AirBnB just announced that it made over $1BILLION in profits for Q3 2018. $1BILLION in 3months!!! Where do you think that money comes from--the homeowners listing their properties or YOU? The answer is BOTH. Homeowners are charged a percentage of their rent (or in some cases, an annual subscription fee of $500 or more) and guests are charged outrageous booking fees, ranging from $100 - $3500, depending on the amount of the rent and number of occupants. As the guest, you may not see these fees as they are often bundled into the total price, but you ARE paying them!

How can the savvy traveler avoid these fees and stop this madness? Here are some great suggestions from vacation rental owners:

- Next time you are searching for a vacation rental on Airbnb, VRBO, Tripadvisor, etc., identify your perfect spot, then BEFORE contacting the owner through the site listing system, do a quick Google search of the property name and area and see if they have a direct website (often noted in the title of the listing or somewhere in the property description or in the guest reviews section). Then, reach out to the owner via email, text or phone and tell them you'd like to #bookdirect.

- Search for vacation rental listings on FREE booking sites like and regional booking sites.

- Install the StaySavr web-app (can be found at which will allow you to see owners direct contact info when hovering over their listing on any HomeAway/VRBO site (currently only works for owners who have provided their contact information to StaySavr).

- Use Google Maps to find individual rentals: when searching for a vacation rental, scroll past the paid listings (that say Ad in small letters underneath them) down to the Google Local listings next to the map. Click on the map find a to treasure trove of local listings for vacation rentals.

- Use Google Image Search: travelers can search photos instead of marketplace sites to find the right rental for their family. For example, if you find a home you love on Airbnb or VRBO, try copying the picture into Google image search to find the original source of the photo.

- In addition to saving hundreds or thousands of dollars in booking fees, it's also a good sign when the property you are interested in has an extensive website and/or a Facebook page for their vacation rental. This helps prevent renting from potential scammers.

Many of the best homes and deals are not even listed on the big websites because of the costs and headaches of working with these channels. In addition, vacation rental owners have extensive knowledge of their areas and can provide insider information that makes your stay exponentially better. Plus, they often have deals and tips on how to optimize your dates and budget.

So, jump on the SMART band-wagon and #bookdirect! Tell your friends--they will thank you!!!

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