Regular readers will know that we have posted several times about the addition of a Travellers’ Fee to bookings made online with the major vacation / holiday rental sites. The US press have reported a number of different stories. Now the UK press is beginning to take notice.
There is an article in the Daily Telegraph today, “Holidaymakers face £299 hike for Owners Direct rental bookings” which targets, as the title implies, Owners Direct. Holidaymakers should be aware that it is not just Owners Direct who are making this charge. Any of the vacation rental sites owned by Expedia, including HomeAway, do the same thing. As do other mainstream rental sites.
The Owners Direct and Homeaway claim that the fee offers the holidaymaker a ‘Book with Confidence Guarantee’ is a red herring. Payments by credit card are protected by the credit card issuer.
The Telegraph reports
Owners are urging customers to swerve the fee by booking directly with them, using property names and descriptions to find their contact details elsewhere online. Many properties have their own websites, which used to be prominently displayed on Owners Direct but are now, owners claim, hidden away in the ‘facilities’ section of each listing.
Enquiries to owners through the Owners Direct, HomeAway and VRBO are passed on to the owners but all direct contact details are hidden. When replying owners are restricted from including any contact or payment information. If an email address, website link or other such information is included the reply is blocked by HomeAway.
We have been recommending to prospective guests that they book direct with the home owner. Having found the rental home of your choice on one of the culprit rental sites do some research. Search for the property by name and location and you will certainly find it on other rental sites that do not charge the travellers’ fee. Most owner-managers have their own websites or at least a Facebook page. Find the owner and talk direct.
To make online booking simpler we are working on adding an automated booking system to our website. It should be available very soon. As an added incentive to holidaymakers we are offering a 6% discount (10% if you pay by direct bank transfer) for any remaining 2016 weeks.