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19671 Views 65 Replies Latest reply: Jun 7, 2012 6:36 PM by jennifer.stanton RSS Branched to a new discussion.
Active Contributor 343 posts since
Nov 18, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 22, 2011 1:16 PM

What Travelers Need to Know

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If you could give travelers one piece of advice about renting a vacation property, what would it be?

  • mike Contributor 90 posts since
    Dec 29, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 19, 2011 9:00 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    Great discussion topic! Ill start ...

     

    Do not expect or ask for a discount when booking 6 months in advance unless you are staying 7+nts.

     

    Thanks Laura, cant wait to read the rest

     

    Mike

    • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
      Dec 31, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 20, 2011 6:24 PM (in response to mike)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Mike, that's great advice.  I don't know if the stipulation about 7+ nights applies for all owners, but I agree that guest should not expect or ask for a discount for reservations that are very far in advance.

       

      Here are some things I came up with.

       

      "Advice for travelers trying to book a vacation rental ... "

       

      1) ALWAYS check the property's Availability Calendar BEFORE inquiring.   If you inquire about dates that are already marked as booked on the calendar, you will come across as inconsiderate for wasting the property owner's time, not to mention foolish, as you likewise wasted your own time making the inquiry.

       

      2)  Before you hit "Send" when you make your initial inquiry, be sure to write a sentence or two (or even a paragaph!) about yourself.  Briefly state WHO YOU ARE, the PURPOSE of your visit, and an explanation of WHY you specifically chose to inquire with this particular guest apartment.  This will make your inquiry stand out from the others.

       

      3) To improve your chances of getting a reduced rate, request dates that completely fill an empty space in the property's calendar, between other bookings. 

       

      4) Do not to take it personally if property owner is not willing to negotiate a lower price.   Every owner situation is different; some owners may have flexibility to negotiate a lower price, while others do not.  In addition, an owner may be willing to negotiate a lower price for some dates but not for others.

       

      5) Sneaking in extra people is a big NO-NO with vacation rentals.  To reduce the amount of wear and tear on their homes, noise and disturbance in the neighborhood, and other problems, many property owners strictly enforce rules on maximum occupancy.   Sneaking people in may result in extra fees on your invoice, forfeiture of the security deposit, or even early eviction, depending on the rules of the specific vacation rental.

       

      ----

      Like Mike, I am curious to see what kind of advice folks in the community may have for prospective renters.

      Does anyone else have any other ideas? 

      • Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 20, 2011 2:24 PM (in response to sfvacationhut)
        What Travelers Need to Know

        I agree about the discount ploy - puts me in a bad mood right off the bat...Granted, many prospective renters have read that pushing for discounts is acceptable - even expected -  but they do not realize what a slap in the face it is to an Owner.  Ditto the importance of checking the Calendar - however, many sites do not update on a regular basis, and there are innumerable listings that state "Contact Us for Availability" - so, what is a renter to do?

         

        My advice for visitors to non-US properties, especially if it is a first visit, would be to DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!! We are more than happy to supply some basic tourist info and advice, detailed instruction manuals for the property, local insider tips and suggestions, even multi-language dictionaries.  However, you should learn to read a basic map, and do some basic research and planning before you leave home. 

         

        Just please do not expect us to be your travel planners, concierges, translators, tour guides or "best friends"  - unless you would like to pay an expert for these services.   My job is to provide you with a lovely place to stay while you enjoy your visit.  I will make sure you are very comfortable, and I will even spoil you a little, but that's all I can offer.  For the rest, you will just have to hit the bookstore and the Web.

      • twobitrentals Community All-Star 1,362 posts since
        Aug 5, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jun 7, 2012 1:33 PM (in response to sfvacationhut)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        #5 is a big one for some of us!

         

        I am sure that someone has already addressed this, but I hate when people call or e-mail and ask a bunch of questions about the property when most of what they are asking is addressed in the web page. (I actually had one lady e-mail me) (after she checked out) and was upset about there being no iron. I had to respond by telling her that the website clearly showed that there was a european steamer (instead of an iron) for clothes in the bottom drawer of the master bathroom, and that it was much safer than an iron in a Vacation rental. She was the one with 4 children (supposed to be only 2) under the age of 6 (total of 10 people instead of 7) in the home that left the front door open when they left and a neighbor had to go and close it! Thank goodness for wonderful neighbors.

  • stjvilla Active Contributor 626 posts since
    May 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 20, 2011 6:00 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    Agree with what has already been said.  My advice: Be honest with the owner and yourself about what you need/want in a rental.  If a property is missing something you feel is essential, you won't be happy and there are plenty of other rentals out there!

     

    Larry

  • New Member 6 posts since
    Sep 20, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 20, 2011 6:53 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    We have some excellent points here for travellers.  We are all looking for a "bargain" in these times, however asking me for a discount for my rental properties is no different than asking the traveller to go to work for less money than they currently make.  Many don't realize that this is a "business" that we derive our income from and asking us for a discount translates to less income for us in the end.  I suggest that if a person is looking to spend less money then perhaps seeking a less expensive property would serve them better.  The act of bargaining for a lower price has prompted many home owners to inflate their price so that they can in the end "get their full pay".

     

    Additionally, many do not realize the extra expenses incurred with additional guests being "snuck" in.  Water bills in Florida are very expesive and additional persons in a house over a 7 day period can significantly increase the expenses with extra daily showers, washroom usage etc..  Again the dishonest client just "robs" the home owner of profits by not conforming to their original agreement.

     

    "Normal" wear and tear is expected in this business.  If there is accidental damage to anything in your rental unit during your stay, full disclosure would be most appreciated so that we can rectify the problem before the next guests arrive.

    Dave

  • thaxterlane Active Contributor 786 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 21, 2011 3:31 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    My advice is to communicate.  Ask questions.  I think many problems that renters (and owners) encounter could be prevented with effective communication.

     

    If an owner does not answer questions to a traveller's satisfaction he/she should move on to consider a different property.  He/she shouldn't make any assumptions.  Each rental is different, as is each rental party. 

     

    There will be far fewer disappointed expectations if thorough communicatioin occurs around any issues that will impact the stay including items as simple as number of beds in each bedroom, to cookware available in kitchen, to travel distance to sites of interest to the rental party, to procedures for emergency situations. 

     

    In my years of experience I have found that effective communication leads to greater satisfaction for traveller AND owner.    My experience as a traveller reflects my experience as an owner.

     

    ASK QUESTIONS, STATE EXPECTATIONS.

  • mike Contributor 90 posts since
    Dec 29, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 21, 2011 3:57 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    Hi All, great comments, thought I would add one more...

     

    As a guest, please remember sometimes things happens unexpectedly such as water heater failures, appliance malfunctions etc. When these things happen its simply unfortunate luck that it occurred during your stay. Do not judge the quality of the entire vacation rental based on one unfortunate incident. Judge the owners repsonse to the problem, how quickly they attempt to rectify it and their overall concern for the quality of your vacation. When a dishwasher breaks it doesnt have to ruin your entire vacation, when booking vacation rentals enjoy the adventure and be flexible.

     

    Mike Cushing

    www.bookbyowner.com

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 22, 2011 3:33 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    One note to first-time travellers to Europe - if you are staying for one week or less, consider staying in a hotel rather than renting an apartment.  You really have to be realistic about your expectations.  Paris, for example, is not anything like Disneyland. It is a big, busy, noisy, foreign city - though beautiful and a lot of fun, it is not very easy to deal with living here on a daily basis.

