As Vacation Rental owners, we feel that it is our duty to share with you the tips we use when searching for the best deals on a home to stay in during our vacations. It’s a tough market out there, and it’s so frustrating to find what you think is a great deal – only to get to check out and realize there’s a $200 cleaning fee on a $65/night condo. True story!
Now, without further ado…
Tip #1 – Don’t use VRBO
Let me explain.
A couple years back VRBO changed ownership. Now they charge a commission on every reservation that’s made through their platform to you, the guest, AND to the owner. So because of this, homeowners and businesses that list on VRBO will bump up their prices to make up for the commission they have to pay, and then you’ll still end up paying the VRBO fees. This can sometimes add up to 20% to your reservation!
So should you avoid VRBO all together? Certainly not!
We suggest that when you are searching for a place to stay on VRBO (or any listing site), try and find one that is owned by a business. If you can find the business name on the listing, go to google and type in that name along with the name of the city you want to stay in. This will bring up that business’s personal website (like this one!). By booking directly through the business, you save 10-20% in fees/commissions.
*On a side note – we avoid staying with places that don’t have their own website. It generally means either they are inexperienced or just don’t care to put in the time and money it takes to create their own site. This will often translate into the rental itself meaning low quality and poor service. Not always – but 9 times out of 10.
Tip #2 – Call In
I know I’m not doing myself any favors here. I don’t want to be on the phone all day any more than you do! But seriously. Before you book a place, call the contact number. Once you get someone on the phone, explain to them why you’re coming to town and ask them about any specials they might be running. Even if they aren’t running any discounts, they probably have some pretty good suggestions on activities to add to your trip!
This also gives you a good chance to feel them out and see what they might be like as hosts. If they are stand offish or snappy, I usually will book somewhere else.
*If there isn’t a phone number – run! That’s a big red flag. If they won’t talk to you before you book, the likelihood of them talking to you once you arrive and realize there’s no toilet paper is slim to none.
Tip #3 – Don’t search for the cheapest spot
I know, this post is about finding the best deal. But the best deal is very rarely the cheapest option. Trust me. If the average price for a 2 bedroom house is $120/night and you find one for $60 – run! Either they don’t know what they are doing and will possibly be out of business before your reservation comes up, or they are cutting as many corners as possible in order to list their house so low.
Either way, the cheapest is rarely the home you want – even if the pictures look great. If you want the best deal, search somewhere in the upper middle. They will usually have guidebooks in the homes, friendly concierge, and sometimes even food staples in the pantry. Trust me, you get a LOT more bang for your buck when you search the midrange or upper midrange prices.
So there you have it! Our three tips for finding the best deal on your next vacation rental. Happy shopping!