Before you book your next vacation rental online there are few things you should know. Many people are turning away from hotels or all inclusives and spending their time in vacation rentals. These are homes, apartments, condos etc. that are individually owned and rented out by the night, week or month. If you are considering renting a home in Puerto Morelos or anywhere else, there are many website to choose from and frankly it can be a bit overwhelming. The sites include: Airbnb, VRBO, VacationRentals.com, HomeAway, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Bookings.com etc. Or you may book direct from the homeowner.
Many people find a sense of security booking with these companies, but keep in what mind you are paying for the use of these websites. Renters don’t always know, but all of these companies add a fee to the booking. These fees can be anywhere from 8-25% of the rental price. Also, all of the websites charge the homeowner a service fee (3% or more and/or an annual rate), so some owners increase their rates to compensate for this. So what are you getting in return for these substantial fees?
One thing is that you get the option of using your credit card. Most small business home owners (especially in Mexico) do not take credit cards; however, there is a way around this. Most home owners do take PayPal which will let you to use a credit card, normally for an extra 3% charge. This allows you to use your trip cancellation insurance that many cards give you or perhaps earn points.
Many of these big companies do offer some sort of insurance policy on your rental. For example, VRBO has these suggestions for its renters (research that Airbnb does for you), but when you go to their carefree rental guarantee at the bottom of the page, you get an error message. Airbnb has this policy which covers situations like the host cancelling at the last minute or if the place is not as advertised. We have heard that Airbnb does honour their policy, whereas some of the other big companies have been a bit iffy on this. One problem we have found with Airbnb rentals, is that some of their units are not just vacation rentals, they are actually people’s homes that they move out of temporarily to make some extra cash. It’s something to be aware of before you rent. Airbnb tends to have low rental rates for guests and they do break them out so that you can see the fees before you book.
For example here is a recent Airbnb that we booked in Europe. Note all prices in this post are in US dollars.
The top line is the rent, $86.28 a night.
Cleaning Fee: “One-time fee charged by the host (owner of the property) to cover the cost of cleaning their space.” (some owners include this in the rent, some do not)
Service Fee: This is how AirBnb makes their money, or as they put it: “This helps us run our platform and offer services like 24/7 support on your trip.”
As you can see, the service fee on this short three day trip is almost 19% plus there is a cleaning fee. The service fee does decrease in percentage the longer you stay. On a six day rental it works out to just over 12% and so on. Airbnb also charges the owner of the property for the privilege of listing their property, as do all the other companies.
Here is an example of what fees you would pay if you are booking a two week stay for two people with Airbnb. The following is for a one bedroom apartment that normally rents directly from the owner for $1600 USD for two weeks during high season. Here is what you would pay with Airbnb. If you are renting in state of Quintana Roo (where Puerto Morelos is located) there is an automatic state tax of 3% added to your rental. Most owners build the taxes right into their rates, but you should ask about this when booking.
Here is that same booking on VRBO.
VRBO, VacationRentals.com, HomeAway and Expedia (which are all part of the same big happy corporate family and charge the same rates) break down their fees as follows. We’re not sure why the tax being collected is only 1%.
And here is that same booking on TripAdvisor/Flipkey.
TripAdvisor/Flipkey, comes out to $232USD over the owner price with no tax collected. Each of these sites have very different cancellation policies, so make sure you understand them when booking.
So here is what you would pay:
|| $ 1,600.00
|| $ 1,858.00
|| $ 258.00
|| $ 1,807.78
|| $ 207.78
|| $ 1,832.00
|| $ 232.00
Note: Full taxes may not be included on VRBO (2% more) & Tripadvisor (3% more) rates.
Full disclosure, we do have vacation rentals ourselves and we list them on many of these big sites, just because we have to.
We also travel a lot ourselves and we are big users of Airbnb. Why do we use Airbnb? They have a large number of listings and we also like their search engine and review system. We value the opinions of people who actually stayed at the property, especially when we are traveling to a city or country we have never visited. We value the reviews of the place, the location and even people’s thoughts on the host. Also, we have found the reviews to be mostly accurate, or at least we have found enough information to know whether or not we will be comfortable at a certain property.
So, the big question is, should I be booking my next vacation rental online with one of these companies or am I better to book directly from the owner? We will give you some more tips in one of our next blog posts.