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I have a problem and need help

#1
I’ve been on Slow Travel since it’s start and you’ve all been great. We’ve rented houses via VRBO for many years and have had very good results. We’re now planning a trip to Puglia in 2019 and have done the groundwork. We’ve found a house via Home Away which is a partner with VRBO. We’ve communicated with an agency on their site called Rive Del Salento. We’ve gone back and forth although quite slowly in terms of their responses. We, very recently, thought we finalized everything in terms of our dates and sent a wire transfer for our deposit. We keep asking if they’ve received this deposit multiple times. No response. Since Expedia has purchased VRBO and thus Home Away so much has chNged. HELP! What should we do now ? Suggestions please!
 

joe

100+ Posts
#2
If you haven't done so, I'd try contacting them directly through their site or Facebook page :
http://www.rivedelsalento.it/
https://www.facebook.com/rivedelsalento/

Generally speaking, I believe it's always better, if there is the option, to work directly with an accommodation, and not through mediators of any kind. I even offer this to AirBnB rental owners, once I get their contact info. The first time it doesn't work, but after we get to know each other, it can be considered. Both sides gain if the mediator doesn't get a cut.
 

joe

100+ Posts
#4
Aw shucks, folks - just trying to help the Lilliputians...;)

As much as I like the way AirBnB has revolutionized the accommodation industry, I hate the fact that no contact information can be exchanged through the site. Really, what percent of the hosts or guests would be willing to undertake the business transaction on the first stay, without the backing of a secure and reliable platform, that AirBnB felt the need to block the passage of this information? Quite small I'd think, and certainly not a serious threat to the model. They could always remove an accommodation that doesn't get enough traffic through them - which is essentially what they're doing now, with the way they display the options.

Instead of this, you get a "Big Brother is watching you" effect, which is not a good background to all the hype about a "sharing economy".

Out of the four times we've used AirBnB, there's only one apt. we'd consider returning to, and I've requested and received the owners' private e-mail at the end of our stay. Next time I will try and see if he's open to the idea that we do business directly without using the site. I suggest that anyone who uses the site try this as well.
 
#6
I understand the appeal of sites like VRBO and Air BnB for owners, the ability to efficiently reach a large audience, what I don't understand is the customer. Maybe I'm just stuck in the old ways of renting, either through a reputable local agency or directly from an owner.

In the "old days", less than a decade ago, most rentals were a full week and there was local oversight even if the owner wasn't right there. Whenever I had an issue I knew who to call and they were on the spot within hours, if not minutes.

Now, with these shorter term rentals arranged exclusively through web sites I wonder about the incentive to maintain a standard level in a rental. Yes, there are reviews but they are notoriously variable and how many folks who stay for only a night or two are going to bother writing a review unless they have something to complain about?

Further, when apartments are renting on a night or two basis like a hotel room, I have to believe they are being used "harder", for lack of a better word, than when a client stayed for a week or more. Kind of "wham, bam, thank you" of the apartment variety. I just find myself less and less inclined to rent places that I know are rented for very short periods because I have these assumptions about how they've been treated by users (certainly not anyone here, but you know what I mean).

As I said, maybe I'm just stuck in the old ways of doing things.
 

joe

100+ Posts
#7
Now, with these shorter term rentals arranged exclusively through web sites I wonder about the incentive to maintain a standard level in a rental. Yes, there are reviews but they are notoriously variable and how many folks who stay for only a night or two are going to bother writing a review unless they have something to complain about?
I just find myself less and less inclined to rent places that I know are rented for very short periods because I have these assumptions about how they've been treated by users.
Hi Ellen - thought I'd comment on those parts of your post :

If people would not feel inclined to rent places that were rented before them for very short times, the hotel industry would hardly be the booming business it is. It really doesn't matter what type of accommodation we're talking about, be it a hotel or an AirBnB rental : the owner wants you, or others, to be their guests, because they want to profit from your need for an accommodation of some type. They both have very serious incentives to maintain their property well-kept and clean, and to provide a hosting service which is deemed acceptable by users. In other words, if the guest before has left a mess, the hosts have to clean it up if they want to stay in business.

Reviews might be notoriously variable, but that doesn't mean that they aren't serious. On AirBnB, for example, both the host and the guest are reviewed - so both are motivated to leave a good impression and to behave accordingly. Because AirBnB, for example, is a completely contained site, you know that fake reviews are a lot more difficult to pull off - something that is not always certain on all accommodation sites. You are even requested after every stay (and perhaps obligated) to write a review, and if you take a look at any property on their site, you will see both the positive and negative feedback of real hosts and real guests. "Good" hosts are rewarded with various rankings, like "superhosts", which give them an edge over other hosts. Likewise, guests who have left a mess will find it very difficult to book their next accommodation.

The whole development of consumer reviews on the Internet, manipulations aside, has done quite a bit to benefit the consumer vis-a-vis the sometimes more powerful supplier. But it's not only people who want to complain that post reviews - people who have enjoyed their stay and the host's hospitality would many times like to thank their hosts and give a boost to their accommodation business, by complimenting them with a positive review. Why not help any type of business to continue to exist, if it gives you your money's worth and is supplying you with something that you need and are satisfied with? Especially if you get to know the owners or staff, and they have impressed you with their service?

We both agree on the issue of working directly with the owner and not through a mediator - but sometimes you can only find these owners for the first time through these mediating sites. Not all customers have the know-how to search for these family-owned businesses or small accommodations, and they are also fed by what they hear from the masses : for example, that site "X" is the most popular travel site. This puts small accommodation owners - to their frustration - in the hands of these "X" sites : if you're not there, you don't exist.

Just out of curiosity - have you ever used AirBnB, and if so, what was your impression of it?
 
#8
I haven't used Air BnB but I have used other sites, though only for week or longer rentals. I'm willing to admit that I'm out of step but I have reservations about these arrangements.

My thought about the short stays vs. hotels is that hotels are set up for this, with staff on site and regular processes for cleaning, maintenance, etc. in the building. Individual owners don't have those assets to work with.

I hadn't thought about it until racking my memory about whether or not I'd used AB&B but an awful lot of my rentals came from Slowtrav recommendations, that insight from people I "knew" via the site and trusted made all the difference.
 

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