Below is a post that is making the rounds on facebook and so it should has it's a terrific posting and put a lot of what is going on in a nutshell. I haven't "shared" it on facebook yet simply because I've been doing quite a bit of promoting book direct lately and I think I need a bit more balance with stuff about the VRs themselves or things to enjoy in Tucson. I can't be any more behind this "Book Direct" movement and hope the majority of travelers will soon catch on!
If you book a vacation rental home online, chances are you will pay 15% to 20% more than you should…. There are two companies that control nearly all the google and other search engine results for vacation home rentals: Priceline and Expedia. HomeAway, VRBO, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, cheaptickets.com, trivago, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. are all own by these same two companies.
I believe these two companies have created an illegal monopoly in the market, but until our lawmakers learn to do their jobs, what is a traveler to do? One thing you can do is go to www.houfy.com and bookmark this site. This is a new, innovative upstart site that is a David attempting to take on Goliath.
It is a difficult, up hill battle, but sometimes nimble “Davids” win. Houfy (House for You) has vacation rental homes from around the world listed and there are no fees to the travelers who book. As a start-up, their selection of homes is smaller, but growing. They have other interesting features such as local “Guides” written by vacation home owners to assist travelers with planning and feeling at home in the city they are visiting.
Many travelers have learned to use the big online booking companies to LOOK not BOOK. Visit these sites to find a home or hotel you are interested in, then find the direct contact via a google search, and call and book directly with the homeowner.
Houfy is another option. You can communicate directly with the homeowners and use the platform to pay without having an additional “service fee” tacked on to your vacation.
Fran -- Operator and Co-Owner of Glenn House Vacation Rental in Tucson, AZ