AirBnB and VRBO/HomeAway vs. Houfy
The service fee varies, depending on the cost of the rental and demand for the house. Renters find the service fee can fluctuate from one view to the next.
In an attempt to maximize their profits, Expedia has decided that the users of their companies, like VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and HomeAway, will pay a service fee. This is to follow the model that AirBnB has always used. This fee, they say is to pay for the website, customer service and advertising. For those booking Tiki House Pensacola Beach, the service started out at up to $399, then a year later it went up to $499, and now it is up to $599. Where will it end?
And even though we don't charge more per person, HomeAway/VRBO and the rest of the Expedia Group of OTAs has found another way to get more money from our guests. The more people in your group, the more they will charge. Don't believe it? Below is a copy of a letter they sent to an owner asking why the service fee increased based on the number of guests, even though her rate stayed the same.
VRBO/HomeAway has also made it difficult for owners and renters to deal directly with each other. Contact information is kept from both renters and owners, and owners can be penalized for trying to take inquiries from the site, off platform, or to allow customers to book direct. The companies want their money. But is it really a deal? Before you inquire on one of these booking sites, know what you are paying for and decide if it is worth it.
Advertising. Security. Convenience. That is what the service fee is supposed to pay for. Many choose a privately owned vacation home because they want to deal with the owner instead of a customer service agent that has never been to the house. But that is what you are paying for. Do you really want to pay for advertising to help them make more money? The current websites are notoriously difficult and confusing to use for both owners and renters. Is this what you are paying for? The website was maintained and functioned even better, according to owners, before they charged renters a service fee.
The truth is there is very little value they provide, except the use of their website. Owners pay the credit card fees and subscription fees, while renters pay to use the website. And owners do not like how the OTAs hold their payments until guests have checked in and sometimes checked out. They are rated 1 star by Consumer Affairs for service and quality by owners and guests. So why pay it?
So what about this Service Fee?
Even when an owner doesn't charge extra for additional people or a person fee, the price can fluctuate as VRBO adds on to the service fee. I don't charge for additional guests, but I guess VRBO does!
Fair and True Pricing at Houfy
If you want fair and true pricing, check out Houfy! There are no service fees, so you pay less for the same home. The value you receive, for FREE, is direct contact with owners, TONS of information in the owners posts and guides, and an easy to use website to look at various homes, different seasons and their prices, and instant quotes. VRBO/HomeAway just can't compete! Check out our guides below so see what we offer and the information that is always at your fingertips!
The best part of Houfy is it's FREE! They never charge service fees, they verify owners, and they allow you to deal with owners directly. The next time you shop on AirBnb or VRBO/HomeAway or any of the big sites, ask the owner, "Are you on Houfy yet?"