Happy Trails! Vacation Rental WebsitesAirbnbs


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A travel revolution in spare rooms and second homes or empty apartments. It's part of the sharing economy.
Alternative vacation accommodations to the soul-less, crummy, expensive hotels and chintzy or faded B&Bs.
Find out about them here!

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Happy Trails! Vacation Rental WebsitesAirbnbs

  1. 1. HAPPY TRAILS! Vacation Rental Websites: A personal introduction Miranda Castro mirandacastro@cox.net
  2. 2. What?  A travel revolution in spare rooms and second homes or empty apartments.  Part of the sharing economy.  Alternative vacation accommodations to the soul-less, crummy, expensive hotels and chintzy or faded B&Bs.  The cheapest is renting a room in someone’s home.  Pay more and get the whole place: an apartment or whole house.
  3. 3. Why?  I hate hotels – they are smelly and impersonal. And often expensive.  I hate B&Bs – they are smelly and too personal. I hate having to be up at a certain time, breakfast in the dining room, the awkwardness, the cheerfulness, the bad coffee.
  4. 4. Who?  There are lots … and they are proliferating wildly. here are four current industry ‘leaders’  AIRBNB: http://airbnb.com  FLIPKEY: http://flipkey.com  HOMEAWAY: http://homeaway.com  VRBO: http://vrbo.com
  5. 5. Creative retirement for some  Three years ago, retirees Lynne Martin, 73, and her husband Tim, 68, decided to live a "home-free" lifestyle in retirement. They gave away most of their possessions, sold their house in Paso Robles, Calif., found a new home for their dog and started traveling the world. Since then, they've lived in furnished apartments in Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Paris, Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, Morocco, Portugal and Germany. They are regarded as senior gypsies who love the lifestyle because they wanted to have the luxury of really getting to know the people, in the countries they visit.  http://homefreeadventures.com/about/
  6. 6. Popular on airbnb (wishlists)  https://www.airbnb.com/wishlists/popular  unique/quirky/fabulous/fun – you name it!  tree houses/beach fronts  eco/go green/glamping  country cottages  lighthouses/castles/geodesic domes  https://www.airbnb.com/wishlists/stay-in-a-castle
  7. 7. Before you embark…  Make a list of what matters to you. Here’s mine in order of importance:  Chemical-free cleaning  No plug ins/scented candles or pot-pourri  Private/quiet-ish/my own space/home from home  A kitchen  Good price  Quirky/fun/interesting or at the very least neutral  Interesting neighborhood  Pet friendly if I’m traveling with Ziggy
  8. 8. Some of mine – so far West Palm Beach  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1552731  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1459342  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1807519  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/565700 Washington DC  http://www.homeaway.com/vacation- rental/reviews/p934371  https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/626868  http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p313775 Long Beach  http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p901022
  9. 9. Read ALL the reviews  Really really read the reviews.  Listen to your instincts/gut feelings.  Read between all the lines.  Ask yourself – what are the review not saying?
  10. 10. Check the photos  Really really check the photos.  Too few is not good.  How old or accurate are they?  Which photos are missing and why?  What are the photos not showing?
  11. 11. Check out the owner  Really really check out the owner.  No photo of the owner or a bad photo is not good.  Little to no information is not good.  Check out the reviews of them as guests if there are any (Airbnb).  Reviews give valuable info about owners.
  12. 12. Write to the Owner  Establish a relationship – to make sure there’s a friendly/accessible/responsive person.  Ask for extra information/photos if needed.  Ask questions cleverly.  Ask difficult questions more cleverly.
  13. 13. Check policies  Each site has different policies regarding bookings and fees and cancelations, plus there may be individual host variations:  Payment…deposit or full payment…how and when?  Cleaning fee  Booking fee  Cancelation fees/refunds
  14. 14. Verification and $$$  Most big rental sites have a verification process for hosts/owners. And sometimes for guests as well. It can be confusing the first time you encounter it but this is a Very Good Thing.  Never pay by check, wire transfer or cashier’s check.  Pay through the website using a payment method that gives you recourse if things go awry i.e. a credit card.
