Back in the day, I would have called my newspaper to gripe about VRBO’s mandatory online booking service beginning May 1st. This will do.
I know everything’s online today _ hell, I got fired from my last job by Fast Mail because email was too slow. But I draw the line at VRBO’s new policy requiring property owners to allow renters to book online with only a 24-hour window to block bookings. We’ve been renting out a famiy home in Martha’s Vineyard through VRBO for about five years. We do it the old-fashioned way _ people email me through VRBO, I email them back and sometimes (gasp!), we even talk on the phone. I like to get a sense who will staying in the house. I’d prefer if I wasn’t a group of kids with cases of vodka and Solo cups, or the bride who wanted to set bonfires in the woods.
So far, so good. We’ve had a few slobs and some ripped linens, but no major damage, no stolen frying pans. One tenant leaves the place so immaculate that I waive the cleaning fee. After talking with a tenant, I decided to waive my no pet policy. I get a lot of returning tenants because they like the place, and feel it’s their little summer escape. That’s why I like renting it out, besides covering the cost of taxes and upkeep.
Now VRBO is changing all that, making booking online the only option and more or less bypassing owners’ involvement in the rental process. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know my vacation plans a year in advance. I also like to accommodate returning guests who request certain weeks. More than anything though, I want to know a little bit about who’s staying in the house. We’re happy to share it with others, but don’t want to get burned.