Dispelling Myths About Vacation Rentals: The Top Ten Things You May Not Have Known

Travelers are used to booking hotels, but for many the world of vacation rentals represents a great unknown, which may be why they’re the subject of so many myths, particularly in North America. Here are the top ten things you may not have known about vacation rentals:10. Vacation rentals offer daily maid serviceMost rental owners ensure that the rental is cleaned out prior to each new guest, and many offer daily maid services as well to ensure that the rental is as clean, if not cleaner, than a hotel room. Dirty rentals end up getting nasty reviews and don’t last long in the business, so homeowners always make sure that the cleanliness is top-notch. Of course, many travelers mistakenly assume that vacation rentals don’t have housekeepers, and that they’ll be forced to clear old ketchup out of the fridge leftover from the last guest, but this is not the case. In fact, owner’s will ensure that you find the rental in the exact same condition they expect you to leave the rental – that is, spotless and neat.9. Homeowners will welcome you and respect your privacyMost owners treat their rental as a business, meaning they want as many travelers passing through as possible, and also expect some normal wear-and-tear to result from each rental. Some travelers mistakenly assume that the owner will check in everyday to make sure no crumbs are left on the couch, but most will also only stop by to welcome you initially, after which they’ll only show up if you request it. After all, they know one of the reasons people love rentals is because of the privacy they offer, and they’re not about to jeopardize the chances of gaining your repeat business.8. Rental scams are rare and avoidable

This is probably one of the greatest sources of apprehension, since nothing spells nightmare like landing in an unknown area and finding out that not only does your vacation rental not exist, but that your security deposit is also gone. However, rental scams like that are far less common than you would think, and the average traveler can avoid them with some basic tips: only work with people that have a documented online rental history (e.g. reviews, listings that have been up for a few years, etc.), avoid free listing sites that don’t verify the identity of owners, and only browse sites that have personal relationships with owners.7. Owners avoid keeping your security depositSecurity deposits are usually $500 or more, so it’s normal for a traveler to worry about them. However, that $500 is nothing compared to the lifetime value of a happy houseguest, so there’s no way an owner is going to jeopardize your repeat business by keeping it without good reason. Of course owners need to protect themselves against abusive guests, but in the interest of building goodwill, many owners will turn a blind eye to the occasional spill on the couch just to keep you as a client.6. Vacation rentals offer great serviceMost owners have property managers that they employ to handle day-to-day issues with the rental, including any problems that may arise during your stay, which is why it’s always good to make sure that any owner you rent with has an on-site manager. Travelers mistakenly assume that, should something go wrong with the rental, it won’t get fixed until the next guest arrives, especially if the homeowner is faraway, but in fact many rental property owners pride themselves on the quick and friendly customer service they offer each guest.5. Vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizesMany people assume a vacation rental will be a house or villa. However, condominiums, townhouses in resort complexes, cabins, and other types of accommodation are also vacation rentals. Some, for example, feature pools, waterslides, theaters, and many of the other features you’d find in a hotel. Others are apartments that are located right in the heart of the city. A good vacation rental listing site will let you search for properties based on type to help you find the accommodations best suited for your needs.4. Vacation rentals are safeVacation rentals are a safe and reliable alternative to hotels, regardless of the region. This may be a more common concern in tropical areas, but many travelers think that because there’s no security guard, rentals are more dangerous than hotels. Many vacation rentals are enclosed in gated communities and include alarm systems. Of course, renters are always advised to use the same common sense as they would at home when it comes to locking the doors and minding their safety.3. Travel agents book vacation rentalsThis is more of a myth among homeowners, but in fact travel agents do book accommodations other than hotels. It’s just hard for them to find homeowners willing to work with them, since they usually negotiate a commission on each booking. That’s why travel agents usually stick with property management companies they have a relationship with, or they use agent-friendly websites. Once they find properties they can work with, they’ll often refer years of repeat business for the homeowner. That means if you’re a traveler, you can always request a rental from your agent, allowing you to browse options that differ from the usual hotel selection.

