to send won't go through.
@John-Hughes - in the VRBO/HomeAway dashboard, if you sent a website address or full name, it just removed them. The rest of the message went through intact.
I suppose I can create an alternate template as long as I can differentiate the sender as being from HomeAway, VRBO, or Vacationrentals.com. I want all other inquiries to still receive the links.
As a MyVR integrated user, what should I do to prepare for HomeAway communications changes?
This depends on how much customization you'd like in your inquiry auto responses:
Level 1: Do nothing. Your current auto responses will be sent as is and HomeAway will remove the restricted content
Level 2: Tweak Customize templates to work well after HomeAway strips content.
Level 3: Add custom templates for HomeAway, VRBO, VacationRentals.com
Just wanted to give you a quick update. It turns out that we had already implemented text only messages for HomeAway about 10 months ago when we made a similar change for FlipKey / TripAdvisor. The messages sent to HomeAway guests do not include rich HTML versions but rather a text only version. These currently still include restricted content such as links and email addresses in the message and HomeAway has not yet started stripping away that content.
We've learned a number of things while verifying this will continue to work as expected.
@John-Hughes asked if messages with links will be sent. And I'll echo @Jenny-Oest response here. If the message contains any of the restricted content, HomeAway will simply strip that content out before presenting to the renter, but will not prevent the delivery of the message. Any email addresses, phone numbers, links or attachments will be removed by HomeAway.
@Jenny-Oest mentioned creating message templates with auto responders specific to inquiries from the HomeAway brand of sites. Internally we briefly discussed and think that might be a little more than necessary.
One thing that I would consider doing is modifying the content of the message to read well, whether or not the message includes restricted content.
Hi guest, Thanks for booking our property. Feel free to email us at email@example.com or call us at 775-225-1111 with any questions about your inquiry. Or checkout our website: myprop.com. Thanks, PM
Hi guest, Thanks for booking our property. We look forward to connecting. Many thanks, PM firstname.lastname@example.org 775-225-1111 myprop.com
That way when the message is stripped of any restricted content, it does not change the message.
Hi guest, Thanks for booking our property. We look forward to connecting. Many thanks, PM
If small tweaks like this do not work for your situation, the next best option sounds like creating templates for HomeAway specific inquiries.
Hope that helps. We'll be monitoring this closely and making a few small adjustments this week in preparation for the change.