10% fee for non-Homeaway bookings ???
I just received the letter below from HomeAway regarding my integrated listing. If I read this correctly, ANY off HomeAway platform bookings will be subject to a 10% fee by HomeAway. So any bookings from any other booking source will cost us an additional 10%? Am I reading this incorrectly? Thoughts?
We want to thank you for being a HomeAway partner. We are very excited about the new partner programs and tools introduced this year; and we are even more excited about the developments still to come as we continue to build out our technology platform, enable real-time data access, and start to unlock the market potential.
Before the next year begins, we would like to inform you of three important changes regarding HomeAway subscriptions:
Starting January 12, 2018, the price of all annual subscriptions will be $499 per listing. In the year ahead we will provide global exposure and enable your listings to be searchable across our network of websites that reach a growing audience, and we will also equip you with state-of-the-art tools, analytics, and resources designed to help you maximize your potential.
As a property manager with an integrated system, you have access to more than one booking path for HomeAway travelers. HomeAway is introducing a performance-credit and fee structure that will be applied to all “off-platform” bookings. Partners who accept bookings that originate via HomeAway but are not processed through HomeAway checkout (“off-platform”) will continue to get credit for every booking reported.
For all new subscriptions, and for all listings with an annual subscription term that is set to renew on or after March 15, 2018, HomeAway will begin charging a fee for every off-platform booking, which will amount to 10% of the pre-tax total to be charged to the traveler for the stay. Renewals of currently-active subscriptions that are due to expire before March 15, 2018 will not be subject to off-platform booking fees until the end of their one-year renewal term.
We will not impose off-platform fees in the middle of any renewal term that started before March 15th. The new fee structure will take effect only when partners elect to renew those subscriptions at the end of their current one-year terms. Remember, you can avoid these fees by ensuring that HomeAway travelers are booking and paying on the HomeAway platform.
All partners wishing to purchase a new subscription or to renew a subscription with a start date of March 15th or later (even if paid in advance), must first acknowledge and agree to these terms and provide payment-card information to be kept on file for processing of off-platform-booking fees. Please note that HomeAway will not honor “automatic” or early renewals of any subscriptions unless and until we have received your agreement that these new terms will apply going forward.
Thank you again for working with us. We are honored to have you as a HomeAway partner, and we look forward to another successful year with you.
The HomeAway team
@Jenny-Oest You beat me to the question - I just got the same email and read it the same way. That does not make any sense? So if I block dates for my mother and aunt to stay in one of my places, I have to pay HomeAway 10% of the value of this booking because I have blocked those dates on the HomeAway calendar?
OK - I just spoke with HomeAway and got some clarification:
this applies ONLY to inquiries that are sourced through a HomeAway site (HA, VRBO, Vacationrentals.com, Cyberrentals, etc).
if an inquiry is converted to a reservation, but no service fee is collected on that reservation, then the 10% will be charged to the owner/pm.
if you have an integrated listing, this will be determined by the inquiry source field that is included with the inquiry.
if the reservation shows a source OTHER THAN one of their listing sites, then the charge will not apply.
Here are some examples:
Example 1: Inquiry comes through from VRBO, and then books through VRBO
- service fee is paid by guest.
- owner is NOT charged an off-platform fee.
Example 2: Inquiry comes through from VRBO, and then guest finds a way to call you directly. You change the inquiry email address and phone number to the guest's direct info and then book the reservation.
- source is still VRBO.
- guest does NOT pay a service fee.
- owner WILL be charged a 10% off-platform fee.
Example 3: Inquiry comes through VRBO, but then guest finds your website and books directly with your website, creating a new dashboard thread, with MyVR as the source.
- source is now MyVR.
- Guest does NOT pay a service fee.
- Owner does NOT pay an off-platform fee.
Example 4: A returning guest calls to book a new reservation. When you complete the inquiry field, you enter VRBO as the source of inquiry, because that's where they heard about you the FIRST time they booked.