     

    Yes, usually the vacation rental will be somewhat less expensive, but most European apartments are not as spacious as one would hope. Be aware that "loft or mezzanine" sleeping areas are often accessed by a ladder or steep stairs, and you might not be able to stand up in the space.  If you are sharing with others, be aware that you may have to climb over the couple sleeping on the fold-out couch, if you need to get to the bathroom or kitchen.  A rooftop view sounds enticing, but climbing 5 flights of stairs after wandering the streets all day gets old - fast!

     

    Everyone loves the idea of a Euro-style kitchen, and we have all dreamt of being Julia Child.  However, once you have spent hours dealing with a foreign language, the metric system, remembering which shops and markets are open during which times or days, hauling your heavy groceries on foot then perhaps up several flights of stairs...let's be honest - making Coq au Vin from scratch probably won't happen very often, if at all!  All of my guests insist they love to cook - and having a nice kitchen was high on the list of determining factors when choosing a rental - but admit that they mainly used the gourmet kitchen for yogurt and toast... they were just too worn out from playing tourist, so enjoyed eating out, instead.

     

    If you can possibly stay for 3 to 4 weeks (which is often very affordable), you would have the time needed to get settled into a culture, your neighborhood, and a routine that suits your needs.  Again, just be reasonable about what you really need and want from your vacation. 

  • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
    Mar 30, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 23, 2011 7:09 AM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know


    When it comes to renters asking for discounts, during the high season I tell them to check the calendar 2 weeks before the date that they want to rent. If it is still open at that point, I will discount. In the mid season, I never have to discount, and in the low season it doesn't pay for me to discount unless they are taking a long term rental. If they continue to negotiate, I tell them that I have only raised my rates $100 in the past 5 years, understanding that the economy is not good. I also will give repeat renters the orignal rate that they paid, as a result, I have 4 renters every year that have been renting for 3 years or more.

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 24, 2011 4:41 PM (in response to terirusso)
      What Travelers Need to Know

      Good topic.  Things I might add:

       

      1) Ditto about checking the calendar first as to not waste both our time!  Some argue that many owners are not diligent in keeping their calendars updated when booked.  However, this only means that dates marked as available may actually in fact be booked, not the converse. That is, if it is marked booked, don't inquire thinking that may be a mistake and it is possibly available.  Few owners mark available dates as booked by mistake.

       

      2) We make NO profits during the summer (our low season) and are lucky just to break even.  When people have the nerve to ask for a discount on $400/week for a 2 bed/2 bath lovely unit in a private gated resort community with all amenities it really irks me.

       

      3) Likewise, what we offer as our winter (peak season) rates, though double the summer rates, are still in line or less than other similar units that time of year.  We always book solid January-March and I don't appreciate people asking for a discount for March when it is only September.  I am likely to be more flexible on dates that are fast approaching or mid-season rates.

       

      4) If you have inquired about dates we would like to fill and then we don't hear back in a while we may send a follow-up e-mail.  If so, please take one minute simply to respond if still interested or not.  It is greatly appreciated as we are not just a hotel who takes whatever comes our way and is always "ready-to-check-in".

       

      5) Finally, don't think of this as a hotel or motel, where you can call to book the next night or two with no advance notice, or else expect to merely book 2 or 3 days.  We clearly state our minimum rate is one week, although we will pro-rate on a daily rate up to an additional 3 days before rounding up to the next weekly rate. It takes more preparation to get a large vacation rental ready than a single hotel room in a building of rooms constantly staffed with housekeeping.

  • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
    Mar 30, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 25, 2011 12:07 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    I think one more thing renters need to know is to read the lease agreement line for line. If there is something you question, do it before you sign the lease and send it back. Once it is signed and sent back, that means you have read it and agree to all of the terms. After an exceptionally crazy season, hurricanes and evacuations which are extremely rare in NJ, and renters who took advantage of my being pet friendly and lying about the pets they were bringing,  I have ammended my lease, and have added areas for renters to initial in addition to just signing at the end of the lease.

    • wiffle Contributor 217 posts since
      Feb 23, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 27, 2011 3:00 PM (in response to terirusso)
      What Travelers Need to Know

      I have done the same as terirusso. I am amazed that people will sign an agreement, and even initial additional highlighted items, and then still not know what they've signed. I think this is the result of too many people getting away with not keeping their word, usually by whining about it.

       

      So yes, please read the whole agreement.

       

      Addtionally:

       

      • Read the property description thoroughly and make no assumptions. If it is not listed, like TV, or internet, assume it is not available.
      • Respect the deadlines. If money is due by a certain date, don't mail it the day after and expect to keep your reservation.
      • If you've asked for a discount, and the owner has been so kind to oblige, that does not mean the owner is desperate. Be sure to fulfill all your obligations on time or early.

       

      I'm sure there are more!

  • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
    Mar 30, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 27, 2011 4:33 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    After a particularly rough rental season, I have signed up for www.Guestchecker.com. The terms and conditions state that there must be a live link from your website, and it must be disclosed to the renter. Lets see who notices.

  • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
    Dec 31, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 27, 2011 6:11 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    I thought of another piece of advice for guests.

     

     

    Most owners strive to return the security deposit within a day or two of your departure.  If you haven't heard back about the security deposit, by all means, contact the owner and ask them when you can expect to receive it.  If the owner replies back that you will be receiving the security deposit shortly, or within a week, etc, and if you have had a very nice stay and have no reason not to trust the owner, please be patient and wait for the security deposit. Owners have busy lives, too ... they may be out of town or on vacation, or have a big project due for their REAL JOBS, or have a family member in the hospital, etc.  So many things can happen, which can put the owner a bit "off his or her game" for a few days. Therefore, please be understanding.  In the United States, many states have rules for timely return of the security deposit, typically within 21 days, although it varies, state by state. 

  • New Member 3 posts since
    Dec 28, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 30, 2011 12:04 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    Travellers need to know that one generally get what they pay for and not  all vacation homes in the same community are equal.  If a vacation home  is priced below similiar units in the same community it's a pretty  good indication that it is not being maintained to the same standards.  It  goes to the old saying "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is".   Likewise if a vacation home is commanding a higher rate then there is usually  a good reason for that such as recent revonations, specific location, higher  level of service and amenties etc.  Travellers need to decide their balance between economy and quality and shop accordingly.

  • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,362 posts since
    May 25, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 13, 2011 3:01 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    Vacation homes are NOT hotels.  Respect the home and follow all the house rules, guidelines. If you are not willing to do so, please find a hotel to stay in.

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 13, 2011 5:47 PM (in response to laura)
    What Travelers Need to Know

    Laura...thank you for the great topic that you started. It helps both Travelers and Owners. Everyone's tips are so far great...I hope mine measure up to theirs.  1) Child-friendly:  Parents, please "parent" your children to live in someone else's home. I disclose specific, very reasonable "rules" for children in my ads and in my 'offers' sent...to give parents a forewarning. But, parents need to use some common sense when bringing children to someone else's home to live.  Just because you rented the home, it does not belong to you...and you should not assume that you have the right to let your children run amok and do whatever you permit them to do in "your home". The specifics can involve anything from noise to bed wetting, etc..  2) Rental strife:  By Laws, Home Owner Associations/HOA, and local ordinances exist for many properties. When Owners tell Travelers about certain restrictions, OBEY the rules. One of the reasons for rental strife starting up between Owners with "transient vacation rentals' in their own local communities is because of Travelers who violate rental rules [causing disturbances, etc..]. And, this could become detrimental to the Owner's future rental existence. Transient Vacation rental businesses [example is property rented for under 30 nights] are under attack in many places in the USA. Rental closures hurt both Travelers and Owners. That great place you want to return for a week, again, next year may be gone due to a forced closure caused by too many "disturbances" and rules being broken by Travelers who disregard. 3) The Inquiry:  I don't think this can be stated enough.  Travelers, when you request access to Owners' properties, we want to know about you, the purpose of your visit {vacation, business, family/friend gathering, first-time Owner rental}. Even if you are just inquiring about available dates, tell us who you are, please. These days,  Owners have their guard up and may prefer your details before revealing "availability" to you without hearing more about you {and some Owners use more than one "vacation rental by owner" portal...and many also have their own websites..so not all keep online calendars!  Understand, please, that the rentals are Owners' homes. Many are private residences...not in gated / security-provided communities. Travelers would never hand over the keys to any stranger without knowing more about them...and reviewing thoroughly the "contract". Help Owners to help Travelers with helpful inquiries.   It's about trust.

