Owner's Direct new website bad news

Share experience regarding ownership of property and/or living in Portugal.

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Alison
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Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by Alison » Sat Nov 14, 2015 4:58 pm

When rental enquiries through the cvo.com site seemed to be drying up at the beginning of 2014 we started using Owners Direct, with much success. In 2014 and 2015 most of our bookings came through Owners Direct. However, Owners Direct have recently joined up with the Holiday Lettings company and now use the latter company's (hopeless) website system. In future it looks as though they are going to try and prevent direct payment between owner and guest, forcing all transactions to go through a system whereby owners don't get paid until the guest has arrived in the property. The latest 'innovation' is their 'Hospitality Management' system which invites owners to put the key safe codes and joining instructions for their guest on the OD website (supposedly protected by their security systems)! I don't think so!

There has been a lot of negative feedback about their new website, see https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.ownersdirect.co.uk and I agree with virtually everything that has been said there. All a bit worrying and it seems our only hope is that someone sets up a rival to Owners Direct that goes back to the previous, popular system.

Poster Benny's solution (from the trust pilot link above) seems to be worth pursuing: he suggests adding text that advises enquirers to look up the property on, e.g., the www.carvoeiro.com website in order to make direct contact with the owner (you cannot have a direct link to another website). For those owners, like us, who don't have a separate website for our property, this would seem to be worth a try.

Look forward to hearing other owners' experiences.

widge
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by widge » Sat Nov 14, 2015 5:59 pm

Interested to learn that bookings via this site diminished, do you think the site gets fewer hits these days?

As for Owner's Direct, they may be trying to respond to the increasing fraud regularly reported by disgruntled renters who lose their money and their holiday. The extract from "This is Money" describes the problems encountered by some.......

There are two main ways in which holidaymakers are currently being targeted by scammers via Owners Direct, which puts homeowners that want to rent out their property in touch with holidaymakers.
Either victims are being conned with fake property listings on the site, or, as in Charlotte's case, a legitimate property listing is hijacked and emails intercepted. Either way, victims are being conned out of thousands of pounds with no hope of a refund, and are often left with nowhere to stay.
On some occasions victims say they have even called and spoken to fraudsters posing as property owners over the phone to confirm the rental was legitimate.
Victims claim Owners Direct has a responsibility to make the booking process more secure in a bid to guard against fraud.
But Owners Direct has pointed out that the majority of its users do not experience problems with fraudsters.
Those looking for a rental contact the property owner directly via an email enquiry form provided by the website. Payment is then arranged between the owner and traveller independently of Owners Direct. The website has told This is Money it also encourages its users to speak to the owner using the phone number provided on the listing.
The site takes a subscription fee from property owners that use Owners Direct. The website states in its terms and conditions explain that Owners Direct it is not responsible for the rental agreement and any payments made between owners and travellers.

Alison
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by Alison » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:48 pm

I know there have been a few well publicised incidences of holiday makers being scammed, emails hacked etc but this is happening in all walks of life, not just with booking holidays. Inevitably we don't hear about all the holidays that happen without any problems. Owners Direct's assertion that the majority of its users do not experience any problems is probably correct.

Unfortunately, some holidaymakers have been too trusting/casual about verifying who they are dealing with. I would never rely on a conversation with someone on a mobile phone, for example, unless I had already checked out their address, other details to reassure myself that they were who they said they were.

My cynical view is that Owners Direct are just hiding behind a professed concern for guest and owner security in order to effectively line their pockets by changing the payment mechanism to one where they hold onto guests' money for much longer than when guests paid the owner directly. In some cases this will mean that OD earns interest on guest deposits for anything up to 1 year and payment balances for several months - all of which adds up to lots of money for the company. Owners Direct will no longer mean what it says on the tin.

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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by cereza » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:24 pm

Is Owners Direct still part of the HomeAway group ? If so don't they have the same terms ?