  15. 15. Consumer reports Renting someone else’s home, condo, or apartment, or swapping your house with theirs is an appealing alternative to staying in hotels and motels. But it appeals to scammers, too. They might, for instance, solicit an advance payment for an imaginary property. Or you might unwittingly rent a property in foreclosure just in time for the bank to toss you out. Sometimes the rip-off comes from a renter who boosts the price or doesn’t deliver what was promised. Or the property might be in New York City, where short-term rentals are illegal. Homeowners’ associations can also derail your dream vacation.
  16. 16. Consumer reports – cont.  Use a listing site such as Flipkey which conducts landlord background checks and authenticates properties, or HomeAway and VRBO, which provide a $10,000 rental guarantee (for $39) that protects you against Internet fraud.  Check the legality of the rental and your protections by searching the Internet for the town where you’re renting and terms such as “tenant rights” and “short-term rentals.”  Use Zillow, Google Earth or Street View to check the property resembles the pictures on the listing site and isn’t for sale.  Get the rental agreement in writing—and read the terms. Don’t understand it? Have the landlord write an explanation
  17. 17. Cons from Nolo.com  http://bit.ly/1fZbX4w  Ads and descriptions may be misleading  Reservations on short-term rentals may take time  Some hosts are not so wonderful  Your short-term stay may not be legal  Your rental place may not be secure  Your options may be limited if something goes wrong  Reviews can be misleading  Hotel service or amenities are often missing
  18. 18. Pros & advice from Nolo.com  You can save money – sometimes a lot of money.  Some hosts are wonderful.  Some accommodations are fantastic. Way better than hotels  Whether you're staying in a large hotel or a room you found on Airbnb, HomeAway, or a similar short-term rental service, do your homework before booking. Check out as much information as you can about the host, the accommodations, neighborhood, amenities, all fees, and cancellation policies.
  19. 19. Check ‘amenities’ & ‘rules’  Be sure the property has what you are looking for. Most places have wireless internet these days. And cable TV. And A/C (south florida) or heating (northern climes). But not all do.  Check the ‘house rules’ are reasonable, if you smoke for example some places don’t allow you to smoke in or even around the house.
  20. 20. Airbnb as of 2013/2014 A community marketplace where guests can book spaces from hosts, connecting people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Through their experiences on Airbnb, guests and hosts build real connections with real people from all over the globe.  10,000,000 guests  550,000 listings  33,000 cities  175 countries.
  21. 21. Flipkey as of 2013/2014 A leading vacation rental marketplace that makes it easy, safe, and fun to find and book the perfect place to stay.  260,000 guests  300,000 listings  12,000 locations  79 countries
  22. 22. Homeaway and VRBO  VRBO is ‘powered’ (owned) by Homeaway ‘the world leader in vacation rentals’  Homeaway has over 575,000 vacation properties worldwide  It’s hard to get current data because the data is changing so quickly – more guests, more properties, more cities and countries.
  23. 23. An (incomplete) comparison chart
  24. 24. A smorgasbord of articles Each tells a different ‘story’ about Airbnb and/or the ‘industry’ from the financial to the historical to personal accounts (rosy &not so much) & the New York situation.  2012 USA Today: http://usat.ly/1fWVRbq  Sept 2013 Guardian UK: http://bit.ly/1kNvGRE  2013 First Round: http://bit.ly/1fWXkyv  April 2014 Slate: http://slate.me/SBQsME  May 2013 NYT: http://nyti.ms/1ittfW6  July 2013 Blog: http://bit.ly/Rt1B1x  May 2014 Forbes: http://onforb.es/1iZ3VbZ
  25. 25. Other sites for rentals  https://www.couchsurfing.org/ imagine!  http://www.housetrip.com airbnb wannabe  http://www.rentmix.com rental site  http://www.vamoose.com another rental site  http://www.sloweurope.com/ euro rentals  http://www.homeaway.co.uk/ euro homeaway Pet friendly  http://www.petvr.com/ = vrbo  http://www.bringfido.com/ = homeaway
  26. 26. Reviews of websites  http://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.flipkey.com  http://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.airbnb.com  http://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.homeaway.com  http://www.yelp.com/biz/vrbo-vacation-rentals-by- owners-from-home-away-aurora  Reliability? Reading some of these made me wonder if competitors are posting negative reviews?
  27. 27. Happy Trails