Booking Fees – First of a Three-part Series
We at Abalone Bay want to explain about booking fees, to help you save money, and to instruct you on how to directly book vacation rentals safely whether you stay with us or others. We have prepared a three-part series on how to do all that. In our first blog post, we explain what are the booking fees for Abalone Bay and shed light on guest service fees.
Our second part of this story is how to book directly to save money on the guest service fees.
Our final post guides you to booking vacation rentals online securely.
What Are Abalone Bay’s Booking Fees?
Are there any other booking fees tacked on to the cost of booking Abalone Bay?
The answer to that question is:
Yes — there are added booking fees.
But, those fees are required by law.
And unlike the online booking and advertising sites such as VRBO or HomeAway, we are very up-front about those fees.
What Are the Required Booking Fees?
When you book your stay at Abalone Bay we charge a deposit equal to 50% of your stay.
Included in that deposit are the following required fees:
Sonoma County Transient Occupancy Tax
Abalone Bay’s Transient Occupancy Tax number is TOT ID# 1596.
Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), also commonly known as ‘bed tax’, is authorized under State Revenue and Taxation Code Section 7280, as an additional source of non-property tax revenue to local government. This tax is levied at a rate of 12% in Sonoma County.
Anyone who plans to operate a lodging facility (Hotel, Motel, Bed & Breakfast, Campground, Second Home, etc.) in the unincorporated area of Sonoma County is required to register with the Tax Collector’s office.
Transient Occupancy Tax must be charged and tracked separately from the stated room rate.
Sonoma County Business Improvement Assessment
In November 2004, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the establishment of a Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA) in various cities and in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Sea Ranch is one such unincorporated area.
The Treasurer-Tax Collector collects the BIA assessment from qualifying entities in the unincorporated areas of the County and also remittances from the member cities. These funds are designated specifically to market overnight stays in the Business Improvement Area.
For further information on the BIA, visit: http://www.sonomacounty.com/aboutsctp/index.html
Our Sonoma County Business Improvement Assessment amounts to 2% of your costs.
Sea Ranch Association Assessment
The Sea Ranch Association is the nonprofit membership corporation of the properties located in The Sea Ranch. The Association seeks to meet the increasing and highly sophisticated recreational demands of this unique region for the full enjoyment of its historical traditions and natural environment. In order to maintain The Sea Ranch’s common grounds, its recreational facilities, its extensive system of trails a Home Owners’ Association fee is collected.
Guest’s of our Abalone Bay home, as well as other vacation rentals, are also assessed use fees of 3.5%
You may read more about our Covenants and Conditions of home ownership here.
What are the Added Taxes?
Sonoma County adds 14% tax on the 3.5% Sea Ranch Home Owners Association Fee collected. Sonoma County Assessor and also taxes the cost of housekeeping.
What’s the Cost Breakdown of Booking Fees?
These taxable booking fees for Abalone Bay break down as follows:
- Base rent at $479 per night.
- 14 % Sonoma Taxes on the rent (12% TOT Tax and 2% BIA Tax)
- Sea Ranch Home Owners Association Fee is 3.5% of the base rent plus
- The Sea Ranch Fee is taxable by Sonoma County 14%
- Housekeeping is also taxable by Sonoma County
- There is no tax on deposit fees
Are There Any Other Booking Fees?
If you bring a dog there is a $50 pet fee per dog. We allow up to 2 dogs.
Our property management company offers the option of a Refundable Damage Deposit of $500 or the purchase of $3000 insurance for $69 at time of booking. This damage security deposit will be returned (less a $30 processing fee) following an inspection by Beach Rentals of the home after your departure.
Is That ALL of the Fees?
To answer that question depends on how you are booking.
If you book directly with us or our property manager, Beach Rentals, then the answer to that question is…
YES – there are no other booking fees when you book directly with us.
And this is a BIG BUT…
If you book your stay via an online booking or travel agency then you will likely find you have been hit with a costly guest services fee neatly tucked away in your cost break down.
Yes, this is hidden until AFTER you clicked on the Book Now or Request to Book buttons!
There’s Hidden Guest Services Fees Too?
And we are NOT happy about it any more than you are.
Guest Service Fees are another means for online booking and travel agencies (OTAs) to put more of YOUR money in their pockets.
HomeAway and it’s sister site, VRBO, are now charging a Traveler Service Fee, also known as a Guest Service Fee.
See their statement here:
So if you book our home or any other properties through their sites, you’ll be charged an additional fee.
This rolled out February 18, 2016, and comes on the heels of Expedia.com buying out HomeAway recently.
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is very disappointing because this fee ranges from 4-10% (capping out at a whopping $499).
Most of our guests will pay somewhere between 8-9%. The only way you can avoid the service fee is to book directly at a vacation rental’s own website.
Whether you stay with us in the future or any other property in the world, I wanted our valued guests and friends to be aware of the change.
Tell Me More about These Disgusting Guest Service Fees!
These fees serve to simply make a profit for HomeAway’s online booking websites, pay back shareholders and increase brand dominance and increase bookings, so increasing the cycle of profitability and growth.
What They Want You to Believe
The blurb you’ll see if you are clever enough to click on the mysterious question mark will “assure you” these added fees are to help make your booking safe and secure.
Check out the pop-up box below:
Will you really call these companies if you have a problem with access to Abalone Bay or any other holiday home?
Do you REALLY believe HomeAway will come over to help you out if there is a problem?
Are you going to call VRBO to make sure there are some flowers or champagne left for your anniversary, or if the hot tub can be heated on arrival, or if a raccoon is trying to become best friends with your dog?
So just what is this mysterious premium service for which they are charging this exorbitant fee?
Well honestly… That is anyones best guess!
Must I Shell Out Money For This?!
I REPEAT…. NO!
NO, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY THESE FEES!
This is one booking fee you can definitely avoid simply by booking directly with your vacation rental’s homeowner or property management.
Want to put money in your pocket when staying at Abalone Bay?
All you need to do is to book directly with us here.
Or even easier just click on the Book Now tab above and book your reservations book directly.
Easy Peasy… And about $90 cheaper!!
Learn More about Hidden Guest Service Fees
To learn more about Guest Service Fees Rentivo has published an excellent document explaining it in great easy to understand detail.
To download your Pdf copy click on the title below:
You can also go to their website: GUEST SERVICES FEES to read it online.
We hope this helps to explain the added booking fees you will find on your receipt. To learn how to book directly to save money click here for our second post in this series.
We want you to stay informed about booking fees, guest service fees, and other important issues that face you as a guest in our vacation rental.
We also want to keep you up to date with the latest tips and announcements of events and activities to enjoy while you are staying at Abalone Bay.
The best way to do that is to sign up now for our email newsletter.
With your subscription to our newsletter, you’ll receive immediate information that will make your stay at Abalone not only enjoyable but also economical.
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