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Renting VRBO...

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jc tenn
Level Contributor
423 posts
1 review
Renting VRBO...

I emailed a lot of homeowners over a month ago. I heard back from about half of them. It surprises me how many people list their homes for rent, but don't respond to inquiries!


Washington DC...
Level Contributor
231 posts
45 reviews
1. Re: Renting VRBO...

I emailed 2 a few weeks ago. The first one emailed me back almost immediately. The second one took almost two weeks to reply. Definitely not an owner I would want to deal with.

Edited: 8:10 am, February 07, 2013
NW Ohio
Level Contributor
41 posts
121 reviews
2. Re: Renting VRBO...

I have rented through vrbo several times. The early part of my search is going through descriptions and picking some that might work for a general email inquiry. Yes, some owners get back right away and some don't. You need to keep in mind though some things can slow down a legitimate owner such as a personal emergency, business trip etc. Once I build up enough replies I whittle down the search further by asking for any discounts such as for early reservation, longer stay, etc. It usually works. Do your research, check for the owner 's reviews. Ask for more pictures. You might also check another site called home away.

Happy renting!

Lexington, Kentucky
Level Contributor
653 posts
6 reviews
3. Re: Renting VRBO...

when I am trying a to find a cabin thru VRBO, I use the contact form on the site for every single one that I like. Then my OCD kicks in and I keep a written list of every single inquiry that I send. If I really like that particular cabin I'll write a little note next to the vrbo number. Then after the owner responds I'll write down the price for that unit. I must say that looking at my results that way, I usually only get a response about 50% of the time. If nobody responds, I just mark them off my list. I figure if they want my business, that they will respond in a timely manner. What's the point of renting thru somebody that you can't get ahold of???

But it is kind of silly that so many owners never get back with you after sending requests for info.


Level Contributor
118 posts
70 reviews
4. Re: Renting VRBO...

I create a spreadsheet listing all details I feel are important and chart each cabin. (Yes, I over plan, but it always turns out great!). One thing I note is response time! Since many owners live far away, i also inquire as to if maintenance staff is on call, as I want to make sure any problems can be promptly addressed. How your questions are addressed will speak tons about the quality of your stay. I've inquired about one property for three separate trips, never a response. It looks like the perfect place, but ... guess I'll never know. Good luck with your quest!

Grove City, Ohio
Level Contributor
73 posts
5. Re: Renting VRBO...

I am a cabin owner and I don't respond to every inquiry. I only respond to the inquiries that I would like to have these inquiring guests stay in my cabin. I have been renting my cabin for a long time and I have learned from the personality of the inquiry. Try to understand our side of the reservation, remember we are handing the keys over to total strangers to stay in our homes.

Reasons I don't respond:

1. The cabin is not available for the days that are listed in the inquiry. I take the time to keep my calendar up to date, it shows the availability.

2. The amount of people is over the capacity of my cabin. I state the maximum occupancy at the beginning of my listing, you can't miss it. There is a reason for a maximum occupancy. The amount of beds, towel set up, size of cabin, fire marshal laws.

3. We accept dogs, two dogs maximum. We have a strict dog policy in place to protect our property from damage (chewing, scratching, dogs on furniture, and pottying in the cabin). We get inquiries for four or five dogs in tow, and/or statements saying, they never crate their dogs, they are angels. Would you let a stranger with five dogs stay in your home for a weekend and not crate the dogs? The dogs are in unfamiliar surroundings and you never know what they will do.

4. Inquiry states they have a cat in tow, I don't accept cats. I can't take the gamble the cat will miss the litter box.

5. The inquiry asking for a low ball price. My prices are better than most and the economy has me rock bottom. I have to pay the mortgage, electric, and the cable/Internet bill. I take the low ball price as an insult; the price offered is usually less than a motel room. I have a lot of pride in my property and I have a lot of amenities for my guests. I offer a very clean well kept fully functional cabin.

6. Detailed information, when an inquiry asks a lot of questions in the first inquiry, I usually don't answer them especially if the answers are in my listing. Yes, I will answer distance questions and questions that are quick to answer, but that is it. If the person responds to the first email with more questions, yes I will take the time to answer them because I know they are interested in staying at my cabin, not just collecting rental numbers.

7. Inquiries that state "send pictures". I never send additional pictures. I have plenty of pictures out on my listing to show my property.

8. I think the inquiry is a scam from the way it is worded.

9. I don't get a good feeling from the inquiry. Not all guests respect your property, (damage, cabin left filthy)

10. Inquiries that are two paragraphs long with the last five years of detailed hard luck stories asking for my best price and to give them a deal.

I have to agree, some owners don't respond to inquiries just because they don't have to. They can financially maintain the property without filling the calendar.

You have to realize that owners get many inquiries at any time of day. Owners work and have other responsibilities besides sitting in front of a computer all day waiting on an inquiry to show up in their email. When you send an inquiry on a property, it goes into a holding mode until the vacation rental site decides it is a legit inquiry then it is forwarded on to the owner. It might take three hours for the owner to receive it.

I hope I have helped with understanding why some inquiries don't get responded to.

Lexington, Kentucky
Level Contributor
653 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: Renting VRBO...

Thank you, Tinkerbell, for responding. I do sent alot of inquiries, but I guess I had never really considered the owners point of view. But I bet you do get some doozies!!

