Recently, I posted about how I believed VRBO’s online reviews were worthless in that they allowed landlords to manipulate renter feedback. My article was picked up and expanded upon in a column by Maureen Farrell in Forbes.
There were literally hundreds and hundreds of link backs, retweets and comments regarding my blog. What came to light was that I was not alone. There were many people who shared similar stories about dissatisfaction about the transparency of the reviews. I found interesting that many landlords commented saying they agreed with my assessment of the problem. (Reason: Quality landlords want quality reviews).
Today, I was sent an email today from a friend informing me that VRBO / Home Away is changing its review policies. From a VRBO / Yahoo Group forum:
“After considerable thought, we changed our policy in December 2010. We no longer offer members the option to “opt out” and there is no longer an “opt out” button on your administration page. New members can no longer choose to opt out of the Reviews system either. We understand that some of our members have their own view as to the value of Reviews. We realize that this decision, which will be announced within the coming weeks, may disappoint some of our members. While we can no longer opt your listing out of the Reviews system, we will do what we can to satisfy you.”
(After this statement, there was a fair amount of chatter from landlords threatening to take down their listings, just proving the point that the ability to hide from transparent feedback was indeed a selling point).
I declare victory.
I tried my best to get VRBO to pay attention to the issue, but the best that I got directly from them was a Twitter mention telling me that if I had issues with their reviews, to check out their FAQ page. (er… Thanks)
But clearly they heard me and more importantly YOU – the folks who took the time to read, share and comment on the earlier post. A special thanks go out to Maureen Farrell and Erika Napoletano who helped amplify my original message.
Congrats everyone. Social media works. Sometimes the little guy can influence policy at a large company. Thank you.