How to find your next Vacation Rental Home
The big vacation rental home "listing sites" are no more. They are all converting to "booking sites", à la AirBnB, since there's more money in it for them, although they take no responsibility associated with owning and maintaining the properties or assisting the travelers with the property. That onus falls on the property owner...as it always has.
The net impact to travelers is that they pay more for exactly the same services they received before from these online booking agencies. Expedia-owned sites like HomeAway and VRBO are now tacking on a 6%-15% service fee to all traveler invoices which is then directed to Expedia's coffers. Keep in mind that homeowners paid to advertise on HomeAway/VRBO to avoid their guests being inundated by fees. Homeowners were extremely surprised when Expedia started charging our guests these fees with no warning.
The impact of the changes to a booking site from a listing site on the homeowner is lost management of their receipts from the guests and reduced communication with the traveller. This summer, Expedia will restrict name, email and phone number sharing between homeowner and prospective guest until after the reservation is made and they've received their booking fee from the traveller. This means that neither party has an opportunity to vet the other party making sure there's a good fit. Should it be a bad fit, it's too late. Expedia has already collected the traveller's booking fee.
As an experienced vacation rental owner, I don't need a big corporation that knows nothing about my homes telling me how to communicate, hold funds owed me or communicate automated messages to my guests as if they were from me. And since I will not allow this interference, I no longer do business with Expedia (HomeAway). i.e. You won't find my rental homes on these sites that charge guests fees.
In the last year and half since these changes started, I've met other like-minded homeowners. I've learned a lot from this group. Not only are they talented in running their vacation rental home businesses, but they bring lots of other skills to our knowledge sharing forums.
A wonderful result of this group is the creation of several new regional listing sites for vacation rentals where the owners of the sites are also homeowners in that region -- all locally owned and operated. These sites are LISTING sites. Yes, the homeowners pay a small fee to offset the costs of owning and managing these sites, but guests aren't paying anything other than fees due the homeowner they rent from. Think of it as classified advertising that you, the traveller, can peruse looking for the home that meets your vacation needs and it's not going to cost you anything to book through this listing site.
On top of this, a "table of contents" directory to find these other sites was also created - vacationrentalbyowner.net. Some other regional sites already existed, including VermontProperty.com, where I now advertise. They may not have exactly the same look and feel, but are the best options for travellers to find that perfect vacation rental home without paying a booking site additional fees over and above the rental fee and taxes. This other link to find listing sites that don't charge traveller's booking fees is https://www.ownerreservations.com/support/articles/regional-listing-sites.
If you find that staying in a home meets your vacation style, you'll want to bookmark these sites for future reference and keep away from the Booking sites that charge your credit card a booking fee before you even know who you're reserving with!
Save the booking fee and use that money to rent a boat or take the family out to dinner when on vacation instead!