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 13, 2011 6:06 PM (in response to anja)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      How timely your post is.  Our gated condo community in Phoenix has recently come under attack by a small handful of owners that are trying to ban short-term rentals (under 30 days).  They had some connections to someone in the city government and even filed suit against the city for not enforcing this rule.  Although the HOA allows short-term rentals it is apparently in violation of city code in certain zoning areas below a certain rating.  This cost the couple who own a large block of short-term rentals a lot of money and a big headache.  They've been here for over 15 years and may have to leave.  They were responsible for investing a lot of money in maintaining and enhancing the community, as well as the positive publicity and wide exposure we rely on.  Yesterday morning there was a special subcommittee meeting regarding short-term rentals.  We stand to lose a lot of money ourselves, as about 75% of our business is less than 30 days.  Of course, we never rent by the night like a hotel, but right now a lot of people's fates and livelihood hang in the balance.

       

      It's interesting now to learn that this isn't just an issue with our community or even our city, but a national situation.  I was told one reason for this is the proliferation of vacation rentals advertised all over the Internet.  There are more of them and more exposure due to the Internet which has allowed for greater ease of advertising and of doing business; essentially there are too many to fly "under the radar" anymore.  Also, with the poor economy and real estate devaluation in recent years people are getting more desperate and worrying about anything that may threaten their property values further.  I hope short-term vacation rentals are not soon going to be a thing of the past, at least in many popular zoning areas.

      • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
        Dec 31, 2010
        Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 13, 2011 7:01 PM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        SWLINPHX,

         

        Make sure the local vacation home owners are paying the hotel taxes, if these are due to the city .. then the city will be very reluctant to outlaw the vacation rentals and miss out on all of that revenue.

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 13, 2011 10:54 PM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        Hi swlinphx..... I always get a pit in my stomach when I hear about homeowners in action to "close / outlaw" vacation rentals in their areas.  So sorry to hear about the problem your community is having in Phoenix. Yes...it's happening all over the USA. I follow it closely. This is the reason that I stated that Travelers need to know about this kind of strife....and thus Travelers should try to help influence decisions even if they do not live in the State that is having the strife....simply because the vacation rental market is inch-by-inch being threatened out of near existence. Travelers would lose their "options" in many places for affordable, private vacation homes....and herded "back to the resorts and hotels", for lack of other places to stay. If you have not done so already, go to this VRBO/Community page for "Policy and Procedures"....look for the post that was in answer to 'likahme' ...the one by Doug Coates of the Oregon Association of Vacation  Rental Owners...Doug gives some great resources to read about this very problem you are facing in your Community. This is not impossible to fight...but it's a long road....well worth the fight.   All the best, swlinphx.

    • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
      Dec 31, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 13, 2011 6:51 PM (in response to anja)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Yes, Anja, very good!

       

      It's funny, for the past several days I had been planning to log in again and reiterate something that I alluded to in my original list .. it was Item #2 in my original list, the one about including some information about WHO YOU ARE, before you "hit send" when you make that rental inquiry.  I hate it when people call me or e-mail me and say, "Hi, I want to book these nights .... is it available and how much does it cost?"  Point Blank. 

       

      Sometimes I feel like screaming at them ... "OK, and what reason have you given me to rent our carefully furnished apartment TO YOU!?!!  Absolutely none.  So .. GOOD-BYE!" 

       

      Do you ever feel like that?  Obviously I don't respond to them that way, but that's how I feel sometimes. 

       

      So .... what I was really getting at in Item #2, was what you said much more beautifully, Anja ... that we, as the owners, need information about WHO YOU ARE, the renter.  We are carefully screening each person to see whether we trust you enough to stay at our place. 

       

      Sometimes I get inquiries from some poeple who understand this already ... right off the bat, without being asked, they start off telling me about their profession and their cleanilness, and how they're just a quiet little retired couple, or some young architecture students, or whatever they are.  This gets the discussion off on the right foot.  Conversely, when I have to pry the information out of the people, things don't go as smoothly.  Sometimes I just give up on the person and stop responding to their e-mail's if they didn't provide enough information about themselves, after I have repeatedly asked them.

       

      Guests need to understand that we don't rent to JUST ANYBODY.  They need to get on our good side so that we will select them to stay at our place.  I'd rather the place go unoccupied (a great time for maintenance tasks) than rent it out to people that I don't know at all.

       

      -Rachel

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 13, 2011 8:16 PM (in response to sfvacationhut)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        Rachel....you hit it right on the head. And, that was the rationale behind my comments and tips to Travelers. And, yes...I do have the same gut reaction as you do when I get "Hi, I want to book these nights..how much...what's your "best rate"....Point Blank!  The travel magazines and travel jouralists need to "educate" the Traveler to be forthcoming about themselves....instead of  just advising them to "negotiate price" and ask for discounts, first.

    • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
      Aug 9, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jan 12, 2012 8:51 PM (in response to anja)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Traveler:  here is one of my biggest 'pet peeves' about you. You contact me [Owner] and want me to help you...because you, 'want to rent my place that you see on my website.....please confirm availability and offer price....any discount will be appreciated, etc..  Often, you include that you are on a strict budget ....and sometimes you tell me your profession to hint that you do not make much money, or that you are a senior  on a pension,  or you are a single mother, etc.'   You further ask for tips on best this or that. I talk to you on the phone for 20 minutes or more answering all your questions .... helping you with information, etc., as you ask.  I am happy to oblige you.  I do love welcoming guests...I spoil them....many return to me every year. So, I'm excited about the prospect of you!  I go ahead and email you my "offer" - again because you ask for it - strongly expressing interest. I apply a generous discount [ref. the duration of stay], I waive the fee for your child, to help you further save....and then I wait.  Never to hear from you again!!  Traveler, that is so rude. I usually keep your details in my private "grey:"  list [which I do not share with anyone]... just so I remember you in case you try to book with me again. Perhaps, I may not feel like answering your next inquiry. Or, if I do...no discount for you. Or, maybe I'll just send the generic, "no availability" response.  Period.  Lesson:  I used my time to help you so at least send me a response. It doesn't have to be a 'booking'....just reply:  "Thank you for your offer which I decided does not meet my needs, or my budget." "I've decided on a different location."  "My plans have changed." Something / anything.  A nice response to me because I spent so much time helping you, is courteous.  And, Traveler, if you do want to book:  Please understand that I am taking my rental "off the market" while I am holding your requested dates "reserved" for you as the transaction is in play.  If you change your mind [whatever] before sending payment,  please, please tell me...because I am turning other inquirers away in the meantime.  I can release those dates to someone else and not have to suffer a loss [of my time  or income].

      • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
        Feb 10, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 14, 2011 6:03 AM (in response to anja)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        I love your response!!  So very true!!

