In December 2015, Expedia bought HomeAway / VRBO for a reported $3.9 billion dollars. Its been just over a year now, and customers are growing in frustration according to a variety of sources, as they appear to be copying Airbnb’s commission model by applying guest and service fees.
Kim Bergstrom writes a great article explaining what is happening with VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb, FlipKey, TripAdvisor and Expedia Service Fees.
GeekWire also has an excellent article explaining how VRBO/HomeAway now stacks up and competes against Airbnb. An excerpt sums it up well:
One of the biggest changes is the introduction of a traveler’s fee — also referred to as a “service fee.” Travelers who book through the HomeAway checkout process are now charged a fee that averages between 4 percent and 9 percent of the rental amount, not exceeding $499, the company says. Airbnb charges a similar fee.
HomeAway owned VRBO has hit an all time low in customer satisfaction. Consumer Affairs website has given VRBO a 1 star rating, which is the lowest they can go. Customers are certainly not happy, and it shows if you read through the 850 or so reviews. Sitejabber users posted 450 reviews gives both HomeAway and VRBO just 1.5 stars.
Here is a sample of some of the reviews…
This reminds me of the time Netflix tried to raise their prices for mail-in and streaming subscribers. I completely agree with everyone else’s comments on this site… Really, It’s just a terrible business decision from VRBO.
Just awful and THEY PUT YOU AT THE BACK OF THE SEARCH LIST IF YOU DO NOT GO WITH THEIR PLANS, and now that I have signed up, I have not gotten one inquiry and it is over a month. I paid in excess of $2000 for my two homes for 2016 and feel I have just been **.
I join the masses of owners who have expressed their concerns over changes in Homeaway/VRBO. I am happy to see I am not the only one that is saying “What the hell is going on”. I have been happy for 6 years and now went from happy to zero with them. Just got off the phone with them, so far EVERYTHING they told me is not true.
The February 2016 traveler fee is a disingenuous move on the part of HomeAway thus making potential clients suspicious of property owners, creating a loss of business for property owners because it increases the rate by a significant percentage.
Clearly, sentiment has turned sharply negative in the past 6 months, and it will be interesting to see if HomeAway / VRBO can pull out of their nosedive and regain the trust of their core customers.
For those seeking an alternative to VRBO, check out www.free-rentals.com. Free-Rentals.com is 100% FREE! No yearly fees, No commissions, No hidden costs.