One in three US vacationers are choosing vacation rentals over hotels for their leisure travel, up from one in ten just five years ago, according to a recent study released by travel research authority Phocuswright. However, while increasing numbers of travelers are choosing vacation homes, shopping for a vacation rental isn’t easy. Unlike hotels, each vacation home is different. As a result, vacationers can spend an enormous amount of time and energy sifting through all the different options for the perfect rental.
Airbnb and Expedia-owned VRBO.com advertise extensively to vacation rental shoppers, but savvy long-term vacation rental consumers know that, while it is great to look for rentals on these sites, it is not always the best idea to book using them.
Here are 3 reasons not to use Airbnb and VRBO.com to book a vacation rental:
1. Consumers pay additional fees to book on Airbnb and VRBO.com
Airbnb and VRBO.com both earn a large portion of their revenue from service fees or traveler fees that are paid by you, the consumer.
Airbnb, for example, charges an additional 6–12 percent of the cost of the rental. On VRBO.com, that same fee can be even higher. According to VRBO.com, “The service fee is between 5–12 percent for most bookings but can be above or below, based on the reservation.”
2. The best vacation homes aren’t on Airbnb and VRBO
In a world where marketplaces such as Expedia, Priceline, and Airbnb reign supreme in the eyes of travelers, it is easy to assume that all the vacation rentals available can be found on these major marketplace websites. However, this assumption is not true. In fact, at most traditional vacation destinations such as North Carolina’s beaches, Cape Cod, Destin, Myrtle Beach, Key West, the Gulf Coast, and in major ski destinations, less than half of the available vacation rentals are listed on these major websites.
Vacation rentals do not have to be listed on major marketplace websites. The most desirable homes, cabins, chalets, and condos book easily, so the property managers and homeowners do not need to incur the high expense of listing these vacation rentals on channels such as Airbnb and VRBO.com.
3. Booking directly with the property manager or homeowner has additional benefits
Consumers who book directly with the property manager or homeowner are likely to receive additional benefits including special rates, onsite services, and increased customer support. When you contact the property management company or owner directly, they have intimate knowledge about the destination and can show you the best rental for your needs. Plus, they can direct you to activities, restaurants, and area service providers. During non-peak travel times, they often have special offers available.
In addition, professional vacation rental management companies have other benefits you can take advantage of, such as grocery delivery, beach or ski equipment rentals, and event passes.
When shopping for a vacation rental online, here are some tips to locating the home’s original property manager or homeowner:
- Look at the photos and description for clues that mention the name of the property management company or the homeowner.
- Copy and paste the description of the property into your search engine to see other sites where the home is listed. Often the property you are interested in is also publicized by its property management company or homeowner directly.
- Conduct a Google image search with the photos of the home as another method of locating the primary source of the rental.
Although large travel websites can provide lots of information, you can save hundreds of dollars and ensure a better vacation experience with just a little extra investigative work.