2. Vacation rentals have plenty of amenities Some travelers think that if you want to have fun at the pool, enjoy the beach, have video games for the kids, or enjoy a nice day at the spa, then they need to stay at a hotel. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth. Vacation rentals are designed with the enjoyment and comfort of the traveler in mind, which is why they often feature pools, private beaches, game rooms, spa services, and more. And the best part is you don’t have to share! Where else can you take a late night dip in the pool, or entertain guests with a dinner party? Homeowners are also happy to provide you with whatever you need to make your stay even more enjoyable, so if there’s something specific you need, don’t hesitate to ask.1. Vacation rentals come in all price rangesIt seems like the only time vacation rentals get press in mainstream publications is when they’re listing the top 10 most luxurious villas around the world. Unfortunately, this creates the impression that rentals only cater to the super-rich, but nothing can be further from the truth. Travelers can find vacation rentals in all price ranges, from $60 a night to $3,000 a night. Don’t be intimidated by the sticker price. Many properties have several bedrooms and can accommodate a dozen or more people. Divided by the number of guests, the prices for vacation rentals are often much more affordable than hotels.There you have it, the top ten things you did not know about the vacation rental world. Keep these facts in mind next time you plan a vacation and be sure to check out the assortment of vacation rentals at TravelRentalNetwork.com.

Vacation Rental Content

The vacation rental option is today proving to become more and more popular as it provides in most cases more space (multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, separate living areas), more amenities (fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, private hot tubs), convenient locations (on the beach, ski-in/ski-out) and greater privacy than a hotel.Vacation rental by definition is a term used in the travel industry which means to rent out a furnished apartment or house on a temporary basis to tourists. This gives those going on a vacation and general tourists an alternative to leasing a hotel or motel room.Vacation rental content is mainly composed of websites that cater to owners of vacation rental properties who would like a place on the internet a listing these properties. Those who become interested in a vacation rental can then utilize these sites by browsing through the available listings of vacation rental properties and specials if any.To find vacation rental content one simply needs to go to a popular search engine such as Google or MSN search and type into the search box vacation rentals. At the time of this writing there were over 37 million pages with vacation rental content. You can narrow this down a bit by putting your
search term in quotes like “vacation rentals”. This will bring back just over 14 million pages with vacation rental content. That’s quite a lot of information to sift through!

You will also notice when you begin clicking on any links for vacation rental content that most of the first few hundred if not thousand pages are all focused on vacation rental directories or vacation rental content directed at guides and listings of vacation rental property owners. You have
to dig pretty deep and spend a lot of time before you find much information that is focused on helping the consumer to learn the ups and downs of vacation rentals.In some popular vacation and tourist locations the tremendous growth of vacation rentals has become such a threat to the local hotel and motel industry that the local authorities have begun passing regulations in an attempt to limit the growth of the vacation rental industry.Since it is our intention to cover information on both sides of the fence when it comes to vacation rental content we will be scheduling some articles specifically aimed at helping consumers learn more about the vacation rental industry so that you can make more informed choices and know exactly what you may be getting into when it comes to vacation rentals.For now we want to direct our attention to the vast amount of vacation rental content that one finds when beginning a search. As we stated above the vast amount of information related to vacation rental content one will find are vacation rental directories aimed mainly at those who may have a vacation rental property they would like to advertise or list so they can get them rented.Whether you’re seeking a vacation rental or need to list a vacation rental your options are tremendous. You do have a couple of ways to begin narrowing down these choices however. Most of the vacation rental content is divided between those sites that list global vacation rental properties and those that list regional or location specific vacation rental properties.One great place that we have found to begin if you’re seeking to find or need to list in a global vacation rental directory is Vacation Home Rentals. At the time of this writing you can find over 14,000 Vacation Rentals by Owner.At Vacation Home Rentals, it’s easy to find or list beach house rentals, home rentals and cabin
rentals for all over the United States and beyond. If you’re looking for something more exotic and need to list something out into the Pacific Ocean, they have a large selection of Hawaii vacation rentals listings where you can place or find great vacation rental content. They are not just limited to the United States, however. They also have vacation rental homes listings and holiday villas all over the globe. You can list or find Caribbean villa rentals across the region. If you’re looking for or need to list a European getaway, they have France vacation rentals, or maybe you would like to locate or list a Tuscany villa. Whatever your requirements Vacation Home Rentals is a great starting place to locate or list vacation rental content.

If your needs are more regional or location specific it’s not hard to find vacation rental content pertaining to the specific region or location of your choice. As an example Southeastern Homes contains vacation rental content that is specific to the beautiful mountains of Western North
Carolina. Here you can locate or list vacation rental cabins and real estate homes that range from rustic homes to the most elegant homes and cabins in the mountains.

Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals Versus Carpinteria Vacation Rentals

Now that Summer is approaching, I’m often asked by travelers to California’s Central Coast for the best way to lodge and experience beautiful Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is a destination point filled with amazing lodging for tourists. Some of the most amazing hotels and Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and campsites on this part of the scenic coast are available in this charming seaside town.What about those tourists seeking to experience the Central Coast without having to pay the high prices for food and lodging that is typical of Santa Barbara, including the Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals? Santa Barbara is bordered by Montecito, a small enclave of multi-million dollar homes and high scale dining. Forget it. Bit a little further down the ocean – only 12 miles – frugal tourists will find themselves in the charming seaside town of Carpinteria. Carpinteria is small – population of less than 15,000 residents.Many of the private and affordable Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are not only more cost effective than the heftily-priced Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals up the coast, but are also located right on the sand of what is known as “The World Safest Beach”.

While the small town is well represented with nice hotels, motels and a bed and breakfast inn, the most popular lodging each summer in Carpinteria is the Carpinteria State Beach Campsite which has become a tradition for many families visiting Carpinteria and Santa Barbara each summer. This campground is surrounded by a Salt Marsh Nature Park to the North and the seal and sea lion sanctuary to the South. Surrounding the same area are many private beach homes and condos that are rented out each summer as Carpinteria Vacation Rentals.Carpinteria is unique this way because these Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are located chiefly within 4 blocks of the ocean. And most of those are located on the famous Sandyland Road, a street that runs adjacent to the ocean front and is lined with private beach homes that are meticulously decorated with
beach and surfing themes. By contrast, Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are not typically located anywhere close to the ocean because the city of Santa Barbara isn’t set up that way.Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are mostly located inland, requiring a bus or taxi – or rental car – to reach the ocean. Santa Barbara is a sprawling city compared to the small feel of the tiny town of Carpinteria so Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are located anywhere and everywhere in the city. In Carpinteria there is always enough time to enjoy the beach, restaurants and other points of interest and still have time to drive the 12 miles North to visit Santa Barbara, to partake of Santa Barbara’s amazing dining offerings.Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are typically privately owned by well-to-do property owners who own and live in other properties and actually rent these properties out all year round. Owners meticulously decorate these fully stocked Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals with everything you need to live for a week. During the summer, Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and Carpinteria Vacation Rentals alike typically require at least a one week stay, even though some owners will entertain offers to stay with a three day minimum.The Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are usually stocked with sheets and linens, pots and pans, to make your weekly stay feel like home. Some owners even stock the closets with beach kites, Frisbees, boogie boards and beach umbrellas. These are amenities that you can’t get by going camping or staying at a hotel.

Typical costs differences between Carpinteria Vacation Rentals and Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are considerable. In Carpinteria, you can expect to pay minimum of $1800 for a two bedroom vacation rental on the ocean for one week. The same size for Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals will cost $2500. In the Winter, Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals and Carpinteria Vacation Rentals plummet as far as rates to, as the Summer tourist season slows down and weekly rates switch to monthly rates.So what is the conclusion on the question of value when comparing Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals to Carpinteria Vacation Rentals? If you don’t mind driving 12 miles to visit Santa Barbara, then Carpinteria Vacation Rentals are the superior value. Otherwise, if you have no car and taxis and buses seem inconvenient, then Santa Barbara Vacation Rentals are probably the safest way to go.

Vacation Rentals by Owner Sites: Are they Profitable?

There are literally hundreds of Vacation Rentals by Owner sites and it seems new ones are appearing every week. On the face of it, it may seem like making money from a “vacation rentals by owner” site is easy: all you have to do is get 1,000 owners to sign up, each paying $100 per year, and you can generate an annual income of $100k with almost no running costs, right?Well, it’s not that simple. For a start, getting vacation rentals owners to pay for a listing on your site is not that easy, and secondly, if you expect to keep them, you will need to generate enquiries and bookings, which only come as a result of spending money, time and effort marketing your “vacation rental by owner” site.Compare Owner Holiday Rentals (http://www.compareownerholidayrentals.com) recently decided to take an analytical look at the business of running a “Vacation Rental by Owner” site.Some of you may be familiar with Michael Porter’s famous framework for analysing the attractiveness of an industry: based upon Porter’s model, you can predict how profitable a particular industry is likely to be in the long term. We have used this model to analyse the attractiveness of the business of running a “vacation rentals by owner” site.Porter’s model says that there are 5 factors which influence the level of competitive rivalry, and hence the relative profitability, of an industry. These are:1. The threat of entry by new competitors.2. The intensity of rivalry among existing competitors.3. Pressure from substitute products.4. The bargaining power of buyers.5. The bargaining power of suppliers.These factors can either have a positive or negative effect on the long term profitability of an industry. Let’s take each of these in turn and see how they can be applied to the business of running a “Vacation Rentals by Owner” site.1. The Threat of Entry by New Competitors: As already indicated, there are new competitors entering the “vacation rentals by owner” business on an almost weekly basis. The main reason for this is that the “barriers to entry” are so low: anyone with some IT skills can quickly build and publish a site, with the only cost being their time and some hosting charges. These low “barriers to entry” and the presence of so many new competitors are a negative for the profitability of the industry.

