Since purchasing our condo, we have typically used VRBO/Homeaway as our primary interface for reservations. Over the past few years lots has changed in the vacation rental marketplace and we’ve tried to keep up, try new things, and figure out the best balance between guest experience, our needs, and costs. Using many of these systems provide a “peer review” of our place through guest and owner reviews and many offer some protections and guarantees that might help in case of serious issues. Unfortunately, more often than not, these companies try to hide behind their terms and conditions and fail to support either guest or owner when they can avoid it. Here’s my take on the different systems:
- Airbnb — this is a big one in the media and there’s lots of exposure, but we typically only get about 10% of our booking from here. The system is very “walled”, or they limit and control many of the things we can do as well as things you can do as a guest. Guests also must pay Airbnb a fee for booking through their system. As the property owner, I’m charged fees for the credit card processing only.
- VRBO/Homeaway — In the past I was just charged close to $1000/ year for their services on a subscription basis and a credit card fee on bookings. They were recently purchased by Expeida and for the past year or so institute a guest paid “service fee” for bookings. My subscription fees went down to I think about $400/yr, but it does seem that VRBO is double dipping a bit as they get paid on both ends of the deal. With the new service fees paid directly to VRBO/Homeaway/Expedia they are now walling off and filtering many of the communications and interactions during the booking process. Both companies want you to pay first so they can ensure that they get their money, before they allow the owner and guest to freely communicate, share websites, and otherwise build the relationship.
- All the others work similarly, but they don’t have the exposure that brings in bookings so I don’t currently use them much. The more systems we use, the more effort it takes to sync calendars, ensure pricing is the same, and the more detailed workflows we need to be familiar with.
Since you’re reading this on my website I will say that the best way to book is to contact us directly — I can book you in without any of the service charges and I can help answer questions and freely chat with you as you’re making your decision of which property at Snowshoe will work best for your visit. I will still manage our booking through the vrbo/homeaway platform — so you will get emails through their system that provide the welcome letter and automatic reminders before and after your visit. In my opinion this is the best scenario — lower costs for you and higher value for me — again hopefully a win win.