I was going write a long monologue about how important it is to make contact with the owners directly to get the best deals on villa holiday rental. I then discovered that Jenny had written an excellent blog
on the topic on her website (www.seashellsporthtowan.co.uk) and I've just linked to it! Hope she doesn't mind!
In summary, many of the common direct rental 'search sites', like AirBnB, OwnersDirect/Homeaway, Tripadvisor etc, charge both guests and owners hefty fees to use their sites. In many cases this fee is not transparent to the guests and could be as much as 10-15% of the total cost indicated at the end of the booking process. What do guests get for this 'Service fee' - frankly not much and a quick google search highlights the dissatisfaction with the new fee.
In our own case, Homeaway/Owners Direct have become increasing insistent on inserting themselves in the booking process, to the extent now that we cannot have e-mail contact with our guests without them first committing to book. In our opinion, it's much better to have some e-mail or phone conversation prior to booking to make sure the property fulfils your needs. If you look closely at our listings on these sites, you'll find clues on how to make contact directly.
We are also encouraging vacation renters to take a look at alternative booking sites who still have the ethos of letting owner and guest connect. Currently we are recommending www.simplyowners.net and www.ownerholidays.com. Of course, the easiest way to connect is to send us a note via the contact form on the website. We'll happily then share our phone number so we can have a real conversation.
Nuala & Matthew
We fell in love with the Eastern Algarve a few years back. We'll try and impart our knowledge of the area and other travel tips via these blog posts.