Why are Canadians Outraged Over HomeAway’s Changes to VRBO?
There has been a gradual spiral of disfunction at play between HomeAway/VRBO and its Canadian customers.
The irony is; it’s a simple fix. But for some reason, the powers to be have opted to dismiss Canadian concerns.
Currency conversion. In other words, Canadian travellers searching for Canadian properties are being quoted in US dollars if they land on VRBO.com, a popular website amongst Canadians.
Maybe nothing more than a coincidence, but the timing of the change does appear to coincide with Expedia’s purchase of HomeAway, which in turn owns VRBO. VRBO has been a strong vacation rental brand in Canada. What’s more, as a one-stop global platform, it came with superb multi-currency functionality. Once upon a time.
Jane the traveller from Toronto is searching for a vacation home in Victoria BC. Jane is on a Canadian computer with a Canadian IP address. Since HomeAway and its many web properties including vrbo.com are being aggressively marketed in Canada, and the fact that VRBO.com is usually top of the search results anyway, Jane will inevitably end up at either vrbo.com or homeaway.com.
On the other side of the equation, we have John, a long standing VRBO customer who owns a luxury ocean view vacation rental in Victoria BC. John charges $500 a day. But guess what? When Jane lands on his property listing, she is quoted $353.87 after clicking ‘view details’. No reference to currency. Meanwhile, Jane, quite happy with such a reasonable rate, continues on to the booking process. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, the price jumps by more than 30% when John sends a final quote and request for payment.
Two things happen; either Jane alerts John of the discrepancy and requests a discount for the error she assumes he has made. Or, Jane simply moves on leaving John none the wiser.
So what is VRBO’s response to the upset Canadians that have taken the time to provide feedback? Here are just a few samples:
“In an effort to streamline the booking process we have recently changed how currency is displayed on VRBO. Because the overwhelming majority of travelers reside in North American, and the United States in particular, rates are listed in USD.”
“Currency displayed is based on what website you are looking at. vrbo.com, homeaway.com and any other .com website will display US currency, while homeaway.ca will display Canadian currency.”
And to think how easy it is to fix this issue.
At the very least, they could stop their Google advertising campaign steering Canadians to homeaway.com and VRBO.com. Why not advertise their Canadian website, homeaway.ca? Or, simply redirect Canadian IP users to HomeAway.Ca. Or, best of all, bring back the original VRBO.com functionality.
If you have experienced these frustrations please contact VRBO/HomeAway. Best way is through their Feedback area, or simply give them a call 1-877-202-4291.