On-trip competitor benchmarking

Part
01
of two
Part
01

HomeAway User Communication

Homeaway users receive an email invite post booking confirmation with details such as Wi-Fi instructions, check-in/check-out details, and directions to the location. While on the trip, they receive a welcome message, alerts and reminders of relevant information, and a review request a day before check-out. Post the check-out they receive a thank you message.

PRE-TRIP COMMUNICATION

  • Once users are interested in a property, they either make further enquiries or send a booking request/ instantly book the property. An email is received confirming that the enquiry or booking request was sent to the owner.
  • In case the user sends an enquiry, the owner or manager of the property respond with clarification and sends a payment link to the user, through which the user can opt to make a payment within 72 hours.
  • To directly book a property on Homeaway, users enter arrival and departure dates, and payment details before they submit a request/ booking.
  • If the selected property is instantly bookable, an instant email notification is received confirming the booking.
  • If the booking requires a confirmation from the owner of the property within 24 hours, the user receives an email notification when the owner accepts or declines the request. The card is charged as soon as the owner accepts the booking request.
  • Guests who use the Mobile Hospitality app also receive a booking confirmation notification, a primary invite containing credentials. Seven days before the date of arrival, guests receive a secondary invite via the Mobile Hospitality app (if using it), in case they missed the first invite. The notification is only received if the owner has enabled Mobile Hospitality.
  • The message received upon completing a booking request: "Thank you for booking our home, we are excited to host you! Please take a moment to review the House Manual before your stay. I have attached your House Manual to this email."
  • The House Manual may contain rules, directions to the property, codes, Wi-Fi instructions, check-in/check-out details. Owners may also opt to send access codes later.
  • Owners can select (on the app) what information they may want to provide and guests can select the information they specifically seek.
  • In case the owner has not enabled the app, the owner contacts the guest on their own. If the property owner does not contact the user, the user calls the owner directly--the contact details are in My Trips section and can also be found in the booking confirmation email. When users/ guests cannot connect to the property owner, they contact customer care directly and they resolve the issue.

ON-TRIP AND CHECK-OUT COMMUNICATION

  • The day of check-in the guest receives a welcome message via the Mobile Hospitality app.
  • During the stay, guests receive notifications alerting/reminding them of relevant information. Information could include "house rules, checkout instructions, Wi-Fi password, instructions on how to use the washer/dryer or the grill, when to take out the trash, and more".
  • The day before the check-out the guest receives a request for review. The review request email asks the user if they liked the stay (Yes/No), a rating of their experience from 1 to 5, and additional feedback comments.
  • On submitting a review, users receive an email confirming the submission of their review, which also contains a copy of the review and the review id.

POST THE CHECK-OUT

  • A thank you message is sent to the guest at 12:00 PM (local time) on the day the guest departs. The thank you message can be customized and owners may ask the guests for specific feedback.

Part
02
of two
Part
02

VRBO User Communications

HomeAway and VRBO belong to the same parent company and "also share the same features and homes." They also share websites. They use 12 different websites. VRBO facilitates and encourages the communication of check-in details such as property address, access instructions, and additional information on the property of choice 7 -14 days before the visit of the vacation tenant. However, the company does not own, manage, nor contract via communication or otherwise for any vacation rental property listed on its site. VRBO (HomeAway) serves as a marketplace linking owners and vacation tenants.

1. VRBO (HOMEAWAY): PRE TRIP COMMUNICATIONS

  • VRBO (HomeAway) through the Mobile Hospitality app facilitates and encourages the communication of check-in details such as property address, access instructions, and additional information on the property of choice 7 -14 days before the visit of the vacation tenant.
  • VRBO does not own, manage, nor contract via communication or otherwise for any vacation rental property listed on its site.
  • The property owner supplies relevant check-in details which are sent to clients/vacation trip tenants through the Mobile Hospitality app as pre-trip information (7 -14 days ahead of their trip).
  • After booking, guests usually receive a series of emails inviting them to experience the apartment through the mobile website or app. Emails sent to guests contain information about the booked property.
  • Relevant check-in communication, such as home access code is communicated via the Mobile Hospitality Manager dashboard if provided by the homeowner.
  • A review of the HomeAway community blog reveals that homeowners customize their welcome email to typically contain information like front desk direct dial phone number, WiFi login, and password, check-in/out times and detailed instructions, how to access home utilities like coffee table book and how to access the home fridge. The welcome message (screenshot available here), is accessible via the Mobile Hospitality app.
  • Some homeowners add information like nearby grocery stores and a few shopping tips.
  • Homeowners are required to write a pre-trip guide to amenities including photos of available family-friendly amenities and at least two photos of each room.

2. VRBO (HOMEAWAY): ON-TRIP COMMUNICATION

  • HomeAway sends a welcome email (already customized by the homeowner) on the day of check-in.
  • The home review request is sent to the guest one day before they check out.
  • The Mobile Hospitality Manager dashboard provides an on-trip guide to amenities such as how to use home Wi-Fi, etc.
  • When required, it is possible for a guest to request additional information from homeowner "via the Hospitality experience."
  • On-trip information like front desk direct dial phone number, WiFi login and passwords, check-in and check-out times, how to access home utilities like coffee table book and how to access the home fridge, etc., are accessible via the Mobile Hospitality app. The homeowner is responsible for preparing these pieces of information.
  • Some content owners may choose to communicate with vacationers (on-trip) through the Hospitality experience dashboard include checkout info, contact info, trash, WiFi, beach, biking, coffee maker, boating, etc.

