Back in the day when my family took ski trips or trips to the beach, there were no online travel agencies like Airbnb or VRBO. Vacation homes were found by contacting local management companies, and working directly with these locals.
Just like all cotton swabs are “Q Tips,” and all facial tissue is “Kleenex,” people now call all vacation homes “Airbnbs.”
BUT, local vacation rental management companies still exist.
Vacation rental managers like ourselves are generally small, locally owned companies that manage vacation rental properties for local homeowners. Airbnb and VRBO are strictly a listing site. The truth is that any house you see on an online travel agent site (OTA) is owned and managed by a property manager or an individual person. These sites have no inventory of their own.
What does that mean to you? Fees. What does that mean to a property owner? Commissions.
Sure, these sites offer a service to you and to us. They allow folks to list their home, and for their rental home to be easily found by potential guests. However, these sites have changed the climate of the vacation rental industry. The guest is potentially unaware of the fees, and the people doing the work to manage the vacation home become essentially invisible.
When you book directly with the property manager, you will pay less money, you will get more personalized service, and you will help support a small business or individual.
On online travel agent sites, guests pay a fee that is anywhere from 9-20% of the cost of the rental. This fee is often advertised as the fee required to run the site and to offer you 24/7 support. On some of these sites, the property manager pays as high as a 15% commission fee to the site for each booking. This commission fee is frequently passed on to the guest through higher rental rates.
Here are three examples of price differences when booking direct versus booking the same house on a site like Airbnb or VRBO. In each example, the reservation is for a three night, spring break getaway (April 10-13). The total cost for booking on www.ChattanoogaVacationRentals.com is at the top of the photo, the pricing from an online travel agent (OTA) site is shown on the bottom.
Book with us for $524.31 or pay $582 on an OTA site.
Book with us for $840.88 or pay $1,007.45 on an OTA site.
Book with us for $664.47 or pay $831.41 on an OTA site.
We know that OTA’s are not going away. We know that they offer a service of a centralized location where folks can see a large list of vacation home options. They offer a service where people can put their home in front of a multitude of potential guests.
What do we recommend?
- Do a bit of research to save yourself potentially hundreds of dollars.
- When you are searching for a home on an OTA, the manager is listed as the host.
- Google the host.
- See if they list their homes on their own site.
- Check the pricing and availability on the host’s website.
- Book direct with the host. (Another great resource to find lodging or things to do is a city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.)
What’s in it for you?
- Local knowledge and a personal touch. Communicate with the experts on the area. Why are you coming? Do we have another option that may better suit your needs?
- Lower costs.
- Discounts for return guests.
- Directly supporting a local, small business.