- Source is VRBO.
- Guest does NOT pay a service fee.
- Owner IS charged a 10% off-platform fee.
The key here is the inquiry source field. Any reservation that shows the source field as coming from a HomeAway owned listing site, will either need to pay the service fee, OR pay the 10% off-platform fee.
NOT TO ENCOURAGE OFF-PLATFORM BOOKING, but the solution to protect you from the 10% off-platform fee, is to ensure that any booking not processed through HomeAway's site is done by creating a NEW reservation and DO NOT source it to their listing platform.
For returning guests, I recommend having a source field that says "Returning Guest"
Hope that helps!
@Jenny-Oest Thank you for the clarification.
@Jenny-Oest This is super helpful- thank you!
The VRBO “match-back fee” process is very scary. From this description, and other postings on the web, we could get dinged 10% even in a scenario where someone just skimmed through the VRBO website but actually booked via Airbnb or FlipKey or even our website directly. Does MyVR pass the email address of our bookings back to VRBO when they block dates on a particular property?
@Chad-Service that's not how this will work. The only way that they will charge you the 10% is when guest a guest submits an inquiry, AND you convert that same inquiry (with source = HomeAway or vrbo or one of their sites) and it doesn't process through their system. HomeAway receives feedback from MyVR on any in QA uiry marked with them as the source. This is how they know if we have accepted and processed a booking request.
So we are sure the source is the only thing that matters? Does myvr send the renters name or email address? Say for instance a renter finds me on VRBO and submits an inquiry. Now it is in VRBOs system as John Doe looking for 'Specific Dates.' Say John Doe then finds my own website and books directly for those exact dates. Does MYVR send John Doe's name and email to VRBO when blocking out the dates? Could they then see that they had the exact same name and/or email address request those exact same dates and then try to hit us with the 10%?
That is the concern my owners have. They don't seem to buy the inquiry source as the defining marker for determining that. If it is reliant on the source, I'm not too worried about it.
"As a property manager with 100+ homes, this forces me to pull listings from HomeAway and market our listings via other avenues. I contacted my HomeAway account rep as soon as I read the notice, and he confirmed they are tracking inquiries via email addresses – so there is no doubt about that question. When I asked him how HomeAway can make the assumption that were entitled to 10% from a booking when someone shopped on their site, he replied because of the email match. Nevermind if that person shopped on multiple websites, then booked with us, they are claiming entitlement based off of shopping history, but not an actual purchase. I don’t know how this could ever hold up as legit. He then, proceeded while I was on the phone to scan our Escapia data to let me know that 30% of the bookings we processed in 2017 they would claim as entitled to the 10% in 2018 – big red flag on this – did we give HomeAway access to use our data for their pockets..if so, goodbye"
It sounds like they are relying on email addresses. Does myvr send our guests personal info such as email addresses when blocking out dates on OTA sites?
@Chad-Service due to privacy I would argue that MyVR would only be able to transmit a booking email back to them if it were sourced as Homeaway or VRBO or one of their sites. I am entrusted with the privacy of my guests email adddresses and I have no authorization that permits me to share that address except in service to their particular reservation.
The officials at MyVR will have to confirm this for us.
I am hoping that the MyVR folks will weigh in on this topic to confirm the process and exactly what we need to do/not do to avoid the Homeaway fees.
Can anyone from MYVR shed some more light?
Sorry for the slow reply here. I just added a response to Chad's other question on this topic, but wanted provide some details here as well. Jenny has provided some great clarification and answers thus far.
First and foremost, MyVR will only send data to HomeAway if you use MyVR channel management and have setup a fully integrated listing using our HomeAway application. We do not send any data to HomeAway unless there is an active, fully integrated listing. I want to be clear about that up front so people with iCal only integrations or no integration at all don't mistakenly think we send data to HomeAway.