Earlier I did say that I sent inquiries to all the listings that I like. I do, but first I check to make sure that they are available for my timeframe. I love the section on VRBO where you can put your dates in, that saves alot of time. Then I sort them by bedrooms. If it doesn't have enough room for my family, I just skip that one. When I actually send the inquiry, I make sure in the comments that I say how many nights total and how many guests. For example ((Hi. Can you tell me how much the total price would be, including any fees and taxes for these 4 nights? It would be 2 adults and 2 kids, ages 14 and 8. Thank you!))

Hope this helps!


Level Contributor
118 posts
70 reviews
7. Re: Renting VRBO...

Karen, I also check dates available and capacity before inquiring. I read listings carefully so as to not ask unnecessary questions. I'm happy the landlord above does well enough that responding to all inquiries is not necessary, but I do think it would be polite and shows good faith. You are advertising your product, so it's expected that you are in need of customers. I will be planning a well deserved vacation for my family, spending hard earned money. I want to ensure that the cabin I choose meets our standards, our business is appreciated, and that unexpected problems can be promptly addressed. I still say that response time and thoroughness is a good directive towards a great visit to the mountains! I've not been disappointed yet!

Destination Expert
for Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Level Contributor
1,530 posts
21 reviews
8. Re: Renting VRBO...

In every case where I made an enquiry to cabin owners, I have received a response.

In one case I asked if the cabin had a mountain view, since the cabin was described as having one, yet no picture of the actual view was provided. The owner respond to my question with," Well, that question is subjective".

Either you have a mountain view or you don't.

Another cabin owner, after I had left a voicemail, chose to return my call from their boat while they were water skiing. Couldn't hear a freakin' thing she was saying.

As a business owner, I feel as though I'm required to return calls even when I'm too busy to handle any additional clientele. And yes, people low ball my required fees all the time. I politely refuse the business. Business owners that don't answer the phone usually suffer for it later. I know I wouldn't be calling them back.

Oneonta, Alabama
Level Contributor
942 posts
3 reviews
9. Re: Renting VRBO...

dawg- Your post brings up a good question. When you ask about a mountain view, what is your idea of a mountain view? I never know as an owner if the guest's idea of a mountain view is a cabin sitting up high on a mountain or high elevation looking down on other things or whether you can see the surrounding mountains from the cabin. What do you think most people are asking when asking that? It would be helpful to me to know what the general consensus is for that question. I would think there would be many different opinions about the words "mountain view" and that is probably why the owner said it is subjective. I tend to say that when questioned about the steepness of the roads, how private the cabin is, etc.

Also, as an owner with 2 listings on VRBO, I try to answer all inquiries within a few hours of receiving them. Work sometimes interferes with that, as does my personal life, but I try to be timely and respond to all inquiries- even when I am booked.

I have to admit that low ball offers sometimes get to me- especially ones offering $50 or $60 per night to rent my cabins, but I try to always answer those inquiries spending just as much time with my response.

I do think many people would be shocked at many of the inquiries owners receive when it comes to what people are wanting to pay and the reasons they feel I should be willing to rent at the proposed rate as well as how many people give "hard luck" stories in order to get a better price. I don't mean to offend anyone with that comment, but, personally, I would never email someone asking for a deep discount due to personal situations in my life. For example, I couldn't tell you how many times someone will email and say they have lost their job and need a really cheap vacation and want me to discount my rates by 40% due to them having lost their jobs. The list goes on and on.

Don't get me wrong, I like a bargain, just like everyone else, and I routinely ask someone if their price is the best price or if there are any specials or deals, but I try not to be a consumer who expects someone to sell me something without them making a profit. I want a fair price and I try to give the same thing to people who inquire about our cabins. I don't t think owners are offended when someone asks for the best rate or deal, but I do think it gets old when people offer prices that are lower than what a cheap hotel in the area would rent for.

Owners often get someone who wants us to price match another cabin, but they want to rent our cabin because it has a better view or better amenities, etc. Those things are what make the prices higher, so we appreciate people who compare apples to apples and see what each property has to offer.

I would also say that from my experience, most people looking on VRBO get overwhelmed by so many choices and end up emailing a large group of owners and don't have time to read all the details of each listing, nor can they remember all the details, so I do my best to "sell" my cabins when I respond to an email and point out what makes my properties worth a second look.

I would guess that most readers on this board are travelers and they probably don't agree with my views as an owner and will be appalled about my comments about lowball offers, but I do like for others to see things from the perspective of the owner since I think it helps everyone involved to see both sides. I think most people who have ever sold a service or product can relate to people who want a better deal than you are willing to offer.

That being said, I will also add that we have been renting by owner since 2006 and I enjoy interacting with the people who email and call about our cabins. We have great people who contact us who just want a great vacation at a reasonable price and we are able to reach an agreement and provide that. That is what it is all about.

Level Contributor
118 posts
70 reviews
10. Re: Renting VRBO...

Dodgeball, you sound like the very type of owner I'd want to rent from! I feel most renters expect a mountain view to be any view of the mountain tops, from above or below, where you can see the sky above them (where the trees and other cabins are not blocking your view of the Smokies). If I have ever requested an additional pic, it has always been in the case where a mountain view is advertised, yet there is no photo to show this off. For some, a wood view is great, too, especially if you are looking for privacy when using your hot tub. I'd like to see what the cabin looks like, inside and out, plus what I'll be looking at when I look out my windows or am standing on the deck/porch. Thanks for asking for the input of your potential renters.