The vacation home industry is growing by leaps and bounds and was one of the most popular choice of accommodations for families traveling to Disney World and other Florida areas in 2009. With the popularity of vacation homes and consumer awareness growing it’s starting to become a bit more competitive to market vacation rentals online than it used to be. VRBO, a popular vacation rental by owner site, is currently dominating the world of direct owner bookings and though there are management companies advertising on the site most of what’s available is listed directly by the owners.
One of the trends I’m noticing with owners is that many think that if they cut the middle man out (management company) they can market their home at a discounted rate and still receive a larger portion of that money. This works for many owners who utilize their vacation home rental as a full time business but what about the other owners who don’t want to make marketing and renting their vacation home a full time job and are dependent upon a property management company renting out their property? These steeply discounted rates that owners are offering on VRBO are in direct competition with what your management company is trying to rent your vacation home for. Any prospective renter who understands the internet is able to log on and check to see what rentals are going for in your neighborhood and will see these discounted rates being offered by owners. If your management company is any good at securing retail bookings than they will be aware of this fact up front and know how to up-sell the renter on the benefits of working with a management company over booking directly with the owner (as will owners do the same). I personally, do not have a preference as to which one is better but there are specific facts about both that should be brought to the renters attention before they make a decision.
Pros of Booking Directly With The Vacation Homeowner
- Homeowner will give a better rate. Since the middle man is being cut out the homeowner can afford to offer a steeply discounted rate to the renter.
- Homeowner can be more accommodating. Since you are dealing directly with the owner you can ask specific questions about the property that a reservationist at a management company may not be able to answer in as much detail for you such the closest local Italian restaurant or the best view of the Disney fireworks in town.
Cons of Booking Directly With The Vacation Homeowner
- Time difference and emergencies. If the homeowner lives in another country and there is an emergency that requires immediate assistance than it is possible that you could be waiting for a response back for several hours as many homeowners do not have a full time on call maintenance staff to deal with these issues.
- No quality assurance. Some homeowners that manage their own vacation rental properties rely solely on a cleaning crew to maintain their home between guests which means there is more risk of the home not being cleaned to your standards when you arrive. If you complain to the owner they cannot move you to a new property as most of the time they only own one.
The Best of Both Worlds?
There are renters out there who will just always feel more comfortable renting a property that they know is being professionally managed. With that being said, owners can still cash in on their own bookings while utilizing the assistance of a rental manager. Many owners will list their properties for rent by owner and secure the booking themselves but have the management company handle the rental aspect of it and pay them a small owner booking fee. This is a win-win for both the owner and the renter as the renter gets a peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong with the property they will be accommodated immediately and the owner get their chunk on the booking revenue while doing a quarter of the work that a self managing owner would do.
What is your take on self-managing vacation homeowners offering competitive rates to undercut rental manager bookings?
Trying to find the perfect vacation rental investment from thousands of miles away can often become a very frustrating task. Homes might look great in the pictures online but what does the surrounding area look like? If you’re not utilizing at least one of these five free mapping tools listed here than you you may be in for a huge surprise when you arrive here in Orlando for your property inspection trip.
1. Bing Birds Eye View: Birds Eye View from Bing is one of my favorite free mapping tools on the market. It’s so easy to use and gives an very clear picture of not only the home but also the surrounding area. It also offers an ariel/satellite view which is similar to what google has.
2. Google Street View: Some pretty funny stuff has been caught on Google street view but we’ll save that for the What the Flock section. Google street view is great for just about anything but above all it’s amazing for researching real estate. It’s the second best thing to actually being able to walk or drive the streets your self. Google street view offers you a 360* view of the street. This is great if you want to see what your future neighbor’s houses look like or what your walk to the clubhouse will be like.
3. Map Quest:
Compared to Bing and Google, Mapquest seems to be the awkward kid at school but even the awkward kids are good at something and mapquest is still my number one choice for driving directions and route planning. Mapquest even has the 360* and ariel view options. What’s great about Mapquest is you can map the route with an ariel view and also add tons of cool options to your route like gas stations, traffic reports and much more. Mapquest is a very useful program for checking the distance and route from your potential vacation home to Disney or other popular destinations.
4. Google Earth:
Google Earth deserves it’s very own post but I’m throwing the short version in because it’s THAT important to know about and utilize in your property searches. Google earth integrates street view, ariel view and so much more. You can view the sun exposure at any hour of the day, see what your neighborhood looked like 3 years ago and if you’re an astronomy nerd like me you’ll love that you can even view the night sky from the house that your researching. How cool is that? Google earth is free to download and will become your best friend when trying to purchase and research a home from thousands of miles away.
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