Have you heard the news?? Homeaway has launched a guest service fee for online shoppers who use the “Book Now” feature button on their vacation rental sites: HomeAway.com, vrbo.com and vacationrentals.com. The fee is anywhere between 4% – 10% of the rental amount and is explained to the guest as a “Service fee which helps provide a safer and more secure online booking experience coupled with 24/7 customer support throughout your trip”. As a boutique property manager for South Walton Scenic 30A Area of the panhandle, we feel this fee was misleading and poorly executed.
Since 2011, we have supported distribution on channel partners like Homeaway, primarily because of their ability to provide new leads. We reluctantly added the “Book Now” button in late 2015 as HomeAway convinced us to adopt it because travelers like instant quotes, live availability and the ability to book with a click of a button. Being a property manager has great responsibility with its role and we insist on communication between managers and guests pre stay, during, and even post stay therefore the idea of “instant bookings” without communication first didn’t sit well with us, but each year moves towards “instant gratification” with everything people do. We understand.
We created an online payment structure that allows the guests to hold their reservations for 24 hours until a manager can contact them and confirm with them. We do not stop automatic bookings. We actually take it a step further, but holding the reservation so that we may communicate with the guests before we accept payment, thus making sure they and the property they chose will be a great match for their vacation! Future guests can go to our company site at 30A Beach Rentals (www.30abeachrentals.net) and click the “availability calendar”, put in their rates, read a very detailed description and then hold that reservation for 24 hours.
We charge a processing fee to our guests of $50-85 per listing, which we use to cover credit fees (whereas most are 3% or higher of the total), perks such as “discounted bikes, beach chairs, etc”, but it is listed as a line item and explained thoroughly in our vacation rental agreement. Our guests know what they are paying for and our homeowners know what they’re making.
If you’re a second home owner in the Panhandle of Florida and affected by the HomeAway service fee, please give us a call to discuss options for marketing your home with 30A Beach Rentals 850-368-9282