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5750 Views 22 Replies Latest reply: Jan 12, 2012 9:19 AM by sluft@libnat.com RSS
New Member 4 posts since
Sep 12, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Nov 9, 2011 1:40 PM

Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

I've been looking around and noticing that more and more properties are quoting one "all inclusive" fee per night instead of breaking it out (cleaning fee, deposit, beach chair rentals, each their own fee, for example). What do you think about that? I personally prefer just one price because I don't like feeling nickeled and dimed but also because those fees can really add up. It just takes a bit more attention to find the right price I find. WWhat do you think?

  • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011

    I advertise a weekly rental fee that includes all services.  I think it is simple for the owner to be able to quote one figure without saying "and", "and", and "and".   I also think that it allows potential guests to quickly determine whether their budget will allow for staying at your property. 

     

    In my opinion, an all inclusive price is psychologically more appealing than a list of add ons. 

    • Currently Being Moderated
      Nov 11, 2011 2:49 PM (in response to thaxterlane)
      Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

      I agree with thaxterlane about posting all-inclusive rates.  There is a rationale for doing otherwise, though - separating out charges allows the owner/manager to list the property at a lower price, where it will pop up in a more attractive price range during a search.  The client is fooled into thinking it is a good deal, at least until he adds up all the nickels and dimes...

       

      Personally, I think it is somewhat dishonest.  

  • wiffle Contributor 217 posts since
    Feb 23, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 18, 2011 8:45 PM (in response to rememberparis)
    Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

    I would prefer just one rate that includes everything with the exception of cleaning fee and tax. I would prefer to know the cleaning fee and tax separately.

     

    Also that is how I price my quotes when people ask. I always give a total and then break it out.

    • New Member 7 posts since
      Sep 21, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Nov 30, 2011 5:17 AM (in response to wiffle)
      Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

      I also prefer an all-inklusive fee. Easy to understand and you know from the start what you have to pay.

      Regards

      Diane

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Dec 2, 2011 10:30 PM (in response to luxi)
        Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

        I would kindly request, from anyone giving me an all-inclusive flat price, a break out of all costs.... so I know what I am being charged for.  When I go into a shop to buy any item, I see a price on the item ....and there might be a discount to be factored in, and  then I can expect sales tax ...and I then get a total that I  pay, at the register!  I want to know, in the shops, how much I am paying...and for what.

         

        My accommodations have a rate per night....I factor in any discount if I want to give one...I can add the cleaning fee...a damage fee...and the tax.  I break it out, just like any vendor I would purchase from in a store does for me.

        So, I'll provide a total in full....but then I break it out for people. Why would anyone think this is being "dishonest"?  I think the flat price has a lot of room for "hidden costs", actually.   In six years, with two rental units, I have never had any confusion, misunderstandings, or even a question from any of my prospects about the charges.  In fact, so many have sent me a line stating how much they appreciate the thorough break out so they know what they are paying for.  There's no dishonesty.

        • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
          Jul 27, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Dec 3, 2011 6:46 AM (in response to anja)
          Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

          My advertisement states the weekly rental includes a house cleaning prior to arrival, provison of all linens, and a laundry service at the end of stay for household linens.  My guests receive a complete packet of information about my home, describing everything from furnishings, to paper goods stocked, to condiments on hand in the cabinets.

           

          There are not any local taxes or fees applied to my home. 

           

          I don't believe there is anything "hidden" in my costs.

           

          I don't divulge my property taxes, insurance, water, trash, electric, cable, telephone, internet, etc. to my guests and all figure into my pricing - do you recommend I bare all to my guests? 

           

          There are several properties near my home that are comparable in size to mine.  These owners "add" a cleaning fee to their rent.   There you go, it's broken out.  But, I use the word add because their rent is higher than mine and their stated cleaning fee is twice what I pay for cleaning a similarly sized home.   These figures are broken out but  I am confident the cleaning fee is inflated becuase I recently had several services provide estimates for cleaning my home and none were at the level posted on any of these homes.

