Comparing vacation rental rates

16.10.2009 In: World travel news

How to compare vacation rental rates.

It is easy to compare prices of one hotel versus another; that industry has it down to a science. But when it comes to comparing rates on vacation rentals it can be tough to find one apple let alone two. Here’s how to make sure you are comparing similar vacation rental rates.

Seasonality and vacation rental rates.

Vacation rentals prices can fluctuate wildly due to the region and season. For example, some Aspen, Colorado vacation rentals rates can fluctuate by over 100% based solely on the time of year you are renting. This is important if you are going to be renting during the change of season. If you are travelling in a “transition time,” gain a solid understanding of when, exactly “high season” stops and “low season” starts. There may be a difference of one day between two similar vacation rentals and their definition of “low season” but that one day, as in the Aspen property, could be significant.

Location, taxes, and the cost of a vacation rental.

Location, location, location. Is the property five steps from the beach or five hundred steps from the beach? Is it ski-in, ski-out or is it a shuttle to the parking lot then a half-mile trek to the gondola? It matters.

Location also affects tax rates. One side of the street may be in one county whereas the other side may be in a different county; the variance in county tax rates could be massive. Just ask Cook county Illinois residents who live across the street from any of their other county Illinois neighbors. Taxes may be applied to all items on the invoice or only certain items. Where the property physically sits determines the taxes.

Number of beds, baths is very important but remember: interior layout, design, and the vintage affect.

Two condos on the same floor, with the same layout and view may be asking wildly different prices for what, at first blush, appears to be the same thing. Why? Ask about the interior of the vacation rental? When was it built or last updated? Are you going to be staying in Archie Bunker’s place, or Donald Trump’s? Ask the owner/agent to provide you with recent pictures of the interior.

If the property sits in, or has access to, a resort, are there associated fees to use the resort? Sometimes these are referred to as “amenity fees.”

Many vacation rentals sit on-property of resorts. If that is the case, is there a resort fee? What if I don’t want to use the resort? Do I still have to pay the resort fee? You may find an owner/agent willing to negotiate with you about those fees. Just ask about them and get a clear understanding that, if you have to pay, what are you getting for your money.

The Cleaning and Parking fee.

In my ten plus years of staying in vacation rentals, it has been my experience, that owners and agents are most willing to negotiate on the cleaning and parking fees. I can’t tell you how many times the owner/agent will either discount them or delete these fees completely. But, let’s be clear here, it is good karma to always leave money behind for the cleaners even if you are paying the cleaning fee.

Once you have a perfect understanding of what you are going to be paying and what the benefit of those fees are, you now have a clear way of comparing vacation rental rates. The inevitable ancillary benefit of this exercise is that you will learn something about the area and about the owner/agent of the vacation rental.

Remember that you can get a complimentary copy of chapter four of The Vacationers Guide To Vacation Rentals at It’s chock full of time proven strategies to use for your next vacation rental stay.