VRBO Calendar / Homeaway Calendar Nasty Unethical Practices

The VRBO calendar widget is code that can be dropped into your website to display the availabilty of your vacation rental property. I’ve used it for years all the way back to before VRBO bought it from the original owner. If my mind serves me correctly the calendar used to belong to Rentors.org. Lately I’ve been noticing the VRBO calender / Homeaway calendar failing to display availability dates for my properties. Instead of showing my availability the VRBO calendar widget looks like a login portal to VRBO’s website:

VRBO Calendar / Homeaway Calendar that is supposed to show availability

VRBO Calendar / Homeaway Calendar that is supposed to show availability

As you can see instead of showing my availability the calendar is being used to steal traffic from my website and send it to VRBO. In the picture above there is a link to vrbo’s website, a login form to vrbo’s website, a facebook login link to vrbo’s website, and a link to created an account on vrbo! All of these links drive traffic off of my website and to vrbo’s website.

If you are a vacation rental website owner and use the vrbo availability calendar on your site then VRBO is probably stealing your traffic as well. Here’s what you can do to stop VRBO from stealing your traffic:

  1. Stop using VRBO’s calendar on your website. Instead, use other iCal compatible calendars that will update VRBO’s calendar instead of VRBO’s calendar being in control. Please note that Google iCal calendar will not update VRBO’s calendar because VRBO has blocked Google’s calendar. (Imagine that. VRBO blocks calendars that theaten their calendar’s existence.) Here are some iCal compabitle Calendars that you can use on your site:
    traditional website compatible wordpress compatible free? processes bookings processes payments
    AvailabilityCalendar.com
    VR Calendar Sync ✔✘

    If you know of other iCal Calendars that need to be in this list please let me know about them in the comments below!

  2. Conditionally Rasterize the link to the VRBO Calendar widget. This option is a little bit technical, but if you have a grasp of php programming then this might be the option for you. The direct link to VRBO’s calendar widget is

    VRBO calendar widget link

    , where “XXXXXX” is your VRBO property id number. Next, download a program called PhantomJS. Use “rasterize.js” (a component in the PhantomJS suite) in conjuction with php to access the VRBO calendar widget. This will make an image of the widget and disable VRBO’s ability to put links on your website. To make sure that VRBO doesn’t try to serve up something that looks like the sneaky, backlink-infested account login image above, fetch the VRBO widge URL conditionally like this:

    conditionally rasterize vrbo calendar

    What’s cool about rasterizing the URL is that it allows you to display your availability on sites that disallow the VRBO widget, like eBay and Craigslist. Conditionally rasterizing the VRBO calendar stops VRBO from inserting unwanted links to themselves on your website. Using the conditional php statement above assures that the URL is fetched only when the calendar is being displayed, not when VRBO is stealing your traffic with their login form.

I hope that you enjoyed this article, and if you are from VRBO and reading this, why won’t you make your company be like it was back in 2014 and earlier? Why don’t you stop pestering owners with your draconian policies? Please stop making the vacation rental industry the mess that you are making it. VRBO is a LEAD GENERATION SERVICE. VRBO is not a marketplace, and VRBO certainly shouldn’t be handling people’s money and processing payments. Your site is too insecure for that! Please, go back to the way you were and stop all this nonsense that you have been embarking upon for the past 4 years.

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