           

          There isn't any way to know the "true" costs of a rental home.    The owner creates a price structure and presents it to their guests.  It can be one number or several numbers, but the numbers, excepting taxes, are "made up" by the owner no matter how they are presented.

           

          And, in over 15 years of renting my home, I haven't had anyone ask me for details of my pricing. I would likely see this as intrusive and not rent to someone questioning me in this manner.   But, perhaps different rental markets have different traditions . . . . 

          • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
            Aug 9, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Dec 3, 2011 7:05 PM (in response to thaxterlane)
            Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

            The "true costs" for an Owner running  a vacation rental are not itemized,  surely....who would ever suggest such a thing.   I stated what I do when I give a cost for the rental...because someone else on this forum {not I}  stated she/he  thought that Owners who do not give an "all-inclusive" price could appear to be "nickel/diming" by setting a LOWER rate...for more a "more attractive" price range....then adding on fees...{saying it's "dishonest" to "break out the costs"}. REALLY?  I don't know anything about dishonest Owners.  But, I, too, send a complete "packet" of information which describes all that is included in the rental -- provisions, etc.   But....seriouisly who would consider divulging the real costs of the Owner, i.e. utilites, etc., to anyone?   No dishonesty with giving a TOTAL and then breaking it out!  That is my statement earlier.   I stated that my practice is simply to  send the total price {for the renter}... and then to show how I reached that total by breaking it out ...so they know what I am charging THEM for.  That's a night rate +  cleaning fee + damage fee + tax =  total.   That's it.  No one would ever dream of divulging running  costs...and no one in this Community ever suggested doing so.

            • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
              Jul 27, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Dec 3, 2011 7:33 PM (in response to anja)
              Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

              Um, you suggested all costs be itemized in your previous post.  Perhaps that was not your intention: 

               

              "I would kindly request, from anyone giving me an all-inclusive flat price, a break out of all costs.... so I know what I am being charged for."

               

              Perhaps I took your statement literally, but you did say all costs and I reacted to your statement as it was written.  

               

              As I wrote earlier, the costs for an owner are made up of numerous expernses and those expenses are translated by the owner into a rental rate.  You can present them any way you want, but you are starting with a group of expenses for your property and then  you will add whatever the local market will accomodate. 

               

              I reiterate that I do not see any reason to provide a breakdown of my costs nor calculations to a potential renter. 

               

              That's all. 

               

              To each his or her own . . .

              • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
                Aug 9, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Dec 3, 2011 9:18 PM (in response to thaxterlane)
                Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

                Yes....you took it too literally.  And, by the way....I do not think that there is a right/wrong way for Owners to do this...no one here is debating how it should be done.  I stated my preference as an Owner and as a Customer.  I would not characterize either practice as "dishonest". That is what I was reacting to.  I'm not dishonest because  I give a TOTAL price, and then  break it out...and you are not dishonest for giving the all-inclusive price.  We all have our business practice.  On that, we agree!

                • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
                  Jul 27, 2011
                  Currently Being Moderated
                  Dec 4, 2011 8:03 AM (in response to anja)
                  Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

                  That's fine, but you must see that when you break out your total, you are choosing how to and what to break out and the guest doesn't have any idea as to whether these are actual costs or made up costs, except for taxes which are set by a local or regional authority.  As I alluded to earlier, I can say my cleaning rate is $100, $150, $200, or $300  and the customer hasn't a clue.   I am not suggesting that owners are inflating their prices by inflating their costs; but I'm not certain a break out of costs is particularly meaningful since the customer can't verify the costs you're listing unless the costs are for set services or levies that are public knowledge.

                   

                  As a customer I want to know my total price; I'm not interested in how the owner reaches the price since I haven't any knowledge of costs for houses I rent - for instance I recently rented houses in Santa Monica, Yosemite Natl Park, and San Francisco.  How would a breakdown of costs versus a total help me make a decision?   I would want to check that the price  includes any attendant services, such as a beach pass at a beach house or a pool pass (covering chaises, towels, cabanas, etc) at a resort. But other than specific guest services I'm not sure it's helpful to me to know what the owner pays for cleaning and taxes. 