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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by e-richard » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:45 pm

Yes, Owners Direct is 100% owned by HomeAway, who have just announced that they are to be acquired by Expedia.

In order to attract Expedia, HomeAway recently expunged the independence hitherto enjoyed by Owners Direct despite being acquired by HomeAway some 7-8 years ago. Part of this total change was to absorb the entire OD business into the HomeAway web platform, business model, and customer relations standards.

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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by lucylu » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:18 am

Are there any other good sites to advertise holiday rentals on.I am gong to advertise on this site but would like to know of other sites

widge
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by widge » Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:06 am

Alison wrote:My cynical view is that Owners Direct are just hiding behind a professed concern for guest and owner security in order to effectively line their pockets by changing the payment mechanism to one where they hold onto guests' money for much longer than when guests paid the owner directly. In some cases this will mean that OD earns interest on guest deposits for anything up to 1 year and payment balances for several months - all of which adds up to lots of money for the company. Owners Direct will no longer mean what it says on the tin.
I'm sure that's correct Alison. This is in line with rental agencies such as the one I use & in recent years they have moved completely to internet bookings only rather than posting colour brochures, mailshots & telesales. I don't think that they've reduced their commission (to reflect this apparent cost saving) which is significantly higher than OD.
It would appear that the DIY & Agency distribution channels are coming much closer together endeavouring to combine the best commercial terms for themselves.
For what it's worth interest on deposits is probably worth 1.5% per annum before tax - hardly racketeering !

Alison
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by Alison » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:55 pm

Not sure what constitutes 'racketeering' but interest on rental deposits and balances over a year for 70,000 properties (according to their own figures) amounts to quite a lot!

Can't remember who your rental agency is - James Villas?

widge
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by widge » Thu Nov 26, 2015 5:50 pm

Wow 70,000 eh ? However you only sacrifice the deposits on one, which as I said is 1.5% at best before tax.

I'm not with James Villas I'm with Affinity. Not perfect but one of only 120 properties rather than 70,000. They charge & retain the deposit, security deposit, take early payment and only pay me the money (less their commission) at the end of the month the guest actually stayed in the villa.

Cashflow isn't crucial to me, occupancy & yield are, plus I don't want any "difficult" guests. 11 years on so far so good !

Alison
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by Alison » Thu Nov 26, 2015 7:54 pm

Affinity looks interesting since they only deal with Portugal whereas Owners Direct is worldwide - no idea how many villas OD have in the Algarve. What commission do Affinity charge? I assume it is at least 25%? Do they also have an annual charge for being on their website?

It isn't the deposit/balance cash that bugs me about Owners Direct, it is their whole approach in being determined to control all contact between owner and guest and their 'one size fits all' approach. Being now retired (!) I have plenty of time to deal with guest enquiries myself and in fact enjoy the personal touch that this allows, something that guests also seem to appreciate.

It does seem that holiday makers have been going down the do-it-yourself route more recently rather than through specialist tour operators which is another reason why we started using Owners Direct but maybe the pendulum will swing back again - we'll see.

I know it is tempting fate to say this but......We have had no 'difficult' guests in all our time renting - touch wood!

widge
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by widge » Fri Nov 27, 2015 4:50 am

Commission rates vary but 25% is probably there or there abouts.

They agree with you a weekly guaranteed rental rate which you receive, they advertise at a price above this to include their commission. If they decide to discount this rate you still get your guaranteed rate (unless it's within 28 days of holiday start date when they can discount your guaranteed rate by 20%).

Providing your guaranteed rate is the same or better than you can get on OD you're no worse off.

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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by LICY » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:04 pm

We have used holiday Lettings which now goes through to trip advisor since we began letting. Overall good site but not perfect. The money you charge is the money you get excluding either an annual advert charge or a fee for each booking - you choose.

