Summer is approaching, and families are beginning their search for the perfect vacation rental at the beach, mountains or other attraction. There are so many choices in vacation rentals today, not only in the rental unit itself but in the way people can learn about, reserve and pay for these units. Here are some ups and downs of each option.
Renting from the resort itself: Many resorts, especially those that specialize in condominium accommodations, have their own rental desk in which they operate like a hotel and take reservations for nearly any length of time. This is an easy way to secure a rental, and you can pay with a credit card. However, there are some drawbacks. First, you will be paying top dollar when you go through the resort. And second, the resort will put you in whatever rental unit they have available at the time, regardless of its décor or condition. Most likely, they will have a photo of a “representative sample” of your accommodations, and you’ll read in the fine print that “each unit is individually owned, and the resort has no control over how the unit is decorated and equipped.”
Vacation rentals by owner, advertised on the Internet: This is the newest way that people can find vacation rentals, even though these sites have been available for well over a decade now. A vacation shopper can find many sites where individual people can advertise their rental property, and some allow online reservations and payments. One of the most popular and established vacation rental by owner sites is www.vrbo.com; a shopper can find a selection of luxury homes, condos and villas to fit nearly any budget. Some websites cater to a particular population, such as www.americansnowbird.com, which features properties that appeal to northerners seeking to escape the ice and snow in the winter. Shoppers who choose to rent directly from an owner can often get a much better rate than from booking with a real estate company or directly with a resort; on the downside, it can be tedious to reserve and pay, and shoppers can be wondering if there’s a real person behind that flashy advertisement.
Real estate companies: This used to be the only way to book a vacation rental house, and these companies continue to comprise the largest portion of the vacation rental market share. Real estate companies are easily found through a simple Internet search, and many of them allow shoppers to book their rental units online. While real estate companies usually charge higher fees than individual owners, a renter may have more confidence in booking with and paying an established company rather than an individual person. These companies are a good option for people who are not Internet savvy; it is often more comfortable for some people to thumb through the pages of a rental company’s catalog, pick up the phone and talk to an agent, and exchange checks and contracts in the mail.
Word of mouth: Hey, you can simply ask your friends if they know of anyone who has a vacation rental in your chosen location. Put the word out on Facebook or Twitter; you’re likely to get several responses. While this method may introduce you to a new friend with a great vacation spot, it can also be very time consuming since you’ll only be looking at one property at a time.
If you choose to book with an individual property owner who you’ve found on the Internet, there are many precautions you should take and many questions to ask. I’ll cover these in another article. Meanwhile, start looking forward to a great summer vacation.