                   

                  I can't imagine how having that information would impact my decision on where to stay. 

                   

                  But if others feel they are getting better information or important information with a breakdown of some expenses that's fine with me.  I'm simply puzzled by the idea that a break down is useful, particularly to the owner.  I would suggest that breaking down a price might encourage potential guests to negotiate or ask for a discount where a single figure encompassing all expenses is less likely to be questioned.  Just a thought. 

                  • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
                    Aug 9, 2011
                    Currently Being Moderated
                    Dec 4, 2011 3:32 PM (in response to thaxterlane)
                    Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

                    Oh yes....your point was not disputed...not debated  over the best practice,..among us.  When one is self-managed, one does what works.  There is no right/wrong practice....EXCEPT when it is done as "manouche" now clarified....which I was disputing.....that perceived notion of being considered "dishonest" if an Owner was "breaking out" the costs with those couple of fees that I expressed in my original post.   I stated my personal preference  when I travel and what I inform my rental guests of. ...and their feedback is what keeps me doing it that way. Your point is most valid, in my opinion, on "all inclusive" vs "breakdown"....for particular settings and circumstances. And, there are probably Owners that do "overcharge" for cleaning, etc.. and pile on "itemized" fees for everything they want to be compensated for. But, you and I agree that we do our due diligence when we shop for accommodations...and  choose the best deal. Who would not!  As for that particular marketing strategy now clearly explained by "manouche"....I would have to agree that it is deceptive marketing...{thank you for clarifying}.  My location has dozens of resorts {and some very high-end private homes inside resorts}  where there are all those "add-on" fees for beach gear, towels, poolside and beachside, golf, etc.  Yes, it would make sense for me, both as Owner, and as a Renter, to want an "all-inclusive" price...in that circumstance / location.    My original statement was, and is, my practice and preference as a self-managed, private vacation home Owner...and I used  my own situation to "dispell" the  general notion made  of "dishonesty" raised by "manouche"....clarified here.  The way I work is actually common practice among the  "Private -Self-Managed Owner" {I know dozens personally} in my area.  My guests are informed of what they can expect to be included in "the total".  It's just a different way of giving a price....yours is not the right or wrong way...nor is mine.  It's just what we prefer, as I stated.  If an Owner in my location wants to give a rate per night and then "list" many "add-on" fees...for everything they want to be compensated for....so be it....the competition doing it differently exists.  But, I do not know if "manouche's" described marketing strategy is in play, among us...here....the "private home owners".  I think it would eventually be to their detriment. Rentals are in abundance, here and everywhere. My ads,  my "offers" and  my website clearly state night rate, cleaning, damange fee,  the required sales tax and hotel tax...and then I state there are no other "hidden" incidential, add-on fees. No one looking for my category of rental would expected "cabana fees", etc..  Never in my experience has there been a question or suspicion of us "overcharging" for cleaning or damages...we state the fees...and it is so easy to compare rates, fees, by localty on line....even VRBO presents listings by "location". Our rental business has exisited for years ...and we're very experienced Owners as well as "world travelers"...I used to travel as my previous profession.  I know the hotel, resort, high-end marketing scenarios. I also was employed for a few years in advertising... "visual presentation" and "copywriting"  on the mainland {USA} before I relocated overseas...and then to my new State {Hawaii}.  I'm not a novice.  And, I know my target group well for my category of rental.  Is it interesting for some people to know how much it costs to clean the house? Don't know. Don't care.  My guests have actually told us so many times how pleased they are with the open, frank and fair price policy communications we provide. I base my practice on what works....for us...in our location...and in our category of rental.  I do not debate, dispute, challenge  OR JUDGE any other practice, by other Private Owners.   If it works...do it....just be honest. If you rented from me, I would give you an "offer" with my info. "package" ...it states a "total"  +  the cleaning fee + tax... as does my website ...and there is a complete list of "Amenities Included In The TOTAL Price".....  I state that there are no other, add-on, incidental fees...{which are common in a hotel/resort locations}.  I have a list of  "Amenities" that includes everything from household items, services and "equipment" clearly stated as "included".  I can see  "manouche's" point that it is deceptive when the advertised rate {without the added fees} is lower than the total price to be paid, i.e. the resulting "Sticker Shock".  Of course.  that is common practice in a hotel situation.  I agree with you both...for both situations that you described.  But to state that it seems "dishonest" to "break out" the total ...was a bit too "general" a judgement for me.  Because I do it...many others do it...and that is not "dishonest" or "deceptive" in practice....per say. If you were to book one of my accommodations, you would know what the rate per night is, that there are 2 fees {cleaning + refundable damage fee} + tax....and the "total" you are given is  "inclusive with amenities".  You would know, that you would get not only the standard beach gear {chairs, umbrellas, towels, etc.}, but a surf board, body boards,  snorkel gear, and kayaks for my guests...included.  At my place,  we share a lifestyle with our guests ...no nickle/dime mentality in my private, self-managed,  vacation rental by owner. You would care to know that.

