Do you feel like your vacation has jumped in price lately?
One contributing factor is explained below.
Expedia bought the HomeAway conglomerate (that includes VRBO) 2015. In February 2016, many renters got a nasty surprise, when all of a sudden a 6-9% “service fee” was added when they looked at the pricing details on VRBO and HomeAway.
By next year everyone will have to implement the instant booking and “service fee” to their listings. And we are sure that in connection with this, they will block any possibility of direct communication until you have payed, as the other big rental listing sites have done.
These are the same limitations that AirBnB and FlipKey have used for years, but the difference is that their systems are based on commission (the owners pay a % of the income, and the renters pay a booking fee).
AirBnB is upfront with their fees to the renter, whereas FlipKey/TripAdvisor includes it in the rental price that is shown to the potential guest. And we are not talking small sums, the fees that they impose are 10-15%!
(But to be honest, the fee also is an insurance for the renter, as the owner doesn’t get the payment until the guest has arrived at the lodging and has had a chance to complain if the place doesn’t exist or doesn’t resemble the listing).
What the guest sees on FlipKey/TripAdvisor, compared to what we see in the owner’s dashboard:
The difference here is that Expedia has decided on a double whammy in their favour. Both a subscription fee for the owner, commission on the rent if payed via HomeAway’s payment system (which I presume will be mandatory in the future) and a “service fee” from the guests.
So what do you get for the “service fee”?
According to HomeAway, they will provide a 24/7 telephone number that guests can call for assistance. If you have problems with a fake listing, I can understand it – but then you’ve always contacted them.
Most of our problems are small, if you have problems with a dripping faucet – I’d like to see what they can do! 🙂
This year you still have the option of avoiding the “service fee” on HA/VRBO by contacting owners directly via their telephone number, website (if they have one mentioned on their listing) or by avoiding listings with a “request to book” or “book now” button.
(Unfortunately this is now longer the case, the view details have been phased out and “book now” is mandatory)
Instead use the ones with a “view details” button. They don’t have the service fee yet.
Another way to avoid booking fees is to look at the listings and see if there is anything that stands out in the title or description. Then google to see if they have a website where you can get in contact with the owner directly. You can also google pictures to see if they appear in more places than one. Chances are that the same picture is used for both listings and websites.
Just make sure that you don’t contact any listing on Craig’s list. Scammers are abundant there and they might very well have stolen the pictures right off the listing. We’ve experienced that more than once.
Sorry for this long blogpost, you can tell that we are upset!
So to make it short, be sure to save www.annamariabeachcondo.com in your bookmarks, in the future it might cost you to email us via the listings!