I have been using sites like VRBO.com for over 10 years. I have stayed in more vacation rentals than hotels in the past 10 years. I love being able to rent a condo or house in a city or tropical place, that gives me the luxuries of location, beautiful and clean dwellings, but a kitchen and laundry, for the same price or cheaper than any hotel. I often travel with my kids, and with three young boys I really can’t go anywhere for a week if I can’t do laundry. It would mean packing way too much in order to make sure my kids had clean clothes the entire week. It’s also not a vacation if my husband and I have to eat out at restaurants for every meal with the three boys (ages 1.5, 5 and 7). I love using vacation rental services.
Recently, though, I have been investigating flats in London for a trip (business and pleasure) I need to take in November with my family. I have had a hard time finding a flat with the right requirements, in the right location, that is available. I found one, through a listing on a HomeAway.com site, but the actual flat that I am being offered is not listed, and there are no customer reviews. A rental agency that had another flat I saw, with many positive reviews, offered me a different flat. But they want me to wire 300 GBP to hold the reservation. And this time (this all took place a few weeks ago, before the AIRBNB story broke) I have hesitated and felt nervous about sending a wire transfer for a vacation rental that is not listed anywhere on any website. The rental agency doesn’t have a website either, but they do list three other flats on HomeAway.com sites which have positive customer reviews. But still I have hesitated and have yet to reserve anything for London. I have, however, sent a Paypal deposit of 100 Euros, for a rental in Paris, that appears on VRBO.com and has 35 customer reviews (all positive). Why is this relevant? Because I think the home exchange/vacation rental services online have a major trust issue to deal with. And after the AIRBNB stories, that issue has just gotten HUGE.