The popularity and prevalence of third-party, online travel agencies (OTAs) like VRBO, Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com has soared in recent years. Short term rentals (including vacation rentals) are a hot topic of debate among municipalities and communities across the country. Another hot topic for debate: whether you should be booking direct or through an OTA?
Offering the benefits of instant booking and a large range of accommodation types, third-party sites lend themselves to everyone from the busy, full-time working mom planning her family reunion vacation to the young, college-aged traveler looking for adventure on a budget.
Are those benefits worth the additional 5 to 20% in hidden fees you’ll pay?!?
While the gratification of immediate confirmations and a large inventory may make booking your Oak Island vacation with an OTA attractive, securing your stay directly with a local rental agency provides its own special advantages.
Flexible & Transparent Pricing
Many OTAs offer all-inclusive pricing to cover the base rent, charges incurred for cleaning the property, linen rentals and pet-fees. For some homes, there is no option to add trip insurance to cover unforeseen cancellations due to sickness or evacuation.
By booking directly with MRA, travelers have the flexibility to opt out of certain costs to lower the overall price of their vacations. Bringing your own linens and cleaning the property yourself allows you to avoid those additional fees. While our administrative reservation fee exists, it remains a standard amount for every home whereas OTAs will charge a percentage based upon the home’s pricing structure. Even further, many properties listed on OTA sites are also managed by a property management/rental agency so you end up paying the OTA service fee as well as a management fee.
Guests booking directly may also benefit from seasonal promotions and savings or last-minute booking specials offered by owners – an advantage that may not be readily available with an OTA.
When booking directly with a local rental agency like MRA, you receive quality information from those who live, work and play in the area where you’ll be vacationing. The intimate knowledge those representatives have can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your overall vacation experience.
Our staff can not only suggest homes to suit your needs but they will listen to your preferences and match you to a property they feel will make your stay exceptional. You will find yourself better equipped for your getaway when you know exactly what activities and events are available to your family, the best restaurants to meet your dietary needs, the most unique shops, and exactly what service providers may work well for your family during your stay. (For example, our reservation specialists can offer first-hand knowledge when it comes to the differences between an East Beach and a Caswell Beach stay.)
In addition to flexible pricing options, booking direct with a rental agency offers the convenience of one-on-one contact even before you make a booking commitment. Our reservation specialists are in the office 7 days per week to assist during every stage of the process, from an initial rental search and securing the perfect property to managing expectations during your vacation and departure. We go even further by offering guests an option to “hold” the same property for the same week during the following year.
Managing expectations during your stay is often overlooked as a meaningful advantage of staying with a vacation rental agency. Owners who rent their privately owned property are often located in another state and rely on local service providers and assistance when it comes to maintenance or housekeeping issues. At Margaret Rudd & Associates, if you arrive to find a maintenance or housekeeping issue (or if you experience any during your stay), our staff is here to manage the resolution of said issue in the quickest way possible…even after standard business hours.
#BookDirect and save on your Oak Island experience…not just your accommodations.
Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. (MRA) works with our guests to provide the memorable Oak Island vacation they deserve and not just an economical place to lay their heads. While booking with an OTA may seem attractive, the best method in planning your vacation is to do your research beforehand. Create that pros and cons list to determine where the real value lies. Hopefully you’ll find that booking direct offers your family the most advantageous option for your Oak Island family vacation.
Booking your Oak Island vacation directly with MRA is easy when you visit our website or call us at 800.486.5441.