Look Before You Book: Important qualities to look for before booking your vacation rental
So you’ve already decided that you want your family to stay in a vacation rental during your next trip. You like the space these homes provide, you like the amenities they offer, and most of all, you like the price. Regardless of where you vacation, however, there are certain things you should always look for when renting a vacation home.
The most important factor is a good rental company. After all, no vacation goes exactly as planned, and it’s important to have a supportive team in your corner, able to take over in case any mishaps arise. In the age of Internet booking, it’s easy for owners to rent their own home, but renting directly through an owner can be risky. Generally, homeowners don’t have the experience to deal with unexpected problems. Management companies, of course, deal with problems on a daily basis, and are equipped with the vendors, policies, and employees to take care of things efficiently. Additionally, rental companies take credit cards, which is often a safer and more efficient way to book a home. These points are key, because not only is the property manager going to make sure your vacation goes smoothly, but his job is also to make sure your transactions go smoothly. Having a rental agent you can trust will rid you of any anxieties—before, during, and after your stay. A rental company with an established reputation is usually a vacationer’s safest bet.
A quality website is crucial when searching for a vacation home. Often a traveler won’t be able to see the home before arriving for the vacation, so a website is the only way you can get a feel for the company, the property, and the service you’ll be receiving. Make sure the company you use has a clear website so you’re not zapped by hidden charges, smoking policies, or pet problems. Good online pictures are also important. Written descriptions can be misleading, and the right angles will always hide the ugly chair or cramped bathroom. Look for websites that provide online tours, 360-degree views, or several pictures of the same home to be sure you’re getting what you want.
Be honest with your rental agent about what you’re looking for in a home, whether it’s a pool, a great view, or a place without stairs. It’s also important to tell them exactly how many people are in your party and if you’ll be bringing any animals. Never book a home thinking you can sneak in a pet or cram in an extra person—the deposit you lose will certainly cost more than the additional bedroom or pet kennel. On the same note, know what amenities are important to you and what you can live without. If you need a pet-friendly home, don’t settle, but do be a little flexible; hairdryers and computers aren’t standard amenities.
Before you book your vacation home, get a little familiar with the area you’ll be staying in. After all, a home may be beautiful online, but if it’s forty-five miles away from the nearest city, your trip may not be as enjoyable as you’d hoped. Call your rental agent and ask how close you’ll be to the main attractions. Is there a grocery store nearby? Is there any nightlife within walking distance? Taking a look at the city’s chamber of commerce website will give you a great feel for the neighborhood. Not only will this information help your vacation go more smoothly, you’ll also have more things to look forward to!
Once you’ve decided on the home you’d like to rent, pay attention to the booking details. A good rental company will be upfront with you about fees, taxes, deposit returns, and policies. Be sure you’ve had all your questions answered before you sign anything. Some questions you may want to ask before you book:
What if my flight comes in after your office has closed?
What is the cancellation policy?
Is housekeeping available?
Is there a deposit or will charges be billed to my credit card?
How many parking spaces are available to me?
Are laundry facilities available?
When your questions are answered, your contracts are signed, and your itinerary is set, all you’ll have left to do is pack!