Recent years have seen an increase in online booking services and a rise in the number of individuals renting homes in top-notch getaway towns like Plettenberg Bay. It’s now easier than ever to book a vacation home that checks every box.
But sadly, not everything that glitters is gold in the world of online rentals. You may think you’ve secured the perfect holiday home only to realize on arrival that it’s not quite what you had in mind. It might not be close to the area you wanted or the amenities aren’t remotely as advertised - or worse, you fall victim to a rental scam!
While rental apps certainly make things easier, they can also make the process almost too easy. After all, a few taps and swipes of an app and you’ve got a house. So it’s important to take some time, do your research, and avoid a few common mistakes.
Here are 5 big mistakes to avoid when booking a holiday rental.
1. Booking Something That’s Outside Your Preferred Area
So, you’ve found a great vacation rental at an attractive price. There may be a good reason the price seems ‘too good to be true’. The property may be far from where you really want to be and if you’re not careful, you’ll spend more time and money taxiing the family around than having a holiday. The opposite also applies, sometimes you might find the perfect rental just on the outskirts of the hot spot that you would normally not have considered without local knowledge.
Read the description of the location carefully to determine how close it is to the attractions you want to experience. While you might not have access to the exact address before booking, a good listing description should always include an approximate location and what’s in the area. Dealing with a locally based rental company can be helpful here as they can provide you with information about the area that is not necessarily mentioned in the description.
2. Not Investigating the Amenities
Lots of vacation home rentals come with everything you need, from basics like dish soap and towels to those creature comfort items like a dishwasher or the kind of coffee maker. Find out what your vacation rental includes before you arrive, either through the listing description or contact the host and/or manager. How a vacation rental is stocked is typically more consistent with professional property managers, but individual hosts may or may not provide items like beach towels or detergents. It’s helpful to know what the rental will have so you don’t have to pack all that much but also that you don't end up having to go without something that you really need.
3. Penny wise…
It’s easy to worry too much when it comes to price. After all, you’ve set a budget and want to stick to it. But a common mistake is trying to save a small amount and downgrading the entire experience in the process.
Consider options both under and slightly over your budget, you might be surprised by how much more you can get for going slightly over.
4. Not Balancing Needs Vs Wants
One of the most common mistakes is asking for input from the entire family and trying to please everyone. This is an impossible task and often leads to a lot of frustration during the planning process. There is always someone in the family who puts all kinds of restrictions on what they want, and so they pass up great options, or get something much worse.
This is especially true when it comes to youngsters who insist on a pool or being close to a particular activity. Some options might not meet all the demands but are better located or have everything you need to be comfortable at a price you can afford. Make a list of the things your family can't live and the things that would be nice to have. Consulting with a professional agency can come in handy when trying to find the balance between the wants and the needs.
5. Not Using A Trusted Site
Whatever you book, make sure it’s a trusted resource. Unfortunately, vacation rental fraud and scams are not uncommon especially on social media and other community forums. Be sure to use credible booking sites that include high-quality photography, or even 3D tours. This way, you get a true sense of the property and can make sure the home’s layout suits your needs.
Also take a minute to read the reviews and investigate what other people have said and how the hosts or property manager have responded. It pays to see what others have to say about the place you think looks perfect and the site you want to book through. Not only are reviews a great source of additional information but it can also give you insight into how the host or property manager responds to reviews and upgrades that may have been made in response to previous guest reviews.