The very best side benefit of running both Garcia House and Glenn House is the delightful people that I have crossed paths with that I wouldn't ordinarily have. All VR's operate differently and in many instances owner, operators, managers never even meet those that stay at their homes but that's not the case for me. I know our Guests don't come to visit me and I stay our of their hair but each and every one is greeted and I try to provide supplemental information tailored to what info about them I've learned. Sometimes, circumstances also lend themselves to a friendship forming with some and it carries on long after their departure.
One gal I hit it off especially well with was a Travel Nurse that came to say with us at Garcia House last year at this time. She hailed from South Carolina and had never been farther west than Houston but something was telling her that Tucson was where she needed to go. She described it as feeling like it was destiny for her to come here.
It sure appears her inner guide directed her correctly as yesterday we attended her wedding. I clearly remember that first date they had and how very quickly she was smitten with him. Obviously, he was just as taken with her as almost instantaneously they became very serious and she moved into his new place soon thereafter while he wrapped up his job in another state. It wasn't long after that we knew a marriage was coming and it was wonderful to be included in their happy day yesterday.
Best wishes to the happy couple!!!
It's the very first annual Houfy Day! #houfy
I have great hopes for this start-up website and its founder, Thijs Aaftink, and his colleague, Swapnil Chavan. I know they listen and they are doing their utmost to make this a successful new listing site for vacation rentals.
There's very little hope that any new start-up site can possibly compete with the "BIG boys" of travel and vacation rentals. There are certainly some valid arguments to that too BUT I am an optimist and I believe enough people will get fed up with the out and out greed and deception the "big boys" and once they recognize it as a traveler or can't take it anymore as a VR owner, the little sites will begin making more and more headway.
I have a lot of hopes for three of these sites of which Houfy.com is a part of those three.houfy.com
Best wishes Houfy, current and future Houfyites (or are we Houfians?? :-) ), Thijs and Swapnil on our very first Houfy day! May there be many, many more to come!!
BTW: Here's a link to Glenn House on Houfy: https://www.houfy.com/2012
I don't know who to credit most of the following to. This was originally a series of images that I ran across either on or thru facebook. If you know who I should give credit to, please let me know!
I have changed some of it up to better suit Garcia House and Glenn House but for the most part, it is left in tact.
HOW TO SAVE LOADS OF $$$ BOOKING DIRECT ( #BOOKDIRECT )
> Do you use VRBO, HomeAway, AirBnB, TripAdvisor, Booking.com or Hotels.com?
> These sites charge huge booking fees to either the traveler or the owner or both claiming to offer protection.
> VRBO, HomeAway, AirBnB, TripAdvisor all charge travelers a fee but also charge the owners a fee. With a 15% targeted take rate, aren't you paying a lot more?
> For Booking.com and Hotels.com, the hotel or rental property pays a 15% to 20% fee. Ever wonder why hotels give you a subpar room when you book through a third party site?
> Do these sites really protect you? VRBO, HomeAway, AirBnB, TripAdvisor claim that they do.
> Book with Confidence? Payment Protection? In reality, they will ask you to do a chargeback if the rental does not exist or is uninhabitable. You get that with a credit card anyway.
> They claim they will find you another place. This is not always possible in peak season or other properties are booked. You may end up in a sub par property or miles away from your original destination.
> How to book direct:
> Do a Google search for vacation rentals in the area you want to go to. Get past all the "big boys" and paid ads and then past their unpaid ones.
> When you search include some amenities you might like i.e. pet-friendly, washing machine, two bedrooms, etc. and or the locale i.e. midtown, near Reid Park, near 4th Avenue, etc.
> Do a facebook search for vacation rentals in the area you want to go to. That can turn up quite a few!
> Contact the owner through facebook, their website or a no-fee listing site***
> How to book safely:
> Do your homework. Check reviews, see where you can find them listed.
> Many counties allow online access to the County Assessor's Office. Find them there and make sure you ARE dealing with the property owner or the property owner's appointed management company.
> Listen to your gut instinct. Is it too good to be true?
> Can the owners answer your questions? Propose a friend doing a walk-thru of the rental even if you don't have anybody in town. How did they react to that?
> Actually SPEAK to them on the phone and get off of email! Did you feel you were talking to the owner or manager or a scammer? Do a reverse phone lookup. Not always will that lead you someplace but I can tell you, you can find out stuff about us doing just that.