      • New Member 17 posts since
        Sep 3, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 12, 2012 10:17 PM (in response to anja)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        You hit the nail on the head. Very good! I just had a woman (only gave me her first name and that she was booking for her friend also) telling me I should only concern myself with renting out my place and cashing money for it, not details of who I rent to, and that I was the first person bothering her for details. I suspected an agent. HA HA HA! Too funny! Please keep in mind I prefer quality to quantity guests. My place is not available for 750$/month when condo fees/cleaning fees amount to 600$/month when occupied, yes there is a water bill, gas bill, condo fees, cleaning fees, satellite, mortgage payment (WOW; a 5$ per night profit for a beachfront PRIME ZONE condo!). Seriously.....Guests please compare our rates with expedia or hotels.com . You'll see that 118$/night for two for a condo that comes fully equipped with a kitchen is a lot less that a 250-400$ shrimp sized hotel room in the same area(without food included). Also if a property is for non smokers only, this refers to people who don't smoke at all, not simply inside the condo/outside the condo; it means we don't want guests that are smokers or visitors. No extra guests; people written on contract only allowed. Our beach side properties are not beach side cabanas to invite all your local family members to drop by. Do not complain of the water temperature or lack of nice weather; seriously it's the tropics, buildings are tall, water temperature vary. Do not use towels to polish your shoes or as rags. Do not sit on upholstered furniture/bedding with wet butts. Please treat our properties with respect. That is why there is a damage/security deposit.

      • sophie Senior Contributor 970 posts since
        Mar 4, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jan 12, 2012 10:40 PM (in response to anja)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        anja,

         

        I couldn't have said it any better!!!! Thanks!

  • Contributor 28 posts since
    Jul 5, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 17, 2011 5:44 PM (in response to laura)
    Re: What Travelers Need to Know

    A couple of others:

     

    1) do not rearrange the furniture or if you do move something PUT IT BACK!!  I will often find whole rooms of furniture in other parts of the house.

     

    2) Don't burn the candles!  Maybe this is my mistake, but I have decorative candles all around the house because they look nice and smell good.  People will burn candles that are clearly decorations (still have wrappers on them, etc.)

     

    3) Think of this property like you are renting an apartment, not a hotel. If the light burns out, I will not drive over to change it!  I leave extra bulbs so you can do it yourself!

     

    4) Don't forget to look through the drawers before you leave!  I've found all kinds of things (including checkbooks!) and then I have to ship them back which is a pain. 

     

    5) If you break something, let us know (or replace it!) If it's something small, I probably won't charge you, but I'd rather know so I can make sure to have one of whatever it is for the next guests!

     

    6) Restock!  This is especially for guests who stay a week or more.  We provide ample paper products (toliet paper, paper towels), coffee, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, etc. so it will be there late at night when you need it most and don't want to make a trip to the store.  Don't use it all up and leave nothing for the next guest!

    • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
      Mar 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 17, 2011 6:33 PM (in response to lauraps97)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Lauraps97, I love a few points. How many times have people asked me if the cleaning people have found things, from check books to blow dryers. I deduct the postage from the security deposit. And yes they have asked why. Someone left a  beach chair and took mine by mistake. They wanted theirs back but didn't want to send mine back. I got the better end of the deal on that one. And yes, when then they move the furniture around, please put it back the way you found it. I asked a renter why one time and they started to tell me about fung shui. I told her she should leave my furniture the fung alone.

    • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
      Aug 9, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 17, 2011 7:21 PM (in response to lauraps97)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      I have returned, to the rightful owners, two expensive gold wrist watches {his/hers} with engraving on the back of each one {for each other} that one of the "next guests" checking in after them found in the side pocket of a beach cooler bag we supply {good thing the new guest was an honest person}.  Here's the kicker...when those guests checked out, they did not leave a comment in our guest book....nor did they go to any of the online ad portals where we have listings, to leave a "review".  So, I told them we found their wristwatches {they were thrilled...had  no idea where they had lost them on the island....would be so grateful for their return, etc....}. I took the liberty of inserting one of my "vacation rental post cards" in  the package, with a reminder to take a minute to "review" us.. Not only did they not bother to reimburse postagew {which didn't peeve me that much}...but they never bothered to take the trouble of doing a review. They did, however, send me a short email thanking me for their wristwatches...including that they do not like leaving online reviews...but they'd love to return.  The next winter, they did ask for 10 days {their original stay was 5 days}. I did not rent to them again...I was not feeling good about being taken advantage of.   I have also returned gold/pearl earrings, a pair of designer jeans {after the guest expressed dire disappointment of having left them behind}...etc.  I got no reviews from them either...but they, at least, sent me an email thanking me...stating how wonderful they found the accommodation, desire to return...etc.... she concluded that I should "put their remarks on the Internet as their feedback"  {honestly}. I responded that it was not possible ...Trip Adviser or VRBO would never permit it.  No reply.  I did not ask them again to do it for us. Traveler:  the essage is...at least return the consideration to Owners who care for your experience by preparing thoroughly for your stay, helping you along the way, and giving you consideration after your departure.

      • stjvilla Active Contributor 626 posts since
        May 27, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Oct 18, 2011 8:29 AM (in response to anja)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        Wow.  Imagine leaving something so valuable or taking it to the beach.  We have a small built-in safe installed in a closet.

         

        We have returned small things but most guests are not really interesting in paying postage if they leave behind a hairdryer (now we have 2 at the house which were left) or a bathing suit.  The most common thing left is a charger for their cell phone or whatever.  So, we would urge everyone who rents to carefully check the house for forgotten items.  Don't forget to look in the clothes dryer!

        • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
          Aug 9, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Oct 18, 2011 12:25 PM (in response to stjvilla)
          Re: What Travelers Need to Know

          True. We find underwear and "parts" of bathing suits often in the clothes dryer. The people who left the wrist watches were avid snorklers on a 2 week stay with us. But, they stayed in 2 other rentals on the other side of the island before checking in with us.  As most of the coastline here is "pristine" and unpublic, many people are relaxed about leaving their possessions "on the sand".  We wondered why they had not asked us if we found their jewelry.  We had other guests who really "lost" their binoculars somewhere on the island...and we heard from them several times....they were so upset about a pair of binoculars.

          To the Traveler:  some Owners will be considerate, such as myself, and will return your belongings, but please remember that we are not obliged to {it's actually written into the rental agreement about items left behind...so do be careful].

          • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
            Aug 9, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Oct 18, 2011 12:33 PM (in response to anja)
            Re: What Travelers Need to Know

            Clarification to my own post:  the guests were 2 weeks on the Island....5 nights with us. They moved around a lot ...and snorkeled in different areas.  {Sorry...I just hate it when I contradict myself or am not accurate....although I know it's irrelevant to the purpose of this "thread"}

            • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
              Aug 9, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Jan 13, 2012 12:29 AM (in response to anja)
              Re: What Travelers Need to Know