2. The Intensity of Rivalry among Existing Competitors: Free trials, free listings, reduced prices: all of these are indications of the increasing level of rivalry among the existing sites. Many of the new “vacation rental by owner” sites offer the first 6 or 12 months free of charge. Although some of the established “vacation rental by owner” sites have tried to hold the line on pricing and special offers, the indications are that they are finding it hard to hold their market share. Again, the level of rivalry is a negative for the industry profitability.3. Pressure from Substitute Products: By “substitute “products, we will restrict ourselves to other ways that vacation rentals owners can choose to market their properties. Hence, this includes newspaper / magazine advertising (a medium in declining usage), using rentals agencies (still highly used, particularly in Europe) and marketing via the Owner’s own website (which seems to be increasing, particularly with the advent of Google Ads). All the evidence suggests that more owners are using the internet for advertising their vacations rentals; even the rental agencies now heavily use “Vacation Rentals by Owner” sites for marketing their properties. Also, although there are exceptions, using the commercial “Vacation Rentals by Owner” sites is very much more effective than using a personal site. Hence, the pressure from substitutes is relatively low, the industry is growing and this is a positive for the industry profitability.4. The Bargaining Power of Buyers: Largely because there are so many options, including free trials and special offers, buyers (owners) have a lot of power when deciding where to list their properties. Also, the cost of switching to a different “vacation rental by owner” site is relatively low. Most owner’s review their advertising on an annual basis, based upon the results (enquiries, bookings) that they have received. “Vacation rental by Owner” sites that fail to produce results are not able to persuade owners to renew. Many new sites that start off by offering free trials fail to turn these into paying customers because they have not been able to attract renters in sufficient numbers to generate rental bookings. Hence, the bargaining power of buyers (owners) is a negative for the industry profitability.5. The Bargaining Power of Suppliers : In the context of running a “Vacation Rentals by Owner” site, the main services that site owners buy are “hosting” ( which is cheap and plentiful) and marketing/ advertising ( which is plentiful, but not that cheap). Since hosting is relatively unimportant, let’s focus on marketing/ advertising. As more and more “vacation rental by owner” sites come online, getting good results on search engines such as Google is getting harder and harder. Hence, “Vacation Rentals by Owner” sites are experiencing the need to invest more in targeted marketing and advertising in order to attract renters to their sites. This eats into margins and is affecting the profitability of the business. Hence, although previously neutral, the bargaining power of suppliers is increasingly a negative for the industry profitability.So, with 4 out of 5 factors being negative, does that mean that this industry is so unattractive that it is impossible to make money running a “Vacation Rentals by Owner” site?Not necessarily, although undoubtedly it is getting tougher. In particular, smaller “me-too” vacation rentals by owner sites are unlikely to be able to be profitable enough to stay around for the long term, although new ones will probably continue to enter the market, start off by offering extended free trials, stay in the market for a couple of years and then fold.However, there are probably two ways you can build and maintain a profitable business in this industry.Firstly, some large “vacation rental by owner” sites will achieve sufficient scale (possibly through acquisition) to use their size to generate competitive advantage. These sites will have the critical mass of owners and visitors to be economically viable. As evidenced by the recent acquisitions that the WVR Group have made, it’s likely that some of the better smaller “vacation rental by owner” sites will get absorbed into such larger entities. Currently, VRBO and the WVR Group, (which owns a1vacations, Greatrentals, Cyberrentals and Holiday-Rentals amongst others) are the two 800 pound gorillas in the industry. Expect further consolidation to happen in the coming years.

