Save Money – Part 2
We at Abalone Bay want to help you save money and to book vacation rentals safely whether you stay with us or others. We have prepared a three-part series on how to do that. In our previous blog post we shed light on guest service fees and the booking fees you should expect for Abalone Bay.
This blog post explains in great detail how to save money when booking directly. Our last post in the series, 14 Brilliant Ways to Book Vacation Rentals Safely guides you to booking vacation rentals online securely.
The Very Best Tip to Save Money This Vacation
Have I got the VERY BEST TIP for you to save money on this year’s vacation!
Simply book directly with the owner or property management company to save money on the vacation home of your dreams.
You could save up to 15% of the cost on a vacation home when you book directly on your favorite holiday home’s website.
Online Travel and Booking Agency Site Ripoffs
Starting this year HomeAway and VRBO are charging anywhere between 6%-10% travelers fees at checkout on all their properties listed in their online booking sites. This comes on the heels of HomeAway’s $39 billion sales to Expedia.com.
But they aren’t alone.
Airbnb has long charged guests booking fees of 6 to 12 percent and charges hosts a 3 percent commission. If you booked through them before you probably never even noticed. They simply did their magical math trick by tacking on their percentage and sending you the bill without it listed for you to see.
TripAdvisor’s Flipkey also charges you and the owners they serve.
Want to know how much extra Flipkey has been pocketing of your hard-earned vacation savings?
…Are you sitting down?
TripAdvisor’s Flipkey booking fee could be as high as 15 percent!
Oh… and by the way… rumors have it that TripAdvisor may be next on the acquisition lineup and you know how well that all turned out with HomeAway!
(Read more here).
What You Get for YOUR Money
The online travel agencies (OTAs) and booking sites would have you believe that you get added security with 24/7 support. See the pop-up text next to the fees you would be charged when you complete this booking on HomeAway:
Mind you this fee does not assure the home you have booked is functioning well, nor will it help you deal with the raccoon that has entered the yard, or work with you to set up a special surprise for your anniversary. According to AirBnB’s help site in 2011, “This service fee is what actually goes to the site’s operation.”
Their premise is that they will guarantee you won’t be scammed and that you’ll be refunded if you are a victim.
Will There REALLY Be Refund?
Maybe…maybe not. Who knows if you’ll receive the full refund.
HomeAway in the past acknowledges that the company sometimes creates settlement agreements, which include non-disclosures to protect both parties.
Even Expedia (now the parent company of HomeAway and VRBO) admits to falling victim of phishing themselves (read more here: Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com Warn Customers of Phishing Scam.
Yes, it doesn’t matter who you are or how big you have become. Scammers will scam, phishers will fish.
And in the end, it is you who loses one way or the other.
OMG- Who knew!
And now you do too.
With this powerful knowledge along with the tips below, you’ll be able to safely book and save.
You will also become personally connected to insider information about your vacation spot and the direct support by your host that assures your stay is really wonderful.
Simply put – Book Directly Save Money
That’s the trick- pure and simple.
Just directly contact the property, then email and/or call the owners or property managers to book.
Many vacation rental owners vested in their homes and their businesses have websites…
and Facebook pages that allow you to book your stay directly with them.
By booking directly, you avoid the middle man (online booking agencies-or OTAs- like HomeAway, VRBO, AirBnB, FlipKey). The money you save could be as much as 15% of the total booking price!
Further, you are now communicating directly with the owner who cares that your experiences are the best they can offer. You’ll not only save money, but you’ll also be getting great personal service.
You’ll be unfettered and free to ask all the questions you may have about the home and the area without having to operate through the OTAs.
To put money back into your pockets just locate owners like us who have an online business presence for their vacation rentals.
Sea Ranch Abalone Bay Online Presence
For instance, our online presence includes among others:
- Abalone Bay’s website describing its amenities, recommendations for not-to-be-missed experiences for you, your children, and even your dog.
- Contact Us page provides you a form to reach us directly.
- Our Booking link sends you directly to our property manager
- Our newsletter informs you of what’s new in Sea Ranch–And if you haven’t subscribed yet now’s the time!