              You know...I'm returning back to this older thread...because I'm feeling "cheesed off" about something that this thread reminded me of.   It relates to this topic....to sensitize "Travelers / Guests"....what they NEED to know...what they need to do.  A middle aged couple books one of my units....they have a choice of the larger unit ...or the smaller unit. They choose the smaller one...{budget reasons}....it was a 12-night stay...we give them a discount.  The "arrival" is 5 months away. The woman sends email after email after email....for information on planning the best trip for their first Hawaii experience. {I'm helpful, always...I use my time, again and again and again....I had given them a link to a great resource, as well,  but it seems to inspire more questions}. They arrive on the island....they are staying in a rental in an area that is  "isolated"....it's miles from anything they want to do!   It's miles from my place. They had asked me about "other locations"...and then they were complaining about the isolation.  They did not listen to me...but went ahead and booked a place that was - well, isolated.  They were there for 8 nights!!! They were miles from grocery shopping, and miles from a beach.  They were cold and damp {in Hawaii, we have different altitudes}.  From that place, they phoned me....because the property owner lived in a different time zone.  So, I became their "touch stone" while they were living in someone else's rental for 8 nights.  {They were going to come to my place, next...and I wanted them to have a nice experience, with us.} The emails between us mounted in number. The day of arrival at my place, they lost the drive directions...on the phone with me 4 times....they turned down roads I never told them to do!  They got lost. Finally, they arrive.  My husband and I agreed that we would "let them stay in our larger unit"...so we UPGRADED them {it was not being  used...so we did that for them because they were complaining so much about their first week...we thought they would appreciate the UPGRADE}. So, we gave them the choice...and they took the larger unit....for their 12 night stay with us. {I was waiting for one of them to say, "thank you"....they didn't.  They just went to their car to get their things...all the time complaining about the other "isolated" rental they spent 8 nights in....it rained a lot...damp, etc..   Okay...maybe they were "distracted"  in their "ranting".  Still, I was expecting a "thank you" for the upgrade.} We give them a lot of  personal tips for our area now. After 12 nights....they check out.  I go to my cottage....the place looks okay...I check our guest book, and no remarks written. {Gee thanks!}  I'm disappointed.  Then, I find a small note on a table apologizing for something they damaged {it was very minor ...I was pleased they told me}....and she says they had a wonderful time...they can't wait to return  to us.  {Well...I was relieved and pleased. .I notice she still did not thank me for all the help and support I gave them...but, at least they said they had a good time...that's my gain, too.}  During cleaning, I discover items they left behind.   A travel manicure kit + shaving kit that looked "expensive"... and one item was an article of clothing that was "designer" made... the label told me it was pricey.  I email them.  Oh...yes, yes, yes... that "resort" dress is special....she wants it back....please do send  it...she offered to pay for postage.   {I do not expect postage, ever.}  Well...I send it.   And,  in the package, I insert a message with my request for a guest "review".  About three weeks pass....I hear nothing.   I email her.  Did the package arrive?  Yes, thanks.  That's it.   I email again...and then I work in my request, again, for a review, I tell them that we are so pleased they enjoyed our larger unit, etc.... and I include a link where to post the review...I tell them that we'd be grateful, etc...why it's important for us, etc..    A day later, she answers that  "blah blah ...so busy...oh, reviews...they don't use them for planning... .they "might" do it..."maybe later."  {I'm thinking....why not now?!} Of course, she never bothered herself to write the review.  That was two months ago now.  Let me sum up for you Traveler:   I help Traveller.  I give Traveller a discounted offer.  I "assist" Traveller with abundant help -- around the island.  I "saved" Traveller's first 8 nights, too.   I give Traveller a "surprise" accommodation UPGRADE, on arrival.   I post Traveller their "left-behind" items.  But....Traveller will not take five minutes of time to post even a one-sentence review.  Guess how this ends:   Traveller is now on my "no return' list.  This is NOT the first time Travellers have not "considered" all that is done for them...to help them enjoy their stay. We, Owners, need the feedback. Our businesses are now depending on it....whether you use "reviews" in your travel planning or not... if we ask...just do it,  please. Give us the  "public" credit we need.  {And remember to say,"Thank  you." }

              • Contributor 28 posts since
                Jul 5, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Jan 13, 2012 10:14 AM (in response to anja)
                Re: What Travelers Need to Know

                Anja,

                 

                I can certainly appreciate the type of guest you are describing - I have one checking in today who has asked a million questions.  Those guests always make me a little wary because in my experience, the questions and concerns don't stop when they check in. Then of course, I get guests who I send all the info to and never hear a peep - I'm not even sure they checked in!

                 

                Regardles, I do have to say I think you are off the mark about your feelings about getting a review from these guests.  Writing reviews is not for everyone.  Some people don't like doing it - and that has nothing to do with their actual stay.  I hope for reviews also, but I am not aggressive about getting them.  I get them from people who I haven't heard a peep from and I sometimes get them from the "difficult ones."  The difficult ones are the ones I worry about - they always seem to have something negative to say.  So in all honesty, I consider myself relieved when someone like that doesn't leave a review.

                 

                Reviews are obviously helpful in our business, but I won't bend over backwards just for the sake of a good review.  I also go above and beyond for my guests, but I don't have expectations that they will "reward" me for it.  After all, they are a paying customer - from their perspective, my "reward" is payment for the rental.  It is nice to get "thank yous" when I go out of my way, but I think most people expect that and don't realize how much work we are putting in for them.

                • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
                  Aug 9, 2011
                  Currently Being Moderated
                  Jan 13, 2012 5:30 PM (in response to lauraps97)
                  Re: What Travelers Need to Know

                  I only agree partly with you: I wouldn't "bend over backwards".  My motivation to help all of my guests to have a positive experience when doing business with me is not based on "soliciting" their "review". Perhaps others "bribe" or "bend over backwards for a review"...but it's neither my motivaton...nor my modis operandi. My guests' experiences in my home {and on my island where tourism is key to everyone's survival here) are important to me. My guests' positive experience is a 'return on my personal investment' in the time and consideration I give to each guest. {I care to know their experience.}  I don't just take their money and provide a key. My goal is to "provide the lifestyle" so they feel they've "lived in Hawaii"...I want them to enjoy...not have to live with "issues and problems" here, as that couple was during their first week.  I know that I "saved" that first week of theirs...w/o going into any detail.   A "thank you", or a guest book entry, or a "public comment online", is a common courtesy --- the way I was raised. If they had left a brief guest book entry, I wouldn't even have asked for a "public review"...which I rarely ever do {I dislike having to ask}.  Common courtesy is all that is ever expected --- again, I was raised to say, "Thank you" when I am on the receiving end of "good service" and "kind gestures" and someone's considerate outreach.

              • stjvilla Active Contributor 626 posts since
                May 27, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Jan 13, 2012 1:32 PM (in response to anja)
                Re: What Travelers Need to Know

                And, you never can predict what a guest, even a happy one, will say in a review.  A lovely couple who have rented our house three times wrote a glowing review, but the last sentence mentioned they saw a tarantula in the driveway!  Well, it is the tropics and the creature wasn't in the house, but I'm sure some perspective quests were put off by the mental image.  We could have done without that!

  • bend2011 Contributor 163 posts since
    Apr 28, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 8, 2012 10:33 PM (in response to laura)
    Re: What Travelers Need to Know

    Traveler advise:  Make sure that you have the homeowners phone number with you.  That way if you have issues getting into the house, trouble finding the place or any other incidentals, you can make contact provided you have cell phone coverage.

     

    Do not rely on  the internet as it is not always available.

     

    For example:  I had changed the door code on one of my units last week.  I almost never forget to phone the guest and let them know.  I had a lot going on and I just forgot to call him.  I realized this when he called me and said the door code did not work, oops! 

     

    He had to go somewhere in town to get internet to get my contact information, rather than just calling me from the property.

     

    If he had had my contact in his phone, he would not have had that issue.

     

    Also, ask for policy's on how to checkin-in, which almost everyone that reserves does now.  That way there is no confussion as to when you will receive directions, door code, keys etc.

     

    Lara

    www.alluringbend.com

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 9, 2012 2:11 AM (in response to bend2011)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      One of our "selling points" is that we give explicit turn-by-turn directions for them to print-out and have with them when they arrive and always have someone on site to both speak to them by phone if they have trouble en route, and then have someone greet them at their parking spot, check them in, give them all materials, keys, etc. and answer all questions about the property and area.  I realize not everyone can do this, but if possible it really makes a difference!

