It’s an innocent request, one that I’ve received a few times as a travel advisor. A client wants to avoid resort-style properties and stay somewhere that feels more like a vacation rental. I totally get it - sometimes a condo or house feels more personable, with its local charm and full kitchen amenities. But there are a handful of reasons I don’t book those for clients.
LACK OF OVERSIGHT: Vacation rentals often aren’t overseen by anyone but the owner themselves. You’re more or less at the mercy of the owner. Safety issues, hidden cameras, lack of code enforcement - these are all realities of the vacation rental game, and unfortunately those few bad eggs ruin it for the responsible rental owners.
MY LIVELIHOOD: Being completely honest here - I don’t make money from booking vacation rentals. They don’t work with the suppliers and wholesalers within the travel industry. And as much as I love this work for what it is, I still have bills to pay. Booking with a reputable supplier benefits the traveler and my business.
UNRELIABLE AND UNPREDICTABLE: Did you know the owner can cancel on you right up until moments before you step over their threshold? Yikes. Nothing like being left high and dry, searching for lodging on your first day of vacation.
LACK OF SERVICE AND PERKS: No housekeeping, linen services, or special amenities? No thanks. As a member of the Ensemble travel group, I often score extra perks for my clients - a bottle of wine, chocolate dipped strawberries, or a spa credit. None of that is available at a vacation rental.
PAYMENT PLANS: More often than not, you have to pony up the entire week’s cost when you book a rental, and the cancellation policies can be rough. Booking with an advisor allows for payment plans that are waaay more comfortable on the wallet.
NOT ALWAYS CHEAPER: Some will argue that vacation rentals are cheaper. This isn’t true, plain and simple. I recently priced-compared vacation rentals against my main supplier for Hawaii, and I found an incredible deal, saving hundreds compared to the rental.
UNETHICAL: I try my best to practice what I preach. Privately owned vacation rentals often hike up the cost of living for the locals who call that destination home. This is quickly becoming an issue in many popular tourist spots - sometimes we forget that people live and work in these areas, and need access to affordable housing. Rentals are also contributing to the issue of over-tourism. An abundance of rentals makes it easier for more people to vacation and this places strain on the destination.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely not bashing vacation rentals - I’ve used them myself. But I know that every successful stay was due to luck and luck only. As I’ve continued to learn more about the world of travel, my opinion has shifted. As they say - when you know better, you do better.
If you’re wanting that vacation rental feel without all the bad luck, here are three examples of properties that I can offer as your travel advisor.
No matter what kind of lodging you desire, a travel advisor (ahem, me) can find it for you. There’s nothing worse than a ruined vacation because you decided to take the perceived easier or cheaper route - it’s just not worth it!
If there’s a vacation rental that has caught your eye, let me know. I promise I can find something way better for you.
This blog post was adapted from this article.