Vacation budget a little tight this year? Someone else’s last-minute change of plans could be your gain.
Vacation property owners who find themselves with unexpected openings often slash their rates to fill their space. Travelers willing to wait until the last minute to book a summer rental can end up saving as much as half off the original prices.
But you’ll have to make a quick decision to snag a getaway bargain.
According to the 2012 Vacation Rentals survey by TripAdvisor.com, 82 percent of respondents said they would take a spontaneous trip this summer if they found a great deal, which means there’s a lot of competition for those cancellations.
“A majority of travelers are looking to get the most for their dollar,” says Brooke Ferencsik, TripAdvisor spokesman. “They’re checking the site regularly and they’re flexible, which allows them to jump on a bargain when they see it.”
If you’ve got your heart set on a waterfront vacation in Truro and nowhere else, waiting for the deals can be a problem, since last-minute availability may not be where — or when — you want it. On the other hand, you could end up relaxing by Cape Cod bay for a lot less than the renter next door.
“Keep checking the rental calendars that are posted with the listings,” advises Ferencsik. “The later it gets in the season, the more motivated property owners are. When you see a vacancy that’s just a week or two away, email the owner and ask if the rates are negotiable.”
Online sites — including TripAdvisor.com, CyberRentals.com, VRBO.com, WeNeedAVacation.com and HomeAway.com — feature vacation listings, as does CraigsList.org. When you search listings, put “cancellation” or “last-minute” into the search field and see what comes up.
Some property owners send messages to an email list when they have last-minute openings. If you’ve rented somewhere in the past, give the owner a call and ask to be notified if there’s a cancellation.
Even before markdowns, home rentals offer savings over other vacation accommodation options. On average, the price per square foot for a U.S. hotel room is more than twice the price per square foot of a vacation rental, according to HomeAway, an online vacation rental company.
Regardless of how good the deal, be sure to get as much information as you can before signing a contract and beware of online vacation rental scams. BBB advises potential renters to get everything in writing. Make sure that all of the verbal agreements are included in the rental contract, including details on the deposit, refunds and what is included in the cost of the rental.
Take extra precautions when renting from an individual. If possible, get references from previous renters. Use a secure form of payment. Never pay via money wire, such as through MoneyGram or Western Union. When possible, use a credit card, which can provide some consumer protection.
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