Before you browse and book on one of the big online travel and vacation rental web sites like VRBO™ or AirBnB™ – take a close look at the rates and fees! The “service fees”, aka booking fees, will surprise you!
A once free service has morphed into a wallet busting booking fee on most of the large travel sites! The major players in the industry now charge “service fees” built into your online booking. VRBO charges guests an average of 12% per booking. AirBnB charges a percentage – avg 12%-20% of each booking. These fees can add hundreds and hundreds … in some cases thousands of dollars to the cost of your vacation rental. So, what can you do?
Luckily, the island of St John has a fantastic Book Direct vacation rental web site. Just like VRBO and AirBnb, the Book Direct site has lots of listings. Just like those huge travel sites, you’ll find resort, villa, condo, hotel, inn, and B&B options. But the best part is each listing is direct with the owner or manager – so you avoid the nasty booking fees! If you’re planning your first visit or you’re return trip to St John – check out www.StJohn-VillaRentals.com .
THE HISTORY OF ONLINE VACATION RENTALS
Years ago guests could jump onto VRBO … the web site that literally created the online vacation rental by owner industry! A guest could browse available places to rent. The site had a large inventory and each listing displayed a gallery of photos, description of the property, a map/location and rates. BRILLIANT! Users flocked to the web site – found the perfect vacation rental – and connected direct with the owner to complete the reservation/booking. The property owner paid VRBO a subscription fee … later adding a percent of each booking to increase revenue. But the guest … well, the guest never paid a dime. That was until a myriad of other vacation rental sites popped up. HomeAway, Flipkey, Tripadvisor, were followed by an even larger number of aggregators ( sites that pull listings from a number of sources, combine them to create a huge inventory). The Age of Priceline, Trivago, Booking.com, Tripping, and dozens and dozens of other web sites!
The result of all of this sharing and swapping and competing created higher and higher fees; and rates were different on each site. So along came the aggregators with a new spin – “Lowest Rates” comparisons. All of this might seem like it benefits the consumer .. the traveller. But it doesn’t …!!!
As each vacation rental site spent more and more money to compete against rivals … and as the largest sites began buying smaller sites for astronomical amounts of money … investors began to expect large returns and double-digit growth. So the platforms began inching up the owner fees. Adding charges for leads/inquiries. And when that well ran dry – they turned their attention to … you guessed it … the guest!