Since the beginning of travel, we have used hotels as a resting place. With the introduction of social sharing platforms, individual property owners have a unique opportunity to welcome travelers into their personal homes. In this article, travelers will learn tips for finding a vacation home rental that suits their needs even better than a hotel. Vacation home platforms have grown to over four million unique listings around the world. Properties listed on home rental sites can range from extraordinary to disgusting. You will get to enjoy your perfect vacation when you follow these dos and don’ts for finding a vacation home rental.
11 Tips to Finding a Vacation Home Rental
1.) DO follow the golden rule.
The Golden Rule is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treating your future host with respect is vital because they are a person just like you.
Sometimes customers have a tendency to view large companies as immune to hostility or disrespect. When you are booking a vacation home, though, it is not a huge corporation you are up against; rather it is an individual homeowner who has feelings.
Being kind and respectful will start you off on a positive foot with your host. While this list of tips for finding a vacation home rental isn’t in order of importance, this rule stands out as vital in creating your perfect vacation getaway.
2.) DO look at the final cost.
Every vacation home rental website handles cleaning fees, taxes and service charges differently. You might find a listing you absolutely love listed for an incredible deal, only to find out there are so many additional charges that it consequently becomes out of your budget.
In order to find an accurate final cost, you will need to enter your dates of travel. Many listings have seasonal and/or weekend pricing that isn’t obvious from the preview page for the property. After selecting your dates of travel, move as far in the booking process as you can before the website begins to ask for personal information.
If you are being asked for personal information, you can usually conclude the final cost is being presented.
3.) DO understand the cancellation policy.
Of all the tips for finding a vacation home rental, this one is most likely to save you money. Vacation home hosts are generally given three to six cancellation policy options from the rental platform website.
Travelers who are accustomed to staying in hotels rarely think about cancellation policies. Hotels are able to offer much more flexible policies because they are able to overbook and therefore have a cushion ensuring maximum profits for any particular night.
Individual vacation homes do not have the luxury of overbooking to ensure revenue. Hence, vacation rental properties typically have a stricter cancellation policy. Read and understand your particular home’s policy before booking the property.
4.) DO pick your perfect location.
The exact street address of your potential vacation rental will usually not be revealed until after booking. However, you will see a fairly close geographical location in the form of a circle radius the property lies within.
Owners can change all kinds of features about their property to make it more suitable for travelers. The one thing they can’t change is the physical location. It is your responsibility to make sure the home is located ideally for your trip.
For example, if you’re attending a sporting event downtown, don’t select a property in the suburbs and then fault the host for not being close to the ballpark. With properties in over 65,000 cities, there is without a doubt a property perfectly located for your next vacation.
5.) DO ask questions.
With over 640,000 hosts worldwide, there is a wide range of situations you could be stepping into. Be proactive. Before you book, you can ask questions that will help you determine if a particular vacation rental is right for you.
You may want to cook at your vacation home; therefore, you might ask if your host offers staple ingredients like salt, pepper, flour and sugar. Maybe you need a strong internet signal in order to work, so you could ask the host about your particular requirements. It’s possible you have a pet traveling with you and the listing is unclear about what is allowed; open up a dialogue with your host to ask about your specific travel companion.
Hosts do not want disappointed guests. It is better for both the host andthe traveler to determine if the vacation rental is the right fit before booking. A host would much rather get a bunch of questions than receive less than a 5-star review.
6.) DO look for clues in reviews.
The backbone of all home sharing platforms is the review section. After each rental, the host reviews the guest, and the guest reviews the host. In a perfect world, both sides would leave honest reviews. Unfortunately, reviews can be like a riddle.
Sometimes you have to read between the lines to figure out what the review means. For example, a guest might write that the host texted them throughout their stay with more instructions and rules. While that sentence might seem benign enough, the visitor is probably trying to alert you that the host was overbearing and difficult to deal with. Another example might be a guest saying they were surprised to find socks in couch cushions and dog hair on the comforter. What they are politely saying is the home was not cleaned thoroughly.
On traditional review sites, it is common to see negative reviews. With vacation home sharing websites, it is very rare to see negative reviews. Outlier negative reviews could happen to any host, but look for subtle trends that show you that it isn’t just one exhausted traveler experiencing an unfavorable element. Following these tips for finding a vacation home rental will lead to more pleasant short-term rental experiences.
7.) DON’T lie.
Some tips for finding a vacation home rental may seem obvious but are worth mentioning. Just as you expect honesty from your host, by the same token, your host should be able to receive that from you.
Hosts typically ask why you are booking their home. Be honest. Trying to weave a tale about firefighter training when you are really having a bachelor weekend is deceiving. Claiming you are in town for a church retreat when in fact you are having a bachelorette weekend becomes plainly obvious when x-rated confetti and glitter are found everywhere.
The sharing economy is built on trust. Hosts are not there to babysit you or control your every move during your visit. By lying you might miss out on some epic suggestions the host has to make your visit even better!
8.) DON’T try to haggle the price.
You will find plenty of articles that disagree with this point. The fact of the matter is that a vacation rental host is a business owner. Prices are based on costs, supply, demand and necessary profit.
When you ask an individual homeowner to come down on their price, it puts them in a bad position. If they approve your request, they earn very little on their business venture and have unfavorable feelings toward you. If they decline your request and you book anyway, you are likely to have negative feelings toward the host.
9.) DON’T skip reading the rules.
Seriously, some hosts are ruled crazy. It is very important to read the property rules before booking. You can tell a lot about a host by the tone of their rules.
Expect properties to have rules on maximum guests, noise after a certain time, no smoking indoors or similar logical rules. Start becoming wary if rules have gone off the deep end trying to control what kind of face wash you use, limiting cooking to non-aromatic foods, dictating the hours in which you may shower or asking you not to tell anyone you are a short-term renter. Yes, those are all actually rules of some real vacation rental homes.
10.) DON’T expect concessions.
It is a bad idea to book a vacation home and later expect hosts to accommodate special requests. Agree on all special requests before you complete the reservation. Always use these tips for finding a vacation home rental that fits all your requirements.
As a guest, you might think arriving an hour early or departing an hour late isn’t a big deal. However, a change in your schedule could prevent cleaning the property for the next guest. If you’re traveling with your service animal, don’t assume the animal is welcome. Vacation hosts who live in the home can deny service animals based on allergies of the primary residents.
11.) DON’T ghost your host.
A vital element in the sharing economy is communication. You want your host to be responsive to questions and concerns before and during your trip. The homeowner would enjoy courtesy responses to their communications also.
Vacation home hosts typically send messages to guests on the day of check-in, the day after check-in, possibly a mid-stay message depending on the length of your visit and finally a message on the day of departure. Reply to those messages. Hosts just want you to have a great stay at their home. Confirmation that everything is going well is all they are seeking.
Tips to Find a Vacation Home Rental
By following these 11 dos and don’ts you will set your vacation up for success. Vacation home renting is a partnership. Communicate openly with your host for best results.
Have you had a nightmare experience at a vacation rental? Share your terrible short-term rental experience in the comments.