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.

Pick-your-own fall season fun

07.10.2009 In: Vacation rental news

NEW YORK - Pick-your-own orchards are expected to have a strong fall season, thanks to consumers staying closer to home for leisure activities and an increased interest in local food and lower prices.

"Because of the whole staycation-daycation thing, a lot of our members are saying business has been good," said Kathy McKay, spokeswoman for the North American Farmers' Direct Marketing Association. "People are looking for things to do near home instead of getting on a plane."

"We have not heard of any apple U-picks going out of business because of lack of business," agreed Todd Hultquist, spokesman for the U.S. Apple Association, who says the top three states for pick-your-own apples are Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.

John Slemmer, who lists U-pick farms on a Web site called...

America's prettiest fall drives

07.10.2009 In: Travel destinations

Each weekend this fall, 74,000 fans will pack Cleveland Browns Stadium to cheer their team. But 200 miles south of that, some 2 million people will, at some point, experience a much quieter — and less crowded — side of Ohio in Hocking Hills State Park, driving under thick boughs of hardwood leaves aflame with autumn color.

For a few short weeks each year, entire swaths of the country turn into patchwork quilts of red, purple and gold foliage. Along with Ohio's Appalachian Mountains, California's Sierra Nevadas and the White Mountains in Maine, both will soon be drawing day-trippers on the lookout for the first signs of fall.

Once cold nights and short days cue the coming winter, deciduous trees, in an effort to conserve much-needed energy for the winter, drain chlorophyll from...

Vacation Rental Home Tips

07.10.2009 In: World travel news

Home vacation rentals can be a great experience. They provide lots of space and privacy and can be less expensive than luxury hotels, but which property you choose can make or break your vacation.

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
The No. 1 rule of selecting a vacation rental property is to look at lots of pictures, at least eight if possible.

Even an honest property owner or rental agent will be biased toward their property, but pictures will always give you an objective view. What is "spacious" to one person may be small to the next.

Ask for pictures of anything that can be exaggerated, especially views or beach access.

Also examine the details. Is there a lot of clutter? Is the decor suitable for children or pets? Are the walls covered with personal family photos and...

Vacation Home Rental-By-Owner Tips

07.10.2009 In: World travel news

Renting your vacation home without the help of a property management company could save you as much as half your rental income.

Christine Karpinski, a self-taught Atlanta, GA vacation property owner who runs a growing vacation property rental business on the Florida panhandle, says property managers in her area charge from 40 to 60 percent to manage vacation rentals and along the Florida coast it's 30 to 45 percent.

"They are going to nickel and dime you and it's insane," says Karpinski, who is also a Web site publisher, instructor and author of "How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment"
(Kinney Pollack Press, $26), which provides other tools for vacation property owners who...

Beach House Rentals

07.10.2009 In: World travel news

Whether your ideal summertime address is a pimped-out oceanfront palace on a sun-washed Florida isle or a veritable pile of driftwood washed atop a windswept North Carolina dune, the American beach house is a classic symbol of summer.

Go ahead -- leave nothing but footprints, fly a kite in the sand dunes and get the saltwater taffy tangled in your teeth. From the Outer Banks to the Oregon coast, we've sourced some of the best domestic destinations for booking a beach house on your own sandy slice of paradise.

Outer Banks, North Carolina
Like a delicate buttress loosely attached to the mainland, this string of barrier islands stretches 130 miles along the North Carolina coastline. And when it comes to the variety of beach rentals on offer, the options here are as varied as the...

6 things you should never do when you're away

07.10.2009 In: Travel tips

Thinking of throwing a tantrum the next time things don’t go your way when you travel? Consider what happened to Gary Zeune before you do.

“Dammit,” he overheard the passenger in front of him scream at a Southwest Airlines ticket agent in Columbus, Ohio, “I have to get to Chicago.”

The agent politely asked him to calm down, assured him that profanity wouldn’t get him on the flight he wanted, and offered to add him to a standby list. All of which only appeared to make him angrier, unleashing yet another torrent of salty language.

“The ticket agent asked him for his credit card,” remembers Zeune. “And he gets a big smile, thinking he’s going to get on the flight. Then she says, ‘Sir, you’re not flying Southwest today. Go fly someone else.’ And she refunds...

Prague: 10 Things to Do in 24 Hours

05.10.2009 In: Travel destinations

Twenty years ago, demonstrators in Prague staged the "velvet revolution," a series of peaceful protests that helped bring down the communist regime. Since emerging from the somber shadows of one-party rule, the City of a Thousand Spires has become one of Europe's hippest travel destinations — a cosmopolitan city where culture buffs and pleasure seekers mingle happily in chic cafés and Gothic cathedrals. Whether you're sleeping at a former monastery turned five-star hotel or dancing in a onetime nuclear bunker, you'll quickly realize that in Prague, the unconventional is conventional: after all, this is Bohemia. Here's how to make the most of your stay.

1. La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise
At Czech restaurants, traditional frequently implies heavy. Fortunately, the chefs at stylish...

Fall Trips: Health and Safety Tips for Fall Travel

05.10.2009 In: Travel tips

Enjoy the Autumn Beauty and Be Prepared

Many people like to plan Fall trips. Some wish to view the lovely Fall foliage and some go for a romantic trip to a rural area or country destination. Fall nature changes are beautifully free and on display. Here are some health and safety tips for your Fall travel.

Don’t let the excitement and fun of your Fall travel trip that you plan turn into a disaster. Plan your Fall trip well ahead of time. Have plenty of gas in your car, especially if you will be traveling down long and lonesome country roads. Be sure and winterize your car before leaving. Make sure that the tires and windshield wipers are in good shape. Have a blanket, towel, paper towels and tissues on hand. Most people enjoy the Fall foliage view while driving their own car. It is...

2009 Fall Travel Trends Survey

05.10.2009 In: Vacation rental news

The 7th annual Fall Travel Trends Survey conducted by Travel Leaders reveals that it is hard, if not nearly impossible, to de-throne the wildly popular domestic and international travel options offered by Las Vegas and Caribbean Cruising even in a tough economic year. With the exchange rate more favorable than at this time in 2008, London has seen a resurgence in its popularity among international destinations while Chicago and Washington D.C. continue to move up in the rankings domestically. The survey includes information from 452 Travel Leaders agents, managers and owners.

It could be that we’re seeing the light at the end of this long dark economic tunnel as more Travel Leaders are expressing optimism on their business outlook than just one year ago,” noted Roger E. Block, CTC,...