In Part 1 of our series on the new HomeAway Secure Messaging Platform we reviewed what data and formatting can be sent to a guest who inquiries through HomeAway. In a nutshell, ONLY plain text will be allowed.
Many Lodgix subscribers have customized HTML response templates that are used to respond to HomeAway inquiries. On Wednesday, August 2nd those templates will no longer be used. Instead a standard text template that we provide will be used. The default text can, and should, be edited. Only merge tags that do not contain HTML will be available within the text template.
- Click on the Text tab to edit the contents of all emails sent using text only. This is only required for HomeAway. Responses to inquiries from other sources will continue to be sent using full HTML.
- In the standard text response for available properties, the HomeAway or VRBO is used to drive the guest back to the listing.
- Make sure to SAVE your changes.
How Do I Edit the Text Responses for HomeAway?
Open the Email Templates page at settings > templates > email
Within that list look for all templates that are assigned to the inquiries component:
The templates highlighted in yellow below are the most important:
It is important that you visit the inquiry settings area of lodgix here:
- if autoresponders are turned on or off for your account.
- and if autoresponders are on, then note which templates you have set to make sure those templates are edited.
If nothing is done, and if you are using a custom template, Lodgix will continue to respond with the full HTML in your template to HomeAway inquiries. In that event, HomeAway will strip all HTML elements until the response meets their guidelines. Those responses will appear somewhat broken to the guest as much of the referenced content will be blank, as it will have been stripped by HomeAway’s filters.
HomeAway recently announced that they will be moving to a secure messaging platform. This is not a Lodgix initiative, we can only code our platform to make the changeover as seamless as possible for our users. I do feel bad however for those who use HomeAway as the primary source of their bookings, as the whole platform has become must more restrictive and expensive over the years. Hopefully more and more of you will take up the challenge to become less dependent on listing sites. Having too much, if any, reliance on any listing site is a recipe for failure.
Summary of Changes
Initially the HomeAway Secure Messaging Platform will affect inquiry responses only.
- HomeAway provides guest email address in the inquiry feed.
- HomeAway allows HTML in the inquiry response.
- HomeAway allows URLs to 3rd party sites in the inquiry response.
- HomeAway allows property manager contact information in the inquiry response.
- HomeAway allows attachments in the inquiry response.
After (on or soon after August 7th, 2017):
- HomeAway will no longer provide guest email address, instead they will assign a temporary pass through email in the form of firstname.lastname@example.org
- HomeAway will NOT allow HTML in the inquiry response. Text responses ONLY.
- HomeAway will NOT allow any links to any websites except their own website in the inquiry response.
- HomeAeay will NOT allow a property manager to include their phone, email, or website address in the inquiry response.
- HomeAway will NOT allow attachments in the inquiry response.
Line breaks are supported so that HomeAway can format a response – Tables and other formatting (bold, italics, etc) are not supported.
Recommendations from HomeAway for Property Managers:
- Create a text-only response template for HomeAway inquiries
- Populate the text-only template
- Update automatic responses to remove urls, email addresses and phone numbers
- Remove embedded images, including logos
- Update verbiage that directs travelers back to website and/or special offers
- Remove attachments
- Perform a test inquiry to view inquiries and responses
Impact on Lodgix Subscribers:
- Ability to quote within an inquiry response will be very limited as none of the pretty HTML tables we supply can be used.
- No logos, no graphics, no images will be allowed.
- Potential guests can only book at HomeAway.
- No more automated ability to sell other inventory when the inquiry is for a property that is not available.
- No more deep links into your website to provide more information or reference a FAQ.
- No more use of the email signature in your inquiry response.
- No more no response followups to HomeAway inquiries.
I’d like to say there are some positives as a result of this change, but it’s only purpose is to drive ALL bookings through HomeAway to assure that HomeAway gets their service fee. They believe they are becoming a booking platform and are no longer a lead generation platform. On our end, it takes a simple process and makes it complex while limiting your access to data which is rightfully yours.
In our next installment, part two, we will outline the changes that will launch on Lodgix on Wednesday August 2nd to support HomeAway Secure Messaging.