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  1. VRBO/HomeAway New Travel Fees for Renters
    29 February 2016, 6:59
    I have used vrbo to find great rentals for our vacations since 2004, and I have always been happy with where we stayed and the owners who rented to us. Apparently VRBO.com/Homeaway.com (bought out by Expedia) is now charging a “service fee” of 6-10% of the total cost when you book a rental property on their site.

    The money goes directly to vrbo/homeaway– the owner of the rental does not get a dime. Apparently, this fee “Helps VRBO provide a safer and more secure booking experience, coupled with premium 24/7 support throughout your trip.”

    Who calls VRBO if they need assistance in a vacation rental? I highly doubt that VRBO/Homeaway knows the wi-fi code, can call a plumber for a specific rental in case of emergency, or can take care of any other issue that the HOMEOWNER takes care of. VRBO/Homeaway seems like they intend to act as property managers, without doing anything to care for the property that they are now charging the owner to list and accept credit cards, and charging renters for the “opportunity” to rent through their site.

  2. Excellent article! Unfortunate that folks have to ‘game’ the system in order to avoid these exorbitant fees – especially at HomeAway sites since the property owners already pay substantial annual subscriptions. The new HA “traveler service fee” was a represented as a form of trip insurance by the HA COO, Tom Hale, in his on-air interview with Clark Howard (http://cdn49.castfire.com/audio/522/3538/25574/2693037/2693037_2016-02-29-202337-7770-0-68-0.64k.mp3) But nowhere on the HA site have I been able to find a detailed description of the insurance coverage benefits!

    Your article provides good ways for travelers to find the property owners’ contact info and avoid paying these unnecessary fees and have even more protection by having an opportunity to speak directly with the actual property owners. Thanks for your efforts!

  3. We’ve owned and rented our Maui Kamaole condo on VRBO since 2001. It used to be a wonderful internet classified — a way to let a guest and an owner ‘meet’ and make a deal for a specific rental; no more ‘blind trust’ about the condition or the view. Genuine guest comments were posted.

    We are now back to Square One since Expedia bought VRBO. They do not permit direct rentals. All funds go through their bank. All insurance is bought at their companies. Every guest will now pay a fee to them to ‘handle’ the booking.

    I pay $1,000/yr. to list my condo, and now ‘my’ listing includes links to other peoples’ properties!

    Will someone please recreate a new site where the guest can find the owner and negotiate direct?

  4. Anybody like to list enquiry sites, please feel free.
    Also please join AVROA.org to support the asset manager/owners cause.

  5. This is a great article! I have emailed it to all of my former guests and have posted it on TripAdvisor Travel Forums to help educate. Have received many thank yous for sharing it. Clearly travelers want to know how to stay ahead of these pernicious trends.

    Will you consider also writing an article about the practice of the hotel consolidator websites, including TA that show a property but then claim it has no availability, when it actually does, in order to divert the party searching to a different option?

    I learned of this practice from a proprietor of a B&B who lists on TA. And many times when I’ve searched for a hotel I’ve found that a consolidator says sold out but the hotel handily can provide rooms. This seems to be a method of funneling business to the OTAs highest profit maker for themselves but cheating the party that actually has rooms available. I can see this practice rolling out onto the vacation rental listing site platforms as well.

    Thanks again for a thorough and well written piece on attempts underway by the large online travel companies to “monetize” and seize control of the owner vacation rental.

  6. We are Airbnb members. They provide insurance, help settle disputes and provide security regarding accepting payments at the time the reservation is made. They are also working with our city to help settle local ordinance disputes and provide advertising. I think this is very one sided.

  7. I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again!

  8. Everyone is entitled to an opinion of course.

    Airbnb is a choice for many guests to use for sourcing accommodation. 80% of all their bookings are now full properties and there are of course local disputes on licensed properties etc and many guests who have no need to pay these charges. Booking.com charge 15-22% to a hotel, the same effect. Aggregation, dominate guest facing online search and apply supply pressures. Booking.com simply hide all their fees.

    However this site is focussed more on the millions of businesses who have been running for many years and have a very small margin of survival and the need to liaise in much more detail with guests. It also allows guests to see what they are paying for. VRBO mentions it is for priorty customer service and support, it is in reality only to increase traffic and outbid their competitors on search and brand awareness and to grow their share driven corporation.

    We are simply offering an explanation and helping guests save money, find the properties directly and have a better personal experience. It is the guests choice.

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