You don't mind paying a few extra hundred dollars on your next Montana, Wyoming or Idaho vacation rental, do you? According to the Mega-Sites you don't. They have actually said that "travelers don't mind paying a service fee". We're not sure what reality they are living in, but it is not even close to a real world reality.
Some of these Mega-Sites are charging upwards of 15 to 20 percent for their service fees - based not only on nightly rental fees but also the cleaning fees, pet fees, etc. With Vacation Home Rentals Direct, there are NO added service fees - you pay only for rent, mandatory fees like cleaning, pet fees, etc and related lodging taxes thus saving between 15 and 20 percent compared to the Mega-Sites!
The Service Fee Mega-Sites are charging the travelers is for booking through their site and they keep all the money. The homeowner gets none of it. However, they label it simply as “Service Fee” in their site. Understandably, renters are often confused, as they think the homeowner is charging this Service Fee, and are unaware that it is charged by the Mega-Sites and the homeowner has no control over it.
In some instances, travelers don't even know they are paying a Service Fee because the Mega-Sites have gone to great lengths to hide it from plain view or identify that it is their fee. So, if "travelers don't mind paying a service fee", why hide it or why not own up to it?
While some homeowners have sought to offer clarification in their listings or communications with travelers, some of these Mega-Sites have penalized them and even gone so far as removing rental listings if a listing contains any mention of the Mega-Site Service Fee.
Limiting What you See
Also, some of these Mega-Sites are attempting to hamper any effort for travelers to avoid paying their Service Fee. They have begun blocking owners telephone numbers from rental listings, so the only way travelers will be able to contact owners is through their Mega-Site messaging system. It is only a matter of time before they begin hiding travelers contact information (name, email address, telephone number) from the homeowners until the traveler books, leaving the only communication possible being through their system. When it comes to the very important process of booking a vacation rental home, the Mega-Sites overlook the fact that the traveler and the homeowner deserve, and desire, to have direct traveler-homeowner communications throughout the property selection and booking process.
Many owners have begun listing their vacation rentals in alternative sites, creating their own sites, and creating Social Media pages for their properties, in order to be able to book travelers without the traveler having to pay the Mega-Site Service Fee.
What Can the Traveler Do?
If you find a Montana, Wyoming or Idaho rental property which you like that is listed on a Mega-Booking Site, don't immediately book it. Instead, search this site, where you can book it without paying the Mega-Site Service Fee. If the rental property is not listed on our site, contact the owner and ask them to list their rental here so you can book it without paying the Service Fee (that is, IF the Mega-Site allows you to communicate directly with the homeowner)!