3. VRBO (HOMEAWAY): CHECK OUT COMMUNICATIONS/

  • Homeowners may opt to provide "additional information about the rental in the Mobile Hospitality Manager dashboard." Examples of enhanced communications available via the Mobile Hospitality Manager dashboard include check-out instructions, e.g., home access code.
  • The home "owner via the Hospitality experience" can provide further instructions on check-out, etc., when demanded by a tenant.

4. VRBO (HOMEAWAY): POST CHECK OUT COMMUNICATION

  • Homeowners are not allowed to communicate directly with tenants after a vacation. VRBO (HomeAway) does not tolerate spam or unsolicited post-check-out/commercial electronic communications of any kind. Homeowners are not licensed to add any site user that has rented a short-term property from them or to their mailing lists (email or physical mail) without their express consent.
  • Tenants need not bother on how to leave keys for the homeowners. VRBO (HomeAway) promoted rentals are keyless and use August smart locks since 2017.
  • Through August’s smart lock and it's accompanying keypad, VRBO (HomeAway) registered homeowners aren’t only making it easier for their guests to check-in, but also removing any need for someone to be physically present to welcome guests. Thus, keys no longer have to be left in envelopes or hidden under doormats for collection.
  • A review of VRBO homes reveals that some locations already use "a keypad instead of a key" for home access.

5. VRBO ANTI-PHISHING/IDENTITY PROTECTION

  • VRBO's platform messaging system helps vacationers and homeowners communicate securely. Both incoming inquiries from vacationers or travelers and owner inquiry responses go through a secure, private network that helps protect both parties from "phishing and identity theft."
  • Email communications originate from an anonymous HomeAway, VRBO, or VacationRentals email address. Both parties can email back and forth among themselves through their VRBO accounts. Once a reservation is confirmed, VRBO displays the traveler's phone number as well as their email address.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "HomeAway offers two connection methods. If you use iCal, you will manually enter the email address into Hostaway before automations can work. If you are using the API connection, we receive the email address directly."
Quotes
  • "With Homeaway/VRBO I suggest just using templates, there is a Hospitality Manager that unlocks and auto sends a bunch of messages to guests a week before their stay, but it is super time-consuming to set up. They may have made it better since I last used it but I grew frustrated with it rather quickly. The one positive I remembered is that they allowed you to save details from multiple listings, so if you have homes all in the same town or area, this could be a time-saving setting. Good luck with whichever method you choose to use on their site!"
  • "Homeaway/VRBO: “Thank you for booking our home, we are excited to host you! Please take a moment to review the House Manual before your stay. I have attached your House Manual to this email.” (you can save your house manual in a PDF form and then attach it. Once you’ve attached it one time, it will alway be available in your attachments on the message threads)."
  • "Evening of Check In Date - “Hi there, just checking in to see that you got into the home smoothly, I hope you are settled in and enjoying the space.“"
  • "(this can be tricky for 1 night stay, so you can create a combo of the check in and check out message or times them strategically)- “I hope you had a great stay! Just a reminder, check out is before 11am (or whatever time yours is). We hope to see you again in the future, have a safe trip home!”"
  • "“We hope you had a smooth transition home. We are so pleased that you choose to spend your holiday with us! If you could, please take a moment to leave us a review. We are close to Superhost status so your 5 stars really mean a lot! Thanks again and we hope to host you in the future.”"
Quotes
  • "Verify that you received an inquiry confirmation email from us. This will confirm that your inquiry was delivered to the owner or manager."
  • "Verify that you do not have any responses from the property owner or manager in your email’s junk or spam folder."
Quotes
  • "If you booked on a property that indicates 24 Hour Confirmation, you will receive a confirmation notifying you the request has been successfully submitted. The vacation rental owner or property manager then has 24 hours to accept or decline, at which time your card is charged and you receive an email confirmation."
  • "If you booked on property that indicates Instant Book, you will receive an instant notification that your booking is confirmed without having to wait for the vacation rental owner or property manager to accept."
From Part 02
Quotes
  • "The guest will receive a series of emails inviting them to the experience via the mobile website or app, including the following emails with information about your property: Invitation email (should be received within 2 hours of booking) Follow-up invitation (For those that don't open the original invitation, 3 days prior to the first day of their stay) Welcome email (day of check-in) Review request (1 day prior to check out)"
  • "It is possible for the guest to request information from the owner via the Hospitality experience."
Quotes
  • "We do not own or manage, nor can we contract for, any vacation rental property listed on a Site. "
  • "How far in advance of my stay will I receive check-in details? If the Owner has enabled the Mobile Hospitality app and entered the check-in details information into the app, you will receive check-in details via the app 7 -14 days prior to your stay. Check in details include the property address, access instructions and additional information about the property and your stay."
Quotes
  • "Include photos of the family-friendly amenities you provide. Take at least two photos of each room."
Quotes
  • "Photos are key for grabbing travelers’ attention, but your descriptions must follow through to turn views into bookings. Here we have some tips for creating the ideal copy to describe your properties and their amenities."