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Friday, April 6, 2018

Tips on Booking a Vacation Rental because The Short Term Rental Market has Captured the Attention of Hotel Companies

A convergence is taking place in the hospitality industry where the traditional categories of lodging are beginning to blur.

Look for tips on getting the best short term rental while staying safe at the end of this post! 


Recently a follower of LTD gave us a great review of StayAlfred.com.  Maybe you haven't heard of Stay Alfred, but you maybe you should give them a try.  Stay Alfred, a Spokane, Washington startup rents downtown apartments and turns them into short-term rentals in 22 cities nationwide, including places like Seattle, Denver, Austin and Washington DC.  A follower of LTD, has used Stay Alfred and gave good reviews.  According to her, "You get all of the cost effectiveness of an Airbnb with the reliability of an upscale hotel! The difference between Airbnb and Stay Alfred is that Stay Alfred is the sole owner/leaser of each unit."  She stayed with friends in Seattle and "couldn't believe how affordable it was compared to a hotel."  Stay Alfred’s model consists of leasing swaths of units in new downtown apartment buildings before they open and turning them into something like boutique hotels with access to amenities.  Our follower liked having access to Stay Alfred's hospitality staff for something like extra blankets, all the while being able to participate in apartment-wide events like a St. Patrick's Day party.

The wide popularity of short term rentals in the hospitality industry has not gone unnoticed among large hotel chains.  Just over two years ago, Hyatt Hotels Corporation invested in Onefinestay, a closely held company that enables travelers to rent upscale private homes.

This collaboration is called "Oasis". From Hyatt's Oasis Website"The Unbound Collection by Hyatt is pleased to now offer home rentals through Oasis, a global leader in serviced home rental accommodations. With thousands of handpicked homes in over 20 destinations worldwide, Oasis combines the comfort and authenticity of home rentals with the service and amenities of a hotel – including in-person check-in and check-out, fresh linens and toiletries, and on-demand concierge services."

LTD compared the price of a London Rental for the Week of May 3-9, six nights, centrally located in Westminster.  The price on Airbnb was about $1680 and the SAME location on Oasis was $2000.  The increased price was secondary to a higher per night rate.

Westminster London Rental on Airbnb (photo courtesy of Airbnb.com)

Like Stay Alfed, Oasis has limited cities where accommodations are offered.

For the most part, hotel executives have tried to distance their companies from the home-rental startups. They suggest these firms aren’t competitors because they don’t offer the same security measures and quality-control found in hotels and don’t necessarily compete for the same customer but clearly, they are losing certain customers.

In March 2018, a former Hyatt VP joined Suiteness and new concept among hotel companies:  At its core, Suiteness is a hospitality members-only company with a platform that offers online booking of multi-bedroom inventory at hotels for the first time. Membership is free, and travelers can book a hotel stay for a group of 4-10 guests.  The Penthouse suite at Nobu in Las Vegas is an example of available suite options.

Penthouse Suite at Nobu Las Vegas (courtesy of Suiteness.com)

LTD is very happy with Airbnb and has reviewed using a short term rental for your luxury vacation.  This collective of renters is very reliable, with options in even the smallest of towns, and has GREAT customer service.  Recently LTD had to cancel a reservation the day before arrival due to a family emergency.  Using proper documentation of the emergency, Airbnb's customer service was awesome, handling our dilemma quickly and refunding our money.  Another time, when a hurricane was bearing down on our short term rental in Washington DC, Airbnb notified us and offered to refund our money if we chose to leave (which we did).  In April 2018, a caller into a consumer radio show identified a problem with an Airbnb rental that canceled the DAY OF ARRIVAL.  After offering alternatives,  Airbnb refunded the renters' money, plus 20% for the headache, AND the renters' flight cancellation fees.

Recently launched, Airbnb Plus, consists of 2,000 verified listings in 13 cities around the world. These homes, Airbnb attests, have been verified by Airbnb to be “beautiful homes” with “exceptional hosts” and “premium support” for both customers and hosts. Listings include both entire homes, as well as private rooms and bathrooms.
Airbnb Plus Los Angeles Listing (photo courtesy of Airbnb.com)


Verification as an Airbnb Plus listing includes a home inspection/professional photography session that adheres to a 100-point checklist. To apply for Airbnb Plus, a host has to pay a one-time $149 application fee. In return, a host gets top placement in search on the platform, access to in-home services like design consultations, and the ability to charge more for their listings.  The website booking interface is clean, updated and more user-friendly.

How do you find the best options for short term rentals with any company?  Click READ MORE BELOW TO FIND OUT!


Make sure you have a renter profile even if you haven't rented before


You’ll get more positive responses from better quality hosts if your profile is up-to-date, so it’s best to take care of it before you start your search. You can also verify your identification in advance to ensure an even safer exchange with a host. If you don’t have many reviews, get a few references.

Read the reviews


The number of reviews and ratings on a property are extremely important. LTD recommends only considering properties with five-star ratings and at least 20 reviews, although it can depend on the area. 

Research the Neighborhood


You know where you’ll be the happiest. Use the travel map view to find listings so you can see just how close it is to your favorite spots like the beach or city center. Use google maps to see how far you will walk to attractions and once you book print up directions to your favorite attractions so that you are not worried about this once you arrive.  Most short term rental companies offer city guides, but branch out to other travel sites to get the most well-rounded information on your destination.

Know What You Like


There are many benefits if you stay in space with a kitchen.  This makes it easy to go to a local store and get what you like, experiment with local foods or take left overs when dining out. If a Nespresso machine is really important to you, check the listing or ask the host. If a King sized bed is important for you, ask the host.  Make sure a blow dryer is included to minimize what you must pack.

Check the Cancellation Policy


Cancellation policies vary by host. Know the requirement before you book

For example, here are Airbnb cancellation policies but remember a refund may be allowed if there are extenuating circumstances:
Flexible: Full refund one day prior to arrival
Moderate: Full refund five days prior to arrival
Strict: 50% refund until one week prior to arrival

Always Ask Questions


Most hosts are more than happy to answer questions and respond quickly.  Ask for a discount especially if you’re staying longer than a week. If your travel dates are not far off and a property is still available, ask for a lower price. You never know until you ask but LTD recommends asking after you have a couple of good reviews!


Important things to do before you rent and before you leave home and once you arrive!
  1.  Know where the closest medical facility is in case of emergency
  2.  Find out if the owner has pets (especially if you are allergic) you may want to avoid renting this location
  3.  Be aware of hidden cameras - recently an Airbnb Paris rental was in the news for because the host secretly filmed female international students in the shower
  4.  Ask if the rental is child-proofed.
While LTD is happy with Airbnb, the expanding options of short term rentals can only be a good thing for the consumer, and if we are traveling to a large city, we will explore some alternative options like Airbnb plus, Oasis, Stay Alfred and Suiteness!

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