We did approach Affinity but the person that visited admitted they didn't deal with 2 bedroom villas (sleeps 6). Her sales pitch was not impressive as I didn't feel she knew the area. We only thought of using them in addition and probably not solely. I know it's works well for Widge even at the high fee as it has taken away the work involved of dealing with enquiries and bookings as well as in very rare cases suddenly not being able to rent your own property, Affinity could transfer to another.

Strangely hubby did sign up recently to Owners Direct but funnily did not complete the process.

Alison
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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by Alison » Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:28 pm

Update on this topic: things just go from bad to worse. In June this yr Owners Direct introduced a 'service charge' (of around 9%) which all guests (not owners) have to pay to OD on top of the rental charged by the owner - so they want their cake (the annual listing fee of £249 paid by the owner) and they want to eat it (by charging a commission payable by the guests as well). As anticipated, they are now trying to force owners to take all bookings and payments through their site rather than any dealings directly with the guest. If you don't operate as they want then they suspend your listing or ensure that your property disappears off the radar in their search engine by prioritising all the properties that have conformed to their system over yours, even if these latter properties are miles away from where the guest wants to stay, don't match the requested number of bedrooms etc..... All this in the name of providing a better service to their customers!

Up to now we have given our guests a choice: they can book and pay through the OD system and pay the service charge which is supposed to give them some sort of guarantee against problems with the booking, or they can deal directly with us and avoid the 'service charge' - the choice has been theirs. So far they have all chosen to deal directly with us. As a result, OD have now temporarily suspended our listing for 'violating' their Marketing Standards - i.e., bully boy tactics to force us to give in to their new operating model. My email replying to their notification of this suspension got an automated no-reply message advising me to register my feedback/suggestions on a HomeAway link - a link which didn't work! Says it all really!

I am sure other websites will be benefiting from the widespread dissatisfaction from owners using OD - they have wrecked what used to be a good system. A relatively new site Simplyowners.net have set up in direct response to this OD fiasco and will soon be offering European properties as well as their current 3,000 UK ones so I'm keeping an eye on this plus also looking at other options previously mentioned in this trail.

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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by Raithstar » Thu Nov 17, 2016 6:27 pm

Alison wrote:Update on this topic: things just go from bad to worse. In June this yr Owners Direct introduced a 'service charge' (of around 9%) which all guests (not owners) have to pay to OD on top of the rental charged by the owner - so they want their cake (the annual listing fee of £249 paid by the owner) and they want to eat it (by charging a commission payable by the guests as well). As anticipated, they are now trying to force owners to take all bookings and payments through their site rather than any dealings directly with the guest. If you don't operate as they want then they suspend your listing or ensure that your property disappears off the radar in their search engine by prioritising all the properties that have conformed to their system over yours, even if these latter properties are miles away from where the guest wants to stay, don't match the requested number of bedrooms etc..... All this in the name of providing a better service to their customers!

Up to now we have given our guests a choice: they can book and pay through the OD system and pay the service charge which is supposed to give them some sort of guarantee against problems with the booking, or they can deal directly with us and avoid the 'service charge' - the choice has been theirs. So far they have all chosen to deal directly with us. As a result, OD have now temporarily suspended our listing for 'violating' their Marketing Standards - i.e., bully boy tactics to force us to give in to their new operating model. My email replying to their notification of this suspension got an automated no-reply message advising me to register my feedback/suggestions on a HomeAway link - a link which didn't work! Says it all really!

I am sure other websites will be benefiting from the widespread dissatisfaction from owners using OD - they have wrecked what used to be a good system. A relatively new site Simplyowners.net have set up in direct response to this OD fiasco and will soon be offering European properties as well as their current 3,000 UK ones so I'm keeping an eye on this plus also looking at other options previously mentioned in this trail.
Sounds like greed on their part , I have used OD before but usually deal direct now as I have built up a few contacts .

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Re: Owner's Direct new website bad news

Post by PTBUXTON » Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:49 pm

We finished with Owners Direct this October,the enquires just stopped coming in, we had been with them for 6 years, Holiday Lettings Monte Dourado and a few of our bookings have been ample.

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