New VRBO policy: reviews follow the property - regardless if new owner or manager

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Sep 5, 2019
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#1
Hello,
If a restaurant changes all staff and management but the walls and furnishings are still the same can the new management justly employ past reviews in advertising ? This is precisely VRBO / Homeaway's new internal policy announced this year.

I am a start up vacation property management company in my 3rd year. I pay VRBO $500 annually per property to list.

We learned a property we had taken to market was going to be leaving us to use a another mega PM company. This was no big deal . Not sour at all about that. Great fit for the retired owners who wish to be more hands on.

When time came to switch I was gobsmacked to learn that all glowing reviews - half of which mentioned how great management was - would be transferring to the new PM.
I cooled my jets for a couple of months and kept my eyes on my work hoping my fever would pass about this. It has not. I am seeking advocacy or even just to be told I need to get over it by someone not at VRBO.

Does an end-user / the person on vacation care about the integrity of the reviews?

Looking forward to some feedback,
Carolina
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
Unfortunately, VRBO cannot edit reviews: https://help.vrbo.com/articles/Can-HomeAway-edit-my-review-for-me

So, unless reviewers named the management company in their reviews, I don't see a way to change that. However, I have an idea that might work. You can edit your own profile, I assume, and could reference the property name and dates you managed (with a link to their page).

That way, prospective renters could read the reviews for said property to see the glowing remarks about your company . . .
 
May 1, 2018
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#3
Well for one, what you are describing is a business-to-business issue. This is a consumer advocacy board so we don't generally deal with these types of issues. You have not been harmed by this policy as a consumer.

Secondly, it sounds like you feel you worked so hard for those good reviews and they were somehow stolen from you. It just doesn't look that way from my point of view. Those reviews never belonged to you so they couldn't possibly have been stolen from you. The reviews belong to the property and property owners. You were simply an employee contracted to look after the property and now your contract has ended. It's inconceivable to me why you think the property owners should have their reviews reset to zero simply because they chose to hire different staff for their business.

Lastly, imagine you decided to close your business for some reason - maybe you retired, won the lottery, or needed to move to a different state. Do you expect that all your clients and their properties would lose all their reviews through no fault of their own?

Not sour at all about that.
I think you are. And that's perfectly ok.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 5, 2019
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#4
Well for one, what you are describing is a business-to-business issue. This is a consumer advocacy board so we don't generally deal with these types of issues. You have not been harmed by this policy as a consumer.

Secondly, it sounds like you feel you worked so hard for those good reviews and they were somehow stolen from you. It just doesn't look that way from my point of view. Those reviews never belonged to you so they couldn't possibly have been stolen from you. The reviews belong to the property and property owners. You were simply an employee contracted to look after the property and now your contract has ended. It's inconceivable to me why you think the property owners should have their reviews reset to zero simply because they chose to hire different staff for their business.

Lastly, imagine you decided to close your business for some reason - maybe you retired, won the lottery, or needed to move to a different state. Do you expect that all your clients and their properties would lose all their reviews through no fault of their own?


Ok, Dan I'll put you in the "I should get over it" vote column. ;)
That said, I would like to impress here that the unit itself is one <important>part of many in a successful rental experience; cleanliness, gifts on arrival, directions and access (to remote place), police dealings - with rogue neighbors and guests , arrangements to area attractions, flat tire fixes, wasp killing.... etc all of these were our product and reviewed on. I feel the new PM Co should earn those. I appreciate your response as it will help me to understand better different perspectives.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#5
It just occurred to me that you could also politely ask the property owners to edit their listing to indicate the period of time that they were under your management.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

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#6
The unit itself is only part of the review process. If the management company stinks if there is an issue, that needs to be known by potential renters too. A beautiful and spotless place can have a broken pipe or non working air conditioning and if the management company does nothing about it, it deserves to be mentioned in a review.

This could come back to haunt the new company that the reviews followed. If your company was meticulous and the new company isn’t good- the bad reviews will start and people will start asking what happened.

I think you just need to sit back and watch. The property owners own the review imo, not the management company.
 
Likes: VoR61
Apr 1, 2018
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#7
Interestingly, I just got an email from Tripadvisor that they are removing a hotel review I posted about 4 years ago because the property has a new owner and is being remodeled. Ironically, my review ranked the hotel as being good. So go figure.
 
May 1, 2018
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#8
I feel the new PM Co should earn those.
That's where we disagree. To me, the reviews are intellectual property belonging to the specific unit owners. To answer your question, restaurants don't lose their reviews or accolades just because they hire a new chef.

You are certainly within your rights to reach out to HomeAway.com (parent company of VRBO) executives to discuss the impact of their policies on property management companies: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/homeaway-com/

In any case, I would suggest you don't share these feelings with your other clients. I know I would feel uneasy if a service provider I hired felt they had any sort of claim over my property (including intellectual property). I would look to end that relationship in a hurry.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
That's where we disagree. To me, the reviews are intellectual property belonging to the specific unit owners. To answer your question, restaurants don't lose their reviews or accolades just because they hire a new chef.