    • mike Contributor 90 posts since
      Dec 29, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 9, 2012 11:01 AM (in response to bend2011)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Quick Tip for owners in regard to bend 2011 comment ... place a small label on your door above your lock with a contact phone # ie: Locked Out? 800-123-4567. Has helped our guests many times and they see the emergency contact # everytime they enter the property during their stay. Hope that helps. 

       

      Mike Cushing

      www.bookbyowner.com

      • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
        Nov 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 9, 2012 2:10 PM (in response to mike)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        Hi Mike

         

        I also have a bulletin board in the kitchen of each of my homes. On this board is listed my home, office and cell phone numbers. Also, in the event of a problem, which we rarely have but are always prepared, we list every vendor I have set up an account with: electrian, plumber, handyman, pool service, gardening and cleaning service. I also advise all my guests to call appropriate vendor first and then to call me so that I can follow up on the problem.

      • bend2011 Contributor 163 posts since
        Apr 28, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 9, 2012 6:11 PM (in response to mike)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        Mike,

         

        Thank you so much!  Brilliance!

         

        Lara

         

        www.alluringbend.com

  • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
    Nov 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 9, 2012 12:52 PM (in response to laura)
    Re: What Travelers Need to Know

    I would recommend that if at all possible, be sure to visit a potential rental home. I have seen many homes advertise luxurious amenities and find that the home is far from luxurious.

     

    Each time we rent and our tenants are not able to see our homes in person, I ask if they have a relative or friend who can come and look. We work very hard to insure that my homes are top quality and have the feel of luxury.

     

    Seeing is believing!!

    • sophie Senior Contributor 970 posts since
      Mar 4, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 9, 2012 3:35 PM (in response to marilyn)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      marilyn,


      there is an extensive conversation on the showing of property to prospective renters.  You can read it here:

       

      http://community.homeaway.com/message/5967#5967

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 10, 2012 5:07 AM (in response to marilyn)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Wouldn't that possibly bring up doubt, like you want to be sure they like it in person because maybe there's something "wrong" with it or something that you think they might not like, or that others have complained about and wanted their money back??  I would be very apprehensive to introduced any doubt and discourage bookings.  However, we have many photos, all are accurate and the floor plan, square footage, balcony views, etc. are all provided.  WIth Google Maps you can even use Street View to see the neighborhood around it too.

       

      Besides, aren't travelers used to booking without seeing a place first, like every time they book a hotel (which can often be not what is advertised).  The lengthy discussion thread on the boards here about showing a place http://community.homeaway.com/message/5967 before booking is very helpful, but they all start with the same premise, which is how to handle it when the traveler himself asks or brings it up over the phone or in e-mail.

      • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
        Nov 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 10, 2012 8:57 AM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        I am extremely proud of my homes and like to show them off. I also want the opportunity to see who I am renting to if possible. If the people are local from new York I really want to meet them and show my home. My homes are not bare bone rough it kind of homes. My smallest home is 7 bedrooms and every bedroom has a 42" plasma tv. My homes have an excess of $20,000 worth of electronics. Olympic size heated pool, 8 person hot tub and many more luxurious amenities. My kitchens have almost every gadget imaginable . So, a little care in who we rent to has gone a long way in avoiding problems. Yes, many of my rentals are to people in other states and I am not able to meet them, but I do speak with them via phone.

        • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
          Aug 30, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Feb 10, 2012 9:07 AM (in response to marilyn)
          Re: What Travelers Need to Know

          Okay, well you seem to be talking large, luxurious places then with a substantial investment for the renter, so I can see under those conditions people want to be sure before they plunk down the cash.  We offer full refund on deposits up to six months in advance only.

          • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
            Nov 9, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Feb 10, 2012 9:26 AM (in response to swlinphx)
            Re: What Travelers Need to Know

            My homes are between 3000 and 7000 square feet. 6 homes are 7 bedrooms each, one home is 9 bedrooms. Investments inside the home are tremendous. Electronics are only a small part. People renting these homes are looking for top of the line everything. These rentals go very quickly as do my competitors. S once they choose to rent, and if they change their mind, my potential replacement renter has already found another home. The pool of renters for these type of homes is not as large as those for a 3 or 4 bedroom home.

            • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
              Aug 30, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Feb 10, 2012 10:14 AM (in response to marilyn)
              Re: What Travelers Need to Know

              I gotcha.  That definitely makes a difference.  We all have such different circumstances that what might be right for one may not be right for another.  What you are saying all makes sense now.  We rent 2 bed/2bath condos, so you can see it's quite a different story in our case.  It's easy to picture everyone is in your own same situation I guess and not stop to realize how many types of vacation rentals (and renters) there are.

        • amyg Active Contributor 323 posts since
          Dec 10, 2010
          Currently Being Moderated
          Feb 10, 2012 11:18 AM (in response to marilyn)
          Re: What Travelers Need to Know

          Marilyn, I want to come stay in your homes.  A 42" plasma TV in every bedroom?  Sweet!

  • New Member 1 posts since
    Feb 10, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 10, 2012 10:55 AM (in response to laura)
    Re: What Travelers Need to Know

    Hi all I am new to this whole renting from the owners, I usually go through realters and so on. I have found that I can save money by going straight through the owner but have a few questions. First of all if I send an owner a deposit how can I be sure they are legit? Also am I supposed to reserve it some how on this site or just through email with the owner? I also saw that  it's rude and disrespectful to ask for discounts? Do think it's rude to ask for a military discount? Considering alot of people offer them but don't advertise it and you have to ask them to know whether they do or not? Thanks for your help!

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 10, 2012 11:13 AM (in response to danielle.purvismoore)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Hi Danielle...

       

      It's definitely more economical (and often more personable too) to rent directly thru the owner.  In today's world of technology there are many ways to protect yourself.  A signed contract iterating exactly what you both agree on (terms, dates, rates, etc.) protects both the owner and the renter alike and is one thing we always implement.  You also have protection thru your credit card company should a deal go bad, as well as a receipt via e-mail. There's also past guest references that the owner should be willing to provide you, as well as published reviews that are well-scrutinized by some sites to be sure they're legit.  Of course, you have no more guarantee than anything else in life you do directly with a private party, like buying a car, furniture, etc.  If you are willing to do just a bit of research the first time (which you seem to be doing) you can always come out ahead and feeling confident.

       

      It's not rude to ask "what is your best price?" or "do you offer military discounts?".  However, it's first best to consider the circumstances: Is it peak season?  Is it a good place at a fair rate already?  Are there few places available on a last-minute booking?  There can be exceptions so it never hurts to ask, just like you'd ask for a hotel's specials.  However, it is presumptuous to feel the owner is obligated to make a concession for you that they don't normally make for others.  Common sense and good social skills is the key here.

      • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
        Nov 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 11, 2012 3:30 PM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        Definitely. It's all in how you approach the home owner.

        Home owners resent guests bargaining even after the home owner has said this is their best rate.

         

        I always say to my guests "if I give you one rate and someone else a different rate, how do you know you are getting the best rate"?

    • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
      Dec 31, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 13, 2012 10:34 AM (in response to danielle.purvismoore)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Hi Danielle,

       

      With regards to your question here: "I also saw that  it's rude and disrespectful to ask for discounts? Do think it's rude to ask for a military discount? Considering alot of people offer them but don't advertise it and you have to ask them to know whether they do or not? "

       

      I think, as Marilyn, suggested, it totally depends on HOW you approach the owner.  If you write a respectful message, explaining who you are, your reason for visiting the area, and the things that attracted your attention to this specific rental ... and you follow up on this very considerate and respectful message with a simple sentence saying that you are a member of the military and would like to be advised of any discounts for the military if available ... this would not bee seen as rude at all. 

