Vacationers now have more lodging options
In recent years, vacationers the world over have begun exploring alternatives to standard lodging. Though hotels are still very popular with travelers, online services like Airbnb and VRBO are attracting guests as well, and expanding the definiti...
In recent years, vacationers the world over have begun exploring alternatives to standard lodging.
Though hotels are still very popular with travelers, online services like Airbnb and VRBO are attracting guests as well, and expanding the definition of vacation lodging. These websites allow property owners all over the world to offer part or all of their homes, condos or townhomes - even castles - for rent to vacationing guests. In an effort to help people new to this non-traditional vacation rental market, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota offers some practical tips to navigate this process.
"It's a whole new world when it comes to vacation rentals," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota, in a news release. "And while that's exciting for many, it also means the old rules don't always apply and vacationers need to be clear on all the details of any agreement they enter into."
Many consumers have found that it can be fun to search for unusual or unique lodging arrangements on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO. For example, the possibility of staying in a beach bungalow or brownstone, as opposed to a hotel room, is appealing to some. These accommodations also offer what standard rentals sometimes don't-choice locations, unique features, and a vast selection of lodging options.
While there are advantages to thinking outside the box when it comes to making lodging arrangements for your next trip, BBB notes some of the things travelers should keep in mind when renting from private property owners:
• Booking a rental is often a back and forth process-which usually takes place online-between the owner and the renter. Users should not always expect the ease of being able to book reservations on a last-minute basis.
• There's always the possibility that the property does not match the advertised description, which is why it's important to read online reviews posted by people who have rented the property previously. From there, be clear on your rights.
• Keep in mind that you might be on your own as far as basic services. While some property owners are "hands on" and provide basic services such as fresh linens or even offer breakfast, others provide living space and nothing more.
With those things in mind, BBB offers some additional tips to help ensure a smooth vacation experience:
• When booking a non-traditional rental from a private owner, consider using intermediaries - such as Airbnb or VRBO-as they can help protect against bad experiences through guarantees, protection options, and facilitated transactions.
• Be sure to read ratings, reviews, and comments. This will provide you with insight into the property as well as the owner and experiences prior renters have had.
• Do research on the neighborhood. You don't want to end up in an area that isn't safe.
• Ask a lot of questions. Some examples of good questions to ask are: Who should be called in case of maintenance issues? Are there any house rules? Do you offer cleaning services? What time is check-in/check-out? How will I access the property (i.e. key pad, hidden key?)
• Stick to the system. If an owner asks a guest to make a direct bank transfer or asks to message them outside the site's communication system, treat those requests as major red flags.
• Never wire funds and try to avoid paying in cash. Avoid sending checks made out to cash. These payments methods are often requested by fraudsters.
• Be cautious of questionable advertising. If a posting seems too good to be true, with a price tag far below the market rate, there's a good chance that it is.
As with any purchasing decision, the choice comes down to the individual. If you're the adventurous type, someone looking to try something new, non-traditional vacation rentals may be the way to go. If, on the other hand, vactioners like to know exactly what you're getting into, booking a room at a hotel they've researched in advance is likely the best bet.