        • Currently Being Moderated
          Dec 4, 2011 4:30 AM (in response to anja)
          Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

          Let me clarify: 

          Property A lists at $3,000/week, all fees and taxes included.  Property B lists at $2,000/week, but on the "rate details" page, there is a breakdown list totalling $1,000 worth of additional fees and taxes.  When doing a search by price range,  Property B appears far in advance of Property A's listing.  At first glance, which property would seem most appealing to a prospective renter? 

           

          The "dishonesty" only occurs when the advertised rate (without the added fees) is lower than the total price that will be paid.  When the added fees are sidestepped in this way, it allows the owner to list the property in a lower-priced category, which is much more appealing to prospective customers.  "Sticker shock" arrives after that, when the fees are totaled up, and that's what I feel is somewhat fraudulent.

           

          I'm not at all against listing fees - but I think it would be more truthful to first list the property at full value, with all fees included.  To be fair, the total price should be reflected in the listing placement.  Of course, the fees should be broken out in the "rate details" category, as everyone has a right to know what they are paying for.  Also, this would prevent any hidden fees from being adden on after the fact.

           

          My gripe is with the listing placement, based on a price that does not include additional fees.  This is unfair to those of us who list all-inclusive prices.

  • New Member 9 posts since
    Sep 21, 2011

    As a renter, I much prefer one fee.  It's easier to compare places that way.  However, you have to follow what is the norm for your market, or you will be at a disadvantage in your listing.  You could simply itemize the total cost in the body of your listing and sum it up, and thus provide both methods.  This will also get others to realize they need to add up the costs at the other places.

     

    My particular pet peeve is when places charge per person.  This is particularly the case when our rental time frame doesn't nicely coincide with the prices listed, such as a 10 day stay, and I need to try to calculate factors for weeks, days, number of people who will be there for what period of time, pet fees, cleaning fees, taxes...and do those taxes include cleaning fees?  Also,  I don't always know how many people will be able to come.  Though oftentimes it is just us, we vacation near family so that they can join us for the weekend.  I prefer to rent a facility that is large enough to handle our guests, but also have a set price so that I know what my costs will be.  It's not like a B&B where you rent by the room.  If I rent a place that is too big for our core family, then I expect to pay more than I would for a place that would house only the 4 of us, even if some of those bedrooms go unused.  There are already so many options to consider when renting a VR.  Lets keep the calculation of rates simple.  Complex calculations puts me into analysis paralysis.  Frankly, this has even made me change my destination for a simpler market.  Case in point:  Lexington, VA.  I break out in a cold sweat looking for a place around there, and have each time headed elsewhere.

     

    I'm a big fan of the KISS principal, but you have to do what your market dictates.

    • New Member 6 posts since
      Sep 20, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Dec 7, 2011 9:39 PM (in response to luv2kayak)
      Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

      Very interesting discussion.  What comes to mind (as a consumer) is that when I buy in a store or check into a hotel, the price is never all inclusive...taxes are separate and additional.  Hotels always take a credit card imprint to help cover the extra costs like movies,long distant calls etc.. I never dispute this practice or claim fraud/dishonesty or deceit and view this as "the norm".

