There is a common misconception nowadays that booking a vacation through OTA’s (online travel agents) is the best and most convenient way to book a vacation rental, especially with how much popularity OTA sites are gaining. But there are notable differences between booking directly with a property management company or with an OTA, including numerous advantages to booking directly through a vacation rental agency:
Familiar with the Local Area
One of the best advantages of booking direct through a property manager, is they are familiar with the local area. This benefits the renter as it offers a more personalized getaway. Most property managers are happy to recommend local activities, restaurants, and local secrets (like happy hours, deals on certain days of the week, etc).
Familiar with Individual Properties
To go along with the above point, vacation rental agencies are also familiar with the individual properties. This is helpful when guests need to know the specific floor plan of the house they have rented, or are looking for particular amenities in a vacation rental home.
More Available Properties
Many of the vacation rental homes listed on OTA sites are also managed by a property management company. Most companies do not list their entire inventory on OTA sites, but do list them all on their own website. This benefits the property management company as the OTA’s typically charge a commission to the manager, and it also benefits the renter as booking direct can open up a larger rental inventory to choose from.
Last Minute Deals or Special Offers
Vacation rental agencies will often offer sizable discounts on last minute stays as well as specials during slower times of the year to generate more bookings.
More Personal Experience
It seems these days that most renters prefer the ease and convenience of booking online. But some renters prefer to have a more personal experience and like to deal directly with a property manager, and even speak to them directly on the phone, especially if the renter has specific questions.
24/7 Emergency Capabilities
As rental homes are just like any other normal home, things can go wrong. Property managers have on-call staff and a maintenance team in case of emergencies at the home you have rented. OTA’s will often be the liaison between the renter and property managers for maintenance issues and emergencies after hours, which can cause a delay in getting these items addressed in a timely manner.
Things to Watch Out For with OTA’s
The traveler doesn’t often know they are paying hidden fees, like the service fees (aka the booking fee), which are charged in addition to the rent, so booking through an OTA can be more costly. Sometimes OTA’s can have more strict cancellation policies, so it is a best practice to be sure to read every cancellation policy carefully when booking.
Whereas some of these items are important to travelers, some may not be, so it all basically comes down to personal preference and comfort level for choosing a property management company or online travel agent to book your next vacation rental. We hope these tips will help you to decide which booking method seems best for you and your group for your next vacation!