While the state of the economy has negatively impacted the health of US based travel, vacation rentals are still proving to be a viable alternative to hotels. This is, however, becoming increasingly challenging, leaving many vacation rental companies scrambling.As fewer and fewer people are taking vacations this year, those that do are exceedingly aware of the gigantic price breaks available to them.
Once the better choice in turns of value when compared to traditional hotel stays, vacation rental owners and property managers are now finding themselves pitted against huge hotel corporations in an all out price war. As the large hotel chains continue to drop their prices, vacation rental owners are forced to react in the like. The problem, however, is that individual owners cannot compete when it comes to the marketing, operational, and long-term budgetary deficits that are increasing during this recessionary period. Their vacation rental is simply not just their business, but their second home. Pride of ownership and overall care of the property demands that more resources and time are applied to the maintenance of their property. And when coupled with the fact that profits are dwindling, the wear and tear on their personal home can almost make renting it not worth the hassle.
California has seen a tremendous downtown overall when looking at incoming tourist numbers. San Francisco, once the epicenter for vacation travel within the State, has seen numbers fall dramatically. Matt Doerner-Miller, principal of Vacation-Renter, Inc. , operates and manages GoldenGateVacations.com, a San Francisco-based online travel company which allows users to book vacation rentals in real-time, directly from the vacation rental owner. When asked about the recent downturn and the effect that it has had on San Francisco travel, he had this to say;
“The real problem that the vacation rental industry is facing, and will face for quite some time, is the fact that we are no longer recognized by travelers as necessarily being the better deal when strictly looking at the nightly rate comparisons. Hotel chains are offering more and more incentives for less and less investment, and these are simply impossible to beat. It’s a “David and Goliath” scenario, where the smaller vacation rental operators are struggling to find a way to compete.
In my opinion, vacation rentals still provide a much more intimate and enjoyable vacation experience to that of the standard hotel stay. But in a time when every dollar counts, people would rather be able to travel and stay in a cheap hotel versus not being able to go at all. What most people don’t unfortunately factor in when pricing out accommodation options are the little things. For instance, almost all of our properties on our site offer free parking, whereas with most hotels you still are being charged for this. This can result in quite a shock after the fact. Secondly, since all of units come fully-furnished, money can be saved by eating meals in rather than constantly eating out. In my mind, grilling a steak on your private patio overlooking the city brings the experience of travel even closer. You are no longer playing tourist, but experiencing what it would be like to be a local of the city of San Francisco. Finally – when booking a vacation rental through a site like ours, you truly are not being charged any type of booking fees. Despite what many hotel advertisers say, I still seem to have an “additional fees” portion lopped onto the end of my bill. With GoldenGateVacations.com this will never happen.”
Overall, the industry consensus is still extremely positive regarding the future long-term growth of vacation rentals, though unfortunately the fate of US economy will dictate how much growth and when. In the meantime, don’t just look at the nightly rate when making your accommodation choice as there can be many other mitigating and important factors that weigh in favor of renting a vacation rental.