- Blog posts that allow you to comment
- Verification of ownership: Donna Martinez, Owner of Sea Ranch
Sea Ranch Abalone Bay Social Media
Our social media presence is also wide and also allows you a means of direct contact and/or booking.
Here’s a sampling:
- Facebook page with nearly 1700 fans. Are you one? If not- become one now! You can also book directly on our Facebook page.
- Google + for Sea Ranch Abalone Bay and for me, its owner, Donna C. Martinez
- Twitter @AbBayVR
- Instagram @SeaRanchAbaloneBay
- Pinterest @AbaloneBay
- Tumblr @SeaRanchAbaloneBay
How to Find Direct Contact Information
You’ve got booking Abalone Bay directly covered!
But maybe this year you want to travel further north to enjoy one of the houses on Manzanita Beach, Oregon. How about something more Caribbean like a villa in Curacao or closer to home in Florida’s Anna Maria Island?
What do you do when you don’t have their direct contact information?
Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO and all the other OTAs will not share it with you.
Even some property managers will not give you the direct contact information of property owners using their service.
No worries…We gotcha covered!
You’ll just need to do some easy Google detective work that is no different from doing online comparison shopping.
Once your property is located it’s simply a matter of booking wisely to save some serious money for your trip.
Select your home
Online agencies like TripAdvisor, FlipKey, and HomeAway serve as a convenient resource service. They provide you a plethora of homes you can view and compare.
It’s useful as a resource. No argument there!
When scanning the sites look for the ones that show the owner’s phone number when you click on “show phone number” in the owner’s information box.
Then call them directly and ask if they have a website where you can book directly to save money on the guest services and travelers fees.
I can assure you they’ll be delighted and eager to work one-on-one with you.
Warning: Look- BUT DON’T CLICK
When seeking direct contact information on a booking site be careful that you do not contact the owner by clicking on the “Book It” or “Request to Book” buttons on sites that charge service fees.
Once you have clicked that box and have put in your credit card information, you are charged the guest service fee the moment you check out to secure your booking.
That charged fee cannot be reduced, removed, or refunded by the owner. It is non-refundable, lost to the booking site to build up its profit margin and dominance in the online search services.
Internet Search Engines to the Rescue
There are many ways you can search for a home’s direct booking website. We’ll use Google as our example, but the process is the same for all internet search engines.
How to Search on Google.com
Here are four ways to search for a property and it’s owner using Google.com:
Do a name property or owner search-
When looking through the OTA listings note if the property name is listed in the title or description.
- Copy the property’s name
- Paste it in the Google search bar ( other search engines will also work)
- Look for listings that do not include the OTAs name in the URL or description snippet
- Click and check those listings looking for the one that gives you pertinent information about the owner, direct contact (not a link to the OTAs) and booking information.
Do a text search-
Many owners frequently use same text describing their property throughout their various listings both OTAs and personal. Copy a snippet of the listing you found on an OTAs site then put in the Google Search bar. Then follow the steps above.
You may learn more here.
Do an image Search-
Just as the same listing text is used in many websites, most photos are also re-used. Google can help you find photos that are used on other sites, including the property owner’s site. This type of search is called a reverse image search.
- Visit images.google.com (you’ll note a little camera in the search bar)
- On your computer, click the image you want to search for. While holding down the mouse, drag the image into the search box (You may also right-click to find it’s URL)
- Click on sites that do not have OTAs websites like HomeAway, VRBO in their URLs
Do a Keyword Search-
What if you didn’t find a home on the OTA you liked or the owner didn’t list with HomeAway?
- First, before you start, make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your holiday location and what you want in a vacation property:
-City or town where you want to vacation
-Type of building: Condo, house, lodge, cabin, villa
-Number of guests in your group including babies and small children
-Number of pets and type: dog, cat
-Dates for your trip: Fixed or flexible
-Specific amenities you want or need: ADA accessible, hot tub, linens, other
These terms and descriptions form your keyword list.
- Now all you need to do is follow the search procedure as above using a combination of your keyword terms and phrases that describe those topics in the list above.
