There are many tips and tricks floating out there on the web with all kinds of crazy and sometimes very inconvenient and even incorrect info about how to save on travel and vacation rentals. Truth is there are some simple never fail ways to ensure you are getting the best deal and stretch your dollars the furthest. Granted there are several ways out there to so to speak “hack” the travel space, but the percentage of success, and time and flexibility you needed to make it happen is often unrealistic for most.
1. Plan Ahead: The best deals happen on vacation rentals by actually planning ahead. Despite a lot of blogs and articles saying wait to last minute and offer low-ball numbers on homes that are unsold. Truth is owners and property managers hate these requests as most of the time it’s simply not worth it. Taking a last minute rental at rates lower than their advertised rates is often a big hassle. In the case of a property managers they often can’t even budge on a price below an agreed upon threshold with the owner. The success rate on this last minute low-ball technique has a very low success rate and certainly is not going to get you that dream vacation rental on a budget. However, Planning ahead will win the budget race. Most managers will raise the pricing as demand increases so if you can get your rental secured before inventory becomes scarce you are going to get the best deal.
2. Be Flexible: This is always the case when it comes to flights and vacation rentals. Airline booking sites all promote lower fares if you move your dates. The same is true in Vacation rentals, however, the sites and owners are not always best at displaying this as there are more factors into how pricing can be affected. Find the home or homes you love. Call the owner and ask which dates in a certain time-frame fit in their calendars the best. There is more times than not dates the owner needs to fill in to back up to other rentals that are harder to fill. These fill in dates are always the best way to get a bargain.
3. Avoid unnecessary fees: Pay attention to the Fee’s! Hotels booking online if you read the $100 a night is not really the total as you have to pay resort fees when you get to the hotel. When you book on HomeAway/VRBO or Airbnb pay attention to the service fee/Booking Fee. This is a arbitrary fee these marketplaces charge to gain extra revenue that doesn’t get you a better vacation rental experience but does make it cost more. Spend some time to connect with the property owner or manager direct or use Tripz.com.
A little planning and research goes a long ways!
4. Book Direct: Booking direct is always going to get you the best deal. In vacation rentals if the owner doesn’t have to pay commissions to one of the major marketplace they can often pass those savings to you. Airlines and hotels are the same way. Granted they have pricing parities with sites like Expedia so the base rate may be the same but since they are not paying those fees to an online travel site they again are more willing to throw in a few extras.
5. Know when to travel: This is one of the biggest factors. You have to learn what the peak seasons are for where you are looking to travel. If you go just before or right at the end of the peak season you will not only get better rates but smaller crowds to deal with. Peak seasons can raise vacation rental rates 300% or more along with special event weekends that bring in a large amount of travelers. Make sure to plan accordingly unless you are there for the big event then revert back to tip #1 and plan ahead.
6. Don’t be “that” traveler: It’s very well documented, especially in the hospitality industry to complain and you are bound to get something in return. The problem is you can see “that” kind of traveler coming a mile away. Vacation rental owners know there is a chance they may have to make a concession to keep them happy. That said, you better believe you are not getting any discounted rates.
7. The old clear you cache and cookies: This is also talked about often and often inaccurately reported about. Yes online sites cookie users to re-market them and track their behavior. No they do not increase pricing for those known to be actively searching and looking for travel accommodations. However, cookies and cached data can prevent you from seeing pricing changes. This is not always the case but per the goal of trying to save money it’s always a good practice for how little effort it takes.