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11 Pain Points Vacation Rental Websites Inflict To Collect Booking Fees (Did We Miss Any?)

Posted by Jay William on 06/03/2018
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vacation rental listing sites problems issues pain points

 

Vacation Rental Websites Charge Booking Fees And Cause Problems!

BreakAway Vacation Rentals is a vacation rental listing site created to give owners, managers and travelers more freedom and choices when it comes to renting vacation homes. But not everybody’s like us!

Many of the giant vacation rental websites go to great lengths to collect their booking fees. Their strong determination to boost revenue through “service fees” has caused several pain points in the process. We’ll discuss a few of them we’re noticing. Let us know if we missed any in the comments! 

Travelers Are Charged More

First, travelers pay more than the property is normally rented for. This is due to added fees that are charged when a reservation is made on almost every large home sharing website.

Depending on the house a traveler rents, the fees can cost a traveler $500 or more than the “real” owner’s price.

If a listing site doesn’t charge a booking fee, they’ll usually charge a commission to the owner or manager when a booking occurs on their website.

The vacation rental websites that charge commission fees can collect upwards of 15 to 20% of an owner’s rental booking income. Ultimately, someone has to pay these fees. The truth is, it’s often being passed down to travelers.

Higher price tags mean travelers get less on their vacation and pay more than they should.

Owners Can’t Get The Lion’s Share

Both small and large vacation rental operators have costs associated with running their businesses. Unfortunately, commission charges cut into their needed booking revenue. In order to try and offset these commissions, owners often have to raise their rental rates in order to operate. This has a negative impact for both owners and travelers.

Since the rental prices are inflated with extra fees on these websites, it keeps owners from being able to raise their rates. If they do raise their rates, owners may risk pricing their property out of the market and hindering them from getting the most they can.

Inflated Prices AND Expectations

When a traveler books a rental property they expect to get what they paid for. With added surcharges travelers may be paying more than the actual market value of the property.

So, naturally their expectations are going to be higher. Usually paying more money means you’re getting something more in return. However, the booking fee offers no added value that the owner or traveler cannot provide themselves. If a guest feels the property wasn’t worth the money they paid, it can end up coming across in a negative online review.

Lack Of  Transparency

The traveler often doesn’t know the fee is not part of the owner’s rates. It’s very common for a traveler to be unaware they were charged a fee by the vacation rental website. There’s a definite need for transparency about these fees.  Unfortunately, the fees are not clearly described in their billing of travelers.

3rd Party Charges Create Confusion

The middle-man also separates the charges at billing. This creates confusion and complications for both parties at several stages of the booking. If a guests cancels, they often expect their fee to be returned by the owner.  Both travelers and owners can become frustrated with sorting out issues like these when a middle man is involved.

Awareness & Awkwardness

The move toward charging extra fees has caused both travelers and owners to look for alternative vacation rental websites that do not charge fees.

Owners have been telling travelers about the fees that popular home sharing websites charge (they do need to know about them). Once the traveler realizes there’s an extra charge, they sometimes request to book off the platform. If an owner doesn’t, it can make things awkward. If they do, there are other potential problems that can arise.

Property Penalties

This has created problems for those who do because owners will be penalized for violating their listing site’s website terms. Attempting to book off their platform can result in their listings being deactivated or being buried to the bottom of the list where properties go to die.

There are other reason’s properties are penalized including description verbiage, posting a website name in a message, or mentioning a second listing number you have on their site. 

Conflict

Popular listing sites see booking fees as an opportunity to maximize their profits. They are actively implementing new rules that are designed to protect their profits made on booking fees.

These tactics have changed the environment of the platform and have caused a defensive feeling and lack of trust in the customer/advertiser relationships. That feeling of partnership has eroded and owners often dread speaking with customer service because of this thick tension.

Difficult Communication

One obstacle in the booking process that’s been caused by sites that charge fees is – owners and travelers cannot communicate directly, exchange contact details or have a simple phone conversation before booking. Email addresses, phone numbers and any branding information that helps travelers identify the property advertiser are masked.

This disconnect in the booking process has created a number of issues that occur during the booking and even while travelers are on their vacation.

Travelers Don’t Know Before They Go

Travelers aren’t given the privilege to speak to the hosts before the booking is made. This practice deprives travelers of learning more about the property, amenities and things to do in the area before booking. A host can help travelers avoid common issues and share insider tips on how to make the most of their vacation.

Since each vacation rental is as unique as the owners who own them a traveler who books a vacation home blindly may find that the property isn’t as close to the beach as they thought, or it isn’t suitable for certain types of guests in their party.

Unmet Expectations

An important part of being in any business is being able to meet your customer’s expectations. However, if travelers are booking instantly without communicating with the owners or managers, they’re often left with their own understanding of what the property should or shouldn’t be.

This disconnect creates a negative experience for travelers, especially for those who are new to booking vacation properties. The blocking of communication between guests and owners is not a natural part of the sales process.

In any business transaction you should be able to speak openly with the people you’re doing business with. You should be able to get a sense of who people are. This is true for both the travelers and owners.

Travelers traditionally do research about the accommodations theyre booking but if information about the vacation rental brand is being blocked, guests don’t get the full picture of what they should expect from that brand.

Better Properties Getting Worst Reviews

If the guest isn’t happy with the property they rented, they’ll often leave a negative review about the property on the vacation rental listing site they booked on. This is a real negative for owners.

The online reputation of a hospitality business is extremely important. Some owners who once only received high ratings, are now being dinged with 2 or 3 star ratings because the travelers expectations were not met.

Customer Disconnect and Increasing Cancellations

In addition to these pain points, owners and managers are seeing an increase in booking cancellations on these platforms. This may be partly because owners are not able to speak to guests and there’s no connection between them, thus there is no relationship, making it easier for travelers to cancel their reservations with little thought of how it affects the people behind the rental business.

I’m seeing both owners and guests separating themselves once the booking is made. Some owners don’t follow up with a call or check in to see how things are going. This disconnect caused by the fortified booking process is causing a separation for some hosts and guests. This can’t be good for anyone!

For property owners they often depend on the bookings they make. If a booking cancels at the last minute owners can find it difficult or even impossible to rebook the property for the canceled dates. Have you experienced any of these issues? Did we miss any pain points? Share your experience and help bring awareness to the issues booking fees have caused!

The best solution to these problems is for travelers to be able to book direct with people who rent the properties. So, when a situation does arise there is no middle-man in between the owner and the traveler. The communication breakdown complicates things for all parties involved.

If guests make connections with the owners, get the helpful information they need and owners can be a part of the process along the way with the traveler, both parties can better communicate and better help each other.

Break Away Vacation Rentals was created as the alternative vacation rental listing site that gives control back to owners and managers while helping travelers break free of overpriced vacation rentals.

Owners and managers can list their vacation rental properties and pay no booking fees, service fees or commissions. Both travelers and owners can speak freely with each other to ensure the booking is a good fit for all parties.

Jay William
Lets Connect

Jay William

Vacation Rental Marketer, Blogger, Entrepreneur & Advocate at BreakawayVR & CEO @ Villa Marketers
I'm the creator of BreakAwayVR & CEO of Villa Marketers. I left my position as the exclusive vacation rental marketer for TripAdvisor to work side by side with owners and managers to create solutions to the problems they're facing in their vacation rental business. I love vacation rentals! I've worked in the VR field for 14 years.
Jay William
Lets Connect

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