- As you refine your search you may discover other related terms that will help you narrow your selections helping you find the perfect location.
Once you have your search results listed, scroll beyond any listings from OTAs (look for HomeAway.com or VRBO.com, etc. in the URL). This may mean moving on to the next page as the OTAs crowd on the first page.
To help you sort out the large OTA business sites that interfere in your search click here to download a Chrome Browser plugin to hide the OTAs listings.
Get Out Your Contacts and Call
Have you previously stayed at a vacation rental you really enjoyed?
Then it’s time to give them a call!
They may be able to book you directly through their own personal listing. But make certain they indeed have a direct booking system, not one through the OTAs.
Check with your friends and ask for their recommendations for past holiday stays. They may have direct contact with the owners.
Contact Vacation Owners You Know
Wish to try a different location this holiday? Contact the owners of vacation properties you’re familiar with to help you locate others with direct listings of their vacation rentals. You would be amazed at how widespread our professional connections are.
Listed here are a few that I recommend. And they like me agree that it’s always best to save money by booking directly.
Orlando Vacation Homes
Sarah and Ken Elder of Orlando Vacation Homes near Disney World will not only book your vacation home directly, they’ll also offer hints in their blog on how to save even more on your stay with her! Check out what Sarah noticed in the VRBO Book with Confidence Guarantee:
So what does the small print actually mean by MAY offer alternate accommodation? MAY offer to rebook another property? MAY reimburse you?
Does it really give you any firm guarantees at all?
Houses on Manzanita Beach
Many communities have a Chamber of Commerce website where they list local vacation rentals active in their community. You’ll also find specialized websites featuring such aspects as pet friendly houses, high end luxury villas, family friendly vacation rentals, and much more.
Villa Seashell in Curacao
At Villa Seashell, we keep an eye on all vacation rental market developments to offer our guests not only the best prices but also a safe and easy booking experience, good information on your vacation destination Curacao, a reliable website, and much more.
Learn how to save with here
Anna Maria Island Home Rentals
Or visit Florida’s Anna Maria Island Home Rentals, a boutique vacation rental company offerings run by Nancy Mcaleer who can guide your holiday plans with the greatest of ease to assure a wonderful holiday for you and your guests. Nancy says, “Be guest not a client!”
Notice how I said “guest” and not client? A vacation home owner has a vested interest in your vacation. They are hosting you as a guest and will go out of their way to ensure you have a pleasant stay. They want you leaving and telling all of your friends about the wonderful stay you had at their home. In essence they become your personal travel agent. And they love return guests often offering discounts to model guests.
Four Seasons Lodge in New Hampshire
Four Seasons Lodge has never accepted payments on any vacation rental booking site. We do our best to make a vacation in North Conway at Four Seasons Lodge affordable for most groups and one of the ways we’ve done that is never take payments online. Booking directly with us you can be sure we will NEVER charge a booking/service fee.
Last Steps… For Security’s Sake
The last step is to make certain your search results are indeed legitimate and safe. Once you have located a potential vacation rental business site look for evidence that they either manage or own the property such as:
- email address
- phone number
- statements they actually do own/manage the property (usually found in “contact us” or “about us” page)
You may discover that when you explore a vacation property owner’s site closer not only are you saving on the OTAs guest service fees, they also offer special discounts.
Be Doubly Certain
Still, you’ll want to be doubly certain that any unfamiliar vacation home is a reputable one. Do that by searching them further online.
- Look for other sites they have, their social media outlets, and other indications they are really who they say they are.
- Then check their reviews on their website and other review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp (remember not to book through those sites or you will once again face paying guest service fees).
- Next, check closely that their amenities listings truly are to your liking and meets your needs.
- Lastly, give them a call or email. Ask them about specifics on their property.
This way you’ll be confident that they are who they are.
A Bonus Feature
Once you’re connected with the owner you can also ask them for insider tips about experiences and events not-to-be-missed.
By booking directly with the owner of your favorite vacation rental property you save money that is better spent taking your family to local attractions, dining, or saving for next year’s vacation!
Now- Be sure to share this article with your friends and family so they too may save money!