The #bookdirect movement started several years ago because owners like us became frustrated with the changes being implemented on the big booking platforms aka online travel agents (OTA’s). Over time, these companies began taking more control over “their” properties, limiting communication between owners and guests, and requiring a bigger piece of the pie. This resulted in higher listing and commission fees, and higher service fees for guests. Now, many owners have their own websites and Facebook pages to re-gain control of their properties. There are even smaller, local listing sites such as Emerald Coast by Owners (ECBYO), which operate similar to the old vrbo model.
What are the benefits of booking directly with an owner/property manager?
- Save on fees! Cutting out the middle-man means no high service fees for guests, and no high commissions and listing fees for owners. Guests have more money to spend on a fun activity, excursion or nice meal. This is a win-win!
- Direct communication: Interaction before booking allows for a more personal connection and vetting between guests and owners.
- Lower rates: Many owners still list on OTA’s, but they raise their rates to cover the added costs associated with these sites. If you find the property elsewhere, you likely will save hundreds of dollars by booking direct.
- More control over rental terms and conditions and house rules. Each property and owner is unique, and OTA’s can’t possibly cover every situation.
- More options: Owners have more control and flexibility with payment options, travel insurance options, check-in/out, extenuating circumstances and cancellation policies.
- Special Offers: Personal relationships give owners the opportunity to book re-peat guests through direct marketing with incentives such as discounts.
- Personal Attention: Owners are just quick phone call or text away. If there is a problem, there’s no need to sit on hold for hours when you have the owner’s email address and phone number.
- Personal Inisight: Owners have first hand knowledge of the property and destination, and both sides can be sure the property is a good fit before booking.
- Minimize risk of fraud: Open communication reduces the risk of scammers using stolen images and fake accounts to take your money for a rental they don’t own.
- Support Small Businesses
Savvy renters book securely:
- Find the property: Search facebook groups and local listing sites such as EmeraldCoastybyOwner. If the property is on an OTA and has a name (ie Sandnsol), search the name to see if it has its own website or is on Facebook.
- Confirm that the contact information matches on all the places it is listed.
- Contact through the link: no link, no deal
- Be discerning when looking at the website or Facebook page: Real owners are professional and use complete sentences and proper grammar. If you find someone using incorrect verb tense or struggling to use nouns correctly, they’re probably a scammer.
- Call the owner and ask specific questions about the area. All owners will know how far Walmart, Publix or Chick Fil A are from the property. Ask about the time zone. Since many scammers are based in Nigeria, they stall while they google what should be simple answers.
- *Don’t deal in private messages: 100% of Facebook scams happen this way
- *Be extremely cautious if they request Paypal friends and family (they take your deposit and then block you)
- *If you’re still unsure, request a copy of their latest electricity bill. Legitimate owners will be more than happy to provide you this.
- *Trust your gut. If it feels off, if the person is defensive, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
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