       

      BUT: If you send an inquiry with NO INFORMATION ABOUT YOURSELF AT ALL, and with just one line in the message area, saying "please give me your best, discounted rate," this is what will annoy the owner and may result in you not getting any response at all.  Why?  Because while we may, sometimes, give discounts, it is only during our off-peak season and even then, it is only for people that we have talked to and gotten to know and feel comfortable with.  If you have not told us anything at all about yourself, you have given us NO REASON AT ALL to want to you give you a discount, so why would we?

       

      On the flip side, even if you do give us all the info about what an awesome tenant will you be, we may be very impressed with you, but ... we still may decide NOT to give a discount, and please don't take that personally.  It might be peak season, and during peak season, we wouldn't even give a discount to Mother Theresa, if you catch my drift.     (Well, I'm sure Mother Theresa is in heaven partying with Elvis right now, but if either one comes back from the dead and asks for a discount during peak season ... they'll be out of luck!  LOL.  )

       

      Or there might NOT be any discounts possible, even if is off-peak season ... we may have something else going on, like ... maybe we've got relatives coming into town during that week who we'd LIKE to stay at the apartment, if no one else books it.  Well, in that case, before we put our own relatives out on the street (okay, up in a hotel), we'd need someone who is going to definitely make it worth it, by paying full price.  If we only get bargain hunters that week, we will turn them all away, because we'd rather get zero money and let our family stay there instead.  But if someone is paying full price to stay at our guest apartment, then it may be worthwhile to squeeze the family in with us, or find them a budget hotel, etc.

       

      Or sometimes we've got some remodeling or maintenance scheduled ... not anything urgent, but something we'd like to get done if the apartment doesn't get booked.  In those cases ... we'll only reschedule or "put off" the plan for remodeling if we get a full-price booking.  If you come in asking for a discount, we'll say "nope, sorry" because actually, rather than giving a discount, we'd rather it be empty so we can get the work done that we had wanted to do anyway.

       

      The point is, there are a lot of things going on with the owners ... and we evaluate each inquiry on a case-by-case basis. 

       

      When you inquire, remember it's like renting an apartment directly from a landlord ... you go there, you talk to the landlord, you try to get in his or her good graces, and if you like the place, and if the landlord likes you, then you will get to sign a lease at the apartment.  If you walk in demanding stuff from the beginning, the landlord may not warm up to you at all, and you may not be offered the apartment.

       

      Also in reponse to Danielle's question "am I supposed to reserve it some how on this site or just through email with the owner?"

       

      The answer to this varies, owner by owner.  Many of us are using HomeAway's online Reservation Manager (RM) system.  With RM, the owner can e-mail you the Payment Quote, Guest Rules, and Cancellation Policy, and you can click a box that says you agree to the Payment Contract and Guest Rules, and then you can pay for the rental online via Echeck or credit card. 

       

      There are other system owners use as well ... some owners rely on contracts that are e-mailed back and forth, or physical hard copy payment contracts which are mailed to you, and then you sign these documents and mail them back to the owners.  Some owners accept payment sent via check in the mail, or credit card taken over the phone, or PayPal, or Google Checkout, or PPI, or other online invoice systems.

       

      I like to offer a variety of options so that my guests can pick the way that works best for them.  So when it comes to how I personally process Payment Conracts and signatures, and accept payment, it's almost "all of the above." However, many owners just use one system ... either paper, or electronic, or phone, or whatever. 

       

      Also note that many owners require a phone conversation so they can get to know you better, before anything gets actually booked.   This is part of our policy as well.  Danielle, just as you may be worried about the owner not being legit, we (the owners) are just as worried, and even more so, about the potential for getting a destructive guest ... a criminal or drug dealer or a pyromaniac ... let your imagination run wild!  ... or someone who may be a "scammer" looking to get a free vacation.  Therefore, many of the owners are very cautious and selective about the people they select to stay at their guest apartment.

       

      When guests don't understand this last point, and simply ask for the price and the discounts up front, without giving any information about themselves ... this is what bothers the owners!  There is a lot of trust that has to be built up on both sides of the equation, before any transaction takes place.  I think it would be beneficial if more potential guests / renters would understand this.

       

      • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
        Nov 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 13, 2012 10:14 AM (in response to sfvacationhut)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        You are so right on.

         

        Many   guests do not realize that we are not hotels and that we are letting them use our home. Although guests are cautious, we as home owners need to be doubly caution as we are supplying a very expensive venue. Home owners are far more at risk than guests.

  • New Member 4 posts since
    Jun 7, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 7, 2012 4:51 PM (in response to laura)
    Re: What Travelers Need to Know

    Hi, I wish Id read this first!! I was/ am trying to rent in Dominical Costa Rica. I found a place plunked down 50% then saw a new review which wasnt favorable. I contacted the owner wishing to cancel, he informed me he would take 50% ($200.00) plus paypal fees. The paypal fees I understand but the rental isnt for 7 months!!!

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jun 7, 2012 5:00 PM (in response to jennifer.stanton)
      Re: What Travelers Need to Know

      Jennifer, when it is over 6 months in advance we refund the entire security deposit to the renter and it states so in our cancellation fee schedule in the contract they sign.  Two things:

       

      • Did you sign a contract stating the cancellation policy and that 50% would be withheld even 7 months in advance?

       

      • Also, PayPal fees are automatically refunded to the owner when he issues you a refunded, provided you didn't pay longer than 60 days ago.

      • New Member 4 posts since
        Jun 7, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jun 7, 2012 5:40 PM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: What Travelers Need to Know

        Hi,He offered me no contract just informed me that all was safe as it was through Pay Pal and that he required 50% now and 50% 30 days in advance. I paid him via Pay Pal on May 23rd.Jennifer  Jenniferhave received your cancellation request. i am sorry that neither    my place nor the other house on the caribbean side which you also    cancelled, did not work out for you. the good news is i have already    contacted the damage insurance company, and they are willing to send    me a refund of the 39.00.

            here is a break down of the refund.

            you paid

            405.00 for 50% rental deposit

            39.00 damage insurance

            444.00 total received

         

            less the following:

            17.62 paypal transaction fee that i paid

            200.00 re-booking/cancellation fee

         

            226.38  sub total of refund

            <9.05> paypal transaction fee on your refund

            217.38  final refund

         

            i will send this via paypal once i recieve you acceptance email.

            patrick

         

         

         

            On 6/7/12 8:40 AM, jennifer stanton wrote:          Hi Patrick,

              Assuming you got my cancellation request and refund is on the way.      I will go ahead and look elswhere.

              Thanks again,

              Jennifer

            On 6/6/12 12:15 PM, jennifer stanton wrote:   

         

                Hi Patrick,

                Just saw another review of your place. No screens! While I know        Costa Rica has an abundance of wildlife I am not looking forward        to being exposed to it 24/7. The idea of not being able to shut        it out is a bit scary.

                 I am afraid I will need to continue looking for a suitable        place.