If, and only if, you have a fully integrated HomeAway listing through MyVR, we do report "offline" reservations to HomeAway. HomeAway started requiring this of integrated partners back in 2016 and we started reporting them in April 2016. HomeAway has indicated failure to report offline reservations can have an impact on your search ranking and overall listing performance.
What "Offline" Reservations are Reported to HomeAway?
We only report a subset of reservations back to HomeAway. Namely, we will only report "offline" reservations that meet all of the following requirements:
- The property on the reservation has an active, fully integrated listing in MyVR
- The source of the reservation is set to HomeAway, VRBO, or VacationRentals.com
- The reservation did not come from another channel
- The reservation is in a "Reserved" state and has active financial terms
If any of the above conditions are not meet, we do not report the reservation to HomeAway. If you have an offline reservation you would like us to report to HomeAway, make sure to manually set the source to a HomeAway, VRBO, or VacationRentals.com, mark the reservation as "Reserved", and setup financial terms. Once all of those steps are taken, we'll start including the reservation in our "offline" reservation report to HomeAway. (Note: if a reservation came from another channel, we will not report it as an "offline" reservation to HomeAway under any circumstance, even if you mistakenly set the source to HomeAway)
Jenny outlined some great examples that highlights how this works. Generally speaking, you should be cautious about manually setting the source of a reservation to HomeAway/VRBO/VacationRentals.com in light of HomeAway's new changes. We'll be making some updates to the product soon that better highlight which reservations will be reported back to HomeAway. For now, pay close attention to the source field and only set it to HomeAway/VRBO/VacationRentals.com if you want it reported back to HomeAway.
What Data is Included for Each Reservation?
When we report "offline" reservations meeting the above criteria to HomeAway, we include the....
- HomeAway listing the reservation applies to
- Dates of the stay
- Number of guests
- Renter's name
- Renter's email address
- Renter's phone number (if available)
- Current financial terms
If a reservation does not meet the "offline" reservation criteria, we do not send it to HomeAway.
We do send full availability data for all fully integrated listings, but this amounts to a simple available / unavailable flag per night. If a night is unavailable, it's marked unavailable with no other identifying information included. We do not send any information about the renter, nor do we even indicate if it's a reservation. HomeAway only knows the night is unavailable, they are provided nothing else.
I hope that clears things up. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
@Mike-Stachowiak - thank you for being so thorough in your response!
"We'll be making some updates to the product soon that better highlight which reservations will be reported back to HomeAway. For now, pay close attention to the source field and only set it to HomeAway/VRBO/VacationRentals.com if you want it reported back to HomeAway."
I'm looking forward to seeing those details. Will that be rolled out prior to the effective date of the HomeAway change?
Just a quick update - heads up....
whenever I have a returning guest call to go straight to booking with an over the phone quote, I often grab their last reservation and then just "copy reservation" to create the new one. This has MANY added conveniences....BUT....
It will also copy the SOURCE, and if it happens to be a HomeAway listing...you're going to get hit with an off-platform fee, SO....
I'm making a feature request that when copying a reservation, the source field is set to something other than a listing site. Perhaps a default option of "copied reservation" or perhaps we can set what that default would be?
I mention this so that you stay vigilant and don't get stung.
Is there also an "effective" date for which bookings listed as sourced through Homeaway will be assessed the 10% fee? Wouldn't want bookings over the last year to "automatically" and suddenly fall into this category if they haven't already by now.
@Darrell-Looney112 - you're only subject to the off-platform fee when your listing renews AFTER March 15. Prepayment will save you some money, but if the official renewal effective date is after March 15, you're subject to that fee.
So, some examples:
- Your renewal date is March 1, 2018, and you renew....you're not subject to the off-platform booking fee until you renew again March 1, 2019.
- Your renewal date is May 1, 2018, but you renew early on Jan 10 to save $$...you will be subject to the off-platform booking fees beginning May 1, 2018.
Hope that helps,
@Jonathan-Murray - YAY! Thank you!!!