You are certainly within your rights to reach out to HomeAway.com (parent company of VRBO) executives to discuss the impact of their policies on property management companies: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/homeaway-com/

In any case, I would suggest you don't share these feelings with your other clients. I know I would feel uneasy if a service provider I hired felt they had any sort of claim over my property (including intellectual property). I would look to end that relationship in a hurry.
I think the law would not be on your side with the reviews being intellectual property of the unit owner -- reviews are generally the property of the person reviewing -- ie it is their thought -- or in the case of some of the sites, one agrees to give site xxxx rights to the content by signing into it. But at no point does the review belong to the subject being reviewed. Most likely the reviews are owned by Homeaway,.

There are often management and or staff changes -- I suppose it depends on significant the changes are as to whether one should start over with the reviews. What happens if a management company goes out of business? Should the vacation home start over with no reviews?

This is something that just should be left alone.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 6, 2015
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#10
I may be misinterpreting Carolina, but she specifically stated that the reviews "would be transferring to the new PM", not the new owners. If correct, this creates a false impression that the new PM is being rated, not Carolina's company. I can understand and support that concern . . .
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
I may be misinterpreting Carolina, but she specifically stated that the reviews "would be transferring to the new PM", not the new owners. If correct, this creates a false impression that the new PM is being rated, not Carolina's company. I can understand and support that concern . . .
The property is the same -- the management co has changed -- the past reviews under the old management will stay.

Primarily the important thing being reviewed is the property -- the management company is a part of that but not the most important.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#13
The responsible thing for VRBO to do, I think, is to require owners to post a DISCLAIMER when ownership or management changes, so that reviewers are aware. It should show the names of the parties involved . . .
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#14
If a restaurant changes all staff and management but the walls and furnishings are still the same can the new management justly employ past reviews in advertising ?

This is not really comparable -- the management company is not the same as the chef. The management co is more like the maitre de -- not owner not chef.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 6, 2015
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#15
Primarily the important thing being reviewed is the property -- the management company is a part of that but not the most important.
I will sincerely and respectfully disagree. Owners are often absentee, so it is up to the PM to ensure a positive experience for renters.

Thus, I would also ask "What if the reviews for the previous PM were terrible?" Would anyone want those to transfer?
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
I will sincerely and respectfully disagree. Owners are often absentee, so it is up to the PM to ensure a positive experience for renters.

Thus, I would also ask "What if the reviews for the previous PM were terrible?" Would anyone want those to transfer?
Problem is when ever there is a change of manager -- whether at a hotel or vacation rental -- should there be a disclaimer? If the next management company makes a mess of things I am sure the customers will quickly let people know. Often it is not just the management company it is the person at the company -- I say this after having a succession of apartment managers in NYC.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#17
Problem is when ever there is a change of manager -- whether at a hotel or vacation rental -- should there be a disclaimer? If the next management company makes a mess of things I am sure the customers will quickly let people know. Often it is not just the management company it is the person at the company -- I say this after having a succession of apartment managers in NYC.
For full disclosure, yes. Reviewers may simply refer to "management", which then will be applied to the current company (unfairly).
 
Jun 24, 2019
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#18
The use of the content a reviewer supplied to a website, whether it be VRBO or Trip Advisor, is going to be governed by the terms and conditions we all agreed to in signing up. I find those far too tedious to read and understand; I just assumne they can pretty much do what they please. I've had reviews taken down, and I've had sites refuse to take down responses. You can ask VRBO to establish a new policy, but VRBO would then need to be able to identify who the management company is for each property, a fact they may not currently know. Since VRBOs business model to to make money off fees (they are, after all, a classified ad service) they may have little incentive to collect more data that has to be sliced and diced differently.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#19
I will sincerely and respectfully disagree. Owners are often absentee, so it is up to the PM to ensure a positive experience for renters.

Thus, I would also ask "What if the reviews for the previous PM were terrible?" Would anyone want those to transfer?
They would transfer with the property and I would imagine that if reviews became positive with new management, it would reflect well on the new company.

Does anyone think that people reading reviews about a property are thinking about the property management company? The owner is ultimately the one responsible for reviews, not the property manager.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#20
I think many views are valid here, but reality is that this is all an internet-based exercise, governed by nothing. Reviews are a wonderful resource, but there's little anyone can do to control them. I do extensive research on any travel topic, and rely heavily on reviews. If I were reading reviews on a vacation rental with negative comments about the management company, I don't think that would sway me at all. If a reviewer says that management and staff were great, that's a positive, but a tiny component of my research and decision. I understand your frustration here, Carolina, and you can surely try some ideas laid out here ... but I think your efforts could be more profitably placed elsewhere.
 
Likes: Neil Maley