                Sorry,

                Jennifer

                  

        Subject: Re: Inquiry from jennifer          stanton - Dec 27 to Jan 3 - Listing #906555

                  From: casaloma25@gmail.com

                  Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2012 10:52:26 -0700

                  To: jennifer_stanton@hotmail.com

         

        hi jennifer, u guys will be stoked because we have a fish            store right at the bottom of the hill...fresh fish is super            cheap in costa an high quality...half kilo of fresh maguro            tuna which will feed ur whole fam costs about 6-8 usd            yummm.... Check out this blog called jungle chef.... Just            google 'jungle chef' he cooks at la cusinga hotel... As to cancelation policy i use the homeaway.com recommended industry            standard... But if have some changes to ur travel plans let            me know so we can work something outCheers

         

                    Sent from mobile

        • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
          Aug 30, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Jun 7, 2012 5:56 PM (in response to jennifer.stanton)
          Re: What Travelers Need to Know

          By mentioning that you had canceled on yet another rental before his, he is definitely sending you the message that he believes you are most likely being difficult, unreasonable or unreliable.  This of course may not be the case (don't know the details or reason for your previous cancellation).

           

          Nevertheless, you should always get a copy of the cancellation policy in writing.  You can't prove he is being unreasonably strict, yet if you signed no contract or clicked on no agreement then he has no grounds to assume you knew you would be penalized that much for cancelling so far in advance.  Are you sure you signed nothing or clicked on no agreement upon booking the place?  That seems strange that he would finalize a reservation without having you do so.

           

          Because it is 7 months in advance and you saw and signed nothing regarding their cancellation fee schedule you may have just cause to protest with PayPal.  As far as the fee goes, that is nonsense.  Are you familiar with PayPal?  Apparently, he is counting on that you are not.  Whenever a refund is issued in 60 days (as long as he processes it as a REFUND via PayPal) he will be refunded the transaction fee he paid.  You have better grounds to object to paying the fee for sure (and PayPal will back you up).

           

          How familiar are you with PayPal?

          • New Member 4 posts since
            Jun 7, 2012
            Currently Being Moderated
            Jun 7, 2012 6:05 PM (in response to swlinphx)
            Re: What Travelers Need to Know

            Hi,You are being so helpful. I am not trying to be difficult. I realize it is no picnic dealing with tenants or prospective ones. We had booked on the other side of Costa Rica originally but changed travel plans. I informed him of this at the time I was searching for a new place, why? I don't know. Just being chatty. I am not familiar with Pay Pal. I have used it for ebay purchases only.  I signed no contract, checked no boxes.Jennifer

            Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2012 17:56:38 -0500

            From: community@homeaway.com

            To: jennifer_stanton@hotmail.com

            Subject: Re: What Travelers Need to Know - Re: What Travelers Need to Know

                                                                                            Seek Advice. Get Answers. Optimize your Vacation Rental Business.

                                                                                            Re: What Travelers Need to Know

             

             

                created by swlinphx in Interacting with Guests - View the full discussion

             

             

             

            By mentioning that you had canceled on yet another rental before his, he is definitely sending you the message that he believes you are most likely being difficult, unreasonable or unreliable.  This of course may not be the case (don't know the details or reason for your previous cancellation). Nevertheless, you should always get a copy of the cancellation policy in writing.  You can't prove he is being unreasonably strict, yet if you signed no contract or clicked on no agreement then he has no grounds to assume you knew you would be penalized that much for cancelling so far in advance.  Are you sure you signed nothing or clicked on no agreement upon booking the place?  That seems strange that he would finalize a reservation without having you do so. Because it is 7 months in advance and you saw and signed nothing regarding their cancellation fee schedule you may have just cause to protest with PayPal.  As far as the fee goes, that is nonsense.  Are you familiar with PayPal?  Apparently, he is counting on that you are not.  Whenever a refund is issued in 60 days (as long as he processes it as a REFUND via PayPal) he will be refunded the transaction fee he paid.  You have better grounds to object to paying the fee for sure (and PayPal will back you up). How familiar are you with PayPal?

             

             

                 Reply to this message by replying to this email -or- go to the message on Community

                 Start a new discussion in Interacting with Guests by email or at Community

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            • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,194 posts since
              Aug 30, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Jun 7, 2012 6:36 PM (in response to jennifer.stanton)
              Re: What Travelers Need to Know

              I would write (or call) him back and ask him specifically where his cancellation policy was stated.  If you found him on HomeAway, be sure to check to see if it is stated there (now, before he changes it).  If it is, he does have a leg to stand on although it seems pretty strict and you didn't sign anything which again is strange.  However, for future reference it is up to the customer to find out these things and ask if not specifically stated (just as inquiring about a return policy at a store before buying something).

               

              So you know, not only do we refund 100% of the deposit if further than 6 months, but the deposit itself is only 25% of the rental (min. $250).  So even when we keep all or a portion of it for cancellations that are less than 6 months, less than 3 or less than 1, we are still only keeping the portion of that 25%, not of the total rental fee.  Even when a customer cancels last minute and is eligible for no refund, it is only 25% of the rental they forfeit.  Of course every owner may set their own policies, which is why it is important you ask or check the contract or their listing page.  If you see no cancellation information on their listing page (as all ours have) and you didn't sign a contract then I would think you have an advantage.  Check his listing where you found him to be sure, then if he won't budge you can let him know you will be speaking to PayPal and letting them know you signed no contract and that it is so far in advance.  Once you tell him you know about the processing fee being refunded to him, he should back down from withholding that immediately (or PayPal will back you up).

               

              Let us know how you resolve this.  It may help other renters and owners on this forum.

              • New Member 4 posts since
                Jun 7, 2012
                Currently Being Moderated
                Jun 7, 2012 6:36 PM (in response to swlinphx)
                Re: What Travelers Need to Know

                Thanks for all your help. Ill let you know.Jennifer

                Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2012 18:34:00 -0500

                From: community@homeaway.com

                To: jennifer_stanton@hotmail.com

                Subject: Re: What Travelers Need to Know - Re: What Travelers Need to Know

                                                                                                Seek Advice. Get Answers. Optimize your Vacation Rental Business.

                                                                                                Re: What Travelers Need to Know

                 

                 

                    created by swlinphx in Interacting with Guests - View the full discussion

                 

                 

                 

                I would write (or call) him back and ask him specifically where his cancellation policy was stated.  If you found him on HomeAway, be sure to check to see if it is stated there (now, before he changes it).  If it is, he does have a leg to stand on although it seems pretty strict and you didn't sign anything which again is strange.  However, for future reference it is up to the customer to find out these things and ask if not specifcally stated (just as inquiring about a return policy at a store before buying something). So you know, not only do we refund 100% of the deposit if further than 6 months, but the deposit itself is only 25% of thre rental (min. $250).  So even when we keep all or a portion of it for cancellations that are less than 6 months, less than 3 or less than 1, we are still only keeping the portin of that 25%, not of the total rental fee.  Even when a customer cancels last minute and is eligible for no refund, it is only 25% of the rental they forfeit.  Of course every owner may set their own policies, which is why it is important you ask or check the contract or their listing page.  If you see no cancellation information on their listing page (as all ours have) and you didn't sign a contract then I would think you have an advantage.  Check his listing where you found him to be sure, then if he won't budge you can let him know you will be speaking to PayPal and letting them know you signed no contract and that it is so far in advance.  Once you tell him you know about the processing fee being refunded to him, he should back down from withholding that immediately (or PayPal will back you up). Let us know how you resolve this.  It may help other renters and owners on this forum.

                 

                 

                     Reply to this message by replying to this email -or- go to the message on Community

                     Start a new discussion in Interacting with Guests by email or at Community

                                                                                                © 2010 HomeAway.com Inc. 1011 W. Fifth Street, Suite 300, Austin, TX 78703

                                               

                Please add us to your address book to ensure you continue receiving HomeAway emails.

                                               

                                               

                 

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