Today USA Today posted the article “Dreaded Fees Come to Vacation Rentals” in which National Geographic Traveler Editor Chris Elliott says, “Don’t look now, but vacation rental companies are piling on the fees, many of them pure junk.”
Elliott interviewed VacationFutures CEO Andrew McConnell who explained to him: “Rental managers only get a commission on the rental part of the transaction, but most negotiate that they get to keep 100% of fees. In this way they can make owners think they are getting a great deal with a lower commission, but actually take more of the all-in revenue by shifting more of the revenue to other fees.”
Elliott advises: “Some fees, like the ‘convenience’ fee and the ‘hot tub’ fee, are so absurd that a company may have some trouble justifying them. If you’re confronted by a surprise fee, even after doing your homework, challenge it. You may be able to negotiate your way out of paying it.”
First, there was a $25 “check-in” fee when she arrived, which, though disclosed in the fine print of her contract, was unexpected. And then there was a mandatory $200 “cleaning” fee for her unit after she checked out. Neither was part of the original price.Rhonda Moret’s vacation rental in Park City, Utah, came with a few surprises.
To add insult to injury, a construction crew in a nearby unit woke her at 7 a.m., on her first morning at the mountain resort.
“So much for relaxing with the mountain breeze,” says Moret, a healthcare marketing consultant who lives in Del Mar, Calif.
Don’t look now, but vacation rental companies are piling on the fees, many of them pure junk. Among the most common: booking fees, change fees, cleaning fees, hot tub fees, parking fees, reservation fees and — everyone’s favorite — amorphous “convenience” fees.
Simply put, rental fees are exploding. And there’s a reason why.
“Rental managers only get a commission on the rental part of the transaction,” explains Andrew McConnell, the chief executive of VacationFutures, an online vacation rental marketplace. “But most negotiate that they get to keep 100% of fees. In this way they can make owners think they are getting a great deal with a lower commission, but actually take more of the all-in revenue by shifting more of the revenue to other fees.”
It’s a model that closely follows the one used by airlines, which quote a low base fare but then add fees for everything from carry-on luggage to seat assignments — items that had traditionally been included in the price of a ticket.
These fees seem to be getting worse, although no one formally keeps track of them. Reputable vacation rental companies are resisting the surcharges, but eventually, the lure of easy money may prove too difficult to turn down.