However, it is also possible for a smaller “vacation rental by owner” site to be successful. To do this, it will need to carve out a profitable niche, possibly focusing on a particular geography or demographic to build competitive advantage. By focusing marketing efforts on a targeted group, these smaller sites will be able to attract vacation rental owners and renters. Hence, expect to see an increase in the number of specialist sites ( e.g. Petfriendlytravel focusing on renters with pets), possibly offering add-on services that differentiate them from the larger “vacation rental by owner” sites. Indeed, many small regional sites offer full vacation rental management services, from booking through handling changeover, as an alternative to the model which relies upon the owner to manage everything themselves.Conclusions:It is inevitable that the business of running a “vacation rental by owner” web site will change in the coming years. Although the overall market will grow as people continue to move away from traditional package holidays and embrace holidays using vacation rentals, it is likely that “vacation rentals by owner” sites will split into two camps: the large sites with the critical mass to cost-effectively market thousands of properties, and the smaller, niche sites, that offer some unique differentiating factor to be attractive to a more targeted group of owners and renters.

Free Vacation Rentals Listings Sites

Although vacation rentals owners should not rely on FREE vacation rental listings sites to generate the majority of their bookings, they can be helpful in filling vacancies. However, how do you go about selecting the most appropriate FREE vacation rentals sites for your vacation rental?To start with, FREE vacation rental listings sites come in various forms. The type of free sites you should choose depends on the objectives and expectations you have for your listing on that vacation rental site.Firstly, there are new sites, who are seeking to build up the number of vacation rental listings on their site. In order to be attractive to renters, vacation rentals sites need to have a decent number of vacation rental properties listed. For new sites, the easiest way to generate new listings is to offer a free trial period, usually for a minimum of 6 months and often for more than 1 year. Once established with a strong pool of potential renters visiting each day, the intent is for the vacation rental site to begin charging vacation rental owners for their listings and ultimately reduce or eliminate the free trial periods.Listing on these sites is somewhat of a long term bet. They are not likely to produce a lot of bookings in the short term, but as the site gets established in the vacation rentals market, they may well generate bookings for you.

Examples of this type of site are Villa Holiday Homes and Tenant.com, although there are many others. (You can find more information on these sites on the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)A second type of site that offers FREE vacation rentals listings is the permanently free site. These are funded either by advertising (e.g. Google ads) or offer the opportunity to upgrade your free listing to a paid listing. Generally, the sites that offer a free upgrade tend to be a better bet for generating bookings, particularly if there are not many other vacation rental properties in your location listed on that site.An example of this type of vacation rentals site is Vacationrentals411, on which a basic listing is free, but which allows you to bid for a premium position in search results. (You can find a review of Vacationrental411 on the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)A third type of FREE vacation rental listing is the “free trial” offered by some of the established vacation rental sites. This is a “try before you buy” model, with the intent being that you should be sufficiently impressed by the level of enquiries and bookings for your vacation home during the trial period that you will go ahead and pay for a listing at the end of the trial period. Trial periods are usually relatively short (between 1 and 3 months).These sites are generally quite effective at generating bookings, although once the free trial period is complete, you will then need to pay for your listing (and most sites can identify vacation rental owners who have previously availed of a free trial). For best use, I would recommend you sign up for these trials during the “busy” season for bookings in the location of your vacation rental: this has the highest chance of generating bookings and also provides the best test of whether this particular vacation rental site works for the location of your vacation rental.Examples of this type of vacation rental sites are Homelidays and VacationHomeRentals. (You can find reviews of these sites on the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)Finally, there are sites which offer FREE classified listings. The most famous of these is Craigslist, although US Freeads is another popular example. The primary drawback with these sites is that you need to continually repost your listings, although they can be effective, particularly for filling specific vacancies at relatively short notice.

With all of these free options, why would anyone pay for their vacation rental home to be listed on a vacation rentals site?The answer lies in the fact that most free vacation rental sites will generate fewer enquiries and bookings than the paid sites. However, it’s still worth listing your vacation rental home on several of these free vacation rental sites: after all, what do you have to lose?(Research completed by Compare Owner Holiday Rentals shows that you should list on at least 3 paid sites, plus a number of free sites in order to optimize bookings. You can find more details in the articles section of the Compare Owner Holiday Rentals website.)For a list of some of the better FREE vacation rentals sites, visit http://www.compareownerholidayrentals.com Sign up for the free newsletter to get a list of FREE vacation rentals sites, plus some special offers on paid sites.