      We use the above "norm" to list our property and always outline on the listing page the price plus taxes which can vary depending on your area.  Ours happens to be 11%.  We also clearly state in the listing that the cleaning fee is "extra" from the rental fee.

      Prior to booking, we include the breakdown showing the cost of renting, the tax, cleaning fee and taxes with the total cost in a formal quote.

      In my mind it would only be dishonest to hijack the price after the total amount has been quoted.

      How an owner arrives at rental rate is completely his/her decision and does not need to disclose how he/she arrives at the price. Every home owners expenses differ depending on the structure of their investment.

      Conversely, it's the clients decision to either accept of reject a quote based on the affordability of the product offered.

      In this economy we are all looking for the best price and the rental market is no different.  Said that, perhaps some consumers are wanting a break down to see if there is room for negotiations on the price.

      • New Member 9 posts since
        Sep 21, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Dec 8, 2011 5:44 AM (in response to oceansoblue)
        Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

        Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's dishonest, just a PITA.  And truly I don't care about taxes.  Taxes are taxes so just tell me the percentage and leave them out of the calculation until the end when I decide to rent and need to send payment.  At this point I'm just comparing properties, and the % tax on one should be the tax on the other if they are in the same area, or frankly I will want to know why.  I won't do an illegal rental, and if they don't collect taxes they are clearly not above board.

         

        "Hotels always take a credit card imprint to help cover the extra costs like movies,long distant calls etc.."

         

        And if I were to use extras, I would expect to pay for them.  What you include in your property should be clearly defined in your listing.  I do read them, though I am aware not everyone does.  But when I rent a hotel room, I don't rent out the whole property.  They are right to charge me for the room, subject to maximum occupancy.  When we rent a VR, we don't expect to pay per person or per room.  We take all the rooms and expect that we are allowed to bring as many people as are listed as maximum, or not, and pay for the premium luxury of extra space for the 4 of us.  I find it very difficult to plan everything I need to know to book a property by person as far ahead as I need to do to book a place, because there are too many factors not in my control.

         

        I understand  that people travel differently, and that by renting per person a VR owner may very well open their property to more weekend rentals of couples traveling together.  While I don't understand lowering your price for smaller parties when you are renting out the whole house, I can see the benefit to booking the property if it would otherwise go empty.  No doubt the smaller parties appreciate the discount.  Me, I just hate the extra calculations and the seemingly endless variety in which some areas present their rates.  I would love a more uniform approach that made it easier to compare properties.  I don't need to get frustrated comparing properties...vacation is supposed to be relaxing.

        • New Member 7 posts since
          Sep 21, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Dec 8, 2011 6:34 AM (in response to luv2kayak)
          Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

          But what I would like to add to all this..you are also dealing with many overseas customers. And here in Europe Tax is allways included in the price..wherever you go. Experienced travelers are used to the fact that it is different in the USA but others are not. Besides many owners are from the UK an offer all inklusive prices. So it is understandable that some renters get confused sometimes especially if they are new to it.

           

          Regards Diane

  • Contributor 60 posts since
    Sep 21, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 8, 2011 12:36 PM (in response to rememberparis)
    Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

    I would like to advertise a flat all inclusive price but in my area the norm is to charge a separate cleaning fee, tax etc so I do the same otherwise my rate would appear higher than the competition

  • New Member 1 posts since
    Jan 11, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 12, 2012 9:19 AM (in response to rememberparis)
    Re: Fees broken out line by line or a flat price?

    When traveling, I like to know what the TOTAL FINAL COST of a rental by night and weekly is when trying to make my vacation plans and reservations. I prefer to know at what point a price break might be available (after 3 nights, only when renting a whole week, former renters, etc). Having said that though, I also prefer to see what makes up that total cost (deposit, rental fee, tax, cleaning fee, pet fee, equipment rental, etc). This way I can compare cost of several different units and compare "EXACTLY" what I am being charged for before making my choice. Other persons (especially those whom I might be traveling with) seem to prefer this route also. In this day and time and considering today economic situations, I think most people want to know exactly what their $$$ are being spent for. 

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