More disgruntled owners at Owners Direct
Owners Direct facing increasing alienation from property owners
The Champagne corks are still probably popping for the owners and shareholders of Owners Direct / HomeAway following their big-money sale to Expedia, though the picture is somewhat less rosy for property owners, according to reviews of the site posted on ratings site Trust Pilot. Out of 262 reviews, Owners Direct managed to get the minimum 1/5 rating from almost 80% of reviewers – or when calculated based out of ten, a stunning 0.6 / 10!! And if you care to delve deeper into how these figures break down, you’ll find that the majority of recent reviews are firmly in the 1 star bracket.
So why is this happening – and do they care?
There are a number of reasons for Owners Direct’s demise – negative publicity of scams operating via the site, advertising fees that have just gone up and up, slow response times to service requests, penalties for not responding to enquiries promptly or not keeping your calendar up-to-date…the list goes on. The biggest factor emerging from the reviews on TrustPilot though are that it’s no longer really “direct”!
In the very early days you had a direct email link, then a form to fill in – both of which went directly to the owner, showing the sender’s email address, which the owner could then reply to via their email software. Fast-forward to today, and all that has changed – yes, the customer does still fill in a form, but the owner never sees their email address, as this is disguised, forcing correspondence to take place through the Owners Direct Dashboard; if the owner does respond by replying to the email, their email address is also disguised, so all communication is taking place in this sort of Owners Direct virtual reality. And woe betide you if you do want to give the customer your phone number or email address to contact you directly (pertinent word that) – the system will strip that out, as you’re ‘being naughty’.
Since a fair number of their advertisers advertise on a commission-only basis, it’s fairly easy to see why Owners Direct do it this way – they want their cash! Which does seem fair enough, except when it puts barriers in the way of making or taking a booking.
Do they really care? Well, I suspect not, yet. Everyone in the HomeAway group will have made their money (for a second time!), so they’re probably not unduly worried about declining visitor numbers and declining revenues, but one would expect Expedia will care somewhat more. They are in a bit of a sticky position though, as financial projections for the HomeAway business did allegedly assume a continuation of both the subscription-based and commission-only models, so it would be difficult for them to abandon either. And if the rumours are correct about them imposing a booking fee in 2016 on the person booking a property (which will presumably alienate the other side of their customer base, the rental customer), their bookings are likely to fall, putting further pressure on revenues.
Internet-Cottages – THE Alternative to Owners Direct
OK, so we’re not saying we’re the only alternative to Owners Direct, but we are, and always will be, resolutely about direct advertising. We also firmly believe in good, friendly, personal service – we like to get to know our owners, the majority of whom have advertised with us for many years. And we also won’t change you anything unless you feel that the advertising is working for you – we offer a free 3 month trial, at the end of which we’ll send you stats showing how well it’s gone, and if it’s not up to scratch, we’ll give you another 3 months for free.
Allow you to communicate directly with your potential customers;
Provide a link to your website
Respond quickly when you contact us
Keep our prices at a cost-effective level
Treat you as a person, not a number
We will not
Insist on you communicating with customers via a closed messaging system;
Charge you a commission on any bookings;
Force you to take bookings through ‘our system’;
Insist upon you having 50 photos on your listing (though you might want to have more than one!)
Penalise you for not updating your calendar every minute
Ever charge you if the advertising is not generating results
Interested? Sign up for our free 3 month trial here