Booking Vacation Rentals
Booking Vacation Rentals is Changing
Vacation accommodations in homeowners' condos, houses, lodges, and BnB's are really popular as opposed to staying in motel rooms. Travelers have many choices in how they book these vacation rentals from owners. And those choices are changing - could be for the better, or not.
Commercial Booking Sites Getting More Expensive
Over the last 8 years that I have been renting my timeshare weeks and my beachfront condo to guests, I have seen big changes. The big listing websites like VRBO , Homeaway, and AirBnB have gotten more and more expensive. Not only have they increased expenses to the owners, but they have added "Service Fees" and "Booking Fees" for travelers starting at 12%
A typical vacationer staying at my condo for 4 nights, pays about $95 in service fees to VRBO. I am familiar with a vacation villa owner in Kissimmee, Florida (home to all things Disney), who has rented her villa for over 125 weeks in the last 3-4 years. If she had listed her villa with AirBnb, it would have cost her $3700, and cost her guests over $15,000 collectively. Of course, owner's costs are figured into the rental rates, so guests end up paying higher rental prices as well.
Saving Money with Renting from Owners Directly
Many travelers who book their stays on the big listing websites are not aware that they are not booking directly with owners or that they can by-pass those third-party sites and book directly.
Increasingly, vacation home owners are offering their vacation homes up for rent directly. They likely started with one or more of the listing sites, then developed their own professional websites.
The listing websites control all the processes and dictate rules to owners. On VRBO, I can't even email someone who wants more information about my vacation condo, unless they actually book, then I have access to their email.
Owners and travelers alike benefit from the flexibility of communicating directly with each other.
- It is really easy to adjust the travel dates with the owner, but a whole lot of headache to adjust it on the listing sites. Plus the traveler and owner get penalized for cancelling.
- With direct booking, arrangements can be make for early check-in or late check-out and special requests.
- Travelers have the opportunity to ask questions about the property, the amenities, location, parking, etc before making any obligations when communicating directly with the owner.
- Repeat guests enjoy discounts and special offers
Owners are a Free Destination Guide
Where are the best places to eat? Are there any walking/bike paths or golf courses nearby? What events are going on in the area? Can I walk to the grocery store? What is there to see and do?
Owners know their vacation destinations. They and their guests have been enjoying the area for years and have lots of great recommendations. I really enjoy sharing and hearing about all the fun to be had in New Smyrna Beach.
How Can I Find an Owner-Direct Property?
Looking for vacation accommodations in a particular area and want to check out the local vacation rentals by owners there? Here are some ideas:
- Check out websites such as Vacation Soup. You can browse by location or desired activities, then contact the owners directly. This is also a wonderful site to explore all kinds of vacation ideas.
- Use a commercial listing site to locate a property you like. Then copy and paste the Property Name into a Google or Facebook search.
- Google search the area for vacation rentals. The owner direct homes will be on pages 2 and 3 and 4 and on, because the power of Google belongs to the big listing sites
- Search Facebook for the name of the property you like
- Search #bookdirect in Facebook