How to Avoid Hidden Booking Fees that Big Box Sites Charge
For the past several years I have used VRBO/Homeaway as an advertising venue for the rental of my vacation home property. Last year VRBO/Homeaway was purchased by Expedia and immediately began changing their business model. The first thing was to add a “Service Fee” of 7-13% to all property rates all of which is paid by you the renter to them, VRBO/Homeaway. There has been no explanation for this "Service Fee" and, honestly, I see no benefit to you for that fee.
VRBO/Homeaway's new business approach under Expedia's business model has taken total control of the rental transaction, communication, etc. removing the “personal touch” of booking directly through the property owner.
Additionally, you no longer have the option to contact property ownders directly (phone/personal email) to answer any questions about the vacation home. Thus, VRBO/Homeaway is no longer an advertising medium for property owners or a facilitator between property owners and renters, rather it's a transation based booking site.
I take great pride in my property and you'll see this when you enter the door of my home. I am very careful who shares my home - after all I have a significant investment in my home. VRBO/Homeaway's approach of removing my ability to talk to guests prior to renting my home is disappointing and is a disservice the both you (the guest) and me (the property owner). After all, you should have high expectations for the home you will be living in for a month or two or three.
I have discontinued my listing from VRBO/Homeaway, and returned to a business model which allows open communication between guests and owners, and more importantly allows guests to avoid booking fees! I am excited to announce, my “booking fee free” website which is where you are if you're reading this blog www.snowbirdsnest.com You'll find everything you need to make a preliminary decision as to whether my home has your interest. I encourage open dialogue and frankly, I want us to talk before you make a commitment to rent my home. So, browse around my website and if you have any questions, please do call me at (614) 397-2100 anytime or send me an inquiry via the contact us tab.
Many vacation home property owners are doing the same as me - they have adopted their own website for their property. Here are three ways to save money by booking direct:
1) Perform a Google search for the location you're seeking and include the words "vacation home" or "vacation rental" in the key word search;
2) Search of Facebook for the name and location to see if some of your favorite destinations have a website or a Facebook page;
3) Search VRBO/Homeaway first and identify the property names, then search Google for the property name. Odds are high those properties have their own website and you can book direct.
As always, I welcome comments and participation in my blogs. Don't hesitate to add your comments or perspectives.