> Make sure there is a written agreement defining the rental period and rate and other pertinent information.
> You save hundreds of $$$ that you can spend on enjoying your vacation doing something fun!
***"Fee Free" are sites that the property owner pays to list on but then the site allows for open communication between the traveler and owner/manager which includes contact info, website, social media sites, etc.. VRBO, HomeAway, AirBnB, etc. do NOT allow this as owners/travelers could then circumvent their fee structure.
Here's some Fee Free sites you can find us currently listed on. In all honesty, this is going to change over time trying some new ones and dropping ones that aren't working and I'm not likely to come back to an old blog and change them. Please be aware if we're no longer listed on one, it's not that we've closed our doors! If you're reading this blog, our website is up and running so our doors are open for business!
Alpu aka Owner.Rentals: https://www.owner.rentals/properties/tucson-arizona-glenn-house-single-family-home-located-in-the-heart-of-tucson-arizona/
Furnished Finder: https://www.furnishedfinder.com/property/194023
Pet Friendly Tucson: http://petfriendlytucson.com/by-owner-rentals.html
Last December, our subscription with VRBO/HomeAway was expiring for Garcia House who we'd been advertising with since 2009. Back then it was absolutely wonderful and provided a perfect venue for travelers and VR operators to "meet". They had platforms so that you could purchase a Gold, Silver or Bronze subscription with the only difference being how early and prominent in search results you would be. Being just a studio apartment for the budget-conscious, we went with Bronze and even though there were about 750 of us listing in Tucson, we were find-able.
They provided everything we needed to allow travelers to see what we had, rates and a calendar. We could link to our website but most importantly, connect directly with the traveler whether that be email, text or phone. Whatever worked! Every single VR is different from the next one, has different rules and owners, locale, amenities, and on and on and on and communication is key for a good match. I can spell out everything I think people might want to know and I'll guarantee, the one thing I missed is the one thing my potential Guests want to know and guess what? I'll add that to the advert and/or website and and my very next inquiry, will want to know about something else I never thought of.
I always knew I provided accommodations that were perfect for many travelers and just needed a studio but for some with that same criteria, we weren't the perfect match and as much as I'd like to have the apartment rented and money coming in, I also wanted my Guests to be comfortable and knowledgeable about what they were renting. I still follow that ideal and don't try to sugar-coat anything. If we're a good fit, I hope it works for both of us.
So last December when our subscription for Garcia House was expiring, it was truly wrenching for me to let it go. I just wanted what we used to have back and it was never going to happen and I knew that. I actually cried -- and more than once even!
I've debated whether to go with the pay-per-booking platform (I think that's all they're offering now) but there's so many hoops to jump thru and rules and laws and such. I just can't justify having my Guests pay approximately eighteen percent on top of my rates PLUS an additional three-percent (from them!) for being forced to used VRBO's credit card payment system -- My places aren't worth that much more! If they were, my own rates would reflect it!! I would like to raise my rates as neither Garcia House or Glenn House has had so much as a rate increase of a dime since both opened!
I understand VRBO/HA need to make money. Of course they do! And they did just great until Expedia purchased it and will squeeze every last nickel out of everyone who uses them.
No! No! No! Their "Book with Confidence" guarantee is a joke but that needs to be left for another blog entry.
I got my notification today that I have ten days left on our Glenn House subscription and if I renew, I MUST sign up for on-line booking and their payment system. I think not. I'm not crying this time. My subscription doesn't benefit them as they weren't getting any more money out of travelers or us, so we're buried DEEP in the listings and I've barely had any inquiries. Garcia House and Glenn House are still great vacation rentals for the budget-conscious, pet friendly and rates are holding. What has changed so I don't get inquiries anymore? Not us -- VRBO and HomeAway.
Good-bye and good riddance.
What a lovely surprise to come home last Wednesday evening and find our sister site, Garcia House, was named the very first "Member of the Month" at Houfy.com! For those of you reading this and not familiar with "Houfy", it's a start up site for vacation rentals to connect directly with travelers and vice versa thereby eliminating and avoiding the extra expenses and fees the big VR sites are imposing.
I'm including two screenshots with this blog post. One where I post to our Garcia House VR facebook page and the other on "our" personal facebook page (I don't have a true personal facebook account of my own -- I piggyback on my husbands :) ). That one from the personal page really does give a quick insight as to why it is better to book direct (#bookdirect) and stop throwing away money!!