You don't mind paying a few extra hundred dollars on your next vacation rental, do you? Well, if you book your vacation rental through any of the big guys you are doing just that. All of the large vacation rental websites charge a service fee to renters, sometimes as much as 15%, to book through their websites.
The Service Fee these sites are charging the travelers is for booking through their site and they keep all the money. The homeowner gets none of it. However, some label it simply as “Service Fee” in their sites. Understandably, renters are often confused, as they think the homeowner is charging this Service Fee, and are unaware that it is charged by the site and the homeowner has no control over it.
In some instances, travelers don't even know they are paying a Service Fee because some sites have gone to great lengths to hide it from plain view or identify that it is their fee. So, if "travelers don't mind paying a service fee", why hide it or why not own up to it?
While some vacation rental owners have sought to offer clarification in their listings or communications with travelers, the sites has penalized them and even gone so far as removing their rental listings if a listing contains mention of the fee or communications through their system to travelers even mention the Service Fee.
Limiting What you See
These sites are also all now blocking owners telephone numbers from rental listings so the only way travelers will be able to contact owners is through their system, and are hiding travelers contact information (name, email address, telephone number) from the homeowners until the traveler books, leaving the only communication possible being through their system.
Many owners have begun listing their vacation rentals in regional vacation rental websites, creating their own sites, and creating Facebook pages for their properties, in order to be able to book travelers without the traveler having to pay the Service Fee.
What Can the Traveler Do?
If you find a vacation rental you like listed in one of those big sites that charge a service fee, don't immediately book it. Instead, search this website for a regional vacation rental website where you can book vacation rentals without paying the Service Fee. If the property your found on one of these big sites which is not listed on the regional site, contact the owner and tell them to list their rental there so you can book it without paying the Service Fee.