What is the #BookDirect Day Movement?
#BookDirect Day is finally upon us! This February 6, 2019 marks the second vacation rental independence day where vacation rental owners, hoteliers, and no-fee listing websites come together with a united voice. The message is dedicated to our guests past and future, to bring awareness to the rising online travel agency's "traveler service fees" associated with booking a vacation through their websites. If you aren't familiar with what exactly an online travel agency is think HomeAway, VRBO, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Priceline, etc...
What's the Difference between a Traveler Service Fee and a Booking Commission Fee?
Traveler Service Fees and Booking Commission Fees are different. Traveler Service Fees are the fees charged directly to the traveler who uses a large online booking platform to book their vacation rental or hotel. Companies like Airbnb, Booking.com and others charge vacation rental property owners anywhere from 3 - 25% of a total reservation in booking fees which often leads owners to increase their rates to cover these charges. This often means the TRAVELER IS NOT GETTING THE BEST DEAL through these types of websites.
Most travelers don't even know they are paying a fee to these large online agencies that they are booking with. Did you know that Priceline and Expedia (which includes travel companies HomeAway, VRBO, and others) share a marketplace of up to 95%? A monopoly in any industry is detrimental to both the consumer and the suppliers. It creates an atmosphere where a companies dictate how products are developed and sold in an industry. Do to their vast marketing dollars and reach these companies are dictating to the owners how they are allowed to do business.
Communication is blocked until an online booking is made on their platforms guaranteeing them their traveler service fee. Owners cannot showcase their properties by directing guests to their own websites or social media platforms, which include extra information in the form of videos, local vendor's activities and insider information. Owners are not allowed to call the guest to answer any questions or help the traveler in a meaningful way. All phone numbers are blocked until an online booking is made. Wouldn't you like to know who you are booking with before you hand over your money?
How to Safely Book a Vacation Rental Directly with an Owner
We're here to help travelers understand that there are alternative options! You can book securely and safely, directly with a vacation rental owner. Preferably on an owner's Secure Certified Website or on a No-Fee Vacation Rental website. You're sending thousands of dollars to a complete stranger to secure your dream vacation so it's wise to do a little research before handing over your money for the reservation. We've put together some quick tips on how to research a legitimate vacation rental owner.
Look for the HTTPS:// in front of the website address, this means the website has a secure certification.
Look for social proof. Is the owner ready to tell you who they are on the 'About Us' page? if you Google their name do they show up on professional websites like Linkedin? Have they been on Facebook for a lengthy period of time? Do their faces and names match?
Read reviews. The abundance of reviews will be an indicator of what kind of service you will get by booking directly with an owner in addition to how long they have been in business.
Google the name of the "house". If you search up "Sirenia Beach House" as an example, you can instantly find all the locations where this property is listed and any press related to the house or owner.
Call the owner directly to ask questions. A legitimate property owner will be able to quickly and easily tell you their name, how long they have owned the house, locations of the nearest restaurants, hospitals or any other question you may want to throw at them. If they can't easily answer you they may be a scammer posing as an owner. You can cross reference this information with public websites such as local county property appraisers and Zillow.com.
Book a vacation rental with a legitimate No-Fee listing website that verifies ownership. Florida Rental By Owners is a good example in the state of Florida.
In the United States a lot of information is made public. You can cross reference an owner's name on the local county property search website.
Google the address of the home on Google Maps. Does the exterior satellite-street view match the photos advertised?
Use a secure payment platform when handing over money to an owner. Credit cards are a great way to ensure your payment is secure and protected against fraud (check your credit card details before paying to ensure you have proper coverage should something go awry. Wiring money in our opinions is not a good idea. It can't be traced or returned.
If you are still not sure, ask for references of past guests. Any professional vacation rental owner will be able to put you into contact quickly with past guests.
Look for certification or membership icons. Is the owner a member of the local Chamber of Commerce or a vacation rental association?
If an owner is pressuring you into a decision this could be a red flag. It's true that during high season rentals do book quickly, but if an 'owner' keeps pressuring you to book it may be a sign that they are trying to scam and dash so to speak.
If a vacation rental looks like an incredibly low price compared to what the property offers it may be another red flag. Scammers try to lure travelers into booking before they are found out and shut down. Advertising ridiculously low prices is a red flag that something isn't right.
Ask for and carefully read the rental contract. If an owner doesn't have one, this is another red flag. Respected owners want to minimize risk and to do this a detailed rental contract is a legal document that ensures the renter and owner understand exactly what rules to follow and what risks are evident. An owner who has a poorly written rental contract with grammatical errors could be a sign that you are communicating with a scammer.
If you believe that you have been scammed it's a great idea to report it to the government below to lodge a complaint. It's also a good idea to contact the advertising platform to inform them of the fraud so that they can take the appropriate steps to remove the listing and cooperate with the authorities if necessary.
How to Find a Hidden Traveler Service Fee
Have you ever looked into the fine print details when booking a vacation rental online? Sometimes, the fees are hidden or not easily accessible. You can to click on text like, "View Details"
Identifying a Hidden Traveler Service Fee
A whopping $222.00 in this case. Surprised? We bet you are. We all work hard for our money so we thought you'd like to know about these traveler service fees and that's how #BookDirect Day all came about.
What You can Do with Traveler Service Fee Savings
I hope I haven't completely depressed you by this point. so let's have some fun and imagine what you could do by saving this amount of money on your next vacation? We've come up with a fun list of things like horseback riding, parasailing, chartering a boat, enjoying a tour, renting a golf cart or kayak. This type of money could even buy your groceries to enjoy at your vacation rental for the entire week. How about a little shopping spree? Enough talking, let's do it...
#BookDirect Day ~ Special Promotion
As a special promotion for participating in #BookDirect Day
Anna Maria Island Home Rental is happy to offer
an extra 10% off any future reservation with AMIHomerental.com made on February 6, 2019.
Take a look at all of our properties and take advantage of the #BookDirect Day Movement. Mention #BookDirect when you reserve.
You may be also be interested in reading:
Tips to